Last day -Tamworth to Taree

Wow! What a last day we had! There had been some rain in the wee small hours of the morning, so we knew that at least the first stage was going to a slippery one – and a big stage it was too – 107km Class 3. And we managed to come in spot on time, so we were off to a good start!

The next stage took us through Barrington Tops – it was a stage with a steep climb and a steep descent. Serious ear popping stuff! 81km in a Class 3, we climbed to 1441m above sea level and at the end of the stage we thought we had nailed our time again, but obviously others took it a little slower, so the average time meant that we were in fact 3 minutes early.

Our lunch stop was a picnic in the park in Gloucester which was very pleasant in the sunshine. We had two difficult stages ahead, so it was good to relax out of the Kar for a while.


Enjoying a brief relaxation

Stage 3 was a 64km Class 4 – lots of humps! Once again after thinking we had nailed it, we were 2 minutes early. The final stage for the day and for the rally was a short (32km) Class 4. We started to see a climb in our temperature gauge but carried on. So many causeways on this one…and after accelerating to get to the finish line, we were 1 minute early!!! The temperature gauge issue can be looked at once we get home.

As is tradition, we all gather at the finish line to see all the Kars finish and enjoy a cold beverage. Lots of hand shaking, hugging and the like for us to all congratulate ourselves on completing another great Kidney Kar Rally.

Kidney Kars all in a row!

Kidney Kars all in a row!

So into Taree, unload our surplus gear from the gear truck and off to our final dinner. This is our last chance to catch up with everyone, relive some of the adventures we have had over the past 8 days and say goodbye until next year. It is also the night when all the awards are presented. I have mentioned before how the scores from Day 7 and 8 are kept secret to this point so it is a surprise to find out how you have gone overall. I have already told you of our results for Day 8 – even, 3 early, 2 early, 1 early…well on Day 7 we managed 2 early, 2 early, 1 early and even on the last.

How surprised were we to discover that we had won the trophy for the Best 4WD Krew! Just half a point in front of our friends in Kar 2009 who won this award last year – so Subaru 1 & 2 – ahead of all the other, larger 4WD’s. Out of the 47 competing Kars there were 10 4WD’s so we were pretty chuffed to not only win this award but to finish up 12th overall for the whole rally, two positions better than last year and our best ever!

Best 4WD award!

Best 4WD award!

We could not have of course done it without the help of John Clout (2009) and Dion Manning (0517) – speaking of whom…will have to consider building a special trophy room given his awards for the night! Ably assisted by his dad Charles, they were winners of the Team award (4 Kars make a team), were awarded 4th outright winner, had already picked up Best Presented Kar and topped all that off with the Supreme Achiever Award for their ongoing and constant promotion and support of Kidney Kids, the Rally and Kidney Health Australia! Talk about greedy! All well deserved awards for a very special rallytive.

A special shout out to Team O’Halloran (from Numurkah and Cobram in Victoria) for being outright winners and to all the winners on the rally. But the real winners are of course the Kidney Kids – with $550,000 raised by the rally this year – thank you all for your support and generosity and we will see you all for the 2017 Kidney Kar Rally which will see us travel from Griffith to Wagga via Tibooburra!


Day 7 – Narrabri to Tamworth

Just an update on the strut…Mike (from Kar 1996, which had been totalled the previous day) arrived a little after 10pm (direct from Dubbo Hospital after breaking his hand in the accident) with our new strut. It was after midnight last night when Dion from Kar 0157 and John from Kar 2009 finished working on our Kar. We can never express our gratitude enough for these guys.

Heading off this morning from Narrabri

Heading off this morning from Narrabri

After a pretty good day rallying yesterday, the results posted showed we came 10th for the day and are at 14th overall. They also start a repechage competition from today that is for everyone who at this stage of the rally is not in the top 10. We are equal 6th in the repechage scoring system after the first day.

So this morning we were back on the road ready to rally. A Class 1 for 105km got us started. We think we ended up a minute slow on this one. This was closely followed by another Class 1 of 114km with much the same result.

Lunch today was in the town of Manilla and a solid afternoon of rallying followed. We began with a 96km Class 3 where we again think we were a minute slow and likewise for the 55km Class 4 to finish the day.

We drove through some beautiful countryside but unfortunately we don’t really get to appreciate it or stop and take a photo or anything. We had a lot of shire roads today which meant a lot of oncoming traffic. Some of the locals come out to watch us all go past and wave at us, sometimes even stopping you to make a donation. Others just see us in a negative light and really don’t want us to be there. There were a couple more Kars lost today either through accidents or mechanical issues and again we were grateful nobody was seriously hurt.

At Limbri approaching Tamworth

At Limbri approaching Tamworth

The stages today were so different and had so many different issues to contend with – roadworks, graders, wandering livestock and so many grids and causeways – they all present different challenges.

And so tonight in Tamworth. Some awards were given out tonight. The most notable was the Kraziest Krew which went to Kar 27. These are the boys of Teletubbies fame from the first day. They have had a different theme of costume every day of the rally and kept us entertained with their antics!

The rallytives at dinner tonight raised over $2,000 for one of the drivers to shave off his beard so he could afford to come to next year’s rally! So they shaved off one side of his beard and the opposite side of his head! Their logic is that if he finishes the rally tomorrow, they will complete the job…I do hope for his sake he finishes!

The beard/hair cut!

The beard/hair cut!

Watch a video of the shave for charity here

So tomorrow is our final day. We have no scores for today as they like to keep them secret until the final dinner tomorrow night. So off to Taree in the morning…goodnight!

Day 5 – Rest Day and Day 6 – Dubbo to Narrabri

Day 5

Before I get on to the days rallying, I should explain why there was no blog post for yesterday – it was our rest day! We usually have a rest day mid rally to allow people to have a break and attend to things like getting their Kars fixed and doing their laundry and well…just having a break! Of course we had pre-ordered two tyres (from two different places) so they had to be picked up and also needed to try to find a rim to replace the one destroyed the previous day. So, we picked up the tyres, found a replacement rim, washed the Kar, unpacked all our stuff from the gear truck, repacked, made up 100 gift bags for the children at the school we would be visiting in Baradine…and that was just the morning! We all gathered for wonderful lunch hosted by Kar 2 at their workplace.

On return to our motel, we reloaded what we didn’t need on to the gear truck and filled the Kar ready for an early start. Traditionally our rest day finishes with a fancy dress dinner which this year had the theme “hats and wigs”. There were certainly some sights to behold! The auctioneer had also travelled to Dubbo to auction off some more items to raise even more money for the Kidney Kids – a total of $15,000 was raised from the auction which was a great result. There was also a raffle conducted by our Ambo, Phil Hoey which raised even more money, but the raffle prize was 3 x $4,000 to go towards the winners fundraising for next year. Phil works really hard all year raising funds for Kidney Health and donates that money back via the winners of his raffle. He was also presented with a special ‘Operation Angel’ Award from Kidney Health Australia for his dedication to the cause for over 20 years. Congratulations Phil!

Day 6

We had an earlier than usual start today with 4 stages ahead of us. The first was a Class 2 (ave 80kmh) of 111km. Once again, lots of grids, humps and gutters. The funniest site of the day was a cow by the side of the road on our side of the fence…I picked up the radio to announce that there was a cow on the road but just as I started to speak, the cow jumped back over the fence into the paddock! I never knew they could jump so high!

I thought Ken was driving a little more cautiously than normal and we came in 3 minutes late. But as it turned out, everyone must have been the same as we ended up being 1 minute early. (We only lost 1 point instead of the 3 we had expected). A short transport took us to the second stage – a massive 132km Class 1. Some very rough causeways on this one but we managed to come through one minute early. We then drove into Baradine where the Central School put on a wonderful lunch for us and we gave out some goodies to the 100 kids that attend there.

Then to Stage 3 – a 96km Class 2 through the Pilliga – more of the same with some creeks thrown in for good measure. Once again, we estimated a 3 minute late penalty, but ended up being 1 minute early again!

Some Kars weren't lucky today...

Some Kars weren’t lucky today…

A very short transport took us to our final stage for the day. Because of some grading work that was being done on the planned route, it was shortened to a Class 3, 50km stage through the Pilliga scrub. About 5km from the end, we hit a hole and we hit it hard. We could smell rubber but a quick check of the tyres seemed fine, so we soldiered on and managed to finish the stage 1 minute early (we thought) but turned out to be even. When we arrived at control, they could smell the rubber too, but we thought it best to try to get into Narrabri. On arrival at Admin, we realised the front wheel was at a funny angle.  A couple of our fellow rallytives had a look at the Kar and told us the bad news…we had bent one of the front struts so it now resembled a banana and hence the tyre rubbing against it was the rubber we could smell. A quick ring around Narrabri to get the part proved unsuccessful, but once again a fellow rallytive from Kar .05 contacted a mate who was driving up from Dubbo this evening to pick up the part we needed. So as I write this, the damaged strut has been removed and the Kar is sitting up on a jack waiting for the part to arrive in the next 10 minutes or so. Once again, our friend from Kar 0517 is here to help, this time, late at night to help put the new strut in so we can continue rallying tomorrow. Seriously, these people are absolute legends!


Bent front strut!

Day 4 – West Wyalong to Dubbo

Well it was a good day relatively speaking…there were some major changes to the routes we were taking so it was a bit of late preparation for the navigators to change the directions in their road books. The first rally was changed from a Class 3 to a Class 2 as they had to re-route us around a particularly difficult part of the stage, again because of the risk of getting bogged, but 105km later we managed to come through unscathed and in perfect time! A welcome pause in Condobolin for a pit stop and we were onto the next stage – this one a 125km Class 3 – presented us with some challenges like fallen trees, deep gutters and rocky sections but we managed to nail it, albeit 2 minutes early.


Lunch at the Rabbit Trap Hotel!

A lovely lunch and fuel stop in Albert at the Rabbit Trap Hotel and we were off on what was to be our final stage for the day (the last planned stage was cancelled). This section had been again downgraded from a Class 2 to a Class 1 of 100km with some major changes to the route. We were humming along beautifully and then, 2kms from the end, when we had slowed down to prevent being too early, we hit a concrete causeway, which we hadn’t seen as the edge was camouflaged with water. It was a big hit and we knew we had done some damage, but we were determined to make it to Control 2km down the road. They heard us coming…

Anyway, we made it and then pulled over to check the damage. One tyre, beyond repair but worse, the alloy rim…you could see exactly where we had hit that causeway! Thanks once again to Dion from 0517 for his help changing the tyre on some pretty soft ground – this man manages to fit every piece of equipment you could possibly need on a rally into the boot of his Kar and is always there to help – we are most grateful. Fortunately, we had already organised in advance to pick up two new tyres in Dubbo, so now we will have to look for a rim as well! But the good news was we totally nailed the stage once again in perfect time!

The dust creates eerie scenes on the road

The dust creates eerie scenes on the road

There were certainly some challenges on Day 4 – driving down tracks that were so tight with trees on either side as well as saplings in the middle of the road that you couldn’t avoid as there was nowhere to go, some turns that were incredibly tight, lots of water, lots of mud and massively deep gutters – gotta love it! But we will freely admit, we are looking forward to our rest day tomorrow!

So 7th for the day and 16th overall – we don’t think we are doing too badly at all!


Best presented Kar for 2015 (ours) next to the 2016 awardee. Just needs a clean!

Orange to West Wyalong

Billy, the Kidney Kar Rally mascot, waves us off

Billy, the Kidney Kar Rally mascot, waves us off

Nothing special to report from last night really…we managed to move up a few places, only losing 2 points for being early in the first section, 3 for being early in the second and believe it or not, we were even in the last stage! We had a lovely dinner at the Orange Ex-Services Club and a long chat with Pam & Dick Graham who are ‘sweeps’ on the rally and have been around the rally circuit for years and are a never ending source of some very funny stories! Spent the night at the Templars Mill Motel and it was lovely – highly recommended.

Frosty mornings!

Frosty mornings!

We woke to a frosty morning with ice all over the Kar and headed off for breakfast back at the Club. At the briefing from the Road Director, he advised some changes and unfortunately another stage cancellation (was to be our last stage for the day), again due to the hazardous conditions. We are only grateful that safety is always the prime concern on the Kidney Kar Rally.

Our first stage this morning was over Mount Canobolas – an 82km Class 3, so an average speed of 70kmh. There were some parts that were quite a deal slower, with some very rough rocky sections and a fair bit of water. We even had ice on the road in the early part of this stage! But some beautiful scenery when I could glance up quickly from the road book, terra trip and radio duties! Right towards the end we went through a rough creek and from that point a noise started in the front wheel area. No it wasn’t a flat…we decided to press on as we only had a few k’s to the end of the stage. When we pulled up to control everyone was looking at the front wheel area and it turned out a large piece of cowling had torn off and was rubbing against the wheel. We headed into the next town (Eugowra) and Dion from Tumut (Kar 0517) helped us out – he simply cut it off and pulled it out and threw it in the nearest bin! And so we went on!

The next stage for the day was a 98km Class 3. So many narrow cattle grids, my bones were starting to shudder! Lots of water again and some detours around large water filled holes to avoid us doing too much damage! At the end of the stage we maybe came in a little early…

An early lunch at the Services Club in Forbes was certainly welcome, albeit a little short in time before we had to leave to make it out to the starting control for the last stage of the day. This one was a 98km Class 1, so the average speed should be about 85kmh. As it is an easier stage we also had to participate in a visual navigation exercise where we had to answer specific questions along the way. They are worth points so everyone tries hard to spot the answers and the answer sheets are handed in at the final control.

Canola at last!

Canola at last!

As the last stage was cancelled, we headed straight into West Wyalong where we will be staying tonight. We took the opportunity of some spare time to have our damaged tyre looked at in town, but alas it was not fixable and they didn’t have a replacement for it, so until we get to Dubbo we will just have to manage with 5 tyres and one spare rim!

Dinner tonight at the West Wyalong Services Club before we head off to rally our way towards Dubbo in the morning. The following day is a rest day, so other than shopping around for some tyres, we can hopefully rest up and reorganise our gear truck storage a little!