The Clubs Origins

The following article, written by John Lake, is reproduced from the October 1993 edition of the Club's Newsletter Free Wheeling, and describes the formation and early days of the Club.

The Club was started by two blokes, Rob McKay and Dennis Cousins. They approached me knowing my interest in Landrovers, and along with a few others organised our first meeting in the Church Hall opposite the Police Station, (in Dandenong). I think that there were about 25 people at the first meeting, but only about half a dozen of us joined straight away.


The underlying reason for Dennis and Rob starting the Club was to get enough people together that may be interested in a Central Australian trip. In those days it was still a big adventure. I do not think that Bill King (Bill King's Tours), had started then.

I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I think that Bill McKinnon and myself are the only ones left who were at the inaugural meeting. It did not take long for the membership to take off and we soon had to put a limit on numbers. In fact for a long while we had a waiting list, shows how times have changed. I think the limit was 80.


Well it was not long and we organised our first weekend trip a weekend to Bell's Flat - a place that I had stumbled on the year before.

You are never going to see Bell's, unfortunately it is inundated by the Thompson Dam. I do not recall how many of us went - I would say about 6 or 8 vehicles - mostly Landrovers. They had not discovered windup windows yet.

The first years of the Club were fantastic. It was a new phenomenon - the wonderful places to go with people of like mind and the isolation was extreme. You have to remember that people that owned four wheel drives especially Landrovers were looked upon with suspicion and I mean who would actually choose to ride in something akin to a dray and put their lives at risk by attempting to climb impossibly steep tracks in underpowered vehicles designed for the farmers of England. Well climb the hills we did and had a great time doing so. I really feel lucky to have experienced that time as it was probably the "golden age" of four wheel driving.


We ran at least one trip a month and sometimes two every month, we were really into it. Most of the weekend trips were around the Walhalla-Aberfeldy area and the longer trips to Dargo and Talbotville etc.

It was never a problem getting a campsite in those days, there just were not that many of us around.

I think the only other Clubs that were around then were Landrover Club, Cross Country Jeep Club and the Toyota Landcruiser Club. Dandenong Ranges came shortly after us.

Throughout the past twenty five years, the Club has been just about everywhere you can go in this beautiful country of ours: Victorian High Country, Birdsville Track, Fraser Island, Snowy Mountains, Simpson Desert, Central Australia. Now, in its second quarter century, we are ready to do it all again.