Off the beaten track
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!