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Woods Point Snow Trip - Sep 04

Well ok here we go …. I always knew following Darren McRae would be … an experience let me tell you. I used to fancy myself as “ not a bad driver “ till I travelled with Darren. Can he drive that Prado Turbo Diesel !  Actually he`s a fantastic driver in many respects, the way he lets you know when it`s safe to pass, making sure you`re still following, history, points of interest etc is first class.

We left Geelong after meeting with Darren and Joe Mortelliti  at Rays Melbourne Road where we loaded a new set of side step/air tanks Darren had made for Brian Sommerville`s new 105. We headed for Mansfield for lunch at the pub. I don`t remember it`s name but would definitely recommend them for any meal.

After a great lunch we fuelled up at the BP service station on the outskirts of town and headed for Jamieson. Well the weather that weekend was one out of the box, as we drove towards Jamieson our kids saw snow for the first time in their 12 and 14 years!

Excitement was at level 10 in our car now, both my daughter Taylor 14 and James 12 staring out the windows, look there, and there ….. priceless. We never hear, how far, where are we, I`m bored in our car . We`ve only had our 4x4 two and a half years and we all agree has changed our lives. Here we are, two years 4x4 experience and heading off to the mountains … and driving in the snow. Not only that, I`ve rapidly learnt who and who not to listen to when it comes to 4x4s and actually know how to use them. We have these people within LCOOL, we all get to travel to what we believe are life experience type places with the best of the best 4x4 ing people like Darren McRae, George Couyant, Greg Goulden, Craig Cheetham and so many more ….. Oh yeh, Steve Dalli etc.

Anyway back on track hmm, well all I can say about travelling between Jamieson and Woods Point with Darren was ….. unbelievable, I just didn`t want to dribble into Woods Point an hour after Darren and Joe, had a ball. Passed a few cars …. and 4x4s only to find out, one was the publican at Woods Point, Don and Ann Woods, another was a barmaid, and the supply delivering to the pub. The 4x4 was a Nissan who ended being in the group. Oh well umm … lol hi, we`re really nice people. We`re staying in your pub.  Lol They`re top people, real country, down to earth characters full of fantastic stories of the area. Go and stay there.

Friday night saw everyone find their rooms, cabins and the singles their floor space in a house …. near 100 meters up the hill behind the pub …..  Nearly all Toyotas lined both sides of the street. What a sight. Everyone mixed and chatted as more and more drove into town, everyone was buzzing, or shaking in the evening air. You can hear the river from the pub, don`t you love that?

Anyway some stayed up late but most were tired and keen for an early start ….. not to mention Darrens threat to leave on time without anyone not ready …. We were in bed early thinking he was looking at us …. Gulp. 

Saturday morning saw some more faces that weren’t there the night before, everyone eager for their cooked breakfast if you were staying at the pub. We had juice, coffee, tea etc, cereals then the choice of sausages, eggs, tomatoes, bacon etc. Some didn`t get breakfast till near 9am, Darren didn`t stick to his threat, I felt a buzz in the air … it wasn’t me lol.  Maybe it was everyone airing down lol.  When I knelt down, to air down a tyre… I thought I saw heaps of black bugs in the air, what`s that? Turned out it was soot from 1 of the diesels driving past getting into line….lol

We all lined up, channel 22 UHF …. Check…. Yep …. Hello ….ok here we go. Within minutes we were faced with one of the many creek crossings we were to cross during the weekend. Don`t know about you but this was exciting for us having only crossed a limited amount of creeks in our 2 ½ years. Making it more so was pulling up at the first creek with no cars to be seen in front, ok if they can, well I can too.

Ok in slow and drive steady, make a wave, wooo out the other side, yes are the cries in the Waterpower 80, that was awesome cry our kids. Not 20 minutes into the trip and my face cheeks hurt, this is great , I`m already satisfied but wait, theres more, we even drive into one and along for a while and out the other side. Umm I don`t have a snorkel says someone on the UHF. My car is only a month old too! Oh oh, you`ll be right says someone, we`re driving with the current and it`s coming from the oh, right hand side. Which side is you air cleaner?  Another comes on, me either but I have a 7 inch lift! Gees. Well obviously no one did water damage over the whole trip as levels were ok for most decent 4x4s …. Toyotas!  Everyone marked a corner and waited till the next car made contact, flash of lights etc before moving on to the next corner or track. We all gathered up for morning tea having caught up with group 1. Instantly people started chatting to one another, sharing their excitement, what tyre pressure you running?? Oh, um I never go below 35 psi someone says to me. I asked Darren who suggested 18 to 20 seeing as though my tyres, MTR 285 by 75 had been fitted with tubes and dry, no lube to aid tyre fitting We were going to head for Mt Skene from here so I went to 18 psi.

From morning tea we travelled across the ranges till we reached the Jamieson-Licola Rd where we would finally get to drive in snow … woooo.  Soon we started seeing snow patches on the sides of the road, kids couldn`t wait to stop now, that wasn`t far up the track with the convoy grouping up and stopping with most getting out to play in the snow. Looking up the road saw some cruisers spinning tyres as the slushy snow got somewhat thicker …. Alright. We all played for a while while one cruiser at a time made it`s way through, soon we had our turn.
Not far up the track we come across some 4x4s, can`t remember but I think one was a Disco on road tyres but we all went around them.

We came to our destined lunch spot with a little challenging track on the side of the road you had to drive basically with the right wheels in the drain/gutter and the left up an angle and on snow/ice then make a right turn into the parking / picnic area. You`ll see some shots of cruisers negotiating this. Everyone was watching as they/we do so I was glad no one worked out I wasn`t too 4x4 experienced lol.
While those with kids let them play the bigger kids wanted to play cruisers in the snow. I`m not sure what happened but we were there for …. A few hour in the end, our kids were so glad we didn`t keep driving so they could play ….. till they got wetter and wetter. Meanwhile very few cars made it to the summit of Skene, Darren, Greg G and maybe a few more. There were some who had a real big go ….. deeper into the snow spinning, revving etc.

Well, all I know is we had a ball there. We all got together for a group photo there.
Eventually it was decided that due to many different things in and out of our control we make our way back. Two options for the trip back, those with muds can go this way if you want or those without muddies will go this way. The 2 groups were formed and we made our way. Checking with Darren I stuck with 18 PSI as we were going to cross a creek and climb a rather steep hill…. With a big log on the left side as you exited and turned left it will right there waiting for us. As Darren said, looks like some Suzuki owner had cut due to the amount of tree trunck still protruding.

We were lucky to be third, no lockers but plenty of horse power got us us, the tree truck sticking out made sure I drove my 80 like I stole it up that hill. The first car to get stuck there was Walter, he tried and tried to get his rocket ship 105 Series turbo diesel up but each time he got closer and closer to that tree trunk. I haven`t been stuck on a … steep, now wet track so I was not much help but John Rolandson came to the rescue with his … brand new chainsaw making light work of that trunk.

Roly had made his way up earlier and was directing cars while I took photos of them crossing the creek before that hill. His winch wouldn`t wind in so he had the cable wrapped around his bull bar. It was brand new.  He`s another guy to listen to, he had this end of the convoy under control. Soon a non turbo diesel attemted the hill. Sorry Merv but you had no hope in the stock 1HZ. His winch however worked fine though slow. Some confusion about how it worked by those helping to recover but soon Merv was away. By now the track up top had congested quite somewhat so it was decided we best get the convoy moving to not only make room but get back in time for cooked tea at the pub …. Especially if you were one of the group staying there. Anyway we made our way back …. Slowly as night set in. Brian, is that you we heard as we sat waiting in the dark at a turn off track. Brian ( in a drawn out manner ) Briiiaaannn is that you? Can youuu hear meeeee.? Can anyone heeaarrr meee?  No we can`t hear you we giggle, someone else does the same. You can almost hear the phew in Neil’s voice. I`m not lost in the dark. Well funny hey, not much longer we find ourselves driving through creeks in the dark as if , oh yeh, we know where we are. We come to a dead end … oh says my wife Kim, um , guys, we crossed these creeks and have come to a dead end. Where  are you says Roly. We`re at a dead end, we crossed these creeks and we`ve, well, where are we? LOL Roly quickly realises where we are and directs us back on track not far behind him now. We see a wombat onside the track and head into Woods Point.

A hot meal, yes! After tea we all chat about the day and was and wasn`t to be, I`m so stoked just to be there with these guys showing and sharing years of knowledge and 4 x 4 wisdom. Priceless.

Anyway after some …. Drinks and socialising we all end up finding somewhere to sleep. Snore snore snore.

Sunday …. Ivan it`s 1 am and my back aches from writing this report - don`t know how much more waffle you can take but oooooh!!!

Anyway, Sunday, the day we go home, booo hooo. Then I realise we`re going to have a go at Skene, yes!  Anyway, not sure but 2 groups formed convoy. Sydney group led by Steve and Melb group led by Darren. Oh yeh, The Mazzas, nice couple, had an Ultimate camper in tow and left the group on their holiday making their way to ..Whyalla?  We got to cross the creeks again, there’s a log cabin on the other side of one of the creeks, it`s one of the photos. Oh, some of us went down to look at an abandoned mine with lots of belongings etc still there…. Including that toilet seat  you see a guy sitting on. Lol. Craig led that part from memory, the first time I met Craig was on this trip, he`s so organised. There was a cave/ mine there that went in the hillside for quite a distance, I think Craig said 35 meters! It had water about 5 inched deep on the ground so we didn`t go in. There was also some machinery including a crusher etc still there with a shoot going up a very steep hill where they used to load the rocks.   We had morning tea there.

Soon we headed for Skene going through where we were the day before but hoping to drive straight through the car park / picnic area.  Well that`s where the group got split up. Darren, Craig, Greg and maybe some others drove on by but us and B1 … Bill and Jeanette were left behind now being confronted by a group of other 4x4 ers wanting to head up. When we arrived there they were all parked around the perimeter I think looking like they were having their break. Anyway, B1 or Bill rather, negotiated with the now far less irate or peeved group of younger fellas were quite happy to let us through before them. Bill handled it perfectly, no agro at all.

Unfortunately there was a group that had gotten between B1 and us, three having no problems but two were being driven by deaf people, one was quite upset, stressed etc. I wasn`t sure what he wanted but thankfully he decided to reverse out of our way. He had over 40 psi in his tyres…. We now were down to about 8 psi.
We followed Bill and Jeanette to the summit, snatched them backwards only once. They had chains on their road or all terrain tyres. Somewhere up the track I got stuck in the snow trying to power my way out of the wrong wheel ruts I wanted to follow. Should have simply stopped, reversed and tried but no. Took about half hour or more to dig out with the help of Bill and Jeanette. We had a ball really, the sun was shining, plenty of snow, One thing, take a post hole type long handled spade, I had a spoon shaped, great for moving lots of snow but because the blade is like a spoon I couldn`t get to where I needed to, the diffs. That’s where Bill or B1 comes in, he`s like the Energiser battery, goes on and on, digging. I had to take several breathers. Finally we back out using minimal throttle no problems. Both cars drove on from there, Craig had come back down the track by now thinking we needed a winch but Bills then   lower 80 kept on moving. Craig shows us how to do it, he does a u turn and drives back up the track. Looked sooooo easy. We finally arrive at the summit to find The Leeders and others there with ready organised nibblies on the summit. Great, friendly people, happy kids and parents, beautiful scenery, clear skies make everything in the horizon  3 D like says Darren …. Yeh.  Awesome , priceless and all for free!

LCOOL and it`s members are all people with admirable qualities. We all nibbled then continued on till we were out of the snow line and all stopped to air up. On the way down to Jamieson the road was fully rutted making for an interesting experience.

Some of us said our goodbyes and we moved on back down to Jamieson  then on to Mansfield for fuel. There the Leeders .. Terry and Kath headed back towards Sydney, Craig to Benella and Darren, ourselves ,Merv and B1 headed back towards Melbourne then on to Geelong for us and Darren. Oh via Maccas on the Ring Road.

I would like to thank Darren, he has been wonderful help for us in many ways.
People like him work tirelessly to make others happy basically. They try to bring the best out of us too by leading by example. Well to us the trip was priceless and something that has helped us as a family bond forever.
So thanks big fella.

Regards John, Kim, Taylor and James Koniw.

Waffle waffle waffle …. I know Ivan …. Darren warned you and I did promise

Walter`s rocket ship 105 had trouble getting up the now slippery hill.   Roly pulled out his new chainsaw and got rid of the precariously positioned fallen tree trunk.

Saturday morning tea en route to Mt Skene. Here we met up with the Sydney
group. Bottom right of pic shows Greg Goulden trying to figure out why he
had blown a fuse in his 100 TD. On the way we had crossed several creeks

It`s TJL in there! Terry was having a ball .... gee he hates a laugh..

This is Brian Sommerville in his near new 105 with new "McRae" side step/air tanks. They were only fitted the night before, on the roadside, in the dark .... what service.   

Walter crossing the creek before getting stuck ... at the hill.

Darren - yes, you have one rear wheel on the ground!

Merv, now back in Darwin winching up the hill with his hydraulic winch

Bill (B1) and Jeanette crossing one of the many creeks near Woods Point

Us! The Koniw family

"Big Foot"

Merv`s std 1Hz being winched up. This was a great opportunity to watch
the experts in action. Darren up top of the hill,Roly at the bottom giving
instructions on a hand held.  The guy in the green top is Roly`s friend from the UK.

Greg and Caroline crossing one of the creeks not far out of Woods Point Saturday morning.

Shane from Sydney in his 7" lifted 100 crossing the creek before the hill Saturday afternoon.

Greg and Caroline on Saturday after lunch. This where only the few made it to the summit of Mt Skene. Greg was one of the few who could

Splish Splash. Good fun!

Troopys can turn wheels too.

The Woods Point sevice station. It`s open for business and also one the most photographed buildings in Australia.

Bill (B1) and Jeanette`s 80 needing a little dig out. This is Sunday on our way to the summit.

The LCOOL group. Photo taken by Joe Mortelitti

Another Sydney member crossing the creek before the hill

Bill and Jeanette, Sunday coming down from Mt Skene to Jamieson.

Roly giving some advice

Woods Point service station

Terry and Kath`s 80 on Mt Skene summit. Kath is such a lovely person, her welcoming smile and not to mention the nibblies she`d prepared for everyone was very appreciated. The weather was fantastic.

Sydney member

Darren`s 90 TD being winched back down from the picnic table area on Mt Skene summit by Greg Goulden. They were part of the few who got a chance to go up from the lunch area on Saturday.

Darren - yes mate - s-t-u-c-k !!!

Big Foot

The group on Skenes summit chatting to another party on Sunday. On the way up we passed the lunch area of the day before, there we were .... um... met by a group of happy chaps who didn`t want us going before them. We did in the end ... thanks to B1s negotiating skills. Not one of them made it anywhere near the summit. lol

That's one snow covered track!

Saturday lunch stop. Negotiating the car park entry

LCOOL group lining both sides of the road airing down on Saturday morning.

Craig Cheetham...looking somewhat out of place in grown-up's long trousers.

Merv from Darwin

The Koniws on the left ... me and Kim standing on the right heading to the Leeder's for nibblies. B1s 80 in centre

The Koniws ... us .... ummmm, just learning how to dig out a stuck 80.
Thanks Bill and Jeanette,they helped make it ... fun actually. Beautiful ;-)

Jeanette in front of their 80, Merv in background.

Our 80 in the snow. On Skenes summit.

Left ? Right is GPS OZs Brian Sommerville

Shane, Sandy, Brian and Greg during Saturday`s morning tea. Greg looks like he needs a nap.