Jurien Trip Report
Week-end, 28th November 1998
By Alan ("Skip")
It was 8:30AM Saturday morning. We were raring to go, all fuelled up, all loaded up, all engines warmed up, all CB radios turned on. All Except for Geoff who was missing, but I guess he has to be late, as he must maintain his reputation!
We got under way from Mullaloo at about 9:00AM. Geoff was not only fashionably late, but on arrival to Daves place, proceeded to give his cruiser a "bush tune-up", consisting of turning the mixture screw on his carbie up by "a couple of turns". No wonder it chews so much juice Geoff! After stirring him up for a while, Geoff attempted to silence me by trying to stab me with the rather large screwdriver!
I was the nominated trip leader, so off we went. I was told that I must mention that I changed my mind and decided to turn left at a set of lights that we were waiting at. Wow, this group can do some stirring! It was going to be an interesting weekend!
I decided to take the group on a shortcut to Cataby, which involved heading towards Lancelin, and turning East about 8k short and taking the gravel roads to Cataby. I went to great effort to explain to everyone how there is a blind corner (on Gravel) coming up and to be prepared for it, only to miss the corner myself and have to lock up the cruiser, getting it all out of shape and leaving a huge dust cloud for the rest of the group to enjoy.
We had a quick stop at Cataby, as Geoff was beginning to Morph into a grumpy salivating monster, which tends to happen when he has not been fed for an hour! We all ended up having an icecream (only because we felt that we had to keep him company). All 3 other cars fuelled up, but my diesel did not need fuel.
So off we went again, only travelling about 30k north on the Brand Hwy, before turning into the minor bitumen roads towards Jurien. After about half an hour on these roads, Geoff's eagerness to go 4WDing overcame him, and at the next turn, he took a massive leap into the world of off-road driving, by cutting about 10m off the corner, through some sand! I hope he enjoyed all 10 seconds of it!
As my diesel kept on getting away from the group, I thought I should let the others have a turn of leading, so I went "tail end charlie" for a while. I noticed a strange phenomena whilst following the group. Geoff's cruiser kept drifting across the road, so far that he was actually driving on the wrong side of the road (not endangering anyone, due to the long straight outback roads). When I asked on the CB why this was happening, I got a very prompt reply from Dave, who said "After a while you get used to the way Geoff drives". Hmmm. More like - after a LONG while!
We arrived at Jurien's Apex Camp site at about 12:30 and unpacked all our food and bedding, so as to lighten the load for the afternoons 4WDing activities. We had lunch at the dorm style accommodation as well.
After lunch, it was my turn to lead the group again, as we headed off towards the Stock Yard Gully caves. We covered about 50k of gravel roads through the barren in-land region, which although barren, had quite a view off towards the coast, overlooking the huge (salt) lakes. As we got to the entrance track to the caves, we all locked in our hubs for the first time, and in we went, along the 2k long entrance track, which is quite soft, and covered with large rocks, that have to be crawled over in low-low (low range, 1st gear).
We arrived at the Stock Yard Gully caves at 2:00pm, and hurried to get ready for our caving experience. It was lucky that I had 7 torches, because the rest of the group had hardly any! I loaned out 3 torches, but some of the group still had no light. Earlier they had all laughed at me for having 7 torches!
Our caving experience was great. We first turned left up the creek bed and went through the spectacular, but easy, cave. Even the kids went through (my youngest is 4 years). After this cave, about half of the group went back to the cars, whilst the others headed for the more difficult cave.
Andrea (my wife) decided to sit in car, and run the air cond, but when she put our cruiser into neutral to start the motor, the car rolled forward and nudged into a large tree. I got blamed for not putting the hand brake on firmly enough! Oh well, there was no damage, so it was good for a laugh. Geoff enjoyed stirring me up, revenge is so sweet!
So off we went into the2nd cave. One by one, members of our expedition turned back, as we proceeded further into the cave. We could see and hear the bats hanging from the roof! Coups (Geoff) could not keep up, and was puffing and panting (and I thought I was un-fit!).
Geoff used sonar to navigate his way through the cave. We could periodically hear a sound not unlike a fog horn, then hear it's echo shortly afterwards. Unlike a bat, Geoff's sonar is radiated out behind him, and it is also a lot smellier. Just as well he could not keep up with us, as the only safe place to be was in front of him! We all survived the experience.
After a bit of shake & rattle, on the rough Cave access road, Justin's hi-lux's exhaust system shook loose, as the rear bracket had broken. This was later repaired in a very professional manner, by using a coat-hanger as a brace. Don't you love bush repairs!
After Stock yard gully, we headed back to the coast, and then down (south) on the main coastal highway. We then turned into the gravel access road to Sandy Point.
We had a quick play on the sand dunes on the way in. We found a huge razor back. Everyone in the group just sat there in awe at the huge drop, but I think that everyone was to worried to go down it. I felt obliged, and I rather like adrenalin rushes, so I announced that I was going to go down it. Sofie firmly said "no your not", so I replied "Yes I am". Sofie's tone of voice became more stern as she repeated "No your not", and I defiantly replied "Yes I am". Increasingly aggravated, Sofie said "No your not", and stubbornly I replied "Yes I am". Just for something different, Sofie then said "No your not", so I thought hard and came up with the creative response "Yes I am".
I presented the occupants of my car with an opportunity to exit the car. Sarah left, but Andrea and Nicole stayed, then off we went. We had to go over the edge with a little bit of inertia, so that we did not "see-saw" on the top, so It was A bit of a sudden drop, but then we proceeded steadily to the bottom, down the 45 degree, 50 meter long slope. Easy.
After this, several members of the group decided to let their tyres down and have a serious go at trying to get back up the hill. Both dave and Geoff gave it their best. Despite Dave having an automatic, Geoff got the closest, actually getting his front tyres over the edge of the top, but still not quite making it. This was achieved by a huge, high speed run-up. You should have heard the thump as his car bottomed out as it hit the slope. You should have seen the anger in Sofie's eyes, as she recalled an expensive front diff repair on a previous trip! He did not make it, then spent the next 10 minutes under his cruiser trying to find out which bits were bent. Again, no damage was found.
We arrived at Sandy point at about 4:30pm. The Kids all went for a swim in the lovely sheltered bay. Geoff then ripped off his shirt and jumped in, which caused a minor panic, as some members of the group mistook him for a beached whale! I offered Geoff a go in my Kayak, but he claimed that my Kayak would not take his weight. Hey Geoff, I though it was our job to make derogatory comments like that!
Arriving back at Camp Apex at about 6:30PM, I took the slack option and got Fish and Chips, whilst the rest of the group opted for sizzling some sausages and steaks on the gas BBQ's. We hooked up my video camera to the 12" colour TV in the unit, and watched the days highlights. As a treat, I brought along a half hour tape called "Cliffhangers on Wheels", which contains footage of 700hp highly modified 4WDs trying to climb 85 degree slopes in Iceland. That got us all revved up for the next day's 4WDing.
After dinner we all relaxed. Us boys went out the front with a few beers for some male bonding, and to see who can tell the best bullshit story. Justin kept us all amazed with talk of his experience building race cars in America.
We hit the sack about 11:00Pm (which is quite early for us). Geoff took his chainsaw to bed with him.
Sunday. People began stirring quite early. The kids got up too early and began running around, and jumping out the windows from the top bunk. I must have done something right the previous day, because my lovely wife made me a bacon and egg breakfast. Yum! After breaky, we all tidied up, then after Justin stuck a few more coat-hangers onto his exhaust system, we checked out of Camp Apex at about 10:00AM.
We went to the Jurien petrol station, where all 3 petrol vehicles filled up, but my diesel did not need fuel (again).
We went straight onto the beach at Jurien, let our tyres down to around 15psi, then proceeded south towards Cervantes. With low tyre pressure, the beach run was easy, with only a few minor soft patches, and some interesting crossovers, where had negotiate the small tidal "Ridge" that often forms on the beech, separating the high sand from the low sand. I had a moment where the diesel ran out of steam on a soft patch, and I had to reverse out, to take the low sand right on the edge of the water. This sand closest to the water ended up being quite hard, and could be travelled on easily, but my instinct tells me that salt water is not good for your car, so try to take the high-road wherever possible!
There had been some concerns in the group that my diesel might not be able to keep up. On the contrary, I was hundreds of metres in front of them, so I jumped on the CB and said "Can't your petrol vehicles keep up?". There was a slight delay, then Geoff transmitted "Go Get 'em Dave". It was on. I booted it in 3rd high, revved it out, then grabbed a handful of 4th, as I threw the car sideways round a slight bend in the beach. The best speed I could get out of her was 80k. I looked in the rear vision mirror in horror as Daves Cruiser began reeling me in, in quite a short timeframe. I kept my beast flat, but after about 30 seconds, Dave came to within a couple of meters of my rear bumper, flashing his spotties madly. I conceded, estimating that Dave managed a top speed of about 100k+ on the beach.
After a very short time, we arrived at the Hill River mouth. The sandbar was across the mouth, so there was no risky water crossing to negotiate. We had a quick play on the sand dunes, but found nothing too challenging. With the tyres flat, we were able to negotiate any of the sand dunes.
We were all quite keen to go inland along the Hill river, in search of the in-land track and it's river crossing, which had apparently claimed a late model Nissan Patrol, being still visible, but only by it;s roof! We began following the very overgrown track to the north side of the River. After only a couple of hundred meters, Dave and Geoff decided that they did not want to damage there cars any more, by scraping them along the sides of the overgrown branches.
However Justin and I were more determined, so we pushed on. My big fat 80 series took a pounding, crawling along in first gear with with screeching sound of paint being scraped off the sides. But I did not want to give up. I certainly did not want to turn around (even if we could find a turning spot), as the river crossing could be "just around the corner". I radioed to Geoff, and arranged to meet him at the Cervantes Petrol Station, should we loose radio contact. After about half an hour of paint scraping, we found the river crossing, and we DID loose radio contact. The main river crossing looked far too deep, so we did not attempt it. The crossing off to the side was very narrow, and barely a puddle, but steep decent and climb in a very short space. I bounced my way through it, and so did Justin.
I wanted to film Justin coming through it, so he bravely volunteered to repeat the performance, only to get his dodgy exhaust system hooked up on the bank as he reversed through it. It bent the pipe out the side, and nearly completely blocked it off. We spent about 20 minutes breaking the rest of the pipe off at the bend, and widening the gap to the exhaust could escape! By the way, we never found the Nissan!
We pushed on through the labyrinth of tracks, and found many dead ends. We had to negotiate a section of track that was over 1k long of huge rocks, which we had to crawl over in low-low. This was a major worry, as our tyres were still at 15psi (Justins was even lower). We did not have the time to inflate them, and we were sure that we would encounter more soft sand as we neared the beach.
After about half an hour, we got back to the beach, and headed south on the coastal tracks at rally driving speed, so that we could meet up with the others, without holding them up for too long. We got the cars airborne a few times, which although it was fun, I do not recommend it! About half to Cervantes, we crossed over onto the beach, and cranked the speed up a bit more! A few minutes into the run, we re-established radio contact with our fearless Treasurer (Geoff). They were waiting for us at Cervantes.
Clunk! I looked in the rear view mirror and saw what had caused the noise - my kayak's paddle had broken an Ockie strap and had swung around, clinging on by only the rear strap. I got out to investigate, and found that my 9foot (spare) CB areal, which was on the roof, was missing. Also, both orange roof bar end-caps were missing, and the front roof bar had been forced back about 30cm in the gutter, taking a nice chunk of paint with it. The damage must have happened back on the paint-scraping-track. Bummer about the areal, but I put the rack back to it's correct position, re-secured the paddle, then we were off again.
We met up with the rest of the group in Cervantes at about 1:30PM and had lunch. We all ate icecream in front of Geoff, to stir him up, as Sofie had banned him from eating icecream, as he "had to loose weight". My policy is that diets are exempt when you are on holidays. Geoff lied down on the bench and sulked (see pic).
On-the road again at about 2:30PM. We went into the Nambung National park on the bitumen, staying at a speed of 60k, so we did not overheat our flat tyres. We turned into Kangaroo Point and got straight back onto the beach. Off we went again, going at up to 70kph along the beach, getting very close to the water at times! Time was getting on, so we decided to make haste for Wedge Island, then Lancelin.
We proceeded south on the beach, only going off the beach temporarily to get around each rocky outcrop. There was one particular section where we went onto the beach via a rather steep track. I joked about how difficult it would be to get back up that track, if we found that the beach was a dead end, due to another rocky outcrop. Well guess what? The beach was very short, and that track was the only way out.
I tackled it first, and only just made it. It was tricky as you could not get much of a run-up from the beach, due to the 90 degree turn that you must make preceding the sandy hill climb. Geoff took 4 goes to get up! Who said diesels are no good! The other guys made it out fist time too.
We stopped at Wedge Island briefly for a couple of photos, then headed south towards Lancelin, on the beach. The rest of the run was no problem, cutting into the coastal tracks about 2 thirds of the way to Lancelin. We arrived at Lancelin at about 4:30 and decided to have a little play on the dunes. After a few hill climbs and descents, we were almost ready to leave, when we spotted a group of people learning to 4WD.
We went for a look. It was quite amusing, seeing the instructor out there trying to guide these people up this easy hill climb, about half the size of the ones that we had tackled. We watched and laughed as a Lada Niva had several attempts, then gave up, and a L300 go bogged right at the top. We decided to go straight over a huge razor back off to the side just to show them that the hill that they were on was a "beginners" hill. Then showed them how easy my diesel and the Lux could negotiate their hill with ease. Yes, Ok, I am a show off!
At the Lancelin Petrol station, we all bought an icecream (to annoy Coups) and inflated our tyres. All 3 petrol vehicles fuelled up, but my diesel did not need fuel (yet again).
We left Lancelin at about 5:30 and headed down the main highway to Perth. The end of a great weekend away. I am sure I speak for everyone who attended this trip, when I say that a good time was had by all, and we are all looking forward to the next club run.
For those who did not attend, you missed out - big time!
Bye the way, several days later, the diesel still did not need fuel!!!!
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