With the up and coming 2016 FJCC National Summit being held down south on the Rainbow Coast in September, we packed the camper and took the opportunity to head down for easter and scout some trails in prep for this awesome event.
The idea was to map out, photograph and video some trails that will be potentially a part of the official summit event. The weather was a mix of sunny and some showers, and the trails were open and ready for some action.
Day 1, always starting the day with coffee, I fired up the Bellman stove-top espresso maker and waited while it warmed up, moments later I hear a hissing, look over and the pressure is releasing out of the pressure gauge. I’ve melted it. The stove flame must have been too high, because I melted the face of the gauge, now the machine is useless. No stove-top coffee for the whole trip! Melissa was super upset.
Today I wanted to head north of base camp (Ayr Sailean) and discover some forest trails. We spent half of the day up there cruising around in Mount Franklin National Park but didn’t find anything very exciting. A few very small river crossings, and mostly gravel trails. I logged a trip on the hema map but probably will not include it in the national summit. I’m sure in September, post-winter, the river crossings will be more serious and more fun, but honestly, not enough action for a group run. We wrapped up the day with an obligatory visit to the “Valley of the Giants Tree-top Walk”.
Day 2, we had a fairly tame day on Day 1, today we decided to check out the infamous Bornholm Beach, known to be one of the most difficult beaches to get off in all of Australia. I’ve never been because I’m not often in convoy down this way, but this time there was three vehicles and we had plenty of recovery gear between us.
First, a stop in Denmark at Ravens for espresso, boy do they make a good coffee. They roast their coffee in-house too, doesn’t get much fresher! A snack at the bakery too while we are here, don’t miss it!
We arrived at the entrance trail and drove for about 20 minutes on pretty tame terrain until we came across a group of people airing up. A bloke approached us and said the track was in the worst condition he had ever seen. He took one look at the Mitsubishi Challenger in our group and said “that bloke won’t make it out”… I swear at that moment sweat started piling up in my arm pits and my hairs started to stand on end. Exactly what we were looking for, a challenge.
We waited and waited as another group of vehicles slowly made their way back up the beach. We made our way down and we could see straight away that this was going to be a challenge to climb on the way out! Huge bog holes, whoops, ruts and just steep as hell with switch backs and all sorts.
Once on the beach, Quentin had himself bogged in the mitsubishi about three times. Ground clearance and tyre pressures definitely the secret for this one! We made our way back to the track to look at the challenge ahead of us. Graham had a crack at what was supposed to be an easier way out in his FJ. “The suzuki track”. He made it half way up and just didn’t have the momentum to get up and around. We all headed further along to the main track to give that a go.
I went first, about half way up I came to a fork in the track, couldn’t decide which way to turn and at the last moment lost all momentum and bogged down. Reversed all the way back down the hill for another crack. 2nd time lucky, no recoveries needed, I waited in a cleared section for the others to come up. I could hear lots of vehicle noise but not much in the way of cars coming up the hill. Checking on the radio, I headed down with the maxtrax to help out. Graham had made it to the point I originally stopped on my first run. Not wanting to reverse all the way back down the hill (again), we decided to have a go at recovering him out. Three attempts and we were up, the auto-trans light was lit up and telling us that the gearbox had had enough.
Quentin’s turn in the Challenger. A lot of silence on the radio as we heard his engine screaming up the hill. Another try, another try, several tries later and we broke out the boards for recovery. Four or five recoveries with the boards and he was up. It was literally tank slapping and bottoming out all over the place, but that just shows how gnarly this track is, because the challenger has quite good ground clearance from factory!
We headed back to the main road, aired up, and all had a giggle and chat about what just happened. Discussions continued around the camp fire that night. I’d also realised that I’d lost my brand new Drifta-branded leatherman crater knife whilst performing recoveries 😔
Day 3 and another fine day for scouting trails! Graham and Barbara decided they wanted to do some more ‘touristy’ stuff and decided not to come 4WD’ing on this day. I took Quentin, Janine and baby Joshua in to Peaceful Bay where we scouted Rame Head on the far western side, “The Gap”, and some of the look outs. I’d not been to Rame Head before so I wasn’t sure what to expect, lovely spot and some nice challenges for the 4WD’er.
The trails heading in were busy, as you can expect during easter, especially with the caravan park right in Peaceful Bay. We aired down and drove in. After navigating some trails for a while we came to an awesome rocky outcrop to crawl over and down the other side, a lot of fun, with two options, we took one option in, and the other out, good fun and very scenic.
Heading back we spotted the bones of a whale washed up on the rocks and continued to the main ‘switch back’ track out of Rame Head
On our way back through Peaceful Bay to The Gap, Spencer started feeling a bit off and decided to vomit, luckily in a plastic bag. The trails were a bit rough, likely due to folk not airing down their 4WD’s when they run the trails. Honestly, how hard is it?
We headed to one of the lookouts (Kingie Rock) and watched a few fisho’s. They had a good 30kg+ Sambo on the rocks which was pretty impressive. Time was ticking, so we jumped back in the 4WD’s and headed over to the “Swiss Annie’s” Chocolate lounge. Always good for a hot chocolate and to stock up on some delicious single-origin dark chocolate samples. I picked up a Ugandan and a PNG this time around. The kids ran around the garden like they always do, and I gave the owners a heads up that I will be bringing probably a hundred people down to visit their establishment in September.
Day 4. Time to pack up and leave, always the hard bit, especially when your gear is spread out all over camp. I will be back down with the boys in a few weeks for our annual salmon run fishing trip and some more scouting. *update, and we did! http://invertedreality.com/trips/yeagarup-fishing-and-camping-2016by