The Mildura area has a rich history in various motorcycling activities including the social and competitive aspects over many years.
The Mildura Motorcycle Club (formerly the Mildura and District Motorcycle Club) was formed in 1947 and conducted a variety of motorcycle events including scrambles and trials, hill climbs and speedway. In 1954, 55 and 56 the club conducted road racing events using local roads in South Mildura. Top Australian riders as well as international riders and factory teams competed. The club was also heavily involved in community fundraising and enjoyed a high level of community support which remains to current times.
By the 1970’s interest in vintage and classic motorcycles was developing within a small group of locals, including several who had been connected with the Mildura Motorcycle Club back in its early years.
In 1974 the Classic Owners Club of SA, including some members based in Broken Hill, organised a rally in Mildura with a ride to Lake Cullulleraine which several Mildura riders attended.
The Classic Owners returned to Mildura again for a rally in 1975, using the 12th Street scout hall to start and finish runs. Socialising followed with the evening meal at the Working Man’s Club. Again several local riders attended. Friendships were formed and for several following years a small number of Classic Owners members SA visited Mildura socially, and with several locals held rides around the Mildura area. This informal event came to be known as the “Mildura Meander”.
By the late 1970’s twenty or so local enthusiasts would go for a Sunday morning ride and finish at one of their sheds to check out new restoration works, have a cuppa, discuss old bikes and socialise.
In 1981 the Classic Owners Club of SA conducted another rally in Mildura, and also returned in 1982 using the Chaffey Park Merbein for a display. Locals were also involved in these events.
The Club commencement.
In 1981 it was decided to call a meeting of interested local owners of older motorcycles to discuss the formation of a club in Mildura specifically for their interest. On 7th April that year the inaugural meeting was conducted at John Levers home in Mildura with 18 people attending. The first committee consisted of;
President John Lever*
Vice President Robin Lewis*
Secretary/Treasurer Dallas Williams
Those present were;
Max Corless*, Pat O’Farrell, Wally Ditchburn, John Wrate, Mal Seymour, Reg Kelly, Robin Lewis*, Bluey(Jack) Moore*, Barry Walker, Daryl Morrison, Bill Parkinson, Bruce Cowie*, Ian Hinks, Doug Laird, and Ron Hickman.
John Lever died suddenly in 1982 and Wally Ditchburn became President in 1983.
Dallas Williams moved to Swan Hill in 1984 and Cyndie Kempton became Secretary.
The club became Incorporated in the mid 1980’s and officially named the “Sunraysia Historic Motorcycle Club”.
Membership numbers grew steadily during the 1980’s, 90’s and into 2000, as did the numbers of machines either under restoration or currently in use.
Ron Brown became president following Wally Ditchburns retirement in 2007.
In 2005 the club committee decided to conduct a Rally in Mildura, and again called it the “Mildura Meander”. This rally has grown in status over the years to become the most important annual club activity and enjoyed by many visitors from interstate. 2019 was its 15th year and attracted over 60 entries from Adelaide, Broken Hill, Melbourne and central Victoria as well as locals.
Club membership for 2018-19 has grown to 120. The club currently has 178 motorcycles and 16 cars listed with the Club Permit Scheme (CPS). To participate in the CPS owners must be a member of an approved club, which in part is responsible for the increase in memberships from around 2010 to the present.
The club supports community groups by providing historic motorcycle displays at such things as school fetes, (Lutheran school fete since 1983), motor shows and motorcycle events. Members regularly travel away to other club rallies, events and swap meetings. Information gained from such attendances has been incorporated into the Meander as deemed necessary to continually improve the event.
Pre-meeting rides are conducted on the last Sunday monthly with an average of approximately 50 bikes participating. Rides commence at Hudak’s Bakery, 15th Street Mildura at 10am.The club encourages the use of older motorcycles for these rides. The monthly General Meeting is conducted at the 12th Street Scout Hall following the ride as well as morning tea.
Mid-month informal rides are conducted on the second Sunday monthly for any type of motorcycles with 10 to 15 bikes usually attending. The rides also commence from Hudak’s Bakery 15th Street, Mildura at 10am. As distances can be further on these rides, with often a lunch stop, more modern motorcycles are used. Riders who attend on the day decide where to visit, timeframes, distances etc.
The information above was provided by Wally Ditchburn in 2010 and Bill Parkinson and Cyndie Kempton 2017-18 and collated by Jack McCarthy in late 2019.
*Denotes known deceased in the inaugural membership list.