Friday, 24 March 2017

Yearning for Yeagerup

January 6th - 10th, 2017

With 4 1/2 days off, I decided to head to WA's largest dune, Callcup Hill, with some boys in tow that really wanted to have a crack at it. The boys would join me for a couple of days and I would then venture solo for the remainder. Hopefully to put the Dobinson MRR's to a harder test than the last trip.

With an early finish on Friday I hit the road about 1400. The route, direct to Nannup. Leo, Riccardo and Marty had left the day before. They were getting a woodie about the prospect of 4wd'ing in Brunswick, would camp overnight somewhere and meet me in Nannup around 1800. I had no phone contact with them and just winged it that they would turn up. I arrived at 1750. Parked up for a couple of minutes, I heard a crackle on the UHF. Yep, the boys had arrived. But concerningly, they were less than a kilometre away, and my UHF was deaf with a very scratchy, broken signal. An issue to plague me for the remainder of the trip.

A refuel for the boys and we were under way (gotta love my long range tank - when it doesn't fail on me anyway). Leo had met my father in law over xmas, so we all ventured up to see him and my family who just so happened to be staying there that weekend. Time marching on, it was now 1900, time to find a camp for the night. The one local spot I knew was full to the brim. Like the last trip, I had the same 2 options: Cambray or Punch and Judy. The former we would be there in 15 minutes, the latter would have us arrive at well after 2030. I pushed for the former. Leo pushed for the latter, he didn't want to back track. Cambray was the opposite direction for tomorrows journey out to Callcup (all 15 Km's or so). My thoughts won the group over and we arrived to find a very nice little camp site at Cambray, arriving at 1945. A bit late for my liking, but all was well. 340Km's for the day done.

Camped up in the usual chuck wagon formation (a large circle, cause we all know how bad the Injins are out here in these parts) A great night ensued. I had never met Riccardo or Marty before, so we had time to see each others set-ups and work out how we all ticked. Myself with a centre pole dome on a stretcher, Leo with his sheet and a blanket on a stretcher, Riccardo with his double dome swag on the ground, and Marty, with his just a canvas bag type swag, also on the ground. I think my led strip under the awning with remote control operation and dimmer gave the others some ideas for the future. Another refill of the woobler and I noticed the time. Now well after midnight. Bloody hell, where did that time go? So I finished my goon and made for bed. The others did likewise.

In the morning, after a round of coffee, I made what is becoming my staple camp breakfast: bacon and Jarlsberg cheese toasted wraps. Yum. But we had a big day ahead. Marty had time constraints, he was leaving us today and had to be in Bunbury at 5pm. So time was of the essence. My plan was to let the boys have a play on Callcup, Marty can go home from there, the rest uf us head along Warren Beach to camp up at Yeagerup, the boys can head for home  from there in the morning and I will venture on to Black point solo. But best laid plans go astray - with me, quite often.

We departed Cambray late at 1015. No doubt a cooked breakfast didn't help, but that put us behind the eight ball from the start. A pie for lunch from Pemby bakery and we headed off for Callcup. I did mention, that its a bit of a rabbit warren getting in there (and seeing I had been only once, some years ago), I was a bit scratchy on it. But I have the tools (and my old tracklog) so all should be well. It was 1220 before we turned off for Callcup.

And my fears proved real. All was good at the start, till I turned off on a track that ended up a dead end. Whilst it had a nice little camp site, it wasn't helping us get to Callcup. No drama, I checked out my prior track log and would follow that.

Against better judgement, I followed that track log to the letter (till I missed a turn). That left what I consider to be a major track. And I obviously missed a turn and we ended up on some obscure, overgrown plantation track. So I made our way back to that major track and we plugged on. At this point, Riccardo was becoming a bit agitated, owing to the time factor. I suggested he could take the lead, I was doing all I could. Subsequently, after this last little detour, we made Callcup - with myself still leading at 1330. Getting a bit late for Marty. Callcup is known as the largest dune in WA. Its a multi staged ascent and sits 240m above sea level, and is renowned to be super soft and a challenge to ascend.

The top of the hill was very soft. Tyre pressure is king:

The decision was made to just have a short play up top and get Marty back to the black top so he could get to Bunbury. We would play on the hill in the morning when we have more time available. Marty's little car sure struggled in the soft sand. In fact he almost didn't get up the little incline off the hill for the track out. More pressure out, some max trax, a bit of pushing and a few attempts got him over the crest and on his way.

Owing to the issues getting in, it was advisable to guide Marty out. Leo and Riccardo took those duties on. I decided to secure the one and only camp site a few Kilometres from Callcup at a leisurely 1440. And here I sat. Slowly setting my self up for the night in between bouts of sipping beer in the comfort of my camp chair :) 140Km's for the day now done.

A fella drove past, obviously just having come up Callcup. I asked about crossing the Warren River (now our destination for tomorrow). He said, yep, no drama, there is no water in it. Cool as!

Whilst my camp was slowly coming together, and the empty can pile was building up, I wondered where the hell Leo and Riccardo were. Every now and then, I could here them on the radio, then they would disappear. Yep, I knew it, they were lost. I tried a few times to raise them on the radio, but to no avail.

They got back to camp near to 1900 and told the tale of going around in circles only to end up back on tracks they had just came from. Even ending up down tracks that had to be cleared of vegetation so they could make progress. They got Matty back to the black top, a piece of piss, but screwed up coming back to camp. It must have taken them at least 2 hours to return and they were not happy. I couldn't help but chuckle to myself about Riccardo getting a bit snarly when we were trying to make our way in.

After another enjoyable night, we were under way at 0900 for Callcup. The plan was to let the boys have a play at ascending. I would wait up top in case a winching was needed. Leo made the first attempt, but couldn't quite make the crest:

Riccardo followed in Leo's failed footsteps, not only to just pass him, but make it up the top....only just. Riccardo and myself chuckled about the fact, Leo wouldn't be happy.

The "shit yeah!" smile in the inset says it all. Either that or he just sharted:

But with an adjustment of tyre pressure, Leo gained the "shit Yeah" smile too. Well the best smile he could pull anyway after being convincingly outshone by Riccardo.

Only to be laughed at by posing off up top and coming a gutzer....again.

It was a good laugh. I'm sure both Leo and Riccardo will sense the humour in my take on the proceedings. 45 minutes or so later, we all head down Callcup at 1000 for Warren beach. We had to make way for some wildlife to depart on the way down:

Arriving at the Warren river, we are all just a bit pissed off. The Warren is full of water, its deep and its flowing hard. No way will we cross that. To the fella that gave me the false intelligence the day before, thanks very much. Tool!

Now we all have to go back up Callcup. Something I hadn't planned to do. A few hiccups on the way up and we were all up and on our way out.

Leo took the lead out and subsequently took a turn I didn't. We were now separated and I had no radio contact with them. I knew from where they turned, they would be out. So I also made my way out - by the way I had come in. The boys were now heading for home. I was heading for Yeagerup - the long way around - thanks again for that top piece of intelligence.

I turned off to check out some camp sites on the Warren and as I did, I got Leo on the radio. They were out and both of us went our respective ways. On arrival at Yeagerup dunes, I drove the track to the large dune over looking the beach. Watching a few attempt to climb out of this dune, I gave them some advice. They were up, but the dune had now been chopped up. Whilst I know I would have made it easy, I was now solo and didn't need to prove anything. So I made my way to camp, arriving at 1515. A bit early, but time to relax.

There had been no dew the previous nights, so I decided to go naked tonight. It paid off: It didn't rain :) Only 94Kms done today.

A late start today as I have a chat with a fellow that rocked up to my once solo campsite the afternoon prior. He has an MDC forward fold and I go over for a look. Its an impressive bit of kit really. The canvas is as thick as cow hide and it has lots of nice features. I cant believe how far these import campers have come along over the last decade. Mind you, its having a nasty impact on our Aussie manufacturers who seem to be falling like domino's at the moment. The other drawback is the weight. Shit these are heavy and due to the extended drawbar and forward storage, have very high tow ball weights. He asked about conditions going down to Yeagerup beach and I recommend he leaves the camper behind. I could have been a tool and said "no worries mate!", like no water in the Warren, but seriously, why would you do that.

The plan for today: Black Point. Just before I finally hit the road at 1000, he returns and is glad of my advice. He also didn't descend the larger dune towards the beach. Subsequently I find he has no compressor, no recovery gear and probably NFI either. So my advice was good value.

I make for lake Jasper. The typical sandy track I remember has changed a little. It doesn't have the 35" wheel ruts like it had last time I came out. The sand a little soft in places, was no issue to traverse. Turning up the Jasper Road, I find the sand a little softer. The 'dunes", or more likely, small inclines don't have the conveyor belt laid like it used to have. Things have changed here. The camping has been severely restricted and ski boats not allowed now, no doubt why the conveyor belt has gone also. A few soft crests and a couple of soft sandy patches almost catch me out, but the Paj ploughs on.

Arriving at the Lake at 1200 I expected to be here alone. I grab the camera and walk down to the lake to be met by a tribe of 20-30 people, playing cricket and laying back. Men, women and their kids. I say g'day and start some conversation. I am met with a very frosty reception. Anyone would think I'm here to steal their camp site or their women. I mean, really, do you have to be that unfriendly? So I give them a mental one fingered salute and get the hell outa there.

Back on the track, I pass the Twin Karri's Beach turnoff and find similar soft sandy patches of track. Another 4km's on and I round a corner to be presented with a hill that I start to drive up. Once on it, I'm in shock. This particular hill has quite deep, opposed wombat holes, I'm in a wrong 4wd mode, haven't picked a line. I'm a bit worried to be honest. the Paj lifts opposing wheels often - the Pajero Salute - traction control is going banana's and I'm concentrating on getting her up. But no drama's the Paj does it with ease. At the top, I note my tranny temp is over 120 degree's, so I stop at the top in some shade and grab a camera to investigate what I had just climbed.

Yep, it was rutted alright, but with a bit of a look see first, this should present no drama. Problem being, I was climbing it before I knew it. The picture below in no way does the terrain any justice:

A pic of the typical track between Lake Jasper and Black Point:

I pass the Jasper Beach turn off and decide not to go down. Sure, its a lovely beach, but I've been before and I want to get to Black Point to get a camp site before others may do. About 3km after this turn off, you descend a limestone capped hill. You round a bend and come back up another hill. Its a bit on the soft side, but no drama. Round a right hander and the hill keeps on keeping on and the view in front is alarming. This shit is seriously soft. With wrong 4wd mode again and unsuitable tyre pressures, there is only one thing to do: more loud pedal.

But it fails. I just don't have the momentum to continue. So I start to reverse down. reversing around the right hander and at the top of the starting slope, some thing's going amiss. The Paj is veering left and I cant pull it out. Like being on train tracks. I get to the point where the left hand rear is approaching the drop off on the side and I have no choice but to stop, go forward and try to get back on line. Into drive and all I have is wheel spin...Add expletive here....I'm thinking this is not good, I may just have to winch my self forward. So I go to basics first - let some air out. Down to 10 on the front 14 on the rear and I try again. I manage to get forward just a little, then try to pull it around again in reverse. This time success. I get back on line and down to the bottom. Ok, so tyre pressures should be ok, time for an adjustment of 4wd mode. I select low and put the diff lock in. This time I go up the hill at a rate of knots, bouncing over the wallows and no doubt shaking up the beer in the fridge. Round the right hander and I add more loud pedal whilst the induction noise from the snorkel is trying to drown out the engine noise. And up she goes, at a rate of knots and sails over the very soft sandy crest. Phew. Technique my son. Works almost every time.

I plug on with my deflated tyres and I am a bit wary of the limestone cap rock that is cropping up occasionally. I really should put a bit of pressure back in to stop those bulging sidewalls from touching cloth - or should that be cap rock?

But I continue on and get glimpses of the coast in between the vegetation in this now high vantage point. I make the Black Point turn of at 1330 and head on in. I cant recall the camp sites here, so I will have to do a reccy. But first, I go out to the coast. Its early enough and I have plenty of time to spare:

There are two camp grounds here and both have been renewed and are modern. I see a site in the first that may be suitable, but go to check the second. That one had a much larger area, so I decided that was it and proceeded to unload gear, chill with a beer and generally just have a relaxed afternoon.

I have the place to myself, there is no one here. Some units in their 3" exhausted patrols come hooning down the track and shatter the peace. Great! But 1/2 hour later, they bugger off again...winner. Later in the afternoon I take a walk up towards the other camp site. high above the coast I notice I have phone coverage, so I go back to camp, grab my tab and start trying to communicate with the outside world. SMS seems to go through, but internet coverage is scratchy to say the least. Whilst trying to post a pic, a patrol comes past - well there goes my solitude. I wave and he continues on down to the second camp site. later in the afternoon, whilst cooking dinner, ole mate comes for a drive by. Obviously to check out where I am and what I'm up to. And he doesn't even bother to stop and say G'day. Another miserable sod. I never see him again. So, with a quiet night, another day is done. 94 Km for the day completed.

Unusually for me, I am up early. Its home time today. And watered, packed but not fed and on the road at 0700. I have a few K's to go today, so an early start is good. I make my way out via Black Point Road. This is a seasonal track, is gated each end and gets closed often. It passes through some swampy ground, and no doubt, when wet causes some drama's. I have never been down this road, so I don't know what to expect. But its no drama at all. Some more soft sandy stretches, a bit wallowed in places, but my low tyre pressure eats it up. And soon enough, I hit the black top. I put air back in the tyres and hit the bitumen. I stop off at the Nannup steamer and cant be bothered looking for that pesky Nano cache I haven't been able to find here:

I drive back to the in laws, cook my bacon and cheese wraps, bid them farewell and start the 3.5 hour, 360 Km trip to home. And yet another excellent adventure comes to a close at 1400. Just enough time to start unpacking all me gear....again.

Track log:

Trip Stats:
4 nights under canvas
1070km travelled
151L fuel used
for an average of  14.1 L/100Km
cost of fuel $206
camp fees $15 + National Park access fees (I have an annual pass)

And the vids for the trip:

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