Published: May 1st 2011April 30th 2011
The naked Snake
I am holding the snakes cloths
Well, it is that time again folks with the impending Easter weekend and the bonus public holiday to add on as Anzac day is on the same day as Easter Monday or is it the other way round? Easter Monday falls on the same day as Anzac Day, you decide.
Work is no less crazy than usual, as much as I had prepared and packed on the weekend there is still a lot to do the night before and not helped by the fact that I did not get back from Sydney until late on Wednesday night, so once again it was all systems go, Andy went and did the grocery shopping whilst I finalised things back in the apartment.
It was 5.15 on Thursday morning and there was a cup of tea waiting by my bedside, for the second day in a row it was an early start for me (nothing unusual for Andy though!), we needed to get the truck loaded with as much as we could, not to mention carrying the heavy fridge down from the apartment to the underground parking.
At 6.00 my alarm went off, which switches my phone on, I notice a
message has been left for me, I knew then that my day was not going to be as planned, my boss left a message for me at 1.00am asking if I could get to the office by 6.00.
I immediately phoned him back and said give me half hour to clean my teeth and get dressed and I will be in.
My plan was to leave the office by 2.00pm, that was my deadline and it was going to be a tight one, at 4.00pm we were due to meet some of our friends from the 4wd club to go away on our Easter break. The plan was to meet at Eaglehawk on the Barton Highway less than half hour drive from where we are we but we cannot afford to hold anyone up, if we cannot make the allotted time then they will go on and we will have to put a plan of action in place.
In the meantime Andy prepared the trip leader that we may not make it in time.
By the skin of my teeth and I have no idea how, well ok I do – I have some great colleagues
A bush camping site, no toilets, no power,but prettyas a picture
who helped take my pressure off and just before 2.00 I rang for a taxi, unfortunately the one thing we may have mentioned before is that if you are not waiting outside when the taxi arrives then they will not wait for you, this seems to be a problem with taxis in Canberra. So by the time I rang, told them I would be 10 minutes, packed up and left the building there was no taxi! I rang again and they confirmed that it had left so sent another.
Another 10 minutes later I was on my way, but I was still attached to my mobile, this was not going to be easy for me.
Back in the apartment I am trying to change into civvies, with one ear and hand on the phone, Andy had fortunately loaded everything up in the truck and trailer so it was just a matter of making sure everything was in order, locked up and we were on the road again.
It was 3.45pm when we pulled into Eaglehawk, we see Sandra and Geoff fuelling up and do the same, Andy fills both tanks at a cost of $185.00, don’t forget
The site we have been used to for 2 1/2 years, our Aerials
we have 180 litres to fill with our dual tank system, but of course we are on a public holiday weekend which means the prices have increased also.
Today is another first, our first big trip in the Landcruiser and also the first time we will have pulled anything with it and once again we have hired a T-Van which we hope the big V8 engine will pull particularly well. It should as the Nissan Patrol pulled it well with its 3.0 litre engine.
Once we fuelled we headed around the back to meet with the rest of the gang from our 4wd club, we pulled out slightly ahead of 4.00pm, I breathed a sigh of relief that we could get underway, but my working day was far from over.
While we still had a phone signal, I was still on it! There were still emails to be done and deadlines to be met, finally by about 5.45 the signal started to drop out in places, it would eventually go altogether, this would be a blessing for me. Once out of range I had to let go.
By about 6.10 we were scoping out the camp
Parked in Portland, looking for breakfast, such a pretty little town and beautifully clean
site at Abercrombie National Park, a few people were already set up and looked as if they were in for the weekend, but for us it was just an overnight stop and the best bit, I checked the phone for a signal, it was gone so I switched it off.
About 10 minutes later everyone was set up, the camp fire was underway and we were all sat round chatting. The warmth from the camp fire was most welcome, as the evening had turned cold but with a beer, warm clothing and the camp fire on the go we were all comfortable, Andy cooked our tea on the Biji Barbie.
Some of you regular readers are aware of this issue I have with waking up in the night in the pitch black in a panic, again I have no idea where this is coming from, but this time I have a plan, when we were at Rosehill Caravan and Camping show last year we found a product called…… basically they are a safety thing that you attach to your guide ropes on the tent which illuminate in the dark and they also have reflective red on them so
I love these old painted advertisements
you wont drive into the ropes.
Well my plan is to attach them to the storage netting that runs along the roof of the T-Van, I have attached one near my head and the other near the rear entrance of the trailer. The night itself is not pitch black which is a blessing but knowing that I have two things glowing in the dark means that if I awake then I can get a reference point, and focus on the glow.
We were exhausted so by 9.15 we had climbed into bed, the night had turned exceptionally cold but with our two sleeping bags, the quilt (doona) a blanket and a sheet we were sure to be warm and we were. It was then that I remembered that nice electric blanket that we just bought, but of course would be completely useless, to us out here without any electricity!
Shortly afterwards we heard everyone else hit the sack, we slipped into a peaceful slumber, snuggled under the covers.
The light was beaming in through the windows, well alright it was not beaming in through the window, dawn was still breaking but it signalled another early
morning, but the difference was that we are waking up in the big outdoors again, it was 6.30am.
The plan this morning is to head off from our camp site at Abercrombie River National Park at 8.00am, after a hearty breakfast of cereal and tea, we were all packed and by 7.40 we were pulling out of our campsite.
With Sandra and Geoff as our trip leaders, Richard and Elaine as Charlie, in the convoy we have Scott and Marta; Andy and Caroline.
The scenery was awesome as we headed further up through the Abercrombie National Park the day started out fairly sunny, but soon turned damp with the mist not quite shrouding us in.
We notice a “dead” rabbit in the road but manage to straddle it with the wheels, we both wondered who killed the Easter Bunny, felt sorry for it and carried on.
A short while later we arrived at a place called Black Springs Rest Area, for a quick pee break and a chat, Elaine said to us, it was ok because we didn’t kill the Easter Bunny, Andy and I looked perplexed, “the bunny was already dead”, Elaine said “No,
it emerged from underneath you looking dazed” Richard wondered if we clipped it with the chains from the trailer, but it was ok because it was still alive, well thank goodness for that because we would have hated to have been the ones to kill the Easter Bunny, before long we were back on the road, it was a pleasant little place a couple of people camping in the rest area, very tidy little rest area too!
We continue on the road to Oberon.
A short while later, while I am typing up the blog on the move, Andy says “Kangaroo”, I look up and a fair size Kangaroo was bounding down the road in front of us,
We had slowed down, we had spooked it, and it was in the middle of the carriageway, heading the same way as us, it must have bounded about a ½ kilometre down the road, then it made an illegal right turn down a lane, without indicating, I was not sure why it did not bound into the undergrowth like most others would do, but who am I to question the wildlife?
Because we are travelling in Convoy, I
immediately got on the radio to warn the others in our convoy behind us that we slowed right down to avoid the kangaroo, unfortunately at the same time we had to avoid a dead wombat too.
Sandra and Geoff who were up ahead and had not seen the kangaroo, wondered why we wanted to take a picture of road kill so we explained that this was a “live one”.
At 08:49 we drove into Oberon, and continued on to Tarana. Eventually at Tarana we can see the sunshine waiting to burst through the clouds, Tarana is a pretty place nestled in a huge valley of green and gold, the Autumn colours here are spectacular, we wind our way through the valley and the small village of Tarana which looks like a very traditional Australian town, we pass through and soon join the Great Western Highway.
At 9.37 we pull into Portland with the promise of a coffee and a piece of cake, or maybe even a bacon sandwich. Early impressions show a very clean and tidy place, some beautiful properties here and from we see a field with a large number of kangaroos enjoying the morning sun
Just look at her bulging pouch, herbaby won't leave as its to confortable
and watching some cows share the same field.
I wonder if they have to keep watch while the others feed and then swap shifts. Sandra tells us that they often have loads of Kangaroo on their property, but never get fed up looking at them.
We were concerned that the town would be too busy and we would not all be able to park (two of us are towing trailers), however when we turn up the town centre is completely empty of people and we can only see one other vehicle parked up. So parking up we find one place open and eight of us dive in and place our orders, in no time at all we were standing around in the quiet street outside enjoying our breakfast.
40 minutes later we were back on the road and heading further north toward Mudgee. This time I am at the wheel, about time too – I have a job to get the keys out of Andy’s hand at the moment. I need to make sure that I have the practice pulling this trailer with the truck, it is much heavier than our camper trailer so want to get
The Best Bit
How can you go camping, without a camp fire
the feel of it.
Eventually we find ourselves on familiar terrain, we arrive at a place called Ilford and we knew we had been here before, just as we came up to a sign that said “Bathurst” we both remembered that we had driven south into Ilford and turned to Bathurst when we were heading back to Canberra following our February trip to the Warrumbungle National Park.
The rest of the journey was uneventful, the traffic was fairly heavy it moved well so there were no hold ups, most unlike public holiday traffic in England when the traffic comes to a grinding halt in the most popular holiday places and the motorways.
At roughly 1.30 we turn off the highway toward Coolah Tops, Sandra and Geoff have peeled off into town to do a recce. Andy and I are currently in Charlie position (at the back) until Sandra and Geoff rejoin the group.
The dirt track heads high up into the mountain, the track is in pretty good condition, but we keep on climbing, the views as usual are stunning. A couple of sites are way too busy so we scope out the next and eventually
we find a nice spot that will comfortably fit a group of 5 vehicles.
Andy and I are set up in no time at all, the T-Van sure takes the effort out of setting up, the kitchen is pulled out and the kettle is on the go.
It was a great afternoon to mooch about, we chatted to some of the others on the trip, scope out the rest of the site, including watching a little wallaby who has a Joey in her pouch, that is dragging on the floor, her offspring, must be to comfortable and wont leave.
We are in her territory, I manage to get a photo of her, but I don’t want to spook her.
By late afternoon, it is getting cooler, there is a slight breeze which has a chill in it. The sun is vanishing and the camp fire is on the go, before long all of us happy campers are sat round with pre dinner drinks and nibbles.
Andy and I have one of our famous Kangaroojack curries on the go, we are feeding everyone tonight, Andy is concerned that he has not made enough for 10 people, but
he needn’t have worried, there was plenty and we have leftovers.
The curry kept us warm along with the camp fire, but by 9.00 it was time to retreat to the trailer, once tucked up in bed, Andy fell straight to sleep and I read for a while.
Incidentally, just to confirm that my little idea with the glowing reflectors worked, when I woke up last night I immediately focussed on them and thus immediately suppressed any possible panic from waking in the pitch black, so when I switch the lights out before 10.00 I feel comfortable in the knowledge that they are there.
Sleep again comes quickly, after a dose of mother natures anaesthetic.
We wake on Saturday to a beautiful morning, the Cockatoo’s make sure everyone is awake, the their screeches and squawks, boy they are noisy!, then we have never seen, or heard for that matter a quite one, we refer to them as the hooligans of the outback.
The sun was giving the day her warmth, and everyone was up and about, as usual our kettle was working a double shift, and I soon got bacon going on the grill, for
a bacon sandwich/
We put our hammock up as it looked like it was going to be a gorgeous day so why not have a gentle swing in the sunshine.
Sandra came over and said that we could all, head out at 10.00am in the cars to a part of the national Park where we could go and have a walk.
We drove through the trees for about 4 K’s and park the trucks, we all, put our sun screen on, along with out hats, then grabbed our bottles of water and headed to the look out, it was truly breath taking.
After a few pictures, and of course the obligatory team photograph
We all yommped off in the opposite direction a kilometre to the Pinnacle lookout, which was just awesome, the view seemed to go on forever.
Jeff, Sandra less and Sue decided to walk down to the lime stone caves, whilst Scott, Marta, Richard, Elaine, Caroline and myself all decided to have a wander through the forest.
Before leaving the intrepid walkers, Jeff had said he had found a snake skin, and gave it to Caroline, they are so very delicate
Caroline testing her Macro lens
and it looked like it was from a Brown snake which are highly venomous.
I said to Caroline, Imagine, hearing a little voice say, Oi bring back my cloths, as if a naked snake had taken them off.
We just sort of split up and as Caroline and myself wandered along, we stopped and listed for a sound, and the only thing I could honestly head was my heart beat, the silence was just amazing. You have to go along way usually for this kind of silence.
We found our way back to the truck, the others had already gone somewhere else and we headed off to look at the site of the old Steam driven Saw, which was a ruin of an old steam engine.
Arriving back at camp just around lunch time, Caroline put a sandwich on, though I don’t think it suited her and I took the opportunity and climbed in to the hammock, but as the Sun was hot and high, I had to get our big umbrella to keep the sun from burning me.
I swung away in the in the warmth of the sun, until I had truck things
Snake Skin, of a Brown Snake
on my mind, I swapped places with Caroline who enthusiastically got in to the hammock, and ceremoniously fell out, on to the floor.
The judges gave Caroline 5.5 for the artistic content.
Once Caroline re adjusted the hammock she to, was gently swinging in the sunshine reading her book.
Richard and Elaine had a fire going and said that it was soon “Beer O’clock” so everyone grabbed, chairs, beers cheese biscuits and anything that can be described as a pre meal snack and congregated over at their camp fire.
The end of the day was on its way, and the afternoon Sun, was thinking about going to bed, it was starting to get cool and everyone was putting on that extra layer.
The fire was going a treat and we were all dipping in to Cheese and Biscuits, the Brie was lovely and soft.
The nibbles had been our contribution to the evening meal and it was soon time for the main contenders to prepare the meal of the evening.
Elaine had prepared, Chicken and mushroom risotto, Sandra had done the veggies, and Marta had added a delicious desert of Meringue rings with
When we were bush walking, looking for snakes. Not really it was to cold for them and they would be snuggled up somewhere
fruit and cream.
It was an excellent evening washed down with a few beers and some good fun.
The night air was very cold and at 9.00pm we wandered off to bed as it was so cold, looking forwards to again being snug under out covers in the T Van.
I woke at 5.00 am and listen to the sounds around the van, you could hear the Roo’s and Wallabies softly padding around , and the Kookaburra’s we all laughing in unison. Everything was just fantastic until the Cockatoo’s decided that they wanted to be heard again and made such a din.
I was out in to the morning nice and early and the camp was not awake, I thought my wife would enjoy tea in bed but she soon emerged from the canvas, she commented on how well she had slept and sat in the morning sun and supped her hot tea..
We all had a pretty loose day planned, for today “Easter Sunday” except for Jeff and Sandra who were going over to see some old friends of the 4 wheel drive club who had had a sea change and moved to buy
Of the old stean engine
a farm and do Sheepy things.
We have never professed to know any thing about the workings of a sheep farm, except we know how hard everyone at Woodstock works, so I guess their lives are going to be the same as Helen and Roberts, (Non Stop) morning noon and night.
Jeff and Sandra left just after 8.30 am and we were all sitting in our various camps having breakfast and more tea.
At about 9.30 we all drove out of camp as we were going in to the town of Coolah, as we needed to fill up with diesel, as we were leaving pretty early in the morning.
Once everyone’s tanks were filled the petrol station, which was the only place open had a little café so we all went in for a coffee and a bacon sandwich.
Sue and les, ducked off as they needed to fill both of their gas bottles and we caught them ¾ of an hour later at the “Black Stump”.
Now apparently this Black Stump is famous for something, I just can not remember, but the original one had been burnt down along with the pub
Study this photo
See the Joeys nose poking out
and all the was there know was a wooden stump that had been painted black with a monument.
We had another “Team Photo” then headed back to camp, and on route gathered some fire wood for tonight’s camp fire.
We got back to camp and had some lunch, the sun again was hot and everyone was going for a drive, I fancied a nana so Caroline, Scott Marta, Les and Sue went in Les’s car and Elaine and Richard went in theirs.
Everyone got back at about 4.30, the afternoon was starting to be chilly., I had started to put things away as we had an early departure, as Caroline and Myself needed to be in Bathurst at around 10.00am as my drive in the V8 Supercar was at 11.45
Everyone came back from their walk and had a great time, so we had a cup of tea, did a few more chores and went of for drinks and nibbles on Richard and Elaine’s camp spot and sat around the fire and talked for a couple of hours.
Jeff and Sandra who had been out all day, had came back and joined in with the
party and we are started talking about what we were going to have for our evening meal.
We still had a camp oven full of chicken curry left from the other day, so the easiest thing to do was re warm it up and see how far we went, if there wasn’t enough, then we would just have to find something else.
As the conversation went around we started talking about jaffle irons, they are basically a sandwich toaster you put in the fire.
Jeff and Sandra and Marta and Scott both said they had Jaffle Irons and had never used them, and as we were talking Richard produce a set of Jaffle Irons that were more than 40 years old. And proceeded to make a curry toasted sandwich, placed it in the fire and 5 minutes later it was done and was perfect.
Night had fallen, a couple of beers had been drank and we had, had a brilliant time camping a Coolah Tops, a beautiful little camp site, with our friends.
We were sad to be going tomorrow, but as Les reminded me, I was off to drive a V8 Supercar at Mount
We haven't seen these since we were in the Northen Territories
Panorama in Bathurst.
At the end of a great evening we went off to bed, as we would have a 5.00am start the next morning.
We have been really warm and toasty in the T van and sleeping has been an absolute joy, so we have never really wanted top get out of bed in the mornings.
Well 5.00am came to soon, and I was straight up, putting the kettle on, with Caroline not far behind me.
With everything packed away in the T Van, and the cruiser hooked up, we were pulling out of Coolah Tops camp site at 06.40, the only ones up out of our group were Sue and Les Briggs so we said farewell and we hit the road.
It was about 250 K’s in distance and we pulled in to the car park of Mount Panorama at around 10.20, we went to the Corporate Box where we were to meet and tried to book in, but were asked if we could go and get a coffee for an hour or so until, they were organised.
More than anything I needed a shower and asked if there were any such
facilities on site, which the staff directed us to.
I went and grabbed some clean cloths out of the van and headed off for a shower..
It was not the best, but it was warm and lots of water so I wasn’t going to be ungrateful and at last I didn’t smell like a Baboon.
All showered and shaved we went back to the Corporate box and now people were queuing so we to stood in line to sign on.
Once the signing on process was done, everyone was having a lunch together, followed by John Bowe and another current V8 supercar racer, Steve Johnson.
With Lunch out of the way, we had a drivers briefing, then went to get fitted for race suits and helmets, which was fun, then sat in line awaiting our instructor.
As cars arrived, guys shuffled along the row of seats, until the next car would be mine.
The car came to a stop and the previous driver got out with a smile on his face as if a spoon had been jammed in his mouth.
I got in, that was a job and a half as
John Bowe Left and Steve Johnson right
I had to negotiate the roll cage, the instructor introduced himself shaking my hand and saying, Hi I’m “AJ”
I technician, was doing my race harness up and said, “can you breath” which I said yes to then proceeded to do the harness up even tighter.
One I put my fire proof gloves on, AJ directed my out of the pits at walking speed and on to the track.
As soon as we were on the track, AJ spoke in to my helmet to put my foot flat down we had a mile to go, so as fast as possible please.
I have gone all the way through the gear box and am going about 140 KPH, when we arrive at the corner, I have positioned the car, as far to the left as possible, I get to the marker and brake hard, try to find 4th gear but they are so close stuff it in to 3rd just to have a gear selected, AJ says full throttle, its my natural instinct to be braking, not speeding up, but have to obey.
We are flying towards the next corner, finding the entry point, diving across
to the apex then out of the exit point.
I can’t believe its go faster not slower.
Know were are fling down the main straight, which is about 2 k’s long with a crest way down the track.
AJ tells me when we hit the apex, DO NOT brake as you need all the down draught the car is producing, to stick it to the road, if you ease your foot off we will loose it and it will destabilise the car.
Our top speed down the straight was probably 240, the sound from the super tuned V8 was awesome.
We hit the top of the rise, my mind tells me to slow down as there may be a car just the other side that we will plough in to but all AJ can say is, don’t brake, don’t brake!!..
We fly down the other side, all the way on the left hand side, hit the brakes, so late, drop 2 gogs hard right, hard left, up to forth, hard brake and a right turn back on to the starting straight.
I was hoping Caroline could remember which car I was in, as
A legend amongst V8 Supercar racers
I was totally oblivious to what I was in..
I had completed my first lap, and this time I knew what I was going to face, my hand had come off the steering wheel, to change gear and AJ unceremoniously put it back on the steering wheel.
I managed to complete 4 laps without killing us both, when we pulled back in to the pits I apologised to AJ for me being such a crab driver, but he said, Andy, be pleased with your self, you got faster and faster as you went.
I now know why the last bloke who got out the car was grinning, I have just driven a V8 super car around Mount Panorama, in Bathurst.
I got out of the car, I felt mentally drained, and emotionally exhausted, loads of fella’s were walking around with huge grins on the faces.
I went over to Caroline, she had seen me go around, I had to ask her to show me the car I was in as I could not even remember what colour it was.
I was asked to queue again in the seats as they were organising 2 laps
with John Bowe.
My turn came, next, I was ticketed to be in the back seat, so I chose near side then I could see the Speedo.
This guy is a legend, “Apparently” and is a multiple winner of lots of trophies.
We met him at lunch time and is a tiny man, very polite and tactile and likes to talk, oh and tell jokes.
In his race suit, he is about my height and pencil thin, I guess that’s an added advantage being a racing car driver.
Anyway, The car turned up, the technicians hurriedly got the passengers out, and Three of us got in, the technicians buckles our harness’s up tight, a quick radio check and we are off for tow laps with John.
I will find this hard to type, but it was ridiculously fast, the car seemed to be in one corner then the front of the car was in another corner whilst the back was coming out of the last corner.
His gear changes we as smooth as silk and his braking was very hard and last minute.
We seemed to do a lap in 30 seconds
but the course is 6.213 Kilmometers
Mount Panorama Circuit (or often simply Bathurst) is a motor racing track located in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. It is the home of the Bathurst 12 Hour motor race, held each February, and the Bathurst 1000 motor race, held each October. The track is 6.213 km (4 mi) long, and is technically a street circuit, as the circuit is a public road when no racing events are being run, and there are many residences which can only be accessed from the circuit.
The track is a very unusual design by modern standards, with a 174 metre vertical difference between its highest and lowest points, and grades as steep as 1:6.13. From the start-finish line, the track can be viewed in three sections; the short pit straight and then a tight left turn into the long, steep Mountain straight; the tight, narrow section across the top of the mountain itself; and then the long, downhill section of Conrod Straight, with the very fast Chase and the turn back onto pit straight to complete the lap.
Historically, the racetrack has been used for a wide variety of racing categories, including everything
from open-wheel racers to motorcycles. However, the factors that make the track so unusual, and tighter contemporary safety standards, make it unlikely that major race meetings in these categories will be held there again, and as such it has become the near-exclusive province of closed-bodied automobile racing cars.
As a public road, on non-race days and when it is not closed off during the day as part of a racing event, Mount Panorama is open to the public. Cars can drive in both directions around the circuit for no charge. However, a strict speed limit of 60 km/h (37 mph) is enforced, and police regularly patrol the circuit
The ride with John Bowe was wild, so in control of his car, and his ability was amazing, when we got back and I managed to get out of the Car, Caroline asked me how it was, it was brilliant.
My day had come to an end, the last thing left to do was go an collect my Goodie bag, from the organisers.
Earlier on, all the potential (Novice Drivers) had had their photo taken with John Bowe and they were all laid out on the table for you to
I was probably, doing about 120 when this was taken
buy, along with a complementary race shirt and baseball cap.
The people who had invited me to go had paid for the photo as part of my package with I thought was nice, and in all we both had a brilliant day.
We got back to the truck and we needed to get a wiggle on as we wanted to get South of Black springs before dark, so with Caroline doing her usual excellent job of Navigating we pulled in to the Abercrombie River National Park, just before dark and set the T Van up.
As we had eaten a decent lunch, it was only going to be a light evening meal and decided on chicken soup.
It was early to bed for us and was snuggled under the doona at 8.30 with lights out, and we both slept until 6.00am so a dam good nights sleep.
When we woke, the morning was damp but not raining, so we packed up and were away by 07.40 and we only had a couple of hours driving back to Canberra and got back by 10.15.
We washed the T Van and delivered it back, washed the
Cruiser and got ourselves ready for back to work tomorrow.
We hope you guys all had a great Easter and sorry this blog has been so long.
There are more photos below