A Tale of Two Extremes

27 August 2017 / Story and Photos by Owen Sinden

It couldn’t get much different: a pre-dawn, mid-winter, top-down drive to Mudgee and an elegant, warm lunch at Katoomba’s premier hotel.  Some background information first…

October 2016:  Wheels magazine ran an ad for the then-new Mazda MX-5 ‘hardtop’.  It looked stunning.  I was hooked.  I was in the run-down towards retirement - a pre-retirement present perhaps?  What a great idea!  Even the good lady agreed.

I have always been enthusiastic about quality cars, so an MX-5 fitted the bill perfectly – it doesn’t get much better than winning Wheels prestigious car-of-the-year three times. 


Lots of research, lots of test drives (including three in one day – Picton, Moss Vale and Sutherland) convinced me of my decision, so an order was placed in early February 2017 at Moss Vale Mazda.  Delivery was slated as early May.

Joining the MX-5 Club was a no-brainer.  My other car is a 1960 Morris Minor 1000 so I knew the benefits of club membership: parts, advice and camaraderie between members.  Coming events?  What on Earth is the ‘Brass Monkey’ Run?

“Dear, would you like to drive to Mudgee early one Sunday morning in the middle of winter with the top down?”  Political correctness forbids her real answer so lets just leave it as “no”…  So my handsome, intelligent and very modest identical twin brother Ian became my co-driver.

Let’s just start by saying, immediately after driving out of the Caltex servo on the M4 at Blacktown, I was freezing, as cold as I’ve been in my life – and didn’t warm up properly for another three hours!  Someone said the temperature dropped to minus 7 near Lithgow – that’s a wind chill of minus 30!!!

It was, however, a wonderfully invigorating drive – and a brilliant introduction to the MX-5 fold.  Exciting, too, especially north of Lithgow, driving over a rise to be confronted with three Cobras on the side of the road, windscreens iced over, and an MX-5 similarly afflicted in the middle of the road.  My one-eye-in-the-rear-view-mirror widened when I saw and heard a Triumph TR6, breaks locked, heading sideways towards the rear end of my 3-week old car!  Yep, a little excitement added to the thrill of my first club drive.

I’d never seen such amazing hoare frost in my life; amazing sights!  I was impressed!  And enjoying the drive!  And freezing cold!

The warmth of breakfast at Mudgee, both physically and socially, was most welcome.  Chatting to the Cobra guys was enlightening; no heaters in their cars so a number of stops to scrape off the ice on their windscreens.

The way home had already been planned by my brother, I am sure with one eye on piloting a desirable driver’s car along some challenging and enjoyable roads.  Mudgee to Lue, then left along the Bylong Valley Way, lunch in the sun on the deck at the Denman pub, then a right turn onto the Golden Highway before a scrumptious fang (legal, of course) along Wollombi Rd/Paynes Crossing Rd, via Bucketty and the Great Northern Rd.

Did I enjoy my first MX-5 Club day?  700km round trip on perfect MX-5 roads?  YES!                                                     

So, what was next?  After a somewhat impolite refusal to go on the Brass Monkey run with me, my good lady Indra checked out the MX-5 events info and picked her favourite  -  “Dear, what about Christmas in July lunch at the Carrington in Katoomba?” 

A very civilised, early morning drive from Camden to Leura for a 9.00am breakfast, followed by some window shopping (nothing bought), then up the hill to Katoomba.

A variety of MX-5’s graced the Carrington’s car park.  The timber and squeaky floorboards of the olde worlde décor of the Carrington was charming – and the club members in the dining room were most welcoming.

My good lady and I shared a table (photo attached) with a wonderful group; we learned more about the breakfast runs to Robertson, the biennial National meet in the Barossa Valley in 2018 and of course our own President’s Picnic in September.  The food was pretty good too!

A photo opportunity outside the Carrington?  “Why don’t we ask?” was my good lady’s question.  No – if you ask someone might say no; better just to do it and cop the consequences.

Did we enjoy our second MX-5 Club day?  YES!

Thank you to the welcoming MX-5 Club members on my first two drives, especially Andrew Lord on the Brass Monkey and Sharon and John Cassidy and Brigid Gallop at Christmas-In-July.