OFFPEAK 4WD CLUB - GATHERING 2016 - SWIFTS CREEK
Over the weekend of 19th and 20th November 2016, seventeen vehicles (twenty-seven members plus one visitor) assembled and set up camp at the Swifts Creek caravan park. The weather was fine and warm and those in tents, swags and some caravans chose to camp on the flood plain beside the Tambo River while others chose the safety of the high ground. The first Happy Hour of the event was held by the river as no fire was necessary in the balmy weather. It proved to be a good campsite with a large shelter with fire places which enabled everyone to get together for Happy Hour and a chat when the weather became inclement.
On Monday 21st November there were two activities:
Leaders: J-P and Murray
The day started by driving from Swifts Creek to Carroll Track off the Brookville Rd. We first did a few exercises of 'snatching' using both handheld radios and hand signals, giving everyone a chance to be 'snatched' or 'snatcher' as well as directing the exercise. Some went better than others, but we all learnt from our errors. Better in the safe environment of an exercise than in 'anger'.
Recovery Practice Carroll Track
After lunch, the temperature getting rather high, we decided to go for a short drive. We continued climbing Carroll Track to Sheep Station Track, turned left and went as far as Boonabirrah Track where we again turned left. Half way down this track, some of the participants following the route on their maps advised Trip Leader that this is a dead end track!! A quick consultation of the terrain showed a road some hundred meters away that would take us out to the main road back to Swifts Creek. So a turn right at the bottom and through a cattle pit, stopping for photos of a 'model' lizard sunning itself on a post, and we were on Old Sheep Station Rd. on our way to Doctors flat and home.
And so ended our first day at Swifts Creek. J-P
Swifts Creek - Limestone State Forest - Wiley Range
Trip Leaders: Keith and Monica
Our trip leaders Keith and Monica led a convoy of 10 vehicles along Negoura Road NE of Swifts Creek. After talking to the farmer's wife she allowed us to continue as it was dry through the farm gates with instructions to leave any gates we came across as we found them. It was a pretty drive through cleared hills following wheel tracks that were hard to see. We could not reach Mt Stawell because of a big tree across the track. But we found many other tracks in the Limestone State Forest including Commins, Telephone, Windy Ridge, Hammond etc. We reached heights above 900 metres at times. 4x4 was required on most of the tracks and low 4x4 was used a few times. After we returned to camp most people went for a swim as it was a very hot day. We did 56 kms.
Tuesday 22nd saw a change in the weather with steady rain arriving in the afternoon. Again there were two activities:
Trip to Dargo
Leaders: Murray & Judy
Twelve vehicles, including Geoff & Peggy, Uwe, Wayne, Keith & Monica, Bob, J-P & Trish, Daryl, Paul & Tineke, Graham , Roger, and Bill & Gill left camp at about 8.30 to head to Dargo via the bush and return via some better roads. We hoped to get to Dargo for lunch. First stop was King Cassilis Mine Site. After a bit of a search and map consultation we found the abandoned mine. This proved to be of interest to all. There was much speculation as to the use and age of various relics (mine relics not club members!)
The original route was to include Powers Gully Track. Graham had checked out this track for his trip later in the week and found it very hard to the extent that he just about needed diff locks, so we decided as we had a large group to seek another way. We tried to find Spring Track but could not find where it met the black top so settled on Mt Delusion Road as our course. This is a good road. We then turned further west along an unnamed road and emerged on Birregun Rd. This took us to our next stop was the dog's grave. After a look here we continued on to the top of Stock Route Track (we decided not to stop at Mt Birregun look-out as the cloud was very low and not much visibility). At this point Daryl's brakes gave up the ghost. Not a good thing. He and J-P decided to leave the convoy here and proceed to Dargo an easier way. The rest of us proceeded down Stock Route Track over the Dargo River to Jones Rd. This proved a steep challenging track and the general opinion was that it was good we were going down and not up! We met Daryl & J-P & Trish on Jones Road and had our lunch - not in Dargo as planned and a bit late!
After lunch the convoy split into two groups where some returned to camp and the rest went on to Dargo before returning. Daryl was one of the group to return to camp. All travelled slowly and safely made it back ? thank goodness. The rest went to Dargo for fuel and a Dargo delicacy for Bill, "pickled walnuts". Yes, you read right! Fortunately, Bill didn't offer them around so we didn't have to politely refuse! Overall an interesting day.
In the morning another group undertook some recovery practice before returning to camp to avoid the coming rain.
More Recovery Practice
Wednesday 23rd saw the rain continuing. Of the two trips planned for the day one was cancelled and the other modified to keep to minor roads rather than tackling steep bush tracks.
Swifts Creek to Buchan
Trip Leaders: Colin & Heather
Eight vehicles headed out of camp and down the Great Alpine Road to Playgrounds Road. The track was in good condition despite the rain and the forest was beautiful. We were grateful for good bridges at the junction of the Tambo and Timbarra Rivers.
Junction of the Tambo & Timbarra Rivers
We headed for Buchan along Kenny's Road. Our progress was impeded by some fallen branches on the track, but a path was quickly cleared by some manpower and the judicious use of chain saws. We arrived at Buchan in time for lunch and for some exploration of the town. Our route back to Swifts Creek was Timbarra, Mt Johnston and Sandy Creek Roads. From Ensay we followed the pleasant drive beside the Tambo River to Doctors Flat, and then it was back to camp in time to prepare for our evening meal at the Pub.
Clearing the track
Those who had remained in camp decided to explore some of the local delicacies. First they travelled to Omeo via Cassilis Road and there were glowing reports of the vanilla slices from the bakery. Then it was on to Anglers Rest to visit the Blue Duck Inn Hotel. Some sampled the soup and were impressed. A leisurely drive back to camp allowed plenty of time to prepare for dinner at the Albion Hotel.
Thursday 24th saw some folk heading for home. One of the two trips planned for the day was unable to run but the other trip went ahead.
Washington Winch, Moscow Villa and Native Dog Flat
Trip Leader: Uwe
Eleven vehicles set out on this trip, but before long one had an interesting light on the dashboard and returned to camp. The climb to Washington Winch had everyone back in the clouds.
Washington Winch in the wet
Then in was on towards Moscow Villa. Some snow was sighted beside the track. On arriving at Moscow Villa we found it was occupied by several families with small children who had set up camp there for the duration. They may have been a little surprised to be visited by ten 4WDs and their occupants. We then travelled to Native Dog Flat. It was decided not attempt Native Cat Track in view of the recent rain, so the group returned to camp at Swifts Creek for a final Happy Hour and fireside discussion.
Peak hour at Moscow Villa
Friday 25th saw those remaining pack up camp after a very enjoyable Gathering.
Thanks to Uwe for co-ordinating the event and for all those who lead trips and training.