You are currently viewing 22nd Feb 2024: Goulburn 100th Anniversary of the 1924 Motor Cycle Grand Prix
100th Anniversary of the 1924 Motor Cycle Grand Prix. Photo: Goulburn Mulwaree Council.

22nd Feb 2024: Goulburn 100th Anniversary of the 1924 Motor Cycle Grand Prix

1924 Motor Cycle Grand Prix Course
1924 Motor Cycle Grand Prix Course

1924 Motorcycle Grand Prix

This year will be the 100th Anniversary of the 1924 Motor Cycle Grand Prix and on the 22nd February, I’ll be leading a ride to commemorate it. A Memorial on Windellama Road just outside of Goulburn commemorates the start and finish point of this race. 

Some background – The 1924 Australian Motor Cycle Grand Prix is claimed to be the first of its kind in Australia. The triangular circuit extended from the outskirts of Goulburn to Windellama, across to Bungonia and back to the junction of the two roads. It involved four laps of the race circuit.

Motorcycle racing had been a popular sport in Goulburn since the Goulburn Motor Club was formed in 1911. In 1914, Australia’s first Tourist Trophy Race was held in the district, and in subsequent years, the Motor Club conducted several Tourist Trophy races.

Obviously, I’ll make a point of stopping at the Memorial which notes:  

The First Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 1924 

On a bitterly cold day on the 23rd June 1924 a group of motorcyclist met at this very spot to compete in the first Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. This monument has been erected to these motorcycling pioneers.

1924 Motor Cycle Grand Prix Memorial
1924 Motor Cycle Grand Prix Memorial

The first Australian Grand Prix was organised by the Auto Cycle Union of NSW and consisted of 4 laps of a circuit that passed through Windellama and Bungonia giving a total distance of 208 miles. In those days the course was dirt with many sharp bends, road corrugations and the occasional creek crossing. The Auto Cycle Union had strict conditions of racing and riders were required to wear crash helmets, dust glasses, leather jackets and leggings. Further rules included the display of official race numbers, mudguards were not to be removed and competitors could only refuel once each lap. Coloured flags at various points of the circuit warned riders of road conditions ahead.

The race pits, spectator viewing and amenities were located in the triangular area that now lies between the new and old roads. Spectators were able to see riders negotiate a sharp left-hand bend and narrow bridge.  As you can imagine there were many thrills and spills. Competitors often stopped to help fellow racers who had come to grief.

The race attracted some of the best riders of the era and included Tommy Benstead, Billy Conoulty, Dave Brewster and Stuart Williams. The Goulburn Motorcycle club fielded ten riders – J. Saunders, R. Stroud, H. Hodgson, S. Moran, H. Crawford, H. Brown, L. Daniel, S Holt, A. Cook and B. Rogers.

A Goulburn Post reporter gave an apt description of the race, “As the machines were sent away there would be a series of staccato explosions, a long drawn-out crackle, a droning hum and a black speck would vanish onto the south-east. Returning, the spectators saw a frantic flag-wagging on the rise a quarter of a mile down the road, a black object coming out of space like a projectile and then the motorist arrived.”

The conditions tested all but the brave as it took the winner Dave Brewster just over four hours to finish. We can only imagine how demanding this event would have been. While this circuit was never used again and the Grand Prix never returned to Goulburn further Tourist Trophy and speedway races were held at the Goulburn showground, Parkesbourne and Boxers Creek. These races followed the success of the first Australian Tourist Trophy race held ten years earlier at Yarra, west of Goulburn in 1914.

(Courtesy of Wayne Adams- author of the Racing Boys)

And, just for the record: Dave Brewster – Winner of the first Australian Senior Grand Prix in 1924 completed four laps of the circuit in 4 hours, 4 minutes, 45 seconds over 208 miles. From the Memorial near Goulburn to Windellama across to Bungonia back to the monument (Cairn)

For those, that require some additional information: Although, the memorial states that this event was the first of its kind in Australia: In 1914 a motorcycling event was held at Yetholme near Bathurst and billed as “The Grand Prix of Australia”. The motor cycle road race was held on Monday, 5th October 1914 and covered a handicapped circuit of over 140 miles. The event was promoted by the New South Wales and Kookaburra Clubs under the auspices of the Auto-Cycle Association of New South Wales. The race was won by E Meller on a Douglas Motorcycle (he apparently also won it in 1915 on a Matchless). There were 24 starters in the race. (The Sydney Morning Herald 6th October 1914)

Gerry Bloemen

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