Monday, April 15, 2024

Coupes Cruise to Charlton ­– a car lover’s dream

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Alyssa Walker, The Buloke Times

The Charlton Show ‘N’ Shine started with a sound. A low roaring, a rumbling you could feel in your chest, reverberated throughout the community, as the Ford Coupe Club of Australia drove down the highway.

It was one of those whims of chance that Craig, the Ford Club president, had chosen to stop in at the Charlton bakery; and it was even more coincidental that Greg had happened to be in said bakery when he heard the thrum of the engines.

Once the fumes get in your blood, you’re a car person for life. And that sound had set Greg’s blood and soul singing.

He raced out to admire these beautiful Ford Coupes, got talking with Craig, and the gears were set a’turning for Charlton’s debut Show ‘N’ Shine on April 28-29.

And Greg and Leanne couldn’t have asked for a more brilliant debut.

With Craig so taken by the Charlton community and facilities, Greg posed the idea of a Show ‘N’ Shine that was more than solely a car show.

And this was how the Rex found itself the hub of a crowd of 60 on the Saturday afternoon. With the Coupes on display out the front of the theatre, if people didn’t ‘love the beast’ before watching the Eric Bana film of the same name, they certainly would afterwards.

It’s so much more than just a movie about cars. As Craig put it, “The ‘Beast’ is really a metaphor. It describes something that we so often can’t put into words. This film speaks to all those passions that make up someone so centrally that they wouldn’t be themselves without it.”

And, really, it was the passion that was at the heart of this entire weekend – a banding together of people with a shared idea, and a love for not only cars, but also the town and the community. The Rex had had its turn in the spotlight, so it was time for the East Charlton Hotel to take the stage – and take to the dance floor.

Local band Blend-It (consisting of Leo Tellefson, Ross Lane, Robert “Shorty” Emmett, and Danny Walsh) raised the roof of the hotel Saturday night (“We’d better not be billed for that,” said pianist Leo), and the crowd, encouraged by song requests and enticed by the perfectly dance-sized square in the centre of the room, began to bust out their best moves.
Greg even took to the floor a couple of times, in-between hosting.

Guitarist Danny was absolutely delighted at the spectacle. He normally plays in the big city clubs, so not only was he completely taken by the East Charlton Hotel’s architecture and thrilled to see it packed with partygoers, but he’d never had such an enthusiastic crowd before.

“Seriously, I’ve never had people dance like this in Melbourne!” Danny repeated for emphasis, surveying the spontaneous dance floor with a sparkle in his eye. “A crowd like this would be unheard of in the city.

“This town has such a great community. It’s brilliant to see life breathed into it with these events.”

The Show

But some life had to be saved for the Show the following morning. So, after some last song requests, a taste of some of Danny’s own compositions, and witnessing an electric guitar being played with a beer bottle, the crowd dispersed, petrol promises lulling them to sleep.

The day dawned bright and clear – not even the sun was going to miss this action. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for the whole Show, and though the morning was brisk, nothing could dull Greg’s enthusiasm.

The slow start was over, once the sizzling scent of Andrew Wright and the Year 10s’ barbecue bacon and eggs drew people from their dreams, and the crowd flocked to the Traveller’s Rest in earnest.

And what a turnout it was! Not only in terms of crowd, but also in terms of car entries. Greg and Leanne said that they were going to be absolutely thrilled if they managed to get 20 cars. Well, 9 a.m. rolls around, and the car count was up to 32 – and still climbing!

Both the crowd and cars reached their crescendo by 11 a.m., just in time for the people to vote for their favourite of the now-40 cars that had been entered.

Best Ford was Phil Thompson in a Ford Falcon XA GT RPO Coupe.

Best local was John “Nipper” Sweatman in a Holden Torana SLR 5000.

Peoples’ Choice went to Dick Tierney in a XM Ford Coupe.

Grace’s Choice went to Murray Broughton 64 Dodge Phoenix.

The first raffle prize was won by Lou Olive, with Kate and Jarrod taking out two of the smaller prizes, and Kim Wishart, Warren McGurk, Alyssa Walker, Darren Mills, Ian Baker, and Chase Dixon taking home another gift each.

With the prizes given away, the only thing left to give now was gratitude.

After Greg put out thanks to the Show ‘N’ Shine’s sponsors – the Bendigo Bank and Perry’s Painting Service – which were very generous in their donations, Craig commandeered the microphone for a donation of his own. Wanting to “pay tribute to the township of Charlton for making all feel so welcome,” Craig and the Ford Coupe Club of Australia pledged $500 to Fighting AT with Grace.

And what better way to end the Show than with the sound that started it all? As the event drew to a close,  a rumbling swept over the last of the crowd when the engines of the Ford Coupes roared to life in a final farewell. The sun glinted off metal as the cars rolled out, but their shine was nearly eclipsed by the radiance of Greg’s joy.

Greg and Leanne couldn’t have asked for a better debut. The enthusiasm and love of all involved really was the driving force behind it all, and here’s hoping the next one is already on the road.

See all the photos in the issue.

The Buloke Times 9 May 2023

This article appeared in The Buloke Times, 9 May 2023.

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