Four Wheel Driving in the Victorian Highlands

Australian Holiday Dec 2000/Jan 2001

 

Despite my limited time in Oz, I was dying to get out of the city and do some serious camping and four wheel driving. I hired a Mitsubishi Challenger from Thrifty and spent the weekend doing everything that was specifically prohibited on the rental contract - driving on unsealed roads and tracks, four wheel driving, river crossings, mud bashing, etc.  My god! This is starting to sound like an Alby Mangels adventure.

 

Anyway, we went up to the Dargo High Plains in East Gippsland for some serious four wheel driving.  Here's the pictures....

 

The before picture - taken in case I totalled the rental 4wd so I had something to look back on.  Jason's battered old red Range Rover is in the background.

 

Driving up to Gippsland.  The car had cruise control which was kind of cool.  Chief Engineer Scotty and I did Star Trek impressions every-time I engaged it or used the lever thingie to make it go faster.

 

On the way, we listened to tapes as the car didn't have a CD player.  Unfortunately, the only tapes that Scot had were from the days before we could afford CDs so all the music was pre-1992.  Quite funny hearing all the one hit wonder bands from my youth.  Made me feel nostalgic. When I got back, I ended up buying a heap of CDs from my formative years...Choir Boys, The Black Sorrows, Jimmy Barnes and errrrr....The Worlds Best Ever Beer Songs #3 compilation.

 

Where's Jason gone?

 

Dargo Mill Tavern where we spent Friday night.  Not a bad place for $30 a night.  Restaurant wasn't too bad.  Steaks were huge...and bloody tough as well.  Ohhhh!!! and the garlic prawns were huge - not like these tiny prawns we get in the UK.  Even tiger prawns in the UK are tiny.

 

Me, Scot and Jason outside the Tavern

 

In 4 wheel drive mode.  At one point I got the right hand front wheel about a foot off the ground.

 

There were river crossings galore around Dargo.  We probably did about 20 all up.  Luckily, the rivers weren't to high.  A couple of months before, a total of 12 four wheel drives got 'drowned' in one weekend.  

 

More four wheel driving.  

 

And more....everyone kept well ahead of me as the car, being an automatic, had crap engine braking and I had to rely solely on the brakes when going down hills.  Not ideal but luckily the brakes held out.

 

Another river crossing.

 

Our camp site.  Jason, Uwe and I camped at this exact spot about two years ago.  It was really strange (poignant perhaps?) as it felt like the last time that we would ever have a boys weekend away like that - free of wives, girlfriends, kids and mortgages. Uwe had a kid on the way at the time.  

 

As a result, we drank a lot....although we soon ran out because none of us thought we would drink that much sitting around the campfire, talking shit and singing long forgotten and totally dirty campfire songs.  

 

This time definitely felt different.  Uwe bought along the wife and kids.  We bought along plenty of beer.  We all had a great time.

 

Andrew and Jason playing in the river.  

 

Scot, Jason and me

 

Me trying to get Jason off his lilo.  I didn't really have much chance as Jason is built like a brick shit house and weighs about the same.

 

A recreation of that famous Bigfoot photo.  Scot is playing the part of Bigfoot.  You can just make him out.  Just look for the half man, half ape in swimming shorts behind the logs.  That will be Scot.

 

Can't beat the feeling! Coke and baby bottle.  

 

Playing Uno by the campfire.  Note the bottle of Shiraz breathing and getting warmed up by the side of the fire.  mmmmmmm.......

 

Scot spanking the monkey.  Down boy!

 

Scot, Me, Jason and Andrew - all armed with Super Soakers from Toys 'r' Us.  We had water-fights the whole weekend.  Scot and I got Jase and Andrew a beauty when we stopped at the lights behind them and ran up and sprayed them inside the car.  They soon got their own back however.  Mind you, it kinda got outa hand later when we graduated from water to sticky soft drink.

 

Black and white 'Vietnam' type shot.

 

The high plains.  Absolutely beautiful.

 

Billy Goat Bluff.  One of the hardest tracks of the whole weekend.  You can just make out a white strip near the top.  That was the track.  We were lucky it was dry the whole weekend.  The track was so steep (up and down) that we would have been totally screwed in the wet.  Especially since my car had road tyres.

 

Alpine National Park

 

Coming down.  I was on the brakes the whole way down due to lack of engine braking on the auto transmission.

 

After shot #1 - Dusty, muddy and abused but thankfully undamaged.

 

After shot #2

 

Country house on the way out.

 

Cows and horses near barn.  I love being in the Austalian countryside.  I love the way it looks, the colours, the smells, the trees, the grass, the mountains, the freshness of the air.  Well, the air was fresh until Andrew decided to light up a cigarette - which he did about 10 seconds after each stop.  The boy is turning into a regular Cancer Man/The Smoking Man ala X-Files

 

Andrew's smoking aside, I wish I could bottle the whole lot and take it back to the UK with me.

 

 

Road side.

 

Sunset on the way home.  Amazing.

 

Sunset again...