Thirty years ago my father, Len BURCHELL, purchased a recently restored black 55 FJ Special for $6500 dollars from a work mate who’s wife needed extra room in their modest single garage. The black FJ has been a part of the family weddings and school formals ever since. As kids and young adults mum and dad worked most weekends which meant the free weekends were spent doing the lawns and catching up on chores, the FJ sat idle in the garage. A victim of free time but definitely not neglected.
Years later my parents moved into a over 50’s village on the south coast which meant the FJ had to move in with me. My love of Holdens spans a lifetime. I think I’ve owned most models over the years of driving, my first was a lime green LH Torana that my pop had purchased brand new and handed it down to me up until my last Holden, the ever-trusty Captiva!
I wanted the FJ to be driven. I knew it would make dad happy to see his car out and about and it was a great way to get together and spend time with him. In 2020, I reached out to Paul Hardy on Facebook and he invited along to a club run. It wasn’t long until the Nationals were talked about and I knew we had to go.
There is plenty of conversation about the dates of the Nationals being at a bad time of year. I saw it as an opportunity for a father/son road trip in a week that falls between Christmas and New years, It was perfect.
Taking advice from other members I decided to hire a car trailer and tow the car to Cooma. Some might say half of the experience of the Nationals is driving your car there and home. I found the air-conditioned comfort of my 2021 dual cab a bit more comfortable for the 4hr drive in the middle of summer.
The trip down was great. We travelled with the Hardy’s and met up with Steve and Maryann Xerri and Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull at Suttons Forrest for a Pie and coffee arriving at Cooma a little after 2pm on the 27th of December.
The accommodation was excellent. The Kinross Motor Inn was situated close to town and walking distance to all the necessary amenities such has pubs, bottlo’s and coffee shops. The rooms were very clean and comfortable, and each room had a sheltered car space which was great. AEHF member Kel provided space on his property a few minutes out of town to park the car trailers which was really handy.
The Cooma Ex-serviceman’s Club provided a great place for a nice meal and a cold schooner after a long day of driving. The meals were excellent if your every passing through.
The 28th of December was the 1st official day of the Nationals. The Gordon Litchfield Woolshed was the location for scrutineering and official photographs. The woolshed provided a great backdrop for photos as well as being a great place to sit and watch the many different cars roll through. We chose not to be judged; on reflection I wish we did just to get an idea on future categories.
The Entrants goodie bags were exceptional. They included a polo shirt, baseball cap, personalised number plate, a steel wall plaque, pens and stickers and a colour souvineer programme. I thought it was great value considering it was included in your entry cost.
That evening we headed to the welcome BBQ dinner hosted by the Cooma Car Clubat their clubhouse and car mueseum. It was a great atmosphere and the carprk was full of FX and FX holdens. The volunteers did a great job of making sure everyone was fed.
The 29th December was Show ‘n’ Shine day. It was an early start with entrants arriving at the Cooma Showground from 7am. The show day was a fantastic display. There were so many different types of cars from original to extremely modified. Walking around looking at the cars and meeting new people was great. Dad and I learnt so much about the cars and what to look for when attempting to display and original car. Mick Kenny would have easily taken out the rocker cover Grand Prix
The 30th December was my 47th birthday which unfortunately meant we had to head home and we missed out of the sightseeing run which was a 200km guided trip around Cooma and the Snowy Mountains. The trip included morning tea on the Eucumbene Dam wall and lunch in Dalgety.
The evening of 31st December was the presentation dinner. As you may have seen on the club Facebook page a few of our members received awards for their entries which included;
- Steve and Maryann Xerri – Grand Champion Stock – 1954 FJ Panel van
- Paul and Claire HARDY – Car of the Year, Best Sedan, Best exterior – 1953 – FJ Sedan
- Jason and Chanelle Vella – Best Stock FX, Local member for Monaro award – 1953 FX Army Ute
- Paul Smith – 3rd modified street custom – 1952 FX Ute
It was a great result. Congratulations to all the clubs’ winners and other entrants. Overall the Nationals was a great experience. We had a great time with everyone in a well organised event. I am now looking forward to the 2024 Nationals in Redlands, Queensland.