Despite Macksville’s rural past, the town got to witness a unique spectacle today: seven immaculate heritage Ferguson tractors all rolling across the old bridge in a convoy.
Until the bypass, tractors were taboo on the old highway.
But this morning those classic engines triumphantly cruised over the crest of the bridge, on their way to the Bendemeer muster.
Watch: the convoy across the bridge
The Mid North Coast Machinery and Restoration Club lads started out at Bonville in the wee hours of the morn and chugged on in to Macksville just after 9am.
“At 20km an hour you can look around and enjoy the countryside,” Maclean’s Chris Sparks said.
“In a fast-paced world, it’s a very relaxed way to travel.”
He said the other cars on the road have been quite supportive of the tractor troupe, often waving as they overtake.
But it’s not all fun and games, the men are on a mission to raise money for the Westpac Rescue Chopper.
“We raised a couple of hundred so far,” trek organiser Jeff Egans said.
“And the boys don’t know it yet, but they’ll all be putting in a tenner too,” he grinned.
The Fergie fanclub owns about 100 tractors between them, with Rob Gill clocking up three dozen alone.
The tractor tragics say there’s no cure once you’ve caught the bug.
“Once tractors are in your blood, that’s it! It’s like dirt under your fingernails,” Queenslander Brian Rutherford said.
Half of the boys rode in on original 1950s petrol four-stroke Fergies, and the other lot had the modified diesel engines: “for fuel efficiency and torque.”
They fuelled up at the Macksville Caltex (their last fuel stop for 120km) while rubber-neckers got a good view.
One local, Lach McKay, got into a spot when he accidentally left his lights and radio on to cheer the convoy into the Caltex.
“Thank God for those men and their trusty old grey Fergusons. You can’t keep a good one down,” Lach said as he got a jumpstart from a Fergie.
Tonight they’re headed for Crackenback and then tomorrow they’ll make a bee-line for Armidale before finishing up at Bendemeer, 380km later.
“I haven’t travelled the Kempsey-Armidale route for quite a while now, it might be still gravel for all I know. We’ll be heading up over the mountain, so that’ll probably be the most challenging part of the journey," Chris Sparks said.
“It really is a bit of a unique thing to travel so far on a tractor.”
There’ll be more tractors from Bowraville meeting up with the boys in Armidale, another lot in Uralla, and a further convoy joining the ranks 50km out from the destination.
“I’m loving this,” Jeff Egans said.
“I’m already planning the next one in three years’ time. I’m getting everyone’s names down for that one and we haven’t even finished this one yet.”