The heavens opened and the temperature plummeted, yet a marvellous celebration of steam, mechanics, ingenuity and pioneering spirit took place in early May at the 121st Lake Goldsmith steam rally.
Before healthy crowds, all manner of historical machinery was displayed at the site, some 40 minutes due west of Ballarat, Victoria. With the generous invitation of the event’s organisers, the centenary of Howard was the drawcard.
“What a fantastic turn out with the level of enthusiasm and supporters behind such an iconic brand,” said Justin Fisher, head of Howard Australia. “They’ve come from far and wide.
“The appreciation for the fact that PFG is honouring the Howard business and being part of the centenary with these exhibitors just goes to show that the brand is strong and very much alive.”
Over two action-packed days, attendees were treated to saw-milling, giant steam engines, cannon firing and a host of vintage trucks, tractors and contraptions.
On the site’s main exhibition space, a dazzling display of Howard machinery took centre stage. There were rotary hoes, garden tractors, incredibly rare crawlers and haulers. Some were in their ‘working clothes’ and others had been beautifully restored.
“It’s a real talking point,” said Bev Hunter, who came across from South Australia with her husband, Neville, to display their Howard trencher. “It’s history that the young ones have no idea about. They think it’s scrap metal! We love the history behind it and the fact that it was Australian built.”
Shane Djuric made the journey from Sydney with another avid Howard collector, Tony Pettit. They have each added invaluable information to the Howard canon by authoring books; Shane concentrated on the development of Howard tractors, while Tony chronicled Howard machinery.
“They really put in a good effort for the Howard display to celebrate the 100 years,” said Shane. “The organisers gave us the right to go around first in the parade and it was great to see so many Howards getting around together in one go.”
Over from Tasmania came David and Gloria Perry, along with David’s son Tony and
his wife Tania. They had two machines of special interest to the Howard collecting fraternity: a diesel Platypus crawler and a petrol version.
Both machines were gleaming.
According to David, the petrol version had at least 1000 hours’ worth of restoration put into it. The result is stunning and garnered considerable attention.
“It’s the rarity of them that’s pretty special,” said David. “We’ve never been able to find people who have known of other machines of the same make and model in the whole of Australia.
“There were only eleven of the petrol versions made. They’re part of our home life and I guess because they were brought into Tasmania as a prototype that’s what makes them rare.”
From the Western District of Victoria came father and son collecting duo, Norm and Daniel Spencer. Both are involved in the Howard fraternity and were often called upon over the weekend to lend a hand to other exhibitors.
Daniel was displaying walk-behind machines and a 1962 Howard hauler.
“The haulers were used in factories, wool stores, markets,” said Daniel, “all that kind of stuff for transport and goods rated for a tonne. This one came from the Gold Coast – it was a 4000 kilometre round trip to pick it up.
“Collecting turns into an addiction – we’ve now got 290 rotary hoes in the shed. Hopefully one day I’ll have a private museum.”
PFG Australia extends sincere appreciation to the Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally committee, Howard exhibitors and all who contributed to this very special event.
Learn more about the history of Howard and see the current range on the Howard Australia website.