We left Mackay mid-morning to travel the 1000+kms home, after a wonderful breakfast out on the balcony overlooking the ocean. The trip was long, but highlighted by meeting up with the Diva's in Marlborough for coffee at the roadhouse, meeting up with the Rockhampton chapter of the Early Falcon Car Club who brought their cars and some afternoon tea out to the park to visit with us, dinner at the Gladstone Yacht Club, and then onto Bargara for an overnight stay - which was terrible! Avoid the Bagara Blue Resort, and really just the whole town altogether (beautiful views, terrible service!). Bundy was awesome though, and we toured the Bundy Rum factory, then stopped in Childers for a burger (after the second year in a row my favourite pie place in the world was closed for show day the day I came through!) and through the MANY roadworks onto home. The car waited until Gympie to start giving up, with the rings seriously worn and LOTS of oil smoke coming out of the engine now - looks like a rebuild before the next bash! But we made it home, and it was great to see the Girls and Grandma & Pa waiting for us in the driveway!
As we busily prepare to head off on the 2012 Queensland Variety Bash, we've been getting some great support from our sponsors. The children at Mitchelton Child Care Centre held a fund raising day where they donated a gold coin to get their faces painted. On hand was a reporter from the Northwest News, and this article was published in the paper this week! Thanks to all the kids (and parents!) and all the staff at MCCC!
Day 9 started with us finding the car had been glad wrapped over night! After doing our daily checks, we hit the road to go have breakfast at a school stop. We were supposed to have a water crossing, but at a depth of 1.5 meters (over the bonnet of a Landcruiser) they decided to call it off. Great breakfast at The Caves, then down some dusty roads to the lunch stop where we had a rocket launch! It was not wonderfully successful though - three attempts to launch, and when it did launch it didn't deploy the parachute and shot into the ground at full speed, breaking the cargo compartment! Erin got her first try at navgating today, as Gouldy jumped out to drive for the Punkettes. She did very well, and enjoyed it. The afternoon stage involved a few tricky roads including a VERY steep hill descent (more like a mountain!) so I drove the first stage. The car worked flawlessly, but at the afternoon pub stop (where we met up with Bonk - the guy who fixed our wheel bearing issue from the first bash!) it was time for Erin to drive. Usually the afternoon stage is a nice, quiet bitumen run but this afternoon we had dirt roads and water-filled causeways! Erin did great though and drove us on into Clairview where we setup camp. We had a big party on the beach with bonfires and Angry Anderson played on stage. We then went to bed - in the tent, which I found quite warm and comfortable but being Erin's first night camping she didn't find it as enjoyable!
Today was a big day... It was the longest day on the bash mileage-wise, and was also Wardys last day with us & Erins first. We did a very dusty 340 ks this morning & did it quite comfortably. We had lunch in Dingo & had yet another successful rocket launch which the kids loved. There was a stampede to go get the rocket when it parachuted back down. Then we had another 220ks in the afternoon to get into Yeppoon. Along the way was a full-on river crossing. I drove it, and did stall getting in, but got her started again & made it across unassisted. We then had to hustle to get Wardy to his flight on time - he had to be checked in at 730pm and we pulled up at the terminal at 727pm! He had lost his bag on the RAAF truck, and the headlights on the Bash Car quit working, so it was an interesting trip up! We picked Erin up from the airport at the same time, and stopped at a servo to fix the lights - a screw had come out of a relay disconnecting some wires. A good dinner at the Mercure but after the big day we headed to bed early.Day 8 was a lay day, and we headed to Emu Park for breakfast.. And to see the dedication of a new liberty swing - an initiative by variety to get swings capable of swinging a child in a wheelchair in parks across Australia. After a quick stop into Supercheap Autos to get some parts, we headed back to the resort for a beach party. Homemade margaritas made with a blender attached to a chainsaw motor, fresh & cooked prawns, and lots of XXXX on tap made for a wonderful afternoon. We brought the car down onto the beach & did a rocket launch in honour of Paddy, who was a legendary basher who passed away this week. We got bogged leaving the beach & had to get a tow from some Media guys... But then Erin & I took a nice coastal drive. Back at the resort we had yet another big party, and now heading to bed before the huge day tomorrow.. Our last full day Bashing!
Today we got a late start as we helped the girls with some brake issues. Part of the adjuster & retaining clips had come loose & were grinding around in the drum. Once we finally got the drum off, a hand full of shredded metal came out! We got it back together, and by the time we had packed up it was 2 hours after everyone else had left. So we took the direct route which did include some dirt highways, but was 40ks shorter and faster along the sealed sections. We saw Rosie & Sandra at lunch to find they had hit a cow! Luckily just a graze & not too much damage to the car.. Or cow. Had lunch in Rubyvale & picked up something nice for Erin. Wardy jumped in to drive the short section to camp, but it included a nice little rocky Creek crossing. He's gotten all the creeks this bash! Again we made it through without getting stuck, and on into Clermont for dinner.
After a great nights sleep in the cabin, we headed off early today for a 300+km run through some pretty rough tracks. Wardy was the driver, and he broke his "cherry" with his first full on Creek crossing which, unlike many cars he managed to cross unassisted continuing the proud NASA tradition of us never getting stuck in a water crossing yet! We saw some carnage along the way with our friends in Car 128 punching a rear shock absorber through the floor, and Mash 4077 shunting a front cross member into the steering rack and breaking a bar off the bullbar. So we were happy we survived unscathed. We did need a quick snatch strap out of a sandy bog which caught out a lot of cars. After a roast beef lunch (never eaten so much roast beef in consecutive days!) we had a nice little sealed run into Tambourine, stopping for some kids on the side of the road from a local station who thought it was hilarious to get us all with silly string! Found a great sheltered place to set up the tent, & with the low only forecast for 4, it should be a good night!
Today wasn't such a cold start, and pretty soon we were fed a hot breakfast, had broken camp & were on our way. We had a beautiful day for driving, and soon we hit the dirt. Not being able to buy LPG, we had switched to petrol. After the car kept intermittently cutting out, each time getting us about a kilometre further, we finally tracked the problem down to a wire that had worked its way lose on the petrol/lpg selection switch. After that was fixed, we had a pretty smooth run to Moura on some fun but challenging dirt roads. We had a hot dinner at the show grounds there, and even though there was a band & some dancing, we opted to sit around the campfire instead. The nights sleep was short, with some blaring music until 3am.This morning was cold, and tearing down camp was slow after a short nights sleep. We headed out towards the end of the pack. The morning section was a good 300kms on some pretty rough & chewed up roads. We did fine though, up until a mountain climb, when we stopped half way up for a pee-break with the most amazing view. Because the car was hot from the steep climb, it built up heat & when we left it just cut out again.. Leaving us stranded & blocking the road. An AW (Auxiliary Workshop) stopped to help & found the fuel system vapour locked. We got her running again, but some redesign of the fuel system will occur after the bash! Stopped at Lonesome Lookout which was spectacular & then in at a school stop for lunch. Being Sunday, not many kids out, but a great lunch. A short 100k's in the afternoon but probably the roughest roads of the Bash so far. Lots of really corrugated roads with big washouts. Gouldy jumped in the fire truck & experienced bashing the slow, open-topped way! We got in with no problems only to run out of fuel 500m shy of the petrol station! We have a cabin in Roma tonight & it was the first hot shower we've had in 4 days! Looking forward to a night sleeping in something I didn't have to build, especially as it will be COLD tonight.See some videos on YouTube, pictures below.
The last day of the Bash! Woke up to Erin telling me she never wants to sleep in anything remotely tent-like again.. wow, crabby! :) Exagerated by the fact they ran out of hot water so she couldn't get coffee, we got off to a shaky start! They reversed the bash route so we had to do a massive hill climb today - the same one we came down yesterday. We decided to give it a go, and headed off. We had to stop at the bottom as they sent everyone up one-at-a-time, and while waiting we could smell something gross. We found "someone" had put all the prawn heads/tails from the Beach Party into our spare wheel cover. Next year... revenge is sweet! After de-prawning, we headed up the hill, and the old XP was fantastic. Didn't overheat, just locked into 1st and cruised on up. The Bash route was a little tricky today, and one particular spot had a huge water-covered pot hole coming onto a concrete causeway that I didn't see until too late and hit pretty hard. No damage per se, but the steering is pulling a little to the right now, as is the brakes. But, we made it through, stopping for lunch at Far Beach and unexpectedly meeting an old friend who had come to see us - great to see you Tan! Then off to the finish line in Mackay and some well earned refreshments!! :) Afterwards we dropped Gouldy at the airport to fly home, and went to the closing party at the Convention Centre. We had a great time, sitting with the Hippies and enjoying the 1RAR Army Band. Thanks to all our sponsors, family, friends and everyone who helped us this year - with only short notice, we not only raised the money but made it from start to finish without any major problems - and the combined total raised for the 2012 Variety Bash was $1.43 million for the kids of Queensland!
We headed to Dalby for scrutineering today.. After an early breakdown which was quickly rectified we got to Dalby with no problems. Checked in, met up with some familiar faces, put the Variety stickers on and then headed for the hotel. A few enhancements in the hotel car park & then off to dinner. Great chicken parma, then back to the hotel. Helping out some virgin bashers & off to bed for an early night!
Yesterday saw a great start to the Bash with an early breakfast and away at 7.15am. We had a tough little sector in the morning along a deeply rutted 4wd track, with a few people having mishsps: Rugs lost control & ended up in a ditch, while car 488 hit a tree quite badly. The workshop crews worked until 1.30am though & got it repaired. The lunch stop was at a lovely pristine Lake Boobdama, and the afternoon was a nice bitumen cruise to our camp at Kilkaven. An overnight low of -4 made it very cold for campers and not much sleep was had. Day 2 was a cold, early start soon warming up when the sun came out. A long, dusty morning haul of over 300ks over some rough, dusty roads. Lunch at one of the school stops provided the perfect opportunity to launch a rocket. So with an introduction by the Bash Director himself, we did our first school roof-rocket launch.. And it was a great success! It flew high, deployed the chute & gently floated back about 10 car spots away. The afternoon run was short, but dusty. I navigated for the Jag (car 007) but a leaking fuel tank found at the pub stop forced some road side repairs. Great dinner at Agnes Waters, and another early start tomorrow..
Today we spent the day doing lots of little prep jobs. Paul organised caps & ironed the NASA logo on them. Dad built a new rocket, while Paul organised a decorative rocket for the roof rack. I got a quick haircut, and we did all the vehicle checks & odd jobs. Wardy had a big night last night & missed his bus, so he drove up & met us at lunch time. We headed down to the show grounds to try out the new rocket.. Had a perfect launch & got about 1000ft of height before landing about 20m from us! Couple of small changes, but a very successful launch. About 10 minutes later a plane flew over about half as high as the rocket went so we counted that as a success! We headed up for the cocktail party & met even more familiar faces over a few beers, & ended up back at the hotel for pizza & Olympics. Now for the last sleep in a comfy bed until Yeppoon in 6 days!
(Click on photos to view enlargements)
Car NASA Info:
1965 Ford XP Falcon
Engine: 170ci straight 6
Gearbox: 4-speed Toyota
Brakes: 4 wheel drum
Accessories: air-con, cruise control, sunroof, mag wheels