Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Huts, high country and HELP!!

In our never-ending quest to bring you exciting tales of life and high adventure, we have continued to trawl the long lonely highways and byways of this great nation of ours, pushing on through downpours, hail and fog in our relentless search for snippets of sunshine to colour your lives.

So it pains me to report that over the past 2 weeks the Big Red Truck has itself become the main character in our little story. It’s been a sordid tale of bent up U-bolts and shaky suspension, of dodgy diffs and 4WD sub-cultures, with a sequined g-string thrown in for good measure.

But let me start from the beginning…

After our triumphant ascent and taming of Mt
Kosciusko, the adrenalin was pumping, the endorphins were flying and the beer was flowing…which is probably why I agreed to reprise my Himalayan yak impersonation for one more lap around the national park.

The very next day we once again donned backpacks, loaded up with enough camera gear to shoot a Hollywood epic and off we set on a 22km hike to a distant hut.

As the Everley Brothers would say, the road was long with many a winding turn. Personally I thought the road was VERY long with many steep winding hills but those boys didn’t think to ask me about it when they put pen to paper did they?

Sorry…I digress. Where was I?

Eventually we set eyes on a fantastic little settlers hut hidden away in a grove of old alpine gums and it was here that we made camp for the night. After the obligatory 278 photos and a roaring campfire, we settled into our sleeping bags inside the hut and drifted off to sleep.

It was around 2am when Kris felt the call of nature and wandered outside barefoot in his underpants to find a heavy frost and a minor hurricane massaging the trees. It was also around that time that we noticed the rather large gaps in the hut’s timber walls and the brisk alpine air conditioning, which had plummeted the hut into sub-zero temperatures. Ah, alpine weather…perfect one minute, Antarctic the next.

I must say it was an interesting sight watching Kris light a fire in sub-zero temperatures at 2 o’clock in the morning in his underpants. My only regret is that I don’t have a photo of it to show you but I guess some things are better left unshared.

At first light, Kris braved the icy conditions in search of another perfect photo and I happily snoozed away like a polar bear in 17 layers of clothing. Unfortunately for Kris, I also snared his sleeping bag as soon as he left the hut. When I finally woke and wandered outside I found Kris sleeping in the dirt next to an outdoor fire and 3 mountain bikers standing over him looking very perplexed indeed!

The BRT was a welcome sight as we arrived b
ack at the car park and we headed off seeking new adventures in the Victorian high country. Crossing the Murray River into Victoria we wound our way higher and higher into exciting 4WD territory - rough dirt tracks, steep inclines and steeper descents.Permit me to pause here for a moment, for I’m reminded of a little poem by the great A.B. Paterson. (Some would say he had the BRT in mind when he penned these famous lines, but I’ll let you be the judge.)

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the big red truck from old Sawtell had got away,
And had joined the wild bush 4WD’s…

It’s here dear readers that this tale turns to woe, for it was in the high country that the BRT met it’s nemesis, a legend in these parts that goes by the name of Billy Goat Bluff.

Billy Goat is a rather steep rocky track that has tempted 4WD enthusiasts to its challenging route and tantalising summit views for generations. Now here we stood face to face with old Billy, Kris drooling with excitement at the thought of tackling its rocky track, and me gripping the seat in terror at the thought of tackling the m
ountain in front of us.

So off we went, onwards and upwards we nudged ever higher into the stratosphere, clinging precariously to the side of old Billy, the BRT revving contently like a suped-up Torana in a Sydney street race…

then CRUNCH!...

I’m no expert here but I can tell you with certainty that when you combine lengthy U-bolts on a 3 tonne truck with a large rock ledge, more often than not the rock ledge will come out on top.

Match statistics

Score: Rock ledge - 1, BRT - 0

U-bolts: bent
Suspension: stuffed

BRT: injured

Driver: cranky

Passenger: holy shit!

Fortunately for us, we had coincidentally stumbled across a bunch of Victorian 4WD experts the previous day, and like knights in dusty 4WD’s they now charged to our rescue. Limping back to camp we were greeted by a triage team
at a hastily erected 4WD emergency hospital. Within minutes this expert medical team had hoisted the BRT onto logs, inspected its underside, diagnosed the problem, operated on the offending part and bandaged the BRT back together again. Boy did these guys know or thing or five about cars!

Suddenly I found myself submerged in a sub-culture of U-bolts, springs and after-market suspension. It’s a world of Toyota versus Nissan, of All Terrains versus Mud Larks, a world where mild mannered family men try to out-flex each other in 4WD flexing competitions!

These wonderful people not only attended to o
ur wounded car, they took us in like little orphaned kids, patched us up, dusted us off, and took us on what I personally thought were “I think I need to change my undies now” 4WD tracks.

So to all the crew from Talbotville – here is a massive thank you from the bottom of our hearts for welcoming us into your circle. There will always be a bed, beach and a beer waiting for you if you ever venture north of the border to Sawtell.

But we must make particular mention here of Gary, our chief surgeon and saviour, who took us back to his home, fed and watered us, coordinated
mechanical repairs, played tour guide, and turned us into guitar heroes! To both Gary and Karen - words can’t express how grateful we are for your overwhelming generosity, time, patience and hospitality. We really don’t know where we’d be without you.

And finally to old man Billy, you may have won the first round my friend, but we’ll be back. Until then, the BRT story continues.

Oh, and about that sequined g-string…


The Nutty Farmers said...

Sequinned g-strings and Kris lighting fires in his underpants? It sounds like Benny Hill not Billy Goat! Glad the BRT is back on it's wheels and you're having such a great adventure - kudos to the 4WD triage team, say what you like about 4WDers, but their hearts are often as big as their muddies!
Big love n hugs

Anonymous said...

G'day Kris and Sarah, sometimes peoples paths cross for better and worse. This was one of the better ones in my life so far. To have been able to assist you was a pleasure.

All of us there at the time feel as though we have known you for years, not just a few days.

Hopefully you will have a better run with the BRT after Tassie's issues.

Good Luck and all the best.

Cheers Gary, Karen and Kids

PS: That ain't me in the G"Banger either.

narelle said...

Hey Kris and Sarah. Was great to hear you are still trekking around our great land and the BRT is still a reliable old girl. We enjoyed your company immensely. (Was nice to have another female around Would love to catch up again sometime in the future.

Stay Safe
Narelle, Phil and Aaron xx

narelle said...

Hey Guys. Was entertaining reading your blogs. I'm so glad your still safe and enjoying your trekking. We love having you join us at Talbotville and may I say it was nice to have another chick around for a few days. Would love to catch up again and if Kris is nervous about teaching you to drive a 4WD, maybe I offer my services. :)

Stay safe and have loads of fun.

Narelle, Phil and Aaron

Madhu Dube said...

awesome!!! as always...I wait for this blog like i waited for my ex-GF when she went off to distant country :)....good to hear you both safe. I am getting so jealous with every read I am burning inside...lucky you touchwood!!! Now I am planning to drive all the way to goa from udaipur...anybody wanna join...girls welcome..will pay for whole trip....don't tell my wife :). Kris where can I see the snaps....the country seems to beautiful

Sir Clarkie of Nazareth said...

Guys, was great to meet you both. Good luck for the future treck and as for that state forest i told you about.... another time... its burning as i chat. My sympathy goes out to all who have lost there lifes and property in the Feb 09 fires in Vic.


Anonymous said...

Its good to hear that yous are still going well after fixing BRT. Also have ya checked out the west coast of Tassie. lol.


Allan Mac said...

Glad you enjoyed your time with us 'Mexicans' at Talbotville. Glad you have enjoyed your time down in the 'Apple Isle' & we all look forward to catching up when you get back on the 'mainland'.