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BUCKET LIST: National Motorcycle Museum, Nabiac, NSW

Brett Murray

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Thursday 3rd September, 2020 - 4:00pm

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Ducati 996 pic: supplied/National Motorcycle Museum

With the motorsport world on hold, and travel bans in place for Australia, you might be forgiven for contemplating a future escape.

Speedcafe.com has worked to develop a list of dream places, events and experiences for fans of motorsport and motoring for you to tick off your Bucket List.

NATIONAL MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM, Nabiac, NSW

Brian and Margaret Kelleher jumped on their Honda Gold Wing motorcycle more than 20 years ago in Canberra and headed north looking for a location for their life-long dream.

Brian was keen on Coonabarabran, but Margaret got her way and the pair settled on a patch of dirt at Nabiac, a small town on the NSW Mid North Coast about 28km South of Taree and 140km north of Newcastle in the Wallamba Valley.

A couple of decades later they now operate one of the world’s coolest motorcycle museums with 1000 bikes on display – almost one for every Nabiac resident.

The National Motorcycle Museum was actually started in the Canberra suburb of Mitchell by Brian and Margaret who had been in the motorcycle retail business for 18 years.

After reading a Bureau of Statistics report (they are easy to get in Canberra) that a substantial number of old motorcycles were leaving Australia for North America, Japan and England, they decided to do something to protect the nation’s two-wheel history.

Their personal collection was already substantial, but they then created a venue where enthusiasts could give their own bikes a new home rather than have them collecting dust in the back shed.

By the time the new Nabian building was completed, the Canberra collection, which had to be relocated, was topping 540 bikes.

After getting quotes of $50,000 to move them, Brian and Margaret decided to take on the task themselves using three floats.

Their sons would load a float in Canberra, Margaret would drive it north and Brian would unpack it while his wife drove back South for another load – it took six weeks!

The end result, which has come with no government or local authority support, is a stunning collection of bikes which has become one of the real tourism draw cards for the region.

“I had a dream from the age of 18,” said Brian.

“I wanted to become a bike mechanic, own my own shop and then own my own museum.

“We have done all that, so I am not sure what is next.”

Of the 1000 bikes on display, about 250 are on loan from around the country and the display regularly changes with fresh examples being added.

Some of the marques on display include ACME, ABW, AJS, Ariel, Benelli, BMW, Brough Superior, BSA, Chang-Jiang, Corgi, Cotton, Coventry-Eagle, CZ, DKW, DOT, Douglas, Ducati, Excelsior, Francis-Barnett, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Howall, Indian, Iver Johnson, Kawasaki, Kenilworth, Levis, Marusho Lilac, Matchless, Militaire, Morbidelli, Moto Morini, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Ner-A-Car, Norton, NSU, Panther, Puch, Riga, Rickman, Rover, Royal Enfield, Scott, Sunbeam, Suzuki, Triumph, Ural, Velocette, Vincent, Waratah, Warrior and Yamaha.

Among the Kellehers’ favourite machines are a 1919 Kenilworth scooter, a twin-cylinder water-cooled two-stroke Scott and a Vincent Black Knight.

While the bike collection is impressive enough, the museum also includes an extensive private library, motorcycling memorabilia and vintage toys.

The museum also includes a terrific gift shop that offers a range of scale models, clothing, cool books and other memorabilia.

To say that motorcycling is a family affair for the Kellehers would be a massive understatement.

Their sons Brian and Glen both ride bikes as does their Canberra’-based daughter Emma and between them have produced nine grandchildren, who all ride bikes, even the youngest at the age of four.

Glen, who has had a successful racing career, owns the Honda dealership in Taree while Brian has a Fair Dinkum Shed franchise in town.

Brian Sr still enjoys maintaining his vast collection, but admits he needs to keep his energy up just to keep all the tyres pumped up.

Despite that, he still finds time to ride and be involved in the motorcycling community.

The museum hosts an annual swap meet which had to be cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

Brian Sr has been a regular on the annual Variety Club Postie Bike Dash and will be returning this year with his daughter Emma and daughter-in-law Angela.

The six-day 1400km event will start and end in Tamworth (November 1-6) and will take in Moonan Flat, Gloucester, Comoyne, North Haven, Nambucca Heads, Coutts Crossing, Glen Innes, Bundarra and Gunnedah.

“The Postie Dash is a fantastic amount of fun and it will be great to do it with the girls this year,” said Brian Snr.

“And it is all for a terrific cause.”

In the meantime, the Kellehers have some bikes and grandkids to take care of.

The museum also has a fantastic 3D presentation which provides an incredible look at just how vast and unique this collection is.

The museum is open daily from 09:00-15:30 and you will need more than one visit if you are a real enthusiast because this place is a feast for the senses.

Those interested in loaning machines or memorabilia should contact the museum either by email or by phone.

ACTIVITY OVERVIEW

Website https://nationalmotorcyclemuseum.com.au/
Address 33 Clarkson Street, Nabiac, NSW 2312
How to get there The Museum is in Nabiac, on the mid-north coast of NSW.

Nabiac is on the Pacific Highway 140 kilometres north of Newcastle & 28km south of Taree.

Opening Hours & Tickets Open: 09:00-15:30 daily; Adults $15, Family (Parents + dependant children under 17 years) $45, Children (under 14) $5, Students (14-17) $10.
Phone +61 474 788 132
Email [email protected]
Additional tip Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the experience.

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