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
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
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
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
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
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'
The high plains.
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
After shot #1 - Dusty, muddy
and abused but thankfully undamaged.
After shot #2
Country house on the way
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.
Sunset on the way