Written By ~ John Hayes
Participants ~ Malcom Moody - Prado Rod and Karen Perry – LandCruiser Lutz Stollwerk and Innes Seringer – HiLux Dennis and Michelle Northcott – HiLux Simon and Jake Tregoning – HiLux Stephen Fry – 4 Runner Alexander Fry - HiLux Richard and Shelia Effert – LandCruiser Christopher Hayes – Patrol John Hayes – Patrol Trip Leaders Ian Terley and Sarah Kiely
Duration ~ Two days
Destination ~ Turon National Park
05:30 alarm goes off
05:45 dressed and waking the kids
05:40 get the food out of the fridge and into the Prado
06:00 all aboard and we are off for Ian Terley’s ‘Reverse Turon’ trip
07:00 breakfast at the Hazelbrook bakery
08:00 refuel at Lithgow and find the group at McDonald’s
08:30 no one is late so we are underway
We travelled up the Castlereagh Highway and turned right on Wolgan Road. After approximately 5 minutes, we turned left on Bicentennial Trail and the trip began with an ‘air down’ of tyres. The route took in lots of undulating countryside. Nothing difficult and rather pretty. Eventually we arrived at Baal Bone Gap Lookout where we stopped for a tea break. Here we enjoyed fantastic vistas of the Wolgan Valley below.
Back on trail, we arrived at ‘The Gorge’, preceded by a nasty drive down a huge smooth rock, a large step and then lots of loose gravel. Having been on Ian’s previous winter ‘Forward Turon’ trip and forcing the Prado up the rock face and then snatching just about everyone else up, I wasn’t looking forward to driving down the rock. But, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. A bit of road building helped fill in the step, but several trucks still clipped their exhausts or rear bars.
We drove down the valley a bit more and encountered ‘The Bog Hole’. On the winter trip this was a very large lake of mud. You could have parked 15 cars on it and not covered its surface, but now being summer, the hole dried out considerably exposing the huge ruts that Ian marooned his Mazda Bravo upon last time. These were very large ruts.
Ian’s HiLux lurched forward and promptly got stuck again, requiring a winch out. Strangely, no one else got stuck. This became a common theme. Where there was mud, Ian got stuck requiring his winch or a helpful snatch to extricate himself.
Malcom’s Prado 95 successfully navigated the bog hole but at the expense of grit in his brake calipers causing a total loss of braking effort and squealing noises that had to be heard to be believed. This problem reoccurred every time we hit the mud but with continued application of soft drinks and water to the caliper, the noise died down after approximately 5km or so, and some braking ability returned.
Exiting the ‘Gardens of Stone National Park’ we drove some 6km on the black top, through Capertee, into the Turon National Park and we were at our campsite beside the Turon River around 1.30pm.
Time for some lunch and to setup the campsite and then everyone, along with their chairs, migrated into to the river to enjoy a ‘happy hour’ cool off complete with a table and Karen’s yummy spinach dip.
Smarty pants teenagers were encouraged to fall into the river with much ensuing laughter.
As the evening wore on, a firewood collection trip was made. This involved some steep hill traversals which were enjoyed by the participants.
A nice big fire was then laid and Ian kept us all entertained with his story telling, however this was cut short by a huge thunderstorm passing directly overhead. This storm was very spectacular with lightning throwing the forest into stark profile. We all sat there wondering if it would pass without rain, but that was a lost hope as the heavens opened up and most of us abandoned the fire and headed for the tents.
By Sunday morning the lightning, thunder and rain from the storm on Saturday night had cleared. Unfortunately our tents were still wet when we had to pack up and the group was ready to depart camp at around 10am.
We traversed a few more river crossings before heading up the Pinnacle Fire Trail to The Pinnacle. There were some wonderful views across to the east including the power station.
After ploughing our way through a few bog holes, we made our way down a very steep rocky hill. Two of the younger drivers, Alex and Chris took the challenge and drove back up the hill then down again. Lockers and their enthusiasm (some would say lack of fear) got them to the top. They really showed plenty of skill to drive such a difficult hill.
After having lunch at a nice spot at the bottom of the hill we continued on our way. We travelled along a few more tracks through some pine forests before reaching the main road and stopping to air up before heading home.
Except for the storm on Saturday night we were lucky to have good weather which allowed us to have a great weekend in the bush.
Many thanks to Ian, our fearless leader for organising the trip.