Back in Melbourne the father and the 10 years old son asked us to join them on the following weekend to a 4x4 trip in the Alpine National Park. We decided to go with a group of 4x4 enthusiasts.
Of course we wanted to join in. And though we arranged to meet them in Glenmaggie. In the meantime we wanted to explore the forests north east of Melbourne. We bought detailed maps of the area of Healesville and Yarra Ranges. Then, we startet our side trip through mud, on forest roads , past fallen trees, uphill and downhill.
We had fun, the area was totally beautiful. Soon the week was over and we met the Australians. Our convoy counted 6 four wheel drive cars: three Landcruisers and two Patrols. After we were introduced to all the guys and their children, we started. But after some km we took a turn off to a very steep climb. The track was not only steep but also very rough, with large stones and loose surface. In addition it had to two big steps, approximately 40 cm. Already the first car, driven by the most experienced off roader Mike had some trobles. After the second unsuccessful attempt, we began to clear the track from the worse rocks. And then Mike made it.
Al was second to try. He reached the crest on his first attempt, but it was cruel to watch. The car hopped and danced, hit ground and the wheels spinned creating some dust and flying pebbles. Our faces became ever longer and longer. Finally Peter made a decision and noticed calmly: We do not drive up here. Marianne had to admit that Peter was right, although it annoyed her that we could not show, what our Toyota can do. Now, we did not remain alone down. Only two of the six cars drove up. We notified our decision over radio. The others decided to continue on the track, as we followed the bitumen street. Soon, we arrived and refueled in Licola, where we left the bitumen. At the arranged meeting place we waited a couple of hours, until the two other cars of the group arrived rather exhausted.
Already our schedule was completely delayed. The way proved as much slower than expected. Therefore we decided to take the next beautiful spot as night camp. Soon we found a good place at the river and all were happy especially the kids. A fire was ignited and all looked forward to the Barbie (BBQ). After a refreshing bath, a good bonnet talk (everyone standing around a opened hood with beer in the hand and discussing cars) and a yarn around the fire, we went for a sleep and had sweet dreams about river crossings and muddy tracks. The second day promised to become even more exciting. The intended route should lead us across the Butcher Country Track and the "Son of a bitch Track". The names of these two tracks described what was to be expected.
The cars got much to work. Butcher Country Track was steep, stony and bumpy. But our Landcruiser did a good job, despite the heavy load climbed each slope. However our tires were badly chipped out. And first time we were glad to have diff locks. Quick, the time passed and we realized, that we had no more time for the "Son of a bitch Track". Though we drove an alternative route, which anyway offered some mud holes and and fallen trees to drive around. After approximately 2 hours of travel we separated from the group and returned to Melbourne, the next day.
We had big plans with the car. After long discussions we finally decided to install a new suspension. Our factory leaf springs were bent to a negative curve by the weight. Like this, it was no enjoyable ride on further tracks. We brought the car to a 4x4 to garage near Melbourne (Guest 4WD). Now with the new suspension, the car has a normal ride height . The driving feeling is much better! With the serviced and upgraded car we drove towards the Great Ocean Road. We imagined a beautiful travel direction the west.
We were then on the world-famous Great Ocean Road, with hundreds of other tourists. Something else, again. It was strange, to be among so many people again.
But the joy was only from short duration. We already knew for some time, that the starting battery wasn't the best any more. But we still had the auxiliary battery. Therefore we didn't think too much of it. But one day the starting battery was dead. We still could start the engine once. But after several hours travel it didn't charge. On the next morning the we couldn't start the engine any more. And connecting the two Batteries did not help. The car remained quiet. That was an unpleasant moment. Our auxiliary battery still seemed to have some power, therefore we tried to bridgethe two batteries internaly, with a . That worked - the engine started! Unfortunately the relay of our dual battery system melted. Therefore we left the jumper in the engine compartment. That was good for a long time, until the cable shook itself loose, fell on a part of the exhaust pipe, caused a short-circuit and burned a hole into the pipe! We couldn't believe it.
Since months, we drove on remote tracks and had, except some minor damage, no problem. And now we were on the tourist rote number one and one problem followed the other. We went to the next garage. But the they said something of: no such part in stock... different than Australian models... order it from Japan... and it would cost 230 dollar. Obviously we didn't get any help there. At the car electrics we bought two new Batteries and a new relays. The batteries are so far ok, but the relay held exactly one day. Peter had to remove it and connect the two batteries without a relays! Later Peter repaired the exhaust with special exhaust bandage, which held exactly two days. Finally we arrived in Adelaide. There then the luck returned to us again. From Jonathan we received a original relay by express from Melbourne, a spare out of Beats car. Thank you, Beat!!! And on the campground we met another very helpful Australian, who rang the wreckers for us . Some telephone calls later we knew where to get a new pipe. Hurra! The wrecker was not far, the part perfect (from accident car, 2004 model !). They even installed it for us, because we didn't carry strong enough tools. After that our world was turning the right way, again. Thanks to all in Australia and Switzerland, who helped to repair, the damage. We will not forget the Great Ocean Road! Our car was on the road again.. We had enough from cities and it pulled us irresistibly to the outback. Already after one hour drive the landscape changed . We had left suburbs of Adelaide and enjoyed the wideness of South Australia. In the evening we found a beautiful spot for sleeping and were pleased that it had less flies. In the night, millions of stars glowed in the pitch-black sky, the silence made us relaxing in a peaceful atmosphere. We slept deep and woke up the other morning full of urge.
Soon, we drove up on Stuart Highway towards Glendambo, where we turned to the west, along the trans Australian railway and later southwards on Goog's Track. This means a short detour on our way to West Australia. We didn't want to miss the opportunity to drive on another adventurous track. We hit the road and reached the beginning of the track.
It was a beautiful and calm travel over the red sand dunes and we finally enjoyed it both being again in the desert. We admired the sunset and drank a cold beer. The cold, tingling beverage flushing down the dusty dry throat is always a moment of highest satisfaction. Anywhere a ice-cold beer is not as good as in the desert!! 'we are although spoilt by Marianne with her cooking skills and we eat like at home. (note Peter) '
After a calm night we continued exceptionally early. We wanted to use the advantages of the cool sand for driving. The more it heats during the day, the softer and more difficult it is to drive through. So we did not have any problems for 2 -3 hours. But after 12 o'clock we noticed the weight as some higher and more difficult dunes appeared. Most had sand blows on the comb, but the most delicate were those with an inclination on the comb passage.
Our car, now higher with the new suspension, leaned partly uncomfortably on one side. therefore we drove as carefully and slowly as possible. But with too little momentum we did not make it over some dunes. It needed now little more intuitive feeling when driving. And if it did not work, despite all careful driving, we sweated to dig us out of the sand again. At the end all dunes were crossed and our helpful shovel lost! Fortunately we still have a second one.
Rather early we erected our camp at Goog's Lake. We looked on the white salt crust of the dry lake, which flickered in the heat and it became once more consciously, how precious water is. The rest of Goog's Track was simple. There were ever fewer dunes and ever more corrugations.
Soon we reached Ceduna. There we had to convince the quarantine officer of the fact that, we did not come from Western Australia. though we could keep our vegetable. Now we went to the rangers office, in order to pay the camping fee, for Goog's Track. The Ranger was very friendly. He explained us however that they would not have looked for us automatically, if we had not showed up. Although we had announced our arrival in Ceduna. There we could have waited for a long time. Good that we knew that, now. Therefore, next time we tell our plans, into remote areas,to somone we could rely on. then we can be at least safe that someone would search for us, if we should not reach the civilisation.
Now we headed over the Nullarbor Plain. We drove hundreds of kms. The bitumen road unrolled itself like a thick, black snake over the endless landscape. It flickered in the heat, which let rise our thermometer up to 50 degrees. The only alternation was the part, where we drove on the old Eyre Highway. There we visited the ruins of Koonalda Roadhouse and tried to imagine, under which conditions the people traveled this distance in former times.
We camped again somewhere in the bush. The wind had turned and cooled the hot air a little and kept away the flies. On the next day we crossed the border to Western Australia and emptied one fuel tank after the other. We reached Kalgoorlie, the legendary gold city. The temperature rose during the journey continuously and we experienced one of the hottest nights of the journey. Although we were really tired, we couldn't fall asleep. Finally a cooler wind released us and let us sleep. Now it is again beautifully cool (only 30 degrees in the car) and the announced cyclone was obviously further north did not continue to Kalgoorlie.