National Machinery Rally, Fairbridge

Collection of books bound during the Rally

The National Historic Machinery Association’s bi-annual machinery rally was held in Western Australia for the first time in a very long time. This was in August of 2011. The arrival and setup of tractors, bulldozers, cranes, trucks, farm machinery, standing engines, chainsaws, vintage cars and more started on the Monday, and by the time we were setting up on Thursday there was already a lot in place. 

50 acres was set aside for tractors, and it was well and truly packed. The entire football oval was full of standing engines and vintage and veteran vehicles. The most amazing part was the fact that just about everything was running. The oval was full of small steam engine noises, puffs of smoke, air horns, tappets and valves clacking away from a huge array of both restored and original machinery. I had a look during the Thursday set up day, when the weather was perfect. There was simply too much to take in in one sitting. After manning the bookbinders stand on Friday, I had another look on Saturday, and still could not take it all in. Finally, on Sunday I walked around one more time and took another bunch of photos. The displays were comprehensive, fascinating and generally very well organised.

Although most of the show was machinery, there was a building full of arts and craft, hand tools, morse code equipment and bookbinders.

We had a constant stream of people at the bookbinders stand. All attendants were kept pretty busy answering questions over the three days, and the room was always fairly full. We met Government Ministers, the Secretary of the NHMA who now look after our public liability insurance, and many many people who had two essential questions. 1: What sort of glue do you use (A PVA but it is better quality than your average woodworking glue that you get from the hardware store), and 2: I have an old family bible that needs repairs. Do you fix books too? (No, but we can give you some names of people that do).

The answers should probably be put onto cards that we can just hold up. I managed to put 6 book blocks together, and made up three of the 6 cases. The books were finished during the week following the event. Jo spent time trying out various sewing techniques, and Bob was busy sewing magazines together into a book. There was lots of interest, and a few possible new members. Some visitors were members of Eastern States bookbinding clubs, and a few from South Australia who were keen to join up, but disappointed to find out there was no club in SA. Quite a few people said that they had learned bookbinding at school, but usually only had the most basic of equipment and were keen to see how we did things.

Overall a good weekend, with many thousands of visitors. Certainly it was the largest event ever held at Fairbridge, and the only downside was the sometimes lengthy traffic delays getting in and out.