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 17, 18, 19: Canberra

Friday: At last – the whole reason for the trip -> to welcome Rachael to Australia and introduce Priscilla to Rachael and James. Once more we caught the bus into the city from Epic and met Rachael at the National Library for lunch (delicious!). The Library had a display about Australia during WWI. It was very good. Some of the recruiting posters were very powerful – I nearly signed up there and then! Must have been hard the men who didn’t enlist. Interesting that compulsory conscription went to a referendum twice, and lost both times. We left Rachael to keep on working and did a bit of shopping.

That evening when James got home from work we went out for dinner at The Loading Dock and had a lovely evening together.


Dinner with two very special people.

Saturday: The farmers markets are on in the Epic showgrounds every Saturday morning. We had a lovely wander through them, bought some organic meat and fruit and veges, and some black garlic (interesting) and had breakfast there, before driving in to the city because we planned to do a bike ride with James and Rachael around Lake Burley Griffin on our Bromptons – their first real trial. Unfortunately I can’t say they were a howling success this time – both Steve and I having problems with the gearing. Anyway that is fix-able and we’re still very optimistic about future rides while travelling. The bike path around the Lake is excellent – great views, well maintained – iconic really!
After a shower we wandered in to the city to see the Multicultural Festival. Wow – it’s certainly big, with lots of stalls from just about everywhere. Crowded!!! So much so it wasn’t pleasant. We saw a few dances on the main stage, bought some ethnic food and headed back to James’s for dinner, drinks, chatting and back to Epic for us, rather late.

multicultural festival

Multicultural Festival

Sunday: We left Epic this morning, found a great park right outside James’s unit. Today we’re all lunching with Nicola and her husband, good friends of J and R’s, at Poachers Pantry. Love this place – they have their own smokehouse and delicious smoked meats and fish. Nicola’s mother Pauline was also there – she’d been the principal of an international school in Burma for the last 8 years. Fascinating stories.

Tonight we stayed in a carpark at Yarralumla Bay which is a popular free camp. What can I say – it’s a carpark beside the lake, lots of vanpackers. We spent a quiet night, can’t complain.