Western District Historic Vehicle Club
Mars Bar Competition
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One of our Members Catriona Rowntree
was the Speaker at
our Meeting
Rod Booley
was presented with a trophy for 
Club Member of the Year
When our guest speaker and fellow club member,Catriona Rowntree, began speaking to the May
meeting, she warned us that she could “talk theleg off a chair” and urged Gus to “make sure you rein me in - I will keep on going”.
What followed was a thoroughly entertaining glimpse into her life as a presenter on the TV
travel show Getaway and her deep and lifelong connection to classic cars.
Catriona and husband/chief mechanic, James Pettit, brought along her immaculate, slate grey 1965 Jaguar S-type. The car emitted a gloriously understated burble of power as it slid neatly into the club workshop at the start of the night and gleamed splendidly for members to
inspect after the meeting.
Catriona made special mention of the efforts of our youngest member and microphone wrangler, Sam Harris with the comment, “Sam, you are incredible!” Then she told us about her car.
She said she came from “a long line on classic car lovers” and the appreciation of cars of character and distinctive beauty was in her blood. As she grew up her Dad “took her to every single car show”.
“One day Dad was able to buy a 1968 Jaguar 420 G,” she said. The car had belonged to the
chairman of the Bank of New South Wales. It had walnut all through the interior, with little drop
down trays and mirrors. A distinct memory of her father when the family rode in the car was him saying: “Don’t slam the doors!”
“Now I say that to my kids!” Catriona laughed. Catriona’s current S-type Jag belonged to her
great uncle, Dr Cameron Rowntree, and was passed down to her father. Together with her Dad
she took on the restoration of the car after he became sick. Sadly he did not see the project
finished but she now proudly owns and drives the beautiful vehicle.
Catriona recounted that her first car was a $2,000 Leyland Mini. At first she couldn’t drive it because it was a manual, but a friend taught her how by bunny hopping around the block. She saved up and later bought the shell of a 1966 Mini Cooper S, which she restored with the help of a mechanic and which she still has. She says the little car is great around town and she loves the connection with others that you get when driving a classic car - their great reactions.
Catriona said she was not a good student and received detentions for talking, something she
confessed to being good at. (Catriona studied journalism and has made her livelihood through
researching, writing, presenting and as an author.) “I love to be the conduit for other people’s stories,” she explained. She has been involved with the television travel
show Getaway for 23 of the 25 years it has been to air. The show has obviously been very satisfying for her as she is still involved. When starting out, she lived at home in the city, close to the studio.
Unlike others who had to move to “the big smoke” to pursue their opportunities, she began with the everyday support of having her family close by. While acknowledging that the lifestyle is not for everyone, she enjoys the travel, the plane flights, the odd hours and the driving. With a small fourperson crew, the tasks on the road are necessarily shared and Catriona said she has been able to drive some “glorious drives”. Among her favourites have been the English Cotswolds, Tasmania, New Zealand and Italy. She said Tuscany on a Vespa
was a highlight. Piloting a valuable rented Alpha Romeo on the
Italian Autostrada was among her scariest experiences, with the fast cars doing 180kph in the
left hand lane, the more modest drivers in the centre at 120 kph and Catriona, the old men and
the farm tractors on the right, at a more sedat pace.
Thanks Mr Breedveld for the writeup
Ray van Galen was presented with the Eric Baker Award for 2019,