Sep 24, 2010

End Of An Era Looms For Mokes

Author: Debbie Denison

21st September 2010 Vol 21 Issue 26

End Of An Era Looms For Mokes

Debbie Denison

After months of speculation about the the Moke Magnetic car hire business, rumours were in abundance, is it closing down, has it been sold etc? The business’s final fate was announced last week when yet another buyer, who could not secure the land which the business operates from in Sooning Street, pulled out of the deal. With that announcement, owner of Moke Magnetic Mr. Peter Anderson informed manager Ms. Christine Read, that is it, the business will close at the end of October.

Ms. Read told the Community News, “Our fleet of Mokes will be sent over to Pickles Auctions in Townsville and be sold off on the internet”. That number will be about 28 Mokes that are in running order and another half dozen that need work. Christine said, “Most of our Mokes are circa 1980-1981 and the business has been an integral part of island business since the 1970s. Most of our business comes from day trippers and our Mokes have been very popular, in fact so popular that have generated lots of return business”.

The business was originally set up by Graham Weineke, who then sold it to David & Kay Wynn who created the slogan, ‘See the Girls in Green’. The girls greeted every ferry arrival at the end of the Picnic Bay Jetty. In 1986 Peter Anderson bought the business from the Wynns, moving to Victoria in the early nineties. Chris Read began working casually when Peter bought the business and in 2002 became the manager. “We moved from Picnic Bay over to Nelly Bay when the harbour opened about 6 years ago. Currently we employ 8 girls who all work casual hours. So there will be a few of us looking for work around the island soon. We all would have liked to see the business continue. With nowhere on the island to have any spray painting or panel beating done and the price of Moke mechanical parts forever rising it just became too expensive to keep them running.”

Tropical Topless Car Rentals purchased 12 Mokes a couple of years ago and proprietor of the business, Rob Apruzzese, said, “We intend to keep our hire Mokes running for as long as possible. We really can not tell the longevity of our vehicles however our Mokes are later models and we have spent considerable money maintaining them”.

Mokes were first built at the Morris factory in Oxford before production moved to BMC’s Longbridge, Birmingham plant and eventually overseas.

14,500 Mokes were produced in the UK between 1964 and 1968.

26,000 Mokes were produced in Australia between 1966 and 1981.

10,000 Mokes were produced in Portugal between 1980 and 1993 when production of the Moke ended.

Chris concluded by saying, “Peter will fly up from Victoria closer to our closure date to finalise the business”.

No doubt there will be a party or two, as many residents have worked for Moke Magnetic over the years and they will get together to toast the end of an era in the tourism industry here on Magnetic Island and bemoan the loss of an island icon.



Very sad to see the Mokes go.Very first people to greet me on my first arrival to Maggie in 1980 were The Girls in Green.Including Christine,Jan and "Rudy".Who remain friends still today!!!!!

Warren Crowe



Pictured above is ‘Pricey’ one of the colourful caricatures painted on the much loved Mini Mokes currently being hired on the island
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