West Swan to Muchea – Training Run

Trip Leader:  Paul Ryan

When:  Thursday 31st October 2004

Location: West Swan

Tail-end Charlie: Richard King


Those of you that know me (and know that I’m always running late) will understand my exultation at arriving with 15min to spare. As the time approached 10.15 (the designated meeting time) I began to wonder where everyone was. Did I have the right place, time, day? Having time to look around, I began to recall Ginger’s (Road House) being mainly blue and a bit larger than the Shell station where I was. Lucky for me Bob and Bridget stopped to refuel and confirmed my suspicions that I was in the wrong place!! We headed down the road another 300 m and found the rest of the gang. Paul R, leading the trip, was expecting another 5 or 6 vehicles to arrive, but after waiting the obligatory 15 minutes, we decided to push on. As I had followed Bob & Bridget into (the correct) Ginger’s, my vehicle was last in line. Hence, here I am, again typing up these trip notes. So much for arriving early!!

So, after a quick brief from Paul R, the group headed off down the road. There were six vehicles, being trip leader Paul & Louise with children, George and Linda, Diana V (and children), Bob & Bridget, myself and Richard holding up the rear. Paul had wisely decided to put Richard K as ‘tail-end-charlie’ to avoid having the convoy split (Richard stalwartly denied this previous incident was his fault and tried to deflect the blame onto another club member). It was also fantastic to see the majority of the convoy were Mitsubishi’s – four Pajero’s, an Isuzu and the obligatory Abrams MBT, oops, I mean Nissan.

After heading North for a couple of Kms we turned West (avoiding the ducks) and were soon on the gravel, much the George’s delight. Gravel soon turned to dirt and this soon to sand. Before long we had entered the Gnangara pine plantation where we ran into our first minor hurdle for the day. Some recently felled trees were piled up on the track. No problems, the lads soon had a path around barricade cleared and after the slight detour we were once again back on track. The sand turned to a fine black dust and the resulting ‘smoke screen’ reduced visibility so much that head and fog lights became the order of the day, or at least the hour.

Turning North, under the power lines, it was nice to leave the black dust behind us. The track had dried out some what since Paul’s pre-trip of only a couple of weeks ago and was becoming very soft and boggy. A quick stop to let some air out of the tyres resulted in some informative discussion on fire extinguishers. No one got more out of this discussion than George who solved a major dilemma (Happy Birthday Linda and let us know the type and specifications of that present).

The one small mud hole was just about dry, with just enough water left in the bottom to ensure vehicles would require washing. Most of the convoy opted for a quick trip through the mud. From there is was further North-West with the track varying from firm limestone to very soft and boggy sand, before turning East onto the RAAF Muchea boundary road.

No firm limestone here, just lots and lots of soft sand, big wide tracks and soft sand. I think that Richard and I did twice as many kms as any one else as we crossed from side to side looking for the best line (doesn’t it always look better on the other side). No far down this road, we stopped for lunch under the shade of some lovely big trees.

Lunch was very relaxed, with plenty of light hearted banter around the communal table. One of the points raised was that no one had been bogged yet and as this was a training day it was decided that we would head off and get someone bogged.

Not much further down the track, we didn’t have to try. George became bogged near the top of one of the many hills we were traversing. In the true tradition of the male psyche George admitted to nothing, deflected the blame and claimed innocence. This was all forgotten as we knuckled down to some serious recovery and training under the guidance of Richard. As the vehicle wasn’t too bogged and this was a training day, it was decide to recover it up the hill (rather than down). Bob offered to be the ‘snatcher’. The vehicles were hooked up and the snatcher and snatchee worked out their communications and then let it rip. After a couple of failed attempts (the sand was really soft), it was decided to join two straps together (twice the distance, twice the energy). This resulted in a successful recovery and an excellent demonstration.  The training exercise was appreciated by all.
 

A small detour provided some excitement in the form of a hill climb. What looked quite easy, turned out to be rather tricky with some unexpected soft sand about ¾ of the way to the top. Yours truly was first up and after 3 failed attempts it was left up to the trip leader to lead the way. Up and over on the first attempt, he made it look easy. George and Linda followed suit after 2 or 3 attempts. Next was Diana who was up and over on the first attempt (the new Pajeros were certainly holding their own in the sand). Bob and Bridget struggled, but managed to get over on the 4th or 5th attempt. Back to me. After another two failed attempts I decided it was time to let the tyres down a bit further. Another failure and with the pressure growing, the tyres were let down to 15psi and the centre diff lock went in. Combined with some coaching from Duncan, who was probably wishing he had stayed in mum’s car at this stage, it was hardly a challenge and we cruised over the top in 2nd gear.

That left Richard and the big fella (that’s the Nissan, not Richard) was really struggling. 1, 2, 3 attempts and the peanut gallery at the top were in fine form. When asked if we had time for a cup of tea, Richard’s reply was quite dignified and showed restraint. 4 and 5 attempts and we were growing concerned about missing the Christmas party. With the Chicken track beckoning, the Nissan was wound up to Mach 5 and spending more time in the air than on the track he crawled over the top. Much cheering and rejoicing… and on we moved.

Lots more boggy wide tracks. Bob and Bridget bogged and Richard executed the perfect snatch. Murphy dictates that I didn’t have the camera running and most of the convoy were waiting further down the track so they missed it. But, Richard and Bob, I was impressed.

A couple more curly corners (one where, much to Duncan’s delight, I was sprayed with sand) and we popped out onto the bitumen, somewhere just North of RAAF Pearce. Tyres were inflated and afternoon cuppas were enjoyed whilst many gadgets and vehicle setups were explored and explained.

All in all a fantastic day. It contained all the ingredients that most club members look for in a trip. Some challenges and excitement, a bit of learning and lots of humour. Being a short trip we were never hurried and there was plenty of time to discuss the recovery and hill climb techniques.
And home in time to mow the lawn!!

Wes Sutton

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