Wheelin' Down Under

Story and Photos by: Andy Sissons
E-Mail: rsissons@magna.com.au
Triple Diamond Four Wheel Drive Club of NSW (Inc)Our gang:

Klaus & Maree
(Trip Leader)
Pajero SWB 2.6L
David, Brian & Ding Toyota Hilux 2.8D
Paul I & Kathy Landcruiser LWB
Paul M and Keith Toyota Hilux 2.8D
Craig, Les and Andy Pajero LWB 2.6L

Wirraba (pronounced Wi-rah-ba) Ridge is located in the scenic Blue Mountains about 180 kms north west of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It can only be described as an "intense trip" and there is so much activity during the day, with no time to relax, as rocks have to be placed at nearly every obstacle, winches rolled out, snatch straps attached, etc, etc.

To save confusion between the two Pauls in this trip report I will refer to Paul I and Paul M.

Craig reckoned he knew the way as he had surveyed part of the new entry route earlier in the week and this section caused no problems at all. However, the last part of the new route that linked us up with the Wirraba Ridge Track proved somewhat elusive but we eventually found it.

After having to use a chainsaw to clear a fallen tree, we were soon driving past the last night camp site from the previous years' trip which brought back a few memories (two smashed CV joints in a Mitsubishi Triton) and then it was the river. What an excuse for a river it was last year, but on this trip the river was a different beast. We all know that the best thing to do before crossing water is to walk through first. At this time of year the water is cold, and it didn't look that deep anyway, so we decided that the first vehicle to cross should be any diesel, fitted with a snorkel. MISTAKE - if in doubt - always walk it first!

The first such equipped vehicle in the convoy was Paul Ms', so off he went. The water had made the river bottom much softer than anticipated - but he almost made it. Several snatch straps were quickly joined together (probably not quick enough for Paul M) and Craig gallantly whipped off his trousers and he ventured into the cold, deep water in his jocks in order to attach the straps. (Ed's comment: "Buy a size larger next time mate!')

Paul I pulled the Hilux back towards the bank but a combination of river current, lack of steering whilst being snatched, and I guess, a degree of nerves, resulted in Paul M's car becoming stuck on a semi-submerged fallen tree. There was no way he was coming back any further - the only way to go was forward.

River Crossing
It didn't look that deep, but we didn't allow for the soft sand.

Quote: "Hey, decisions guys!' - Paul M when stuck on the log at the river crossing and the rest of the party were deciding what to do in order to get him mobile again.

Craig was soon back in the river again, this time he was armed with a tree protector, snatch block (pulley), shackle and hefty length of steel cable. Paul M was going to have to be pulled across the river using a sling shot. Several snatch straps were attached to the rear of Paul M's car so he could, in turn, snatch Paul I through. The PTO winch in Paul I's car proved extremely useful in this operation as it would on several others occassions over the weekend. Whilst crossing the river the snatch straps, although still attached to Paul M's car, had been washed down stream so Craig went wading once again to retrieve them so Paul I's car could be attached to the other end. (Craig had to come back to drive across anyway so we didn’t feel too sorry for him) As it turned out Paul I took a slightly different line and didn't need the snatch straps at all.



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