Day 2 – Oberon to Orange

From a very chilly Oberon this morning, we headed off on a short transport section to reach the first rally for the day. A 64km Class 3 with lots of forest and quite a few Roos. We hit some big rocks and fallen trees but the Kar seemed to bounce over most and we came through unscathed!

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Plenty of sheep to slow us down!

Then a 40km transport section to take us to our second rally for the morning – but first we had to get past the sheep! Fortunately it didn’t take too long as the farmer was there in his golf buggy and had his kids helping to herd the flock across the road! Anyway, onto the next rally section – this one a class 4 of 83km. This section replaced the one that was originally planned so we had replacement pages for the road book. Lots of very short distances between instructions so there were lots of turns and I really had to keep my wits about me to make sure my instructions to Ken were clear and we didn’t miss a vital turn along the way! We hear many weren’t so lucky and missed the odd turn here and there, but we can be thankful we did well!

Another short transport to head towards rally 3 – another class 4 of 75km. This one had lots of grids with cattle on the road along the way. The last part of this rally took us down razorback which was a pretty hairy ride from my side of the Kar with a sheer drop down off the edge of a very narrow, rocky road! I admit I was leaning towards the driver just a bit during this part! The views over the Turon Valley during this stage were quite spectacular, but the time you get to glance at it is only a fleeting moment!

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The Turon Valley

Finally it was time for lunch, so we headed back to Mt Panorama to the Bathurst Light Car Club where the SES put on a fantastic lunch for us all!

Due to the road conditions north of Orange, our last stage for the day was cancelled. The ‘day before Kar’ had been bogged the previous day and the occupants walked several kilometres to find a farmer with a tractor that could pull them out. Much of the track was like this so it was decided to cancel the section, rather than risk dangerous conditions. So from Bathurst, we headed straight to Orange where we spend the night. Dinner tonight at the Ex-Serviceman’s Club so if there is any news to report from the dinner I will include it tomorrow!

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Day 1 of the Rally

IMG_4059Well day 1 is done! Can’t say with my hand on my heart that it was a great day, but we did OK!

Started with a 38 km transport to get us to the start of the real stuff. And start with a vengeance we did. A class 4 (average speed 60km per hour) for 65km where the opening warning in the road book was a triple caution to look out for abundant wildlife! We made it through without hitting any and were a little faster than the average. We had to make a detour at the next transport stage as nature was calling loudly!

Then began a 68km class 3 where we could go a little faster (ave 70) which we breezed through but again a little too quickly. Then a very short transport to reach the most gruelling stage of the day, a class 5 (ave 50km/h) which was an unbelievably rough stage with lots of rocks, lots of slippery mud, humps, deep gutters and fallen trees which had been cut by the ‘day before car’ to enable us to squeeze through them. About 18km from the end of this section we lost our first tyre of the rally. Unfortunately the wheels had been secured using a rattle gun. If you don’t have one with you to unscrew the nuts, they are nigh on impossible to unscrew by hand! So onto our trusty radio to ask for help…no response. We continued to try to move the nuts but no luck. Unbeknownst to us, there had been a major collision way back in the stage where two cars had t-boned each other, so the entire group (bar the first few Kars including us) was held up for quite some time. We were wondering why no rally Kars were coming past…about half an hour later we finally got assistance from the Kar carrying the Teletubbies, who in full costume, managed to get the nuts off and change the wheel for us! It was a sight indeed!

Teletubbies to the rescue!

Teletubbies to the rescue!

As it turned out, because of the accident and another Kar rolling onto its roof, the whole stage was cancelled, so we were not disadvantaged at all. Most importantly, no-one was hurt.

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Jenolan Caves House

We then drove down the narrow, windy road to Jenolan Caves House which was our lunch venue for the day. A bit of a detour coming out from lunch before we worked out we were heading in the wrong direction! We finally found our way through the Grand Arch and back up another narrow windy road to the start of the last section for the day – a 53km Class 4 – which alas once again we were a little too much quicker than the average…

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The Grand Arch Jenolan Caves

Still, we arrived in Oberon which is where we stay tonight. Exhausted so heading to bed for some beauty sleep to be ready for a 7am briefing in the morning before we head off to Orange!

Update from Bathurst

And the fun begins!

A very full day today and we haven’t even started rallying yet!

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Mount Panorama

First up this morning we headed up the famous Mount Panorama where registration and scrutineering were conducted at the Bathurst Light Car Club on Conrod Straight. All our safety gear was checked and found to be in order, so we are all clear to rally. After registration, we ducked back into town for some brekkie and then back to Conrod Straight for some media shots with WIN News. Then off to Repco to get a spare bulb for our amber flashing light (just in case) and a trolley jack (we knew we had forgotten something!). Back to the mountain for our group photo shoot behind Pit Lane and then back to the club for the official briefing. This is where we receive our road books – everything we need to know for the next 8 days is in the road book, so you must carry it EVERYWHERE!

"Scrutineering"

“Scrutineering”

A brief respite back at our hotel to do the final packing up and tying down of everything in the Kar before we headed off to the official opening dinner at the RSL Club. The Chairman of Kidney Health Australia, himself a kidney transplant recipient, welcomed us all and was delighted to be attending his first Kidney Kar Rally.

Then came the announcement of the top 15 fundraisers for this year. The top 15 get to be the first 15 cars that take off each day, regardless of how well they are progressing in the rally. The remainder of the participants are drawn randomly, so you could be 16th or 60th and that changes each day. We were very pleased to discover that we were the 4th highest fundraiser this year and will be travelling with our friends from Wagga in front of us and our friends from Tumut behind us. It seems we three usually end up close together in the field, but we were delighted to jump a couple of places up the ladder from last year! So a big THANK YOU to all our sponsors and supporters – from us and from the Kidney Kids.

We also heard from Chelsea, a kidney kid and transplant recipient, who at 17, managed to stand up in front of this large crowd and tell us what the rally and the Kidney Kids Camps mean to her and all the others that attend. It is always great to hear these kids stories – it just serves as a reminder of why we are all here doing this rally.

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Amy & Chelsea

Then came the infamous auction. Barto is an amazing auctioneer, a little bit cheeky, but really knows how to get the most out of the crowd. We managed to get a whopping $795 for our two auction items (normally valued at $425), so that’s a great kick start to next years fundraising! A special thanks to Sarah Braybrook for donating her fantastic artwork to help raise money for us.

And now to bed ready for a 6am start tomorrow in what looks to be a pretty gruelling first rally day!

We have arrived!

Only just over 5 hours driving today from Wodonga to Bathurst where we were greeted by blue sky and warmth through the Kar windows…of course it was a little chillier outside the Kar, but only a little.

We passed through many towns today – including Young, Cowra, Lyndhurst, Carcoar and Blayney – but the most noticeable thing was the lack of canola. We are very much used to seeing massive fields full of bright yellow canola in NSW and it was sorely missed. We stopped in Gundagai for fuel and a coffee and decided to skip lunch. So we drove through to Bathurst, checked into our motel, caught up on emails and phone calls and put out a Facebook call to the locals to recommend a place to eat! We ended up having an early dinner at Jack Duggan’s Irish Pub – great venue and the meals were not only HUGE but delicious!

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After receiving a message from a fellow rallytive (a local) we then made the short walk up to The George’ where about 20 of the rallytives were catching up for dinner. As we had already eaten, we joined them for a couple of drinks and caught up with Katie from Kidney Health Australia as well.

It is great to see some of the group we have befriended over the last 7 years or so and we look forward to seeing the rest of them at registration tomorrow.

And we’re off…!

_DSC3511It was great to have all the staff, the family and even the dog, all there to say goodbye and good luck to us as we drove off this afternoon, headed for Wodonga. Just a short drive today and only a little bit longer tomorrow when we head to Bathurst. But this is the relaxing part of the trip, so we can afford to go easy! And I get to share the driving too!

The Kar behaved itself, so, touch wood, we hope it stays that way.

Given the load it is carrying, it copes very well – aside from us and our clothes, there are numerous things that are compulsory for the rally, like a jerry can, safety equipment, first aid, 5 litres of water etc plus two spare wheels. Add to that the perpetual trophy we won last year which has its own suitcase and the give-aways for the schools we visit along the way and you have a Subie loaded to the gunnels! Thank goodness for side mirrors!

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Fortunately, we don’t have to rally with ALL this in the car…once in Bathurst, much of it will be unloaded onto the ‘gear truck’ which we can access each evening if we need to. But usually we pack in two halves and access the gear truck only on our rest day (unless Ken hasn’t packed enough socks to see him through till then!) – this year that will be in Dubbo.

Ciao for now!

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