What a weekend! First several members gathered out at Bill Larman’s property, now named “Wuthering Sights” on Saturday afternoon and despite a steady drizzle of rain we managed to clear out many fallen or falling dead trees and make some of the property look a whole lot better. Steve Harrison and I had chainsaws roaring but we couldn’t match Chris in his diesel powered chainsaw, otherwise known as “Swaggi”. Twice during Black Saturday the fires raced through this property, leaving terrible destruction to the tree cover. One year on and recent rains have started the regeneration but there were many dead trees still standing or leaning over against each other dangerously. Bill has encouraged us to use his property many times over the years and he is reluctant to ask anybody to lend a hand so it was great to see members front up and pitch in to help. Niel Webb also donated and installed a satellite dish so Bill can start to receive decent TV coverage. There was a slight glitch with availability of tomato stakes so trials courses were surveyed but not pegged out that afternoon.
Neil, Mark “Beano” Bean, Chris Brain and Aaron Taylor camped overnight whilst the rest of us headed home for warm showers and dry clothes. Apparently as soon as we left the rain stopped and Beano cooked up a superb roast on the campfire whilst Aaron provided the live music.
Next morning I headed out the door early to wait for Bunnings at Chirnside Park to open to sell me some of their best[?] tomato stakes then I hastened [as best I could in the Series 2] towards Dixon’s Creek. It had been decided that this was not to be the usual trials day but rather was to be a very relaxed trials orientation day with people like Chris and Aaron setting up courses then showing everyone what they were thinking when setting them up and helping those less familiar with trialing to master the black art. So everyone had the opportunity to walk through each course and then drive it multiple times to try out different techniques and lines. The courses were deliberately set up with very wide gates and in terrain that would not risk damage to vehicle panels or mechanicals. This seemed to be a popular move and everyone was having a go but in a laid back mood with lots of laughter and ribbing. We finished with just one course before declaring lunch around the campfire which was time for lots more chatter.
After lunch we headed over to a second course that had some real challenge and everyone ran through it several times trying out various strategies. It provided an opportunity for everyone to practice their shunts to make tight turns [some of us needed more than were allowed] and then had a tricky crossed axle maneuver over logs and drains which left many with wheels hanging in space and little forward motion. This was a great opportunity for some of the newbies to test the capabilities of their vehicles and discover they were really much more capable than expected, even a little Suzuki Vitara can demand respect, eh Kristen?
Sixteen drivers had a try on the day and whilst all were asked to record on the back of the entry form the names of family and friends also attending to cheer or jeer virtually all were so keen to get going that they forgot to do so.
Later in the day the gates were narrowed down and we completed a run by each driver through the courses as a competitive event. Thanks to everyone who pitched in to help on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll not mention names as I’m sure to forget somebody. The results for this are listed below and apologies for the formatting:Driver Vehicle Score
Neil Webb Disco 1 6
Adam Skerrit Rangie 8
Alex Frost Defender 110 9
Steve Harrison Freelander 10
David McHendry Disco 2 10
Nick Woodley Defender 110 11
Richard Groom Series 2 12
Chris Frost Defender 110 13
Kristen Groom Suzuki Vitara 14
Craig Murray L/R 90 15James C[?] Nissan X Trail 16
Mick Harding Toyota SWB 19
Mark Bean Defender 110 19
Steve Patterson Toyota LWB 19
Phil Townsend Defender 110 20Chris Brain [course builder] Swaggi 3