Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks

1969 Southern Cross Rally

8 – 12 OCTOBER 1969

SURFERS PARADISE – LISMORE – TOOWOOMBA – SURFERS PARADISE

Andrew Cowan/Dave Johnson won the 1969 Southern Cross International Rally

Summary

Andrew Cowan, fresh from his 1968 London to Sydney Marathon win, set a scorching pace in his Austin 1800 with Dave Johnson navigating. The Frank Kilfoyle/Doug Rutherford crew was the only one to provide Cowan with any real opposition. 1968 winner John Keran received a setback with his challenge when he miscued on a bridge in the dust and finished 6th outright whilst Colin Bond fought hard in his Colt 1500 to finish third outright, having overcome early brake failure and engine overheating.

With rallying in New South Wales banned for the year in 1969 whilst an agreement on the use of shire roads was discussed between Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) and Shire Councils, the Southern Cross International Rally moved north to start and finish in Surfers Paradise. The first half ran down into the Northern New South Wales towns of Murwillumbah, Lismore (first day break), Casino, Kyogle and Tenterfield before moving back into Queensland via Warwick to be based at Toowoomba for the second and third day breaks. Then the route headed north from Toowoomba to Maryborough, and returned south through rally country west of the Sunshine Coast before finishing at Surfers Paradise.

Due to the terrain and the density of population this year’s event was of a different character to the past three, and future, Southern Cross Rallies. 13 sections were 5km or shorter, whilst transport sections were tight on time and many crews on numerous occasions lost points for being late on these sections.

It contained a degree of navigation, unlike other years which were fully route-charted. Director Allan Lawson had difficulty in setting the event.Getting permissions from shires difficult and indeed, it was only a few weeks before the event that Lawson was certain it could be conducted. The rough edges of the event were route charts being set in different cars, control officials who could be ‘conned’ by competitors (due probably to lack of adequate briefing as they were not as experienced as their counterparts in the southern events) and, generally, quite a few mistakes in the organisation of the event, due to the difficulties in setting it up.

However, the important issue was that the event was conducted, giving it continuity, and allowing breathing space while other potential areas in which to conduct the event were found.

Final Placings

1Andrew CowanDave JohnsonAustin 180063
2Frank KilfoyleDoug RutherfordFord Cortina GT66
3Colin BondBrian HopeMitsubishi Colt 1500 SSS118
4Barry FergusonRoger BonhommeHolden Monaro GTS120
5Bruce CollierLindsay AdcockRenault Gordini150
6John KeranPeter MeyerVolvo 142 S165
=7Doug StewartNigel CollierMitsubishi Colt 1500 SSS198
=7Barry LloydAlbert BrowneMitsubishi Colt 1500 SSS198
9David McKayJohn BrysonMercedes 280 SE208
10Gary MecakRoss KellyFord Cortina GT230

Full details about the 1969 Southern Cross Rally are in the document below.

1969 Southern Cross Rally