Day 21: Great Divide 4WD training

We met Tony last night when we arrived. He showed us the facilities and left us to it. Great Divide 4WD is owned by Vic Widdstrum. He runs 4WD training weekends, tag along tours and does the occasional one-on-one for people such as ourselves who have 4WD experience but need refreshing, or have a different vehicle. The facility is a 240 acre property of mostly natural bush where he has made tracks and ‘challenges’. The building provides for bunk-style accommodation, a kitchen and a very good teaching facility, as well as being able to camp outside. There’s no one else for goodness only knows how far. Last night we went for a walk along some of the tracks, viewed them with trepidation thinking of how we’ll be driving them today, and then spent a lovely evening in total serenity listening to the birds and watching the kangaroos grazing.

Well today was scary, exciting, thrilling and most of all, lots of fun. Priscilla acquitted herself admirably, impressing our instructor whose experience was primarily with the usual 4WD’s. Vic had spent a day with the Trakka team previously so left Tony a bunch of notes. We finished up about 4pm filled with confidence and admiration for what Priscilla could achieve, and with great plans for where we could take her next.

Click on this sentence to take you to a video of the day. Do watch it – it’s great!

creek crossing

Priscilla felt like a bit of a dip!

Back to Canberra where we were booked to have dinner with James, Rachael, Kimberley and Matt at the Szechuan Red Chilli Restaurant. Had a lovely evening enjoying their company, and drank a little too much white wine trying to stop my mouth from burning.
Back to Yarralumla free camp tonight.

Days 10, 11, 12: Coopernook to Umina Beach

Friday: Stayed put for a day at Coopernook. It’s such a pleasant camping spot on thick grass, with an outlook to grazing cows and the back of a quiet country pub. Steve spent the day playing around the outside of Priscilla working out how to change the tyres and deflate and inflate the tyre pressures. I fiddled with cupboards and drawers and reorganised them. In the afternoon we brought out the fold-up bikes and rode into town for a look around. It was great to do – a nice leisurely way to view a town. We’re getting used to riding them more now too – working out the gears, etc.
The pub was noisy until quite late this evening – must make a point of not staying here on weekends in future.

Distance: 287K
Weather: sunny and hot

Saturday: The Newcastle Caravan and Camping Show is on and we have a list of a few things we want to buy so took the opportunity to go to it.
Left Coopernook at our usual leaving time of around 10am (oh how quickly we’ve fallen into these leisurely ways) arriving in Newcastle around midday. Funny thing on the way – we’d put the venue address into Priscilla’s navigator – straight down the highway until you reach Newcastle. As it so happened my favourite place for oysters, Karuah, is just off the highway. Steve doesn’t eat oysters so wasn’t keen on making the detour but reluctantly agreed, and without touching the navigation Priscilla took us off the highway and into Karuah anyway – already she knows me well!

The show was disappointing – so much smaller than Brisbane’s. We’d looked at places around Newcastle to stay anticipating they’d be shooing us out at 6pm closing time, but we’d seen all there was to see by 2pm, and not found half of what we wanted. The decision was make to keep going to Umina Beach where we’d planned to be tomorrow night anyway, ready for a short drive to Trakka’s factory on Monday.
One great find though was the Great Divide 4WD driver training which is the group that tested the Jabiru at their property outside Braidwood. We’ve decided we’ll spend a day there learning what this little baby can do.

A noisy evening at this magnet for families of pre-teen children – hopefully they’ll all leave tomorrow and Sunday afternoon will be peaceful. Oh dear, I’m beginning to sound like an old grump.

Sunday was much more peaceful. We did some grocery shopping – so convenient to drive your pantry and fridge to the shops! In the afternoon we walked the beach and generally had a relaxing day and evening.

Ocean Beach Holiday Park, Umina Beach. Saturday afternoon.

Ocean Beach Holiday Park, Umina Beach. Saturday afternoon.