Gareth did an amazing job delivering the information about the Club, organised trips, helpful tips and a bunch of other important stuff. His demonstration of joining snatch straps was very informative. It was interesting to meet the other newbies who all have varying degrees of 4 wheel driving experience from very new to extremely well-travelled.
After the information session the club members broke away with a newbie and gave assistance to get to know our vehicles and help us get ready for our bush trek. All around the camp site you could hear the sound of tyres deflating and nervous chatter.
One by one we played follow the leader to places unknown full of excitement and trepidation. Slowly we got used to using the radio and bounced around as we traversed the bumpy terrain. When we arrived at the ‘playground’ it suddenly became an excited free for all. The people, who’d been to the park before, drove down tracks that seemed impossible to me. One minute they were there and the next minute two of their wheels were in the air. There were ‘wombat holes’ everywhere and it seemed like the deeper the hole, the more fun was to be had. We each had turns at recovering vehicles with guidance and assistance from the more experienced club members. One by one the newbies joined in and everyone had fun. We got to see the more experienced drivers tackle ridiculous tracks and watched in awe as they made it through with guidance. There were a couple of casualties in this session that included a broken CV joint, a lost mud flap and a rear bumper mishap.
We all made it back to camp for lunch a little sunburned and with happiness and a sense of achievement in our hearts. After lunch we went back out and played in the quarry. Those who were game enough tried the most difficult track. Sadly, another car fell foul and died trying to get up the hill. This time the diff was stripped and our newly acquired recovery skills were put to the test with an excellent text book rescue. Well done Ash! You were on the job, came to the rescue like a pro!
Happy hour back at camp was fun, although the conditions became extremely windy and we lost a few nibbles as they flew off the table. Lexie the dog and the local birds didn’t seem to mind and swooped straight in to eat what was lost. Danny, with a teeny tiny bit of help from Daryl, managed a special surprise for birthday girl Heidi by presenting her with a delicious cheesecake that was shared and enjoyed by all.
Grizzly then employed his outback skills to setting the camp fire and got a lot of verbal instructions along the way from all the shivering bystanders. After a number of attempts to start the fire, umpteen utterances of “give it a minute” and lots of blame thrown at the quality of the wood being used, the fire started to burn and gave off much needed heat; apparently. At least that’s what I was told the next morning. I gave up and went to bed cold.
The next morning we hit the tracks again and drove to the Lookout. We all put our blind faith in the leader as we crossed a stream slipped in the mud and climbed steep inclines where only the blue sky and bonnet could be seen. A number of times I prayed that the road was still there and that I wasn’t going to be a lemming and fall off a cliff at the top. Along the way we lost another vehicle that just couldn’t make the steep incline but he gave it a good crack. Now I know that when a CV joint has gone, front wheel drive is also lost. We definitely needed 4 wheel drive to get to the top so we left a brother behind to seek out the view. The view was lovely up there and internet reception was strong but when someone needs the ‘little boy’s room’ all eyes need to be averted. Once we got down from the Lookout a couple of people had another quick play in the quarry before getting back to camp and packing for home. Sadly, we had to leave another fallen brother behind to be towed home the next day.
I can only speak for this ‘newbie’ but somehow I feel my sentiments would be echoed by the others who attended that weekend. The more experienced club members couldn’t have been more helpful or wonderful to spend time with. They were happy to share their knowledge and offer their assistance when needed. I never felt out of my depth even though most of the things I did were new and scary. I’m very thankful to everyone who went and I look forward to the time when I can pay it forward to the next lot of new members on the next induction weekend.