Blue Mountains: Original pit stop rallies for majestic celebration
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
The original Blue Mountains party palace of the first car owner of NSW will host a majestic gathering of the most elegant veteran vehicles and meanest modern wheels on the November 28 & 29 weekend.
The Hydro Majestic Super Car Rally at Medlow Bath will showcase sophisticated motoring history with a range of pre-World War I veteran cars on display on the Saturday.
Many will offer joyrides to raise money for the NSW Rural Fire Service Blue Mountains district. NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM will be special guest.
RFS Blue Mountains district Superintendent David Jones said the volunteer organisation was proud is to be involved in the official opening of the event on the Saturday.
“During the event we will have members on hand to provide the public with practical advice on how to prepare for bushfire. There will also be a number of RFS vehicles for the public to inspect.’’
The Hydro Majestic will continue the hotel’s journey as a sumptuously racy pit stop between Eastern Creek and Bathurst race tracks on the Sunday when approximately 20 modern supercars including Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, a NSW Police Porsche, Audi badges and more rev the occasion up to top torque.
The super car rally will herald a return to the glorious heyday of Australia’s most famous hotel, which was originally owned by retailing doyenne Mark Foy and relaunched last October by Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels after an extensive refurbishment.
Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “I’m sure Foy would have loved this event – the colour, the noise, the smell and flamboyance of motor cars.
“He was a colourful and adventurous (some would even say outrageous) personality who was competitive and progressive and loved the thrill of speed. He wanted to be in the thick of excitement and wasn’t afraid to take risks and try new things.’’
According to information gleaned from Foy’s niece Mary Shaw by motoring historian Bill Boldiston, at the turn of the 19th century Mark Foy tasked his friend Bill Elliott, who lived in France, to purchase a motor car for him.
Elliott dutifully did so, buying an 1899 3hp De Dion Voiturette Vis a Vis motor car in London for 175 pounds and 10 shillings and a further 9.13.10 worth of accessories on January 26, 1900. It arrived in Sydney on April 27 and cleared Sydney customs on May 15 that year.
The vehicle seems to have been the first motor car imported into NSW.
After opening his “Palace in the wilderness’’ in 1904, Foy and another nearby hotel owner and keen motorist, Tom Rodriquez, began a daily service to Jenolan Caves featuring Foy’s latest import, a 10hp Panhard et Levassor.
Foy then imported two Milnes-Daimlers in chassis form, which became Charabancs, and offered hotel guests motor tours.
He later bought three Bedelia French cyclecars, which he kept at his Megalong Valley property, Valley Farm. The vehicles were made available to guests who wished to indulge in motor racing on the nearby Medlow Showground circuit.
Foy’s next purchase, a 1910 Fiat Tipo Zero, so impressed him that he became an agent for the brand.
He posed for two publicity images with the car under the Grand Arch at Jenolan Caves and in the middle of Victoria Pass at Mt Victoria in 1913 with Bill Elliott and his new Medlow friend Jack Rice to show that the car could easily do a hill start on the steepest public road in NSW.
Foy added a sporty Le Zebre French car to his collection and later a German Stoewer. His last choice was the radical Franklin from America with its air cooled engine.
When Foy died he had three Franklins, which he instructed in his will to be restored and presented to three of his friends. Their fate remains a mystery.
Apart from being the new toy of the rich and powerful, Foy was attracted to the motor car for its speed and was an enthusiastic competitor in the Dunlop Rubber Company-sponsored Sydney to Melbourne car race in February 1905 to show how dependable cars had become.
His was one of 37 self-propelled vehicles to set off from Sydney on the adventure of their lives along rough roads without repair facilities along the route.
There were multiple “winners’’ so the trial was extended to Ballarat and the eventual winner was Harley Tarrant, who went on to design and manufacture his own successful locally made motor cars.
However, with 15 of the competitors including Mark Foy hailing from Sydney, another Dunlop Reliability Trial was organised that November to bring them home.
When the Melbourne to Sydney trial also ended in confusion, Foy suggested that an extension to the Hydro Majestic might produce an outright winner. It didn’t.
The Hydro Majestic Super Car Rally will be held at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, from 11am to 3.30pm on November 28 and November 29.
Visitors can lunch on a gourmet sausage and locally-crafted beers and wines or buy a gourmet picnic hamper from the Hydro Majestic Pavilion for an extra classic experience and tuck into regional produce with the magnificent Megalong Valley as a backdrop.
Car enthusiasts are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the motoring experience and stay at least one night at an Escarpment Group property, each with private parking.
* Escarpment Group and the Hydro Majestic Hotel is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
Mark Foy established tours between Medlow Bath and Jenolan Caves