Mt Coree Night Drive – April 2006

This was fun, a night drive to see the sights of Canberra from Mt Coree and then a quick detour into the Quarry. Mt Coree is still open to the public. I think I wrote this one so go easy on me….

Well yes this trip seemed to have everything from lots of Toyotas to a little bit of bush repair.

We all met at Deeks Forest Park in the fading light at 1830 on Saturday the 15th. The moon was beginning to rise over the city and it was going to provide enough light that Damo didn’t need to fit the second set of suns on the front of the Prado. We were a few members short as Damo had come on his own and Ross and Kate had sold their eldest to some other 4WD club for the weekend. Trevor’s clan was also not quite at full strength, but the CS clan was there body and soul.

We soon set off on the dogumen through Uriarra to the seven creeks turn off just past Condor Creek. The intrepid trip leader managed to miss the turn once again and got Ross to take the lead through the creeks. Even with a bit of rain the night before, there really wasn’t enough water in the creeks or the mud holes to engender more than a squeak from Kylie W. This could have been due to the fact she was well into the second half of a full bottle of ‘Cowboys’ as a nerve calmer or Trevor’s excellent driving.

The gentle climb after creek seven, that can at times prove interesting when the clay is wet, was not a Ross killer this weekend, and we all made it onto the Coree summit road with no incident. We were also fortunate in that this time there was no cloud, it wasn’t raining and all the gates were open so the trip to the top was not difficult either. The smart concreting job at the steps just before the summit spoilt the fun especially as we had been building a good story for Kylie about who would winch them that last little bit…

But the view was worth it. So was the Mars Bar slice, and the coffee and Milo was needed for the cold. It should be mentioned at this stage that ‘Radio Kate’s’ children had fallen asleep some time before Uriarra and had missed all the creeks and the climb to the top. They decided to stay asleep whilst we were there and for all of the descent back down the Coree summit road and back to Brindabella road along Two Sticks.

Someone insisted that we should check out the quarry on the way home, and never one to miss a quick quarry trip I duly turned off the road at the Namadgi sign and weaved through the rocks and to the base of the big hill. It was at this point that I told Trevor that he could take the easy way out and I climbed up the small hill. Trevor and Ross followed (Kids still asleep) and Damo had a look at the big boy. As it wasn’t too slippy and it was only early Damo showed us how it was done and calmly climbed up to the waiting hoards at the top.

The first bog hole really didn’t look that bad in the dark, so I decided that this was the day I would make it through. There was hardly any water so not really a challenge and I would’ve got through in one go if I had had the centre diff locked. I had though decided that in the dark I didn’t need it. Didn’t quite go as planned but once in there was no backing out and so on attempt 6 I climbed up and over.

Damo obviously thought it looked easy too. Unfortunately he didn’t make it through, and whilst reversing out dug the exhaust pipe in to the mud. The noise of an exhaust pipe having been bent back on itself and therefore having only a small crease through which to let out all those gasses from the engine was a new one on most of us. Having worked out what it was we had to work out how to do the running repairs.

The pipe was bent in such a way that driving forward was pretty much out of the question and driving backwards was interesting. He reversed out of the hole and we tried to position the truck so we could bend it back.

There were no rocks to drive the wheel up on and no stumps either. So we took the spare off the back and drove her up on the tyre. The tyre held the weight and it gave us enough height so that we could move the pipe. It has to be said that the exhaust pipe on a Toyota is good solid stuff so to bend it to where it was supposed to be needed a good effort and bending it back was beyond us. So out came the winch on the 80. We positioned ‘The Green Machine’ behind the Prado and used the winch to re-position the pipe. This was done from two angles with the aid of a winch block and was a singularly impressive engineering feat.

Having got it back to approximately the right position we dug out the three tonnes of clay that were in the pipe and wired it up. Unfortunately there was still a pretty good crease where it had bent back on itself and the Prado sounded like she had a massive Turbo fitted.

This was an interesting exercise in which all were involved and once again shows the ‘stuff’ can happen on even the tamest of trips.

It has to be said that this is a designated Army training ground for 4WDs, in which we were enjoying a challenge. It is always possible to end in tears but generally it is only your own and no-one else gets hurt. In fact you don’t even have to try, but just watch others having a go. Ross’s kids remained asleep throughout all of these endeavours and will I am sure never believe us when we tell them what we did.

I for one had a great evening and would do it again any time. The company was great and the drive was fun. Where are we going next….

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