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Flashback: Land Rover’s 60th Annniversary in Australia, Cooma, 2008

The Land Rover was born as a stop-gap, so the Rover Car company could never have known that a lifetime later on thousands of enthusiasts would converge on the small NSW town of Cooma to celebrate the marque.

We look back on Australia’s largest gathering of Land Rovers….

FOR MOST OF 2007 the Land Rover community had been asking each other “Are you going to Cooma?” and for 1374 of them driving 767 vehicles, the answer was yes, of course.  How could you pass up the chance to see just about one of every Land Rover made or modified, catch up with old friends, meet new ones, finally put a face to those forum names, garner ideas aplenty or relax in the company of like-minded enthusiasts?  And Land Rover owners do tend to be enthusiasts. It’s almost poor form to own just the one, and if every owner had brought every Landie they owned then there would be more like 5000 cars. Chatting to people over dinner, we asked which Land Rover they had brought and how many they owned. A typical response:

“Ah, I came up in the Series 1.  Wife drove the 110.  Umm, yes we’ve got a two-door Rangie too. Plus an early 90.”

Wife “And all the other early ones!”

“Oh I forgot, we’ve got a 2a running now. And a few Series 1s as well. Some need a bit of restoring.”

Wife “A bit. A bit!”

Yes, there were rivet-counters aplenty and much discussion of vehicle history, restoration techniques and exactly which day grommets of 5/8 inch replaced 1/2 inch on the Series 3 was heard.  This was not a place to refer to a 110 as a Defender, although we never heard a cross word all weekend, just friendly banter.

But the Land Rover community is a broad church, and while there are many who are interested in restoration and history, there are just as many who appreciate the old cars but focus their efforts elsewhere.  Land Rovers make very good tourers, and many owners showcased their vehicles, including Daniel Fluckiger who won Best in Show with a magnificent yellow Defender 130 camper. Some hardcore guys were there too, with their extremely capable offroaders.  And the newest vehicles at the time were represented, with Freelander 2s, Range Rover Sports and Range Rover Vogues.

Everything began on Friday with registration, followed by a motorkhana and various trips on the Saturday, finishing with a family BBQ for 900 hungry people in the evening.  Sunday was the Big Day, with 560 Land Rovers lining up on a runway in order of model age, an assembly that took nearly three hours.  Then the Grand Parade where all the cars drove through Cooma to the Showgrounds, for the general display and judging of various awards.   The prizes were presented later that evening at the gala dinner, and notably Best P38A Range Rover was won by Ron Beckett, better known to many as p38arover from the AURLO forums.

The guest speakers were Land Rover luminaries, starting with then-LRA Managing Director Roger Jory who explained that Land Rovers built the roads for other 4WDs to travel on, said he hoped the LRX would be a part of the future [ that vehicle became the Evoque] , and noted that China is now a larger market for Land Rover than Australia, having started only a few years ago.

He was followed by Graham Jones, then Richard Asquith, and Bill Baker, each of whom had their own anecdotes to relate. Bill wasn’t worried about the impending sale of Land Rover to Tata, having been with the company through ownership by the British Government, British Aerospace, BMW and Ford.  Interestingly, he had borrowed a new TDV8 Vogue in Sydney and not realised it was diesel till he arrived in Cooma.  Perhaps that experience played a part in his prediction that the USA was going to swing towards diesel as increased petrol prices began to bite.

Monday was a day to pack up the tent and the memories, then begin the journey home.  As we wafted in our loan Range Rover Sport back to Melbourne through the Snowy, we found Land Rovers around every corner. Maybe that’s what it was like all those years ago when Land Rovers helped build the Snowy, just one achievement in sixty proud years.

Click any image to start the gallery:

 Which Land Rovers, From Where

There were a total of 767 Land Rovers registered, made up of:

  • Series 1 – 88
  • Series 2/2a – 90
  • Series 3 – 116
  • 110/Countys – 34
  • Defenders (90/110/130) – 176
  • Discoverys (1, 2, 3) – 160
  • Range Rovers / Sports – 82
  • Freelanders – 6
  • Forward Controls – 4
  • 101s – 5
  • Lightweights – 5
  • Bushrangers – 1

560 of those were in the Grand Parade, which is more than the 50th Anniversary celebrations in the UK!  Attendees came from every State and Territory in Australia, as well as Denmark, England, New Zealand and the USA.  All profits from the event were  split between the four organising clubs (Land Rover Owners Club of Victoria, Land Rover Owners Club of Sydney, Range Rover Club of NSW, Land Rover Club of ACT) for distribution to charities of their choice.

The video below shows all 560 lined up in one place!

Show Results

  • Motorkhana – Best SWB – Peter Davis, LROCS
  • Motorkhana – Best MWB – John Davies, LROCV
  • Motorkhana – Best LWB – Glen Hudson, LROCS
  • Best in Show – Daniel Fluckiger – LROCS
  • Best set up for Outback Travel – Brian Johnson, LRRSA
  • Best Series One restored – Bevan & John Fenner, LROCV
  • Best Series One unrestored – Anthony Maeder, LROCV
  • Best Series Two restored – Chris Klein, LROCS
  • Best Series Two unrestored – Len Smyth, LROCV
  • Best Series Three – Ray Kahl, LROCV (the “Game” featured in OL Sep ’06)
  • Best Forward Control – Jim Eldridge
  • Best 110/County – Richard Asquith, RRC NSW
  • Best Defender – Fred Lomas, LROCS
  • Best Range Rover 2-door – Patrick Sutcliffe, LROCV, RRC NSW, LROCS
  • Best Range Rover 4-door – Richard Windham, RRCQ
  • Best Range Rover P38 – Ron Beckett (aka p38arover)
  • Best Range Rover L322 – Chris Platt, LRRSA
  • Best Range Rover Sport – Peter Gough
  • Best Discovery 1 – Neil Matheson – RRCV
  • Best Discovery 2 – Toni Barnes – LROCS
  • Best Discovery 3 – Stan Bowshire
  • Best Freelander – Ben Robinson
  • Best Military – Wayne Ellard, LRRSA
  • Most Modified – Hilton Pollard, LROCS
  • Hard Luck Story – Ray James
  • Trivia Quiz – Ben Robinson
  • Observation Trial – John and Sally Wroe


Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is the editor of PM4x4, an offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com