On a seemingly uneventful day sometime back in 1982, Red Cawte and Paddy O’Rourke spawned the idea to start a group for Laverda motorcycle owners. They were throwing back a few cold beers at the RE (Royal Exchange Hotel) in Toowong and the idea came about in simple chronology; They both liked and owned Laverda’s, there weren’t many Laverda’s around, they knew a few other Lav owners, they were young and were always up for a ride – you get the rest, not rocket science, right? They placed an ad in the paper and caught the attention of Rabbi Nye and several others. A ride through the Gold Coast hinterland was arranged and after beer number 3 or 4, Club Laverda Queensland (CLQ) was born. Blokes like Ian Morrison, Cam McDiarmid, White Wog, ‘Fossil’, Phil Cutler, Phil Bub and Mark Muir soon came into the mix and as they say, the rest is history.
It was the 80’s! Moto Laverda motorcycles were still rolling off the assembly line and you could walk into a bike shop and buy brand spanking new Jota… provided you had a huge pile of cash of course. This motley crew of mates caught up regularly for many a run. Bathurst at Easter was always a must. Rabbi worked at a bike shop at Buranda that had the dealer rights so always kept everyone’s bikes going. It was a simple regime all about mates, rides, drinks and fun. They never took themselves or anybody else too seriously and that attitude still plays a vital role in the club to this day.
What was it about this motorcycle that stood out from the other makes? For Rabbi it was it a 9 inch leading shoe rear brake. Red was over 6’ and felt comfortable on the tall Laverda triples. Ian Morrison just saw a black and gold Jota at a campsite when he was 18 and it was love at first sight. Whatever it was that attracted them to these bikes, one constant remained; nothing quite compared to that unmistakable and unique sound of a 180 degree triple engine and in the early 80’s there just wasn’t any other bike that accelerated or handled like a Lav.
In the mid to late 80’s The Ducati Owners Club of Queensland was running a decent bike show known as the Concours. The event was first run at the foot of Mount Coot-tha and then moved to Captain Burke Park under the Story Bridge. After a few years the Ducati boys decided the event was too much work for them and CLQ took over operations. They decided it was too good an event to let wither on the vine and in 2016 they will host the event for the 28th year in a row.
Outgrowing the Story Bridge venue some years ago, the CLQ Concours is now placed at the larger Cleveland Showgrounds on Brisbane’s bayside. The event gets bigger and bigger every year with 6,000 to 8,000 people converging on the showgrounds to check out some 200 motorcycles on display vying for over 50 trophies and prizes. Best in show takes home $2000 cash! There are usually more than 2,000 bikes parked at the event and punters can even see the very rare sight that is a couple of dozen Laverda motorcycles in one place. Money is also raised every year to go towards charities like the Make A Wish Foundation, a group that the club has supported and contributed some $50,000 to over the years.
The event is held every year on the 3rd Sunday in July unless postponed due to rain (yes for those who remember, it was rain delayed for 3 years in a row) which has only happened on 3 out of the almost 30 years they have been doing it. The organisers at the club strive to make the show better each year with the inclusion of a wider variety of trophy classes, live dyno displays, live entertainment and rides for the whole family, gourmet food vendors and the best quality motorcycle trade stands and club displays http://www.makeawish.org.au
If you asked any of the original club members they would all tell you how surprised they are that the club is actually still going strong. These days, the club’s membership hosts a vast array of bike enthusiasts both Laverda and non Laverda. You don’t have to own a Laverda to be a member. The aim of the club is to promote the marque and their goal and motto is to Share the Good times.There are the members that are no longer with them. Founding member Paddy O’Rourke passed away in 2015 after losing his battle with cancer. In true CLQ fashion, several members celebrated his memory by heading back to where is all began at the RE to raise a glass for Paddy. Other members Like Colin ‘Rad’ Morton and Jeff ‘Shiney’ Shine are remembered through ride days dedicated in their name.
In the present day, it’s hard enough to find anyone under 40 that’s even heard of a Laverda let alone seen one. The Italian manufacturer made a big splash back in the day for its innovative and robust machines… and also their price tag. With fewer and fewer Laverdas on the road, the members of Club Laverda Queensland should be commended for their efforts in not only keeping the marque alive but for their contributions to the larger community in the form of the annual Concours. The club is a true testament to mateship, enjoying life to the fullest, and going for a bloody ride. It’s unknown what the future holds for CLQ but one would certainly hope the traditions and spirit of the club will live on for a very long time to come.