Off the beaten track

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT -

In South Aus­tralia’s mid-north, just off the bar­rier High­way, lies the town of Peter­bor­ough, pop­u­la­tion (2006) of 1,689. It is also home to a most unique motorcycle mu­seum, run by Ian and Belinda Spooner. Re­cently, KEITH WARD, whose won­der­ful rac­ing pho­tos from the ‘six­ties reg­u­larly grace th­ese pages, vis­ited the mu­seum and took his cam­era along. The Peter­bor­ough Motorcycle Mu­seum is lo­cated in the for­mer Bap­tist Church in Kitch­ener Street, and is open most days. It’s best to phone ahead (0429 031403) to make sure. On the same site stands Ten­nyson Hall, a small build­ing dat­ing from 1913 that was once the Men’s Prayer Room. It is now a com­fort­able Bed & Break­fast and ideal for a stay while in town. For en­quires call the same num­ber or email [email protected]­pond.com. “I bought my first bike, an Aermacchi 350cc Sprint which I still own, at age 16,” says Ian. “By the age of 18 I owned four bikes: a Du­cati 900 Darmah which was new in 1981, and a Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans, both of which I still own, plus a cou­ple of Kawasaki trail bikes, which were sold. Then in 1989 I bought a Laverda Jota fol­lowed by a Moto Guzzi S3, a Laverda Mon­tjuic and a cou­ple of small MVs in boxes. There have been many more, es­pe­cially since 2007. Since go­ing ahead with the Mu­seum I have been mes­mer­ized with a lot of the Euro­pean bikes, es­pe­cially the lit­tle 50ccs that came out in the ‘60s and ‘70s. “We are get­ting a rep­u­ta­tion now as be­ing what we set out to be, and that is a mu­seum with a dif­fer­ence. I have 100s of bikes that I look at each day and strive to add at least 2 each year. Our lit­tle Maserati 50cc which was raced at Brands Hatch in the ‘60s caused a bit of a stir at the Auto Italia show in Ade­laide which was also hav­ing a cel­e­bra­tion for 100 years of Maserati.

“We opened in 2009 with 23 bikes and have grown each year adding unique and in­ter­est­ing bikes. We have sourced many from over­seas, and mostly brought ones over that are not seen over here. The France racer and Yvels both came from a pri­vate col­lec­tion in Ger­many of which the owner has many more, and we are hop­ing he will favour us again when de­cid­ing to sell another in the fu­ture. They are both rare bikes and you would more than likely not see another one like them any­where else in Aus­tralia. The Ossa Wild­fire was raced by Den­nis Craine, who won races on the Isle of Man, but un­for­tu­nately died this year in July. “The Favourite was a hard one to come by hav­ing nar­rowed one down to be­ing in Amer­ica, but after a good 4 years of search­ing found it out the back of The Na­tional Mo­tor Mu­seum in Iowa, and off course just kept bid­ding in the hope we would be able to bring it home to the town where it was made in 1914. With sheer luck on our side, we won the bid and it ar­rived home late 2013 in time to cel­e­brate its 100th birth­day right back home where it once set out from in all its glory. Like us though after 100 years of liv­ing the life on the road, it is show­ing its age and miss­ing a few bits and pieces, but we will put those back on and brush it down and get it chug­ging round the town.”

Keith adds, “It is well worth a visit when pass­ing through, and as Peter­bor­ough is on route from East­ern states to Cen­tral Aus­tralia or Perth, via Port Au­gusta, it is likely many peo­ple will even­tu­ally meet up with Peter­bor­ough. This is also an im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal rail­way town, with an ex­cel­lent rail­way mu­seum, fea­tur­ing a Round-House & Turntable com­plete with the unique fea­ture of all three rail gauges to­gether. That adds up to two good rea­sons to visit Peter­bor­ough. The “In­dian Pa­cific” train on route from Syd­ney to Perth also goes through the town!

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