Christmas Day on the Gold Coast

Leaving the Sydney suburb of Ashfield early in the morning I had hoped to miss the rush of traffic to the city, but to no avail as there was an accident holding up all the early commuters on the highway. As we inched towards the junction with the main freeway towards Brisbane I became aware of someone calling out from another vehicle. It was to be the first of many people interested in Bridget as the rubber-nosed Midget is a rarity in Australia. It has also become clear that the Australians are extremely supportive of individuals attempting unusual tasks and Bridget’s bumper stickers declaring “Round the World Drive” are capturing attention.

The voice calling out belonged to Ade Kass, a fellow Brit from the UK. He’s a lovely chap, but with the unfortunate condition of being a Liverpool football supporter. He noted the web-site address and contacted us again later that day. So if any of you out there spots Bridget driving around, or even just parked, give us a toot on your horn if you are driving or come over and say “G’day”

We drove to Port Macquarie about 220 miles north of Sydney and stopped for the night. Bridget’s engine having handled the journey without trouble. We are in no rush as we are not expected on the Gold Coast until Sunday, giving us three days of gentle motoring.

The names of almost all the places, rivers and even every creek I find beguiling such as Coolangolook, Pete’s Crossing, Wally’s Place, Bowling Alley Point and Bald Knob Creek. I’d love to know the stories or characters behind many of these.

From Port Macquarie we ventured on to Ballina following the Pacific Highway. After about an hour of motoring I noticed that Bridget’s oil pressure was abnormally low and so pulled into a service station. I checked under the bonnet and oil had been escaping from the filler cap on-top of the rocker cover. On removing and examining it I could see that the rubber seal was in poor condition. I don’t have one with me so I will need to source one during our stay on the Gold Coast. I added a litre of oil to the engine and continued on our way. I have also detected a noticeable improvement in the fuel consumption since changing the tank, feed pipe and pump.

We drove to Ballina the next day, another 220 miles, and passing through Coffs Harbour where I had originally thought of staying. I changed my mind about staying only because we had arrived very early and I was enjoying the drive so I took a quick look around then got back into the car.

From Ballina we made our way to Tweed Heads, one of the Twin Towns the other being Coolangatta. Although these two towns run into each other building wise, the state border of NSW and Queensland divides them. Back in history this was an important demarcation as slave workers in the sugar cane industry of Queensland were able to escape to New South Wales and gain their freedom.

There is a tourist lookout site above Tweed Heads that offers an excellent view across the Heads, down the Tweed Valley and over to Mount Warning. Although I have made occasional critical remarks about the Australian Tourist industry trying to make attractions out of nothing, they are extremely good at locating ‘lookouts’ all over the country that are excellent areas for tourists to take a break and see some of the natural beauty surrounding them (English Tourist Board take note).

Sunday the 14th December and we met up with several members of the Gold Coast MG Car Club near Danger Point overlooking Coolangatta Beach. We were later joined by a Channel 9 television news team that had been arranged courtesy of Gary Lock, and, by pure chance, a reporter and photographer from the local paper, The Bulletin. They arrived at the spot to cover another story and on seeing Bridget did an impromptu interview.

The time has arrived for Bridget to have her engine inspected for outstanding problems. I know that the seal on the oil filler cap is leaking and needs to be replaced but there is more serious concern about what is going on inside the engine. We checked the compression in Sydney and the pressures were, from 1 to 4 in order, 150,90,100,150. It might just be the head gasket or a valve but could of course be the rings or something even more serious.

I visited Brian Darke who is another of Australia’s gurus on MG’s. He immediately confirmed the compression reading and sent me to a garage in the Palm Beach area. Here, under the expert eye of Andrew Allen owner of the Sixth Avenue Garage, I removed the cylinder head. There was nothing visibly wrong with the gasket and so we sent the head off to be vacuum checked. It transpired that two of the valves needed to be ground and the valve followers replaced. I re-fitted the head using a new gasket and Andrew checked the valve clearances.

Bridget now sounds and runs very well. There are two minor things to be fixed, the first is that the tick-over is too fast caused, we think, by wear on the accelerator spindle either preventing the carburettors returning to the stop position or air to infiltrate one of the carburettors and affecting the mixture. The second problem is that the seal on the oil filler cap needs to be replaced but we don’t have a spare. As neither of these are ‘show stoppers’ I will fix them later.

We are now ready to continue our adventure but first we have Christmas and New Year to celebrate. It seems strange to see all the decorations and lights, and to hear carols being sung whilst outside the temperature is 35ºC.

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