Sunday 7th May.
Photos by Bruce and Bedrina Rayne.

In April 2016 the Regals held its very first Mystery Cruise Poker Run. I was unable to attend, but by all accounts it was a fantastic day, so I made sure that I didn’t miss its return this year. Originally scheduled for November last year, the mystery cruise was postponed due to a lack of response from members. We know how busy people get heading towards Christmas, so we decided to push the run back to May 2017.

For those who haven’t been on a Mystery Cruise Poker Run, the concept is pretty simple. You meet at the start location, then pay a $15 entry fee to receive a cryptic clue to the whereabouts of the next meeting point (with all proceeds going to charity). When you arrive at the mystery location, you randomly select a playing card from a deck, as well as receiving your next cryptic clue. At the next mystery location the process is repeated, then repeated again until you reach the fifth and final location where you end up with a complete poker hand of randomly selected cards. The best poker hand is then awarded a prize.

Rod Harris, one of the key event organisers, hard at work!

If you can’t decipher the clue, you can pay to receive the answer for an additional $5. If you don’t like your randomly selected card, you can pay $5 to select another. The main focus is on having fun and raising money for a good cause. The charity of choice for the day was Ronald McDonald House, Westmead.

We met at the McGraths Hill McDonald’s at around 8.30am. There was a reasonable turnout, but well below our expectations, especially considering the support for a worthy cause, and amount of work that went into the run. The two main masterminds behind the event are long-time club members Guy Gulotta and Rod Harris. With the help of their families, they ran the event like a well-oiled machine. I can’t even begin to tell you how impressed I was with how well the event was organised.

Event organiser Guy Gulotta heads off to the first mystery location!

Soon after 9am, we all received our first clue, which was “Wilber is forced to chase butterflies on his go-kart”. I don’t know if it’s considered research or cheating, but I jumped straight onto Google maps with a search of “Go kart Wilberforce” which instantly revealed the first destination. We all jumped into our Mopars for the first leg of the run.

Andrew Mede’s funny-looking Mopar!

We had a slightly unusual vehicle along for the run this month. Club treasurer Andrew Mede is currently in the process of restoring on old “Kemwerf” prime mover, and after getting it back on the road quite recently, he decided to bring it along. It served very well as a beacon for anyone who wasn’t sure where they were going.

We arrived at the Wilberforce Indy 800 Kart track around 9:30am, where we received our first card and our next clue: “Liar, Liar. Museum on Fire.” Given the Regals’ association with the Penrith Museum of Fire, I think this one would have to be the easiest clue of the day. We jumped back into the cars and headed to Penrith. The roads were still pretty empty at this time on a Sunday, so the thirty minute cruise was very enjoyable.

A cryptic clue!

At the Museum of fire, we received our second card and our third clue. This one was scrambled and took us a little longer: “samrtse rpka sdarnme”. After a few guesses, we came up with the solution of “Masters Marsden Park”, right around the corner from our new club meeting venue at Schofields, so off we went again.

We arrived at the (very empty) Masters parking lot in Marsden Park for the third card and the fourth clue: “World famous pies at Parramatta”. Off to Harry’s we went.

With the roads getting a bit busier now, the convoy was getting harder to keep together, but it was still a very relaxing cruise. We arrived at Parramatta soon after 11am to receive the fourth card and the final clue: “Bound to get a beer and schnitty at the vineyard”. Having never heard of the Vineyard Hotel, I was reliant on other club members to help me with this one. With the smell of Harry’s pies fuelling our appetite, we headed back to Windsor road and out to Vineyard.

We arrived at the Vineyard Hotel a little before midday, where we all parked up, grabbed a drink and then received our fifth and final card.

The club had been busily selling raffle tickets in the lead up to this event, so it was time to draw the winners. First prize was a $500 tyre package and went to Regals member Dean Lewry. Second prize was a $450 VB bar fridge and went to Rod Rivet from ITW Pro-line. Third prize of a $150 Dunlop jacket, cap and lanyard went to Regals member Anthony Cope.

As for the poker hands, I managed to get a pair of aces, but I didn’t stand a chance against the winning hands. First prize of a sleeping bag, hat and keyring went to Regals member Dean Lewry with a hearts flush, second prize of a Dunlop jacket, hat, keyring and toy car went to Dean’s wife, Justine (lucky day for the Lewrys) with a clubs flush and third prize of a golf bag, hat and keyring went to non-golfer Romeo Susnjara (look out for the golf bag on eBay) with two pair. There were also a number of boobie prizes of a hat, lanyard and tyre pressure gauge that were awarded to Simon, Michelle and Amy Griffiths and Brett Roberts.

We then headed inside to the Vineyard Hotel bistro for a spot of lunch. Unfortunately the food was well below average, but that’s a pretty minor complaint. I think I’ve probably been a bit spoilt by the quality of food we’ve been getting at the monthly meetings. But with such a fun morning, I wasn’t really bothered by it.

A disappointing meal, but great company!

The run raised just over $700 in raffle ticket sales and entry fees, with the club kicking in the balance to bring the total amount to $1,000. Ronald McDonald house helps raise money for sick children and their families, so it’s hard to find a more worthy cause than that.

Each leg of the run was about 20kms long, with nice roads for cruising and plenty of scenery. Each step in the process was meticulously organised and executed like clockwork. No amount of praise can adequately describe just how well this run was organised or how much fun it was to participate. A huge thank you must go out to Guy and Rod (and their families) for making the day such a huge success. The only real disappointment was the lack of club participation, a matter that will need to be addressed.

I can’t wait for next year!