Bullendale: December 10, 2022
Trip report by Soren
My day started by picking up my friend Patrick from the airport. Fresh from the far north he jumped in and we shot straight up the hill just in time to tag on to the convoy of 9 trucks and a total of 17 participants. Dave in his Landcruiser, Keith and Kerrin (Pajero), Kevin and Jon (Prado), Colin, Glen and Yvonne (Triton), Johnny and Lana (Hilux), Soren and Patrick (Hilux), Raymond (Landcruiser), Hamish and Jo (Patrol) and Martin and Aleks (Amarok).
Skippers Road was in good shape and being in convoy you don’t have to think about on-coming cars too much (apart from trip leader) so it made the drive in easy. My passenger hanging on and staring at the road to make sure I wasn’t wandering off over the edge.
Stopping for a quick smoko/dunny stop at the Skippers school we locked hubs and spun back to the cemetery where our trip leader Dave gave us a run down on the track and to sing out and don’t be shy in asking for a spotter.
Winding our way to the bottom of the first crossing of skippers creek the convoy made its way up the off camber/wet climb, where Raymond ran into a spot of bother when his land-cruiser didn’t lock the centre diff or the rear diff. So he decided to leave the now stuck in AWD cruiser on the bank of the creek and jump in with someone else… I had spare seats but the 1980’s leg room wasn't enough haha.
Work was needed on the ‘slip’ section of the track where previous track maintenance had held up, but more bank had come down and covered the track. There was plenty of help so it was soon cleared, and ready to be sealed just about…
Dave was first and a rear wheel sunk off the side so a short winch was needed there. Kevin got past that section but his rear slipped off further up which required a winch with a snatch block to pull the nose of the Prado back onto the track and he soon had his wagon at the top too.
Colin with the Triton cut the corner, turning up the bank causing his truck to come close to rolling, fair to say everyone gave a gasp at the gravity defying Triton, but he kept his leg up it and drove it out, getting back on track again and got to the top, I was next and Martin behind me and I think we were both nervous after seeing that but both managed to drive it ok. Along with everyone else before us.
The convoy carried on along the track. Until it came down to the top of the ‘rock step’ and we had lunch there…which is also the same time that the rain decided to come in. Martin, Hamish and Colin decided to hang back and stay parked there - and filled in time changing a flat tyre (popped bead) on Martin’s Amarok. Dave, Keith, Johnny, Kevin and myself dropped down into the Skippers creek again, driving up through the bonnet-high lupins crossing the creek dozens of times until, in the heavy rain we came to the end, which is a pinch between two cliffs with the stream running deep and narrow between the two making it impassable.
It was a quick turn around and before long we were back in comms with the part of the convoy that stayed behind. Keith was first up the rock climb where a winch point had already been established.
I was next and managed to drive it, the rest needing a short winch to pop them up a wee steep section at the start of the climb.
The day was now getting on and the drive back to Raymond’s cruiser went without incident and the convoy made its way up and around the steep sided track back towards the skippers cemetery. Unfortunately about 10 yards out of the creek Raymond’s cruiser’s rear left wheel fell in a hole/washout (being only AWD) was stuck and bellied on the running board and rear bumper, not wanting to tear anything off I hi-lift jacked the arse of the truck up/sideways and drove it back and out of the hole. He had another go but with the same results so I tried again but only made the situation worse. With no one and nothing substantial to winch off we winched him back and out where the track was mended and tracks laid down I drove in front to act as an anchor point and Raymond winched up that short section and we were away again.
Catching up to the rest of the convoy at the ‘Otago hotel’ ruins. I think in which time Martin had sustained a second flat – this time a sidewall puncture. With Dave’s advice the first flat was re-inflated and we were good to go. Two flat tyres on one trip - bugger!
Soon enough, all were back to the start of the tiger trail at the Skippers cemetery (Dead centre of town Patrick reckons) a few short yarns, handshakes and thankyous, the convoy made its way back out slowly dissipating as trucks headed their own way home.
Thanks for a good trip team, thoroughly enjoyed it!