Trip Leader: Pat O’Dowd
When: Friday 18th July 2008
At the end of a stormy day which saw bucket loads of rain and destructive winds hit the metropolitan area; this trip was destined to be interesting to say the least.
We met at the Gull service station in Sawyers Valley for a planned 7:00pm departure.
It was anticipated that the weather would keep the more frail members home in front of a warm fire.
As it turned out, we apparently have more frail members than first thought as there turned out to be no vehicles between the trip leader and tail-end-charlie. That’s right, just the two of us. Incidentally, my frail wife stayed home too. She hired a ‘girlie’ movie for the evening, which gave me more incentive to go out.
So Pat and I set out in what we pretended was a convoy. We decided to tackle the Powerlines track from the eastern end, so we headed along the Great Southern Highway for West Talbot Road. As you can appreciate we abandoned normal radio procedures as there was no need to leave a gap between transmissions to allow others to talk and Charlie didn’t have to keep the leader informed about his location.
By the time we started on the track, the weather had improved and the night actually became pleasant with neither rain nor wind. The day’s downfall had adequately filled every dip with water and when the gravel turned to clay or rock the ground became very slippery. It was mutually decided that we would avoid any steep rock areas due to the slippery nature of the ground. In doing so, we found ourselves heading along a sidetrack which slowly diverged away from the powerlines. The rain had provided many wash-aways and creek crossings to navigate. At one stage we came across a wide expanse of water crossing the track. It was impossible to see how deep the crossing was due to the lack of light and the muddy nature of the water. So Pat stripped down to his jocks (a common occurrence with Pat I believe) and waded through the water only to find that it was only a foot or so deep and had a firm gravel base.
After deviating about 2 kilometres away from the Powerline track we eventually came across Flynn Road, which took us back ‘on track’. Once back under the warmth of the powerlines we decided to stop for a cuppa. There was bright full moon shining through broken clouds, which made for a scary atmosphere amongst the seclusion of the forest. There was no sign of wildlife, which may have been scared off by Pat’s screeching fan belt, which had only recently been replaced.
The last half of the track had a few more challenging hill climbs and descents. The traction control light on my dashboard was working overtime in some locations. This being the first test of steep terrain under adverse conditions my new Pajero has gone through.
There is marked difference in the reduced effort this NS diesel model requires to navigate up and over slippery mud banks and rocks to the previous NP petrol model. The MATT system probably had a lot to do with it, but the diesel requires very little acceleration to lift the vehicle over obstacles.
With just the occasional thud, as protruding ground met the under carriage, both vehicles made it through without any problems.
That is with the exception of Pat’s fan belt, which constantly complained when he accelerated. In fact it complained so much I thought they were married.
The entire trip took around 3 hours including the coffee break. When there are many more participants to stall proceedings this trip usually takes the best part of a day to complete. We did not come across any other traffic on the track either.
However; Pat would agree we both had an enjoyable night out and thanks to him for making the opportunity available.