Australia’s Land Rover tribe gathered at Rainbow Beach on Sunday, after the first “Gathering,” potentially an annual event organised by some of the nation’s most enthusiastic vehicle owners.
And, as with British motorcycles and Kombi vans, Land Rover tribe members are more than just vehicle owners, they really are enthusiasts.
One of those visiting enthusiasts is Rockhampton resident Madelyn Holmes, whose “Lady in a Landy” website has changed a few people’s minds about women and four-wheel driving.
She recalls one online comment from a person who said he would not sell her a vehicle for restoration because he did not believe she could do it.
Other guests came from Brisbane, the Gold Coast and interstate, one said to have travelled from South Australia and several from New South Wales.
At least 300 people, in nearly 100 vehicles drove in convoy from Maryborough, in a queue so long it showed on Google Earth as a rare and major Maryborough traffic jam, as owners lined up at Granville to travel together down the Cooloola Coast Road.
Event co-ordinator Matt Hubbert said the inaugural event, marking Land Rover’s 75th year in Australia, had been the kind of success that makes a repeat likely – potentially even making the event the start of a new Land Rover tradition,
Ms Holmes, whose website has become a tradition in itself, drove down in her 2012 Land Rover Defender to be part of the crowd.
Originally interested in 4wd vehicles because of her interest in taking adventure photographs, she has found the tail wagging the dog in some respects, as her Land Rover restoration interests gradually became an important focus for her.
An almost spooky coincidence for her was the discovery of a family link to the iconic British 4wd marque.
A Land Rover was the first vehicle her father drove and her grandfather had an unusual accident in one, crashing into “an elephant’s bum” in Africa.
Even more enthusiastic than the enthusiasts themselves may have been the sponsors, who have put money, time and other support not only into their vehicles, but into the Gathering event itself.
They included Trudy Hill of custom parts and vehicle rental firm Defender Weekender, Mark Okes-Richards of online parts and accessories supplier 4WD Industries and Justin Burton of Gold Coast firm Landybitz.
Mr Hubbert said anyone interested in joining the tribe could find out more about future events at the website, ‘thelrgathering.au’.