Wednesday, October 8, 2008

4WD school and beyond

It might seem bizarre but life on the road is a busy one and this is my first real chance to post.

We had a great run down the Darling River (we are now Darling River Runners!) and Trilby station was a great spot to spend a few days and really begin to enjoy this adventure. A little bit of adjustment needed on both parts to ensure smooth and safe running.
Andy did neglect to mention that he went through the pool sun-lounger with his bottom while playing with the 2 homestead kelpie pups. Riiipppp! Very funny.

We arrived in Broken Hill on Sunday to check in for 4WD school and then had a day up our sleeves to explore the Silver City and surrounds. We opted for Silverton,
an historic mining town about 25km west of B.Hill. Well worth it! The area was the site for filming Mad Max II, among other famous, and not so famous, films which should give you an idea of the landscape. The Silverton Hotel very cool with loads of images of the various movies shot there, and a Mad Max car parked out front.

Heading back to B.Hill we stopped at the 'Day Dream', a silver mine. A big encouragement was the sign "FRESH SCONES" - yum. We ended up doing a mine tour, complete with hard hat and heart in my mouth. Very dark, cramped and more than a little spooky. Glad of the hat as I reckon I donked my head about a dozen times, losing my head torch at the same time.

The real reason for coming to B. Hill at all was to participate in a 2 day 4WD academy. We were both more than a little nervous about this and didn't really know what to expect. There was one other student, Tony, a field officer for NPWS at Mutawintji National Park who had to do it before he could drive the park vehicles. Guess what he drove to 4WD school?
After a few hours of theory and safety checks we were out in the sand. Oh boy was it fun! Slippy and slidy. Up and down a dry sandy creek bed (as they all are here, haven't seen much water at all). Then some work with our hand winch, very hard work, Tony's power winch - much better, and snatch strap usage. Late in the afternoon we moved on to difficult terrain (what was the sand?) where our teacher, Mick, had us doing circuits of wash outs, steep short rises etc etc. The best part though was when we had to drive forward then REVERSE through gullies at his direction as he deliberately tried to get us stuck. Stalls; Payniac 5: VJ 0!!!
Day 2 took us into EXTREME terrain. Had a bit of dry mouth going on with the steep ascent key start but graduated with my diploma or whatever in 4WDing. A real sense of accomplishment for both of us and Mick imparted heaps of info and wisdom to us.

Yes people - that's me!

Spent last night at Mutawintji NP, a small detour from the Silver City Highway. Highway does not mean bitumen, actually it means mostly OK graded gravel road. Roadkill is extraordinary, roos, emus and wedgetail eagles, sheep and the occasional goat - by far the most common seen and a big nuisance as they are stupider than sheep and more agile. I don't believe that we've killed anything yet, but have come very close to some push-me-pull-me lizards (shingleback skinks) and some dragons who sunbake on the road in the middel of the day.

I am writing this from Sturt NP in the far North Western corner of NSW, a semi-desert park.The bird life is incredible! As we pulled in there was a crescent moon and about half a dozen birds of prey soaring on the thermals. Have also learnt that there are a lot of emus here whose novelty still hasn't worn off. So far most of the National Parks have equal, if not superior facilities to the busy caravan parks for a fraction of the price. Even solar showers in some!

We are a bit confused about what time it is as B. Hill operates on SA time, this happened to us at the same time as daylight saving started in NSW. And we are headed for Cameron Corner(not sure which time zone this town is in) and Birdsville which is in Qld!

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