An unexpected spin off from Phillip Island’s Grand Prix has been the Gippsland Vehicle Collection project in Victoria’s pretty Gippsland town of Maffra. Prior to the big race the Grand Prix Rally travels through many country towns with drivers and locals enjoying street challenges and speed tests on country aerodromes, raceways and hillclimbs.
Peter Quennell, one of the trio who dreamed up the ‘Collection’ idea, says Maffra is a ‘car town’ and for several years with the Rally coming through Maffra, the region’s car enthusiasts had turned the event into big street party with all the side streets leading to the treelined town centre filled with all sorts of gleaming vehicles.
The Maffra Mardi Gras – a 6 week fund raiser for local projects – has been a calendar event for decades now, opening with the Mardi Gras Ball. It was over a few beers at this Ball that Peter and two mates, Peter McDavitt and Foster Crooke, wondered what happened to all the vehicles for the rest of the year………….and what about a permanent display? Gippsland Vehicle Collection Inc was born.
Dairy giant Murray Goulburn, with its second largest milk processing plant in Maffra, had an empty shed on the edge of town. They were approached about a special rental deal and Chairman Ian MacAulay said the company was very pleased to be part of a community project. The team forged ahead, clearing the shed of junk and bird droppings – the local Fire Brigade helped there!
The idea is to change displays every 6 months to keep up visitor interest and to target other car clubs, inviting them to call in as part of a touring route in the area and hopefully an overnight stop in Maffra. However, the building has to be made secure before vehicle owners will consider lending their treasures. The group had a lot of enthusiasm but not much in the way of funds – and you need insurance before you can even raise funds! The team decided on a Gippsland Vehicle Collection Open Day fund raiser at Maffra’s 2005 Mardi Gras. Specially minted car badges – a limited edition – would be sold for $100 as a Foundation Membership, with standard memberships at $25.
The event was 6 months in the planning. Vehicle owners were contacted through the car club’s database and there was a lot of ‘word of mouth’ once the idea was out. 170 cars and bikes came from as far away as Melbourne and Lakes Entrance. There were steam engines, T model and A model Fords, Mustangs, Mercedes, a Rolls Royce, Aston Martins, a dragster and a rather special cadillac, which had been accumulating ‘grot’ in deceased owner’s shed until it was resurrected by an enthusiastic son to be part of the show! Upwards of 3,500 attended the future Motor Museum in the ‘Maffra Shed’, as it is affectionately known. Coloured flags from the rafters added colour and glamour to the party atmosphere as Peter Ryan MLA, leader of the VicNats, opened the fund raising effort, reminisced about his own old cars and spoke enthusiastically about the tourism potential of the venue.
Gippsland Vehicle Collection Inc now has 150 members and a committee of 12. The biggest hurdle will be to secure the Shed. Everyone involved is enjoying it a lot, though there are a lot of meetings and it probably needs to become more formal, says Peter Quennell. However its strength probably lies here, with the management team being aware of the need to be inclusive and keep the wider community informed. Peter’s advice to others involved in community or tourism development projects is to listen and be inclusive.
For more info you can contact Peter Quennell on 0412 387 102 or email email@example.com.
NB Info on how to establish guidelines for community-based collaboration:
(i)The Study Circle Kit developed by Dr Helen Sheil Centre for Rural Communities Inc Monash University Gippsland Campus Ph: 03 5122 6755.
(ii)Australian Ecotourism: Contributing to Ecological and Community Sustainability by Drs S Pfueller & P Cock Monash University Clayton Ph: 03 9905 2929.
(iii)The following 6 points for successful community-based collaboration were developed by American researchers T.Jamal and D.Getz at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA.
1. Everyone involved must recognise that one group on its own is unlikely to succeed in a community-based project – the interdependence of groups in a community is a fact of life.
2. ALL key people must be involved right from the start.
3. Everyone involved must be able to see personal benefits as well as benefits for others.
4. The leader must be seen to have the authority and resources to successfully complete the project.
5. The collaborative process (coming from the inclusion of ALL key people) itself must be seen as having the power to influence decisions made eg by council or government.
6. The community’s goals for the collaborative project must be clearly stated and monitored by a reference group that helps with ongoing reviews and adjustment.