Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Octoberfest – Willangi 2017

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Although it’s not really a Jeep Club event I include this here because it’s a 4WD Club event and there were supposed to be 3 Jeeps going from Adelaide Jeep Club. One lot didn’t arrive and I suspect it might have been because The Crows were playing in the football finals on the Saturday. There were a few other “no shows” and  they were probably also Crows Tragics.

We left on Thursday and drove to Clare where we shared the Caravan Park with, amongst others, a group of veteran car enthusiasts from all over Australia who’d come for the National Veteran Vehicle Rally. The cars were all pre 1918.

Our first excursion was to the Hardware shop, of course! We needed a waterproof cover for the electrical cords connection.

We went for a walk to see Neagle’s Rock and the orchid expert showed off his acute observation skills again. Before we went to the Pub for dinner we enjoyed the conversations at the camp kitchen tables. Talk was about the day’s drive though not everyone could remember where they’d been! There were some disparaging comments about those who had, “gone modern” so I had a laugh when I had to explain we drove a modern car. They were happy for us to stay in their company though because we hadn’t transported a veteran car over then chosen to drive a warm, modern car. They were all freezing after a day out in the cold wind.

Neagle’s Rock with a view over very old vines and an abandoned Lavender crop. Self seeded Lavender plants are now considered weeds.

On Friday morning we watched the parade of cars leave about 8:00, they were joining others in Clare before leaving for Burra. We packed up and drove out about 10:00 and decided to take the Farrell Flat road to Burra thinking we’d miss all the old cars. We were wrong. The cars were absolutely magic in the Caravan Park and chugging along the main road until we were behind one doing 25mph with double lines down the centre of the road so no passing. Some of the cars were single cylinders and we’d been told that even in the bigger cars every passenger had a big impact on the car’s performance. We came across three separate cars as we made our way to Burra and felt a bit sorry for the truckie stuck behind us when he really wanted to get on with his job.

Our favourite cafe in Peterborough was closed so we went to the “Take a Break Cafe” which now has a sideline in incense and the various bits and pieces that go with it. I bought some Lavender cones to disguise the smell of the rubber matting in the camper.

There were about 20 campers already at Willangi when we arrived but we were able to choose a site we liked….. we didn’t like it so much after we’d experienced the nasty, little prickles that infested the spot. There was a very strong wind and people were fighting with canvas so we decided against trying to put up the annexe. I’m so glad we now have a camper trailer with some solid walls, I felt quite secure inside.

We went for a mini drive then walked to the top of the hill to check for messages. On the opposite side of the hill from the campsite are some ruins, last time we were at Willangi the grass there was too high for me to feel comfortable walking through it but this year it was fine. I really admire the people who built the old houses, they had simple equipment but made up for that with skill and tenacity. It must have been an impressive homestead there.

Near the ruins was the usual pile of rusted metal and we were checking out an old mudguard to see if we could identify it when I suddenly became aware of a beautiful little dragon basking on a piece of rusty metal. It let me get closer and closer, I was just moving in for a shot of its eye when it took off making me jump. There were a couple of kangaroos watching us as we poked around.

Because we had no annexe up to protect us from the wind, cooking would have been hopeless so we decided to go back into Peterborough for some dinner. We decided on a hamburger at the Fish and Chip shop and it was amazing. I think the best hamburger I’ve ever had!

On Saturday morning we joined the group going to Carinya, a property at Pekina but our first stop was at Magnetic Hill. The road appears to slope down for quite a distance but if you put the vehicle in neutral and take off the handbrake the car seems to be rolling back uphill. It was a weird sensation.

Carinya is a property with thousands of Yakkas, they’re very slow growing plants with the botanical name of Xanthorrhoea. In one area there is a Yakka which shows bushfire damage but there has been no fire through since Europeans first came to the region. The current owners are descendants of the original settlers who came out from Ireland in the 1800s.

Mobs of kangaroos were on the property and the views from the top of the ridge just wonderful. We met the owner up on the ridge and he told us Carinya is on the southern side of Goyders Line while Willangi is on the northern side, this accounts for the greener environment at Carinya.

Many people stopped off in Peterborough on the way back to camp so they could watch the football final on TV in one of the hotels, most came back disappointed because The Crows lost, apparently it was a bit of a whitewash. After sponsor-supplied nibbles in the big shed we headed off on the Sunset Drive, we were told we didn’t need to deflate the tyres so just drove off up the hill. There were about 10 cars in the convoy with people from many different 4WD clubs. The sunset was lovely but the drive back down a different track from the one used on the way up had loose sections and a couple of switch-backs so we wished we had deflated the tyres a bit.

Having the annexe up made a big difference to our comfort. The gas cooker wasn’t blasted by wind so the kettle didn’t take forever to boil and we were able to sit and read sheltered from any wind. Fortunately the winds were only really strong the day we arrived but the nights were cold. Having hot water on tap is a luxury we’ve never had until we bought the Mitchell camper but we didn’t set up the shower tent instead we used the $1 in a slot showers. We took plenty of coins but only used $3 and felt great afterwards.

On Sunday morning we opted to go for a walk rather than another drive and we really enjoyed the relaxation. There were some enchanting birds in a bushy area and deep eroded sections with debris trapped metres up in tree roots showed just how powerful the water is when the heavy rains come.

If any birds are named incorrectly I’d be happy for you to help me out. 🙂

A nice relaxing, “Sunday Drive” was our plan for the afternoon, just a short drive to Miller’s Tracks, an area we investigated by ourselves last time. There were only 6 cars in the group and our leader had a fright when he was leading a morning trip. His vehicle was fully laden with gear and when he drove on a section with a steep camber followed by a sharp upward turn the vehicle tilted alarmingly and only by placing two people on the sidesteps was he able to get out of the situation. Like us, he wanted a relaxing afternoon so was avoiding difficult sections but two other drivers were having fun taking the harder routes. When we were approaching a track called, “I Lean” and heard that it was proving difficult with slopes and loose rocks we decided to leave the rest of the group to do it we’d take a simple track around and meet them further on. I took a photo of the leader’s Mud Map before we separated. It was just as well we didn’t try the track because warning lights came up on our dash showing a fault in the ABS and then we lost 4WD.  The others eventually met up with us though there was some concern about the time the two adventurers were taking to regroup.

We made it back to Willangi in 2WD. It wasn’t a relaxing Sunday Drive.

Our day ended with a nice glass of wine and some nibbles at a neighbours’ caravan while we chatted and watched Kangaroos out enjoying their evening.

On Monday morning we shared in the fundraiser breakfast before going back to pack up the camper. Taking down and packing away the annexe was easier than we expected, we think this system with a frame is easier to manage than just canvas and outside poles. Neither of us were worrying about the car, we’ve been through the towtruck procedure before, there was somewhere to leave the camper and Alex didn’t have to be back at work the next day. Before we even tried to start the car there was the usual send off saga with thanks to sponsors, organizers, hosts etc and then the raffle draws.  Mt Lofty Rangers 4WD Club do a great job organizing the event. I think there were about 50 prizes but we didn’t have to worry about finding a place for a big fridge, swag, can caddy or hat!

Crunch time eventually came and we had to start the car, not only that but then we had to reverse it and both times it had a hissy fit on Miller’s it was after we reversed it. No way you can connect a camper without doing it though. We managed to connect up the camper with no warning lights coming on and after a few goodbyes we were off along with a stream of others. As we said goodbye to the station owner though we did say we were having car issues and might be back to leave the camper for a while. He didn’t seem bothered. Despite some initial nervousness we made it home without any trouble, I’m not sure how we would have fared if we’d needed 4WD.

Our confidence in the Jeep hasn’t been restored. 😦

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