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Evil Kat’s Day Trip Night Run Father’s Day Recce Extravaganza

16 Oct Trip Report | Comments Off on Evil Kat’s Day Trip Night Run Father’s Day Recce Extravaganza
Evil Kat’s Day Trip Night Run Father’s Day Recce Extravaganza
 

Evil Kat’s Day Trip Night Run Father’s Day Recce Extravaganza

There’s a few sayings you pick up on when you start hanging around with the Melbourne Jeep Owners Club that are undeniably true:

  • “Just Empty Every Pocket”
  • “It’s the crank angle sensor”
  • “There ain’t no such thing as a Neerim Medium in Spring”

Nevertheless, we set out from Warburton at oh-my-gosh-it’s-early o’clock on Fathers’ Day for an exciting day of family adventure, looking for that most elusive of prizes: medium tracks in the clay-slop capital of Victoria.

The morning ran smoothly, following good roads on a well planned route that took us past Starling Gap campground and over to the Ada Tree. Here we found exactly what we’d come looking for: an easy to navigate track that was just muddy and boggy enough to provide some challenge and excitement, especially if you weren’t afraid to get muddy and you put your foot down a bit too hard. Unfortunately we were on the walking path between the car park and the Ada tree and Jeeps weren’t allowed, otherwise it would have been perfect. But it was a stunning walk through a cross section of Victorian forest, fresh air and good fun for young and old.

(Cue Madeleine’s change of clothes #1.)

img_7438From the Ada tree we wound our way along some of the less trampled tracks towards Noojee. It’s a gorgeous part of the state and will definitely be worth a more extensive exploration come Autumn, but in the first week of Spring some of the more interesting little tracks we explored that seemed to promise “Medium” on the map wound up delivering either “Easy” or “Don’t be crazy!” in equal measure. Kat followed her nose and we found our way to Noojee with enough time to stop in at the Trestle Bridge before we had to make our way to The Outpost for our Fathers’ Day Lunch booking. There was even enough time to stop briefly at the park in Noojee for a couple of the kids to burn off a bit more energy before heading to the restaurant.

(Cue Madeleine’s change of clothes #2.)

After lunch, the true reconnaissance started. Armed with track notes from the MJOC Track Database, we headed off to Fumina to assess whether the tracks that were recorded as Mediums could really still be classified as such.

Well. In a word, not so much. And it was brilliant fun!

The best way to characterise the afternoon’s adventure is “slimey sloppy slopes”. We followed hills down over washouts and whoopdedos that were damp but firm one minute, quicksand-clay the next. I took the opportunity to perform a perfectly intentional demonstration of what happens when you fail to carry enough momentum over a slippery hump, resulting in some very artistic photos of the Cherokee positioned across the track rather than along it. Facing down into a muddy, sloppy washout.

(Cue Ross’s change of clothes #1.)

The track continued on in this way, slimey then firm, level then down, as we dropped our way down to the creek in the valley. Then we pointed our noses back up the other side. Whereas the descent down to creek level had been mostly firm traction with the odd section of slimey clay, the ascent proved to be the reverse: about 120 metres of increased elevation over about half a click, climbing over about half a dozen whoopdedos, all clay, all wet, all slime.

img_7444At this point it’s worth noting that there are a few tricks to getting the KL Trailhawk’s rear locker to engage, such as turning the wheel side to side to get the rear wheels travelling slightly different distances to help everything line up. That’s something I wish I’d committed to memory in advance, but instead I pressed the magic button, and went for it. To it’s credit, the KL did incredibly well, but I did notice that by three quarters of the way up the hill the revs were increasing, and so was the wheel spin, so as I crested one of the last whoopdedos I backed off to stop on the flat. That was when I registered the “4WD System Overheated, Temporarily Unavailable” message and realised that for the last crest the KL had made it up in front wheel drive. Not a bad effort, that.

img_7440

Stopping to give the car a chance to cool down, I dropped the pressure down a little bit more to the magic 18, and we were ready to tackle anything. When we reached the top of the hill, the sun was starting to dip below the horizon, and the map showed a few tracks that would link us back around to the main road for a cruisey run back into Noojee. Alas the prime candidate track was the only seasonal closure in the area we were playing in, and for the rest of the connecting tracks, it appears the map lied. There was only one way to go, onwards.

Running along the spur the track was solid and in good condition, and trees that were down could be circumnavigated or climbed over with no fanfare required. As we started our descent towards Latrobe River Road, however, we came up against our old friend sloppy clay. Progress down was a straightforward affair with the ruts guiding the vehicles down the best line, and my bash plates only did a small amount of grading of the hump. It sounds easy when I read that back, but coming down a sloppy slope in the dark with the kids bouncing around in the back, it really was an excellent adventure! By the time we reached the well formed gravel Latrobe River Road we had all had an excellent time exploring the morass of Sloppy Neerim, but I was definitely ready to stick to the well formed roads and – via the nearest McDonalds – make our weary way home.

 

Did we find the mythical Neerim Medium track? Not so much, but we had a hell of a time trying.

Written by Ross Daws