Words by Alan Benedetti.
After an early start, a small group of 4 – Jeff W, Ross J, Nick B & myself met at the BP on Peninsula Link for the 20min drive to the base station of the Arthur’s Seat Eagle. We had a few members cancel their attendance as a precautionary measure, but we forged on.
Our guide for the morning – Rob – was soon on-site to start the day. A nice surprise was Rob giving the attendees a complimentary ticket for our trip. After a brief history of the original chairlift and the upgrade to the current set-up, we boarded our gondola for the 15min trip to the café area at the top of the Eagle.
Rob explained the much-improved safety of the system and how this type of transport is one of the safest ways to move. The gondola’s can be fitted with windows – ours was nicely open – they can apparently be a bit of a hot-box with the windows installed. Each gondola is fitted with an emergency light and radio should a situation arise – passengers who are informed of a problem are generally much calmer than if left to their own assumptions…
When we arrived at the top station, we stood aside and watched how the gondolas detach and reattach at each end and travel at a slower speed than the cable itself. Rob explained the mechanisms and amounts of pressure exerted on the cable. The rescue procedure was explained – it is practiced on a monthly basis in all varieties of weather conditions. The facility can operate in winds of up to 60kph, but the daily conditions are constantly monitored.
We availed ourselves of the snacks on offer and enjoyed a great chat about what we had seen, what we were anticipating seeing and taking in the great view. The trip back to the base station allowed us to appreciate the awesome views over Port Phillip from the unhindered vantage point.
Once back to base, Rob showed us through the maintenance area and explained the incredibly strict maintenance schedule in place to keep the whole works running smoothly. The gondolas are removed from the main cable on a daily basis and each is checked before docking in the maintenance shed. The system runs of a single electric motor resulting a very quiet operation. The system even employs a form of regenerative braking to put electricity back into the grid. Should there be an electrical outage, they do have a diesel generator on-site. Though I think Jeff may have wanted to be rescued…
After a couple of us made some snap purchases at the gift shop, and a goodbye chat with Rob, we then headed of lunch… All four of us bundled into Jeff’s XR-6 wagon for the exhilarating ride back to the top station of the Eagle. After a great lunch in the café and a couple of calming beverages we departed for the short trip to Charlie’s Car Museum.
This great little location is a showcase of some weird and wacky automobiles and memorabilia from a time long passed. From the tiny commuter prototypes, to the glorious Cord, there would be something for everyone in this eclectic collection.
There was an astonishing array of toy cars, household goods and scooters to check out. Please check out the gallery of photos on the club webpage – I tried for a photo of every car, but I may have missed a couple and there were way too many things to try to include.
The hardest part of looking at this amazing selection is that everything is so packed in that they are clearly not used or even started and moved. Other collections such as the Holden Museum in Mildura, or the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania are privately owned vehicles on rotation – giving the display a freshen up periodically. As we would all appreciate – a car is meant to be driven – not just parked and admired.
After descending back to the base station in the wagon, we bid adieu to the Eagle and the Mornington Peninsula and headed home.
It was a great day with a tonne of animated conversation with plenty of wide-ranging topics discussed. Unfortunately, since this event, the Eagle has fallen victim to the new world we are living in – it is just one of the undoubtedly many businesses to fail as a result of COVID-19. We hope it can return in the future – it really is a unique experience.
For the foreseeable future, this will be the last event-based report in Cruise Control – a temporary sign off of sorts…
See you at the next event whenever that should be.
Alan (& Lars).