Virus takes toll on Ballan Swap Meet

By: Stefan Nechwatal

On March 14, days before the coronavirus caused truck event cancellations Australia-wide, organisers of the Ballan Swap Meet decided to plough ahead. Here's what happened:

Virus takes toll on Ballan Swap Meet
‘Little Yvette’ at the Ballan Swap Meet in Victoria.


The Saturday Age, edition March 14, suddenly brought this virus exploding into our consciousness.

I had bought The Age on my way south from home, on my way to have a seller's stall at the annual Ballan Swap Meet. Outside of the newsagent, sitting in my car, I read the news, "Nation Locks Down" and thought, "this will be the last motoring event for a fair while!"

Paid my $20 entry stall fee at the gate of the old racecourse and unpacked ‘Little Yvette’ from her restraining ratchet straps and settled in to watch for interested onlookers.

They didn't come.

The Swap Meet environs were bare, save for the embattled stallholders, bracing the horrific cold winds coming straight from the Antarctic.

By 11.30am they were calling it a day, packing up and leaving. The freezing winds had not helped their spirits.

I spoke with a number of committee persons from the Ballan District Vintage Machinery and Vehicle Club Inc., who had organised this annual event.

While setting up the day before, they had considered pulling the plug, but as they had prepared food in their new state-of-art clubroom kitchen to feed the usual masses, they had decided to go ahead with the Sunday event.

Regrettably the gate takings suffered and so will their fundraising, as this event is the second on their calendar which helps to keep their extensive infrastructure evolving.

I fear the ramifications of the new Government's call out will impact our communities in ways we have not imagined.

These motoring events help the general mental health of the community at the same time offering many ways for the community to be positively involved in fundraising, be they the local football/netball club, the Rotary and Lions Clubs, school mother's committees, etc.

I can only hope that after the sensationalist news has died down, some more rational measures can be implemented, so that gatherings can still happen safely and for the benefit of all.

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