Tracks in Time Sleeps Hill

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Story Jim Scaysbrook Pho­tos Doug Voss, Howard Loveder and Alan Wal­lis.

Sleeps Hill Ade­laide, SA

Post-war, Ade­laide was burst­ing with mo­tor­cy­cle sport, and one area had two tracks within a stone’s throw of each other: Spring­bank and Sleeps Hill. Both are now swal­lowed up by hous­ing, with wide roads where there were once nar­row dead-end streets.

Be­fore the shep­herd Sa­muel Sleep ar­rived with his wife and seven chil­dren around 1840, the area was known as Brown­hill Creek. Dur­ing his stay it be­came known as Sleeps Hill and later An­gas Park. Sleep made a quick for­tune in the Vic­to­rian Gold Fields but re­turned to the land, only to suf­fer fi­nan­cial ruin by the se­vere drought of the 1860s. His weight reached 120kg by the time he died in De­cem­ber 1866, aged just 45. Part of the rail­way viaduct through the Ade­laide Hills near Be­lair was named af­ter him. These are known as the two Sleeps Hill tun­nels and these (and the con­crete foun­da­tions of the ad­join­ing viaducts) rep­re­sent one of the states ma­jor feats of engi­neer­ing. Com­pleted in 1862, these were the first rail­way tun­nels con­structed in the South Aus­tralian colony. The line for which they were built en­cour­aged de­vel­op­ment in the Hills area and ul­ti­mately be­came part of the rail net­work be­tween Ade­laide and Mel­bourne. A num­ber of quar­ries in the area pro­vided foun­da­tion ma­te­rial for the gov­ern­ment rail­ways. Sleeps Hill rail­way sta­tion fell into dis­use af­ter 1955 and was fi­nally de­mol­ished in 2008. Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, the Ve­lo­cette Mo­tor Cy­cle Club of South Aus­tralia be­gan con­duct­ing scram­bles events at Sleeps Hill, which were held in the for­mer quar­ries. The cir­cuits were in rugged ter­rain to the east of what is now Panorama Drive. The club had a strong pres­ence in the sport, pro­mot­ing speed­way at Kil­burn Oval as well as scram­bles, and had top rid­ers like Lau­rie Jamieson and Frank Woodroofe amongst their mem­bers. The first meet­ing at Sleeps Hill took place on July 27, 1946, where “a won­der­ful crowd at­tended, in spite of the fact that pub­lic trans­port was not avail­able on ac­count of power re­stric­tions be­ing in force, due to a coal short­age”. Stars of the day in­cluded Ray Trevena, Jamieson, Lau­rie Boul­ter, Frank Gallery and Les Dixon, while Jim McCor­mack was the out­stand­ing side­car man.

A pop­u­lar, if gru­elling event at the time was the an­nual ‘Mud Bat­tle’ at Kor­wein­gu­boora in Vic­to­ria, and for their sec­ond Sleeps Hill meet­ing on 24th Au­gust, 1946, the VMCCSA de­cided to adopt a sim­i­lar for­mat by di­vert­ing the track through a creek. Doug Voss, who sup­plied most of the pho­to­graphs for this story, was a reg­u­lar at Sleeps Hill (as well as nearby Spring­bank) in the im­me­di­ate post-war years. As well as tot­ing his trusty cam­era he kept a di­ary and

Star of the Au­gust 1946 meet­ing, Royce New­man on his 588cc Nor­ton out­fit.

TOP Start in July 1947 with Lau­rie Boul­ter (69), K. Prime (30) and Lau­rie Jamieson (136) away well. ABOVE Lau­rie Jamieson bounces his Dirt Track J.A.P. over a rise in July 1946.

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