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The Final Frontier

01 Feb Trip Report | Comments Off on The Final Frontier
The Final Frontier
 

 

or… Follow the soon to be Trip Leader

Trip date: 21/01/2017

By Lee Jorgenson

After a few days of rain just prior many of us were somewhat cautious heading onto the same tracks that that were driven along on the infamous Fathers Day Recce of 2016. Meeting up at the Neerim South Bakery the weather overhead seemed clear enough and whilst there was a slight chill in the air, the bright sun kept everybody in a good mood. After the initial checks were performed by Kat we grouped up for our initial briefing and wondered if it was a slight fear of returning to those tracks that was keeping
the latecomers. Once the last car arrived, we pushed off in convoy to Noojee Picnic Ground car park to air down before hitting the good stuff.

 

We lined up with Kat’s WK2 up front followed by Andrew’s WH, My JK, KK in his JKU. Breaking up the line was Kat’s Mentor, Michael in his Ford Everest, perfectly placed to watch over the entire convoy. Moving towards the back was Lyle in his WK2, Magnus in his JKU with Ross’s brave little KL the last car inline before Craig’s JK, our Tail-end Charlie for the day.

 

We quickly realised that this wasn’t going to be a repeat of the Recce and that the rain the last few days hadn’t soaked in badly at all. As we were headed on to the real tracks we met up with a couple of dirt bikes that were stopped in the road. Kat confirmed the road ahead was looking reasonable, though they seemed to be surprised that her WK2 and Andrew’s WH were going to be headed that way. Keeping us in her mirrors and keeping a close eye on us we headed off to the mainstay of the drive.
The beginning of our drive was a gentle cruise along Vesper Rd and Ferguson Rd before hitting Wild Track. This was the first time we really needed low range but the best part of the coast down the track was the magnificent views the steep drop off afforded of the valley. After crossing over Hawthorn Creek Rd were headed to the first uphill section of the day, Suckling Road. Fortunately, the rain hadn’t slicked up this section either which made everyone breath a little easier. While not slick, the surface was still steep and loose enough that Kat decided to have everyone go up one by one, a section at a time. This slowed our ascent up somewhat but was infinitely more safe than a tight convoy up. We headed down an unknown track (which was pointed out for future reference to be Reference Track and on towards our first break area. With little parking available we circled up like a wagon train of old under attack to attack our Morning Tea.

After refuelling ourselves, we headed onwards towards the other end of Suckling Rd. Coming to small Muddy spot, Kat chose to take the safer option and was unlucky enough to drop into some deep ruts, bottoming out without the tyres touching bottom of the ruts properly at all. While this allowed her to apply a lovely camo brown paint effect on the car, it didn’t help her get out. Maintaining it was for demonstrational purposes, Kat set up her winch for her first real personal recovery. Demonstrating proper technique, a trunk saver was quickly deployed and the best winch line chosen. After clearing the area the drive was engaged and within a minute the car was free and ready to move on. This proved to be the only recovery needed for the entire trip and was a great way for Kat to show her Trip Leader skills off with a textbook winch recovery.

Moving on to Tolleys Track there seemed to be a few flashbacks from those that had been on the Recce. The closest we came came to that was a few small puddles though the uphill areas remained dry. Still caution won out again and we made our way up step by step, one at a time. This was some great uphill work with lots of uphill ascents that were exhilarating but still easily traversed. The downhill sections proved to be just as exciting with a few spots steep enough to need to really hold on while headed down. After 2 hours of inching our way along Tolleys Track, we arrived at Hawthorn Bridge on the LaTrobe River Rd where we stopped for lunch.

 

Without the official Picnic Area that was closed a few years ago, we were more than able to make do with a few blankets and utilised the available logs for seating. At the end of lunch, the Trip Leader test trip was officially ended With the Mentor, Michael making his way home from there. We lost Ross at this time also as he headed off. After a quick vote, we decided we would continue a more relaxed impromptu Recce, as the 7 of us remaining weren’t ready at all to finish just yet. Headed off once again we took the most rough looking road from our picnic area Wild Bull Rd. it was anything but, though a great start to let the stomachs rest a little after lunch.

By the time we hit Bull track we were back into the more technical sections with some gentle low range undulations. We got back on Wild Bull Rd before we began headed towards the air down point. This lead us to Duggan Rd which, while not as open as breathtaking as some of our earlier vistas, was a gorgeous and calming drive through some rocky terrain surrounded by tree ferns on both sides. Briefly stopping to air up, we had another two drivers end their trip, with the remaining 5 deciding to continue on sealed roads to stop and see the Noojee Trestle Bridge. We were fortunate enough to have the area clear out almost as soon as we arrived which allowed us the best parking available in the rest area for 5 cars together. After pausing for a few of us to explore the area and climb up to make their way across the bridge, we said our final goodbyes and headed off, finishing our day at around 5 in the afternoon.