Monday, April 13, 2009

Robe - Easter 2009

After completing the Toyota Landcruiser Club Driver Awareness (DA) course in Jan 2009 we joined our first club trip, off to Robe in South Australia to drive on the sand. Beach driving is not allowed in Victoria, so many Vics drive across the border to have some fun on the beaches and dunes.

The weather was perfect – mid 20s and cloudless skies. It was cool and moist at night, but the full moon and star spangled sky was awesome.

We were in a group of 16 4WDs from the club – Landcruiser 80 and 100 series, Prados and we even allowed a few Nissans along! We Toyota drivers need the challenge of somebody to pull out of a bog! As you can see we are getting into the groove of this here 4WD caper!

Robe is 560km drive West of Melbourne. We left on Maundy Thursday and stayed at the Royal Mail hotel in Dunkeld, where we took Liz and Ian in Feb. It is a great spot at the Southern end of the Grampians. The birdlife is awesome and there are heaps of swamp wallabies just behind the hotel.

Good Friday saw us up and into the truck to head further West to Robe. We checked into the camp site and met up with the other club members for a beer and brief that evening.

Saturday was the first days driving. After a coffee and seafood stop (Robe is the Crayfish capital of Australia) we were off to the beach and the dunes. It was an event filled day. Lots of great sand driving, stunning beaches, a handful of nudists and some crazy organic farmers who would not allow us to pass thro a track to the road to get back home. Out plan was to get to Robe by 4 in time for a sunset drive on the beach – we had our sunset drive OK, but on the wrong beach. We didn’t return until 8pm! At one stage it looked like we might be camping on the beach – but trip leader Bruce negotiated his way out of a sticky corner.

Sunday was more of the same, but the highlight was the Millicent dune buggy club. Bruce had negotiated a hour on the dunes – the video doesn’t really do this justice – the main dunes were as high as a 4 story building, at a pretty steep angle. We were second in the convoy, so after Bruce went to up check it out it was Stuart’s turn. Second gear proved no good, the next two attempts were in third, but eventually he got up it in fourth gear, low range.

We had several other gos – watch the clip from inside the car as Nicky gets up the dune, and the encouragement from Stuart!

There was no shortage of drama – Tony Martyn, our group “Kamikaze” attempted a section that was too steep and bust the front grill on his Prado. Shortly after, a second prado had to be dug out at the crest of the dune. But worst, and probably most expensive, of all was team leader Bruces alloy rim, that split in two. We heard the crack from 300m away.

The dunes started off like a set from Star Wars, but ended up more like a scrap yard!
Once we had patched up and dug out the vehicles it was time to move South to Beachport for lunch. We headed back to Robe to pop into a few of the Limestone Coast vineyards.

The evening was spent doing the sunset drive on Robes Discovery Bay beach. And awesome end to an awesome trip.