Trip Leader: Guy and Wendy Lehmann.
When: 9th to 13th April 2009
Location: Murchison Off Road Adventures (MOA)
Participants: Richard & Helen, George and Linda, Stephen & Fiona, Trevor and Rachel, Terry and Teresa, Malcolm & Lizzy, Paul & Louise, Jason & Jane, Stamps and Viv, Martin and Karen, Bob and Theresa. All of everyone’s families!
Guy and I would like to thank everyone for a great weekend. We ventured into the unknown and I think discovered a place that we can visit again many times. We had a total of 12 vehicles for the trip.
On Thursday morning we met Richard and Helen and George and Linda at Muchea at 8.00am to travel to the Murchison Off-road Adventures Park (MOA). Stephen and Fiona made their own way and arrived later in the day.
Another group met up at Dongara on Thursday night (Trevor and Rachel, Paul and Louise, Terry and Teresa, Martin and Karen and Stamps and Vivienne and families). Ask Paul what happened to his ribs at Dongara (or read the President’s Report).
The third group travelled all the way on Friday (Jason and Jane, Bob and Teresa, Malcom and Lizzy and families).
We had a smooth trip up there stopping at Eneabba for morno’s and Northampton for lunch. We didn’t find a bakery but the pies at the roadhouse according to Linda were pretty good.
On arrival at MOA at around 3.00pm we were advised that our camping area had been changed. When we pulled up into our newly designated campsite we were quite disappointed because initially we were going to a deep-water section of the Murchison River, and what we went to was a stream of water about 6 meters wide and 6 inches deep. The only thought we had was where would George put the canoe in! There was a wide area of white sand from the edge of the riverbank to where the water started and some of the trees to park under for shade were quite spread out.
It turned out to be the perfect spot with the sand being like our own beach area, with totem tennis set up and some boules being played. The campfire was lit in this area, which made it very safe in the rather warm conditions we experienced up there. The water was perfect for the kids to play in and they took advantage of it to the full and parents didn’t have to worry about them. The warm afternoon and evening for happy hour was spent with tables and chairs in the water with our feet immersed to keep cool.
On Thursday night we didn’t need to light the fire for warmth, we just sat out on the sand until we went to bed with our shorts and t-shirts on. It was a very bright night with an almost full moon.
We were woken on Friday morning by the crying of the feral goats on the other side of the river, it sounded like someone calling out. During the morning before heading out on our drive, it was discovered that Stephen’s camper trailer had broken one of the spring support mounts. George, Richard and Guy took a look at it and arranged with the MOA management to borrow a welder from them to repair the broken mount on Monday morning before leaving. Those of us that arrived on Thursday went for a discovery drive in the morning while waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive, checking out some of the other camping grounds and Stephen and Fiona went for a drive to Kalbarri for the day.
When we got back to camp a bit after 11.00am the others were starting to arrive so the rest of the day was spent at the camp chatting and socialising.
Guy and I hired a buggy for a two hour escorted drive for the afternoon around the general area of the homestead and along the rivers edge. They didn’t have a full helmet big enough for Guy’s head so he had to wear an open bikie helmet, thus getting covered with a thick layer of red dust.
This was a lot of fun, having never been in one before, although I’m not sure Guy wanted me in there for the whole trip, he kept trying to knock me out with the low bushes at the side of the track. It was also good because we found out where some on the tracks went and we were then able to take everyone on some of them on Saturday.
We had a very civilized start at 10.00am, which was to be more of a relaxing day rather than spend the whole day in the car after everyone travelling a great distance to get there. We meandered off on our way to the deep waterhole where we were originally going to camp at so we could all have a swim and get the canoe wet, stopping at another camp site which is suitable for caravans.
On the way we discovered the 4WD Playskool Track, and some couldn’t resist driving past it and had to go for a little play, and we then went back to there at the end of the day for those interested to give it a try.
Everyone had a swim (or got wet anyway) and the canoe had some good use. We have photo evidence of it in the water. We had lunch on the side of the river and left there about 2.00pm and followed a scenic track along the edge of the river and back out to the main road. George, Daniel and Christine decided to canoe from the waterhole back to our campground. I’m not sure how much of it was paddled, and how much was pulling the canoe and there were quite a few areas with little water in river. They eventually arrived back at camp around 6.00pm. Those of us interested in going back to the Playskool Track did so. This was graded 1-2, which made us think, well, what does a grade 5 look like. Everyone made his or her way around it without any trouble. It is a great track for someone to gain some steep incline and decline experience.
We then headed for the Mate vs Mate Mud run and donut area. There were two mud holes side by side that is constantly fed with water so it doesn’t dry up. Many had a slip slide around in the donut area, and plenty of interest in looking at the mud run waiting for someone to go though it. Paul and Terry finally lined up with a countdown 3,2,1 and off went Terry having a great time and Paul obviously forgot where the accelerator was, he didn’t move. Well-done Terry for giving it a go.
There were plenty keen to give it a go if there was somewhere to wash to cars. We later discovered the river crossing which probably would have done the job. We know for next time.
There was also another man made track along side the mud holes with lots of ups and downs which most of us had a go at.
When we got back to camp the fire had been lit, the chairs were lined up in the river to cool the feet and there was quite of bit a camp cooking done.
Linda’s version of Saturday…
Well Saturday dawned another beautiful day in paradise. Terry, as usual, was first up and got the fire going ready for ‘Secret Men’s Business’. Well today it was really secret as Terry was the only one to rise at such an early hour. The rest of the camp started their day at a more reasonable hour and by 10.00am we were ready to set off for the day’s adventure.
We headed off for the homestead and on the way Martin and Karen decided to try the log track which looked a bit of a challenge but proved all too easy. At the homestead the flushing toilets proved to be in popular demand then once we were all assembled we headed out for the day.
The run down the river road was very pleasant, on the way looking out for what challenges we may like to attempt later in the weekend. We then checked out a couple of other campsites that were close to the deep water that we thought may be preferable but all then agreed that the shallow water where we were camped was much better as the kids could play and we could sit in the water in the shade.
We finally stopped at Eagles Bay for lunch after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing should we park to the left or right? The right won and everyone headed off to the water for a refreshing swim. George who was currently way to the left decided with the assistance of Guy and Wendy to launch the big red canoe (yes it was actually removed from the top of George’s car and yes it did actually hit the water) Linda and George paddled to the other end and brought it to shore where everyone else had stopped. Lizzie and Jade were first to head off for a paddle, then when Terry and the teenagers decided to have a turn they proved that with quite a bit of effort the canoe could be overturned and almost submerged.
Others enjoyed being able to fully immerse themselves in the cool water. After lunch George decided that he would paddle the canoe back to our camp (about 9 km) and Daniel and Christine jumped at the chance to go with him and off they went. Unfortunately for Linda, George had left the car bogged on the shore (A piston broke nomination?) but with the assistance of the rest of the guys managed to get out. After getting out of the bog Linda requested information over the radio regards taking the car out of low 4WD. Martin who was watching wound down the window to let her know they weren’t receiving – why? Martin was on the wrong channel (another PB nomination?). We headed off for another drive back to the campsite – on the way several members decided to try out the mud run and other challenges.
Eventually all were back at camp everyone was getting concerned over George and co’s non- return but they eventually appeared with Sharon towing the canoe and the others walking (yes it became too shallow to paddle) but by all accounts they had a great time.
In the evening everyone met around the campfire and were entertained by the youngsters in the group.
After the Easter eggs were hunted and found, and some running repairs done to Stephen’s trailer to prepare it to be towed into the homestead to be welded on Monday morning, and Paul bogging his car in the river at the campsite, we headed off the find some 4WDriving action for the day.
Terry and Teresa, Stephen and Fiona and Linda decided to have a day at the camp with their kids.
We headed first to the Mate vs Mate Challenge and quarry. On the way we went through a water crossing over the river, this was well built up and solid. Guy and Martin lined up first to give the Mate vs Mate Challenge a go. After walking the first obstable which was some dirt and tyres built up over some car bodies, decided not to go over it due some sharp metal protruding through the sand which may have damaged our tyres. So we took the chicken track around that one and proceeded to tackle the rest of the course. About half way down Martin found himself stuck on the chassis between two ditches. After a tow from Paul he was on his way again.
Trevor went over the worst part, which was full of large rocks and got caught, and once again a tow from Paul and he was able to reverse out.
George with that I’m not giving up spirit, and some dirt digging by Martin, made his way over the final obstacle which was two tray back trucks backed up to each other and dirt ramps built up to them. Not everyone gave the track a go.. but most did.
It was then on to the quarry area at the back of the Mate vs Mate course which was a very steep gravelly incline up to a levelled out area and then around to the downward slope. Paul, Malcolm, Stamps and Trevor tackled this with some great action shots being taken by Jason at the top.
With the tummies starting to rumble we headed to David’s Dam for lunch. With the excitement of another great place to have lunch we headed off. The disappointment with this spot was like thinking you were going to get a chocolate biscuit and get a weet-bix instead. It was very disappointing with hardly any water in the dam and no shade, so we quickly decided that this just wouldn’t do and headed for a Becs Cliffs and picnic area on the river. This was on the opposite side of the river and around the corner from where we were swimming the day before. There was only a trickle of water there, everyone got their cars down on the rivers edge and found some shade for lunch.
After about a 45-minute stop we were on the road again heading for the Dingo’s Run. We were issued with a mud map from MOA to find our way around, and these were found to be quite difficult to follow at times. We were heading for the gas pipe line road which we thought was 1.6km and when we had gone over 4km we thought it couldn’t be a road and just a pipe line that we couldn’t find to we all turned around to head back the other way, and then with some discussion from the loyal followers, we agreed we were reading the map wrong and turned around again in the direction of the pipe line road. We did discover it and then headed on the road back towards the river.
There was another river crossing, still quite good approaches as it was firmed up on the edges with sand bags and then through the river to cross it.
Finding the road into the Dingo’s Run had us testing the map and signage system. We headed down one track and ended up back at the river crossing. George left us at that stage to go back to camp. We were about to give up and head back to the camp considering the time, when a man (Max) came over the radio who was currently doing the track, he said he had the same problem and told us where to go to get onto it.
So off we went again, this time meandering along the river again, going past a nice camp site and green trees. Before long we were in quite soft sand and letting our tyres down because we didn’t know how long it would go for. Max and I were on first name terms, I heard “is that you Wendy” on the radio and I responded thinking it was one of the trust followers, and it was Max giving us some handy advise about the track ahead of us.
He had discovered a spot where he went the wrong way, and put some black tape around the pole so we knew not to go that way.!!!
Before we knew it we had come to a steep ravine crossing which took some guidance for everyone to manoeuvre their way down very cautiously. Guy went first initially with me trying to guide him and then Jason came to my rescue. Guy proceeded without me in the car, not seeing the pole with the black tape, Jason came down behind him with Malcolm guiding, me on the other side of the river trying to catch his attention saying “wrong way” come up here!
After some consideration a decision was made that we could get up the other side, and Guy and Jason came back and the rest of the crew made their way down and up with some spectacular 4WDriving done.
We had been making a bit of a slow pace and not really knowing how much more of this challenging driving was ahead of us, it was getting late so we decided to find a way to the main road and bypass the rest of the track.
Now that we have an idea of what it is like, this track would be a day trip on its own. It is graded 3-4 on MOA standards. Back at the camp the fires were again lit and there was certainly plenty to talk about around the fire. Trevor and Rachel & co headed off to Carnarvon after tea.
Monday morning most of us left at our own pace as we were ready. Terry and Teresa, Paul and Louise and Malcolm and Lizzy and families stayed on for another day and then headed for Kalbarri.
Special thanks to Richard and George who went into the homestead with Stephen and his camper trailer to do the repairs to it so he could get it home.
Once again, we hope everyone enjoyed themselves. The MOA is still in the development stage, and there was a lot we didn’t get to see.
There were so many things that happened over the weekend, this is an overview of it all. Make sure you see the video and photos at the next meeting.
We will certainly be going back.
Guy and Wendy