Trip 372 – 24 August 2019 – Locked and Lifted in the Hills. Trip Leader: Paul Ryan.
We met at Harvey SHS, just next to a colourful mosaic tree. Paul taking the lead in his white Landcruiser with Rachel as passenger, followed by Nick in a white Pajero Sport, Phil and Chief in a green D-Max, Rob in a go-anywhere red Suzuki, Steve and Sue in a white D-Max and, once they came around to the right side of the school, Les and Leith in a dark coloured Ford Ranger, bringing up the rear in stealth mode.
We headed off and entered Red Angus country, turning left onto Sandalwood Road. Mud to the left of us, green fields to the right, here we are…stuck in the middle again! Turned right to find a new gate and the trip leader proclaimed “first obstacle, give that one a miss, we will find another way in to the place we were going to”.
Re-joining Sandalwood Road we then turned right onto Big Tree Road and then another right onto a track. Paul had the BIG smile as we drove past a muddy hill track – I think we are in for some fun! After a short steep climb up a hill, a sharp left and a blunt right we are all around the bend. Following a sharp right we see the log crossing on the right (we will save that for later) – another BIG smile and a quick photo and off we go.
We found a spot to air down, a tight squeeze but we managed. We had a little river crossing, then a bumpy patch that was an obstacle for some. Some cars had to be careful to pick the right line to make it through. It wasn’t long before tail end Charlie (Les and Leith) declared “last vehicle over the ridge”. Some of the interesting chatter over the radio included “changed into low…that kinda helps…I’ll let you know in a minute” and we are “giving our underbody protection a bit of a workout”.
Now we found a steep hill to climb, some mud to slosh through that meant “the car will go where it wants”. Understatement of the day would have to be the comment “it’s a little bit muddy at the bottom of the hill”. OMG! After a little fun and sliding into the wheel tracks already made we crossed Gardiner Road, encountered a drop off that may have been more pleasant if it did not drop into brown water! After another steep rocky climb where a few of the cars were determined to churn up the mud (sorry Les) and one anonymous voice over the radio uttered “Can I go home now?”. It was suggested that several of the cars needed a good car wash, luckily Paul knew where one was.
There were some dragging trailer plugs and a couple of unreadable number plates by this stage but no one was too worried about that as we encountered a little incline and Paul said “Now that’s a track!”. We made our way along the deep narrow and slightly muddy track, a couple of the cars needed a little pull to get them through and then we drove on a bit and turned right to find the creek crossing (the promised car wash). We drove past a very pretty little waterfall on the right and then encountered a mud hill that only the bravest of cars dared climb. With a cavalier “We’ll meet you at the creek crossing” two groups departed the spot at the base of the hill and after a couple of mis-turns, did indeed meet at the creek crossing. Phil washed his car in the creek but no splash of water from the babbling brook was going anywhere near making his number plate visible again. The trip leader meandered up the hill and nearly missed the turn in search of a lunch spot, everyone was ready for a sandwich and a chat.
Shortly after lunch we came across a hill climb to our right that lead straight into a slippery slide at the bottom of the hill. After a muddy right turn with a rock and a tree to the left, it was decided that Paul should sport a number plate that read “Don’t follow me I’m crazy” and Rob should have one reading “I’m crazy too”. We then proceeded to a Grade 3 winding track, it was a bit scratchy with lots of puddles (rewash that car) and the last puddle was a “bit deep”, you can imagine. We ended up back at the log crossing, some attempted to wash their cars, there was a feeling of de ja vu and then came the call “all across the creek”. “We crossed that creek without a paddle”, and I can assure you that it just got cornier and cornier. We took a sharp left to turn up the hill and found a track that was not on the map, but it was a nice little track nonetheless. We turned right here, then veered left (maybe a bit early) and stopped at one point to remove a broken branch from the track. The side step on one vehicle got stopped by a rock. After a little manoeuvring we turned right onto Big Tree Road and aired up just before Mornington. All gathered round for a quick debrief in the waning light. It was a fabulous day! Thanks Paul for another great adventure and everyone on the trip for an enjoyable day.