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Nevis Valley Opening Weekend: October 22, 2022

Report by Ray Molloy

Trip leader: Dave with Kevin following up as tail end Charlie.

A 9am meet up at the Cromwell big fruit saw ten vehicles turn up for what was a cracker day with hardly a breath of wind in the Nevis. A mixed bag of vehicles for the opening day trip, with a couple of Landcruisers (Dave and Raymond), a Prado (Kevin), an Amarok VW (Martin and friend), 3 x Pajeros (Keith and Carol, David and Katrina with Anaia and Erica and Evert and Natalie with Isaac, Nadine and Ray), a Nissan Terrano (Leigh and Shaune), a Jeep (Paul and Murray), and a Challenger (Mike and Jo).

At 9.15am it was out to Quartzville Road where the Carricktown track begins where we did the usual air down. A couple of missiles (towballs) were taken off - if they’re not there you won’t be tempted to try snatching off one 😊 and final prep before the climb up towards Duffers Saddle. We started off through the gate around 10am. The climb provided impressive views back down across Lake Dunstan with the wafting scent of Thyme if you had your window open, and was fairly smooth going until the steeper section, where it was lumpy with a few loose rocks to contend with.

The group of vehicles happily bounced their way up until Leigh and Shaune’s Nissan found the going tough and the sweat of the climb turned to steam with an overheating issue.

Dave came back down the track to assist and after letting the Terrano cool down and a re- fill of water, the decision for Shaune and Leigh was to head back down to Cromwell and see what was causing the overheating rather than risk a break down further into the trip. Dave reported back later in the day that Shaune and Leigh had texted to say they were back down and had made it to the pub! The breakdown didn’t faze Shaune going by the grin in the pic below, hopefully you can both join us for another trip.

We caught up with the rest of the group at the Young Australian mining area where the walking tracks take you to the historic gold mining ruins and water wheel. The wee crossing of the water race to the wheel was dry. Whether the race is under repair we were not sure as water should be flowing at this time of year.

The rock tors, golden Spaniard grass and pockets of snow made for stunning scenery.

Then it was on to the top and Duffers Saddle where the track joins the gravel road that heads down the Nevis and the opposite way down to Bannockburn.

The vehicles were only slightly dusty at this stage and so the tracks through the wee bogs were just too tempting and had to be tried out. I think everyone gave their vehicles a run through including the newcomers David and Mike.

By the look on the kids’ faces they wanted more water and mud and said their favourite bits were the bumpy bits with big dips and lots of mud. There was the obligatory stop for a club truck photo opportunity and to stretch the legs.

We weren’t the only ones trying out the Nevis this labour weekend. A few trailers pulling quads and off-road buggies, motor bikes and another couple of groups of 4WDs were getting out there.

A stop was made at Nevis township where a few relics dating back to the gold era are found, along with a handful of cribs/baches or fishing huts. A few kms more down the track and it was time for a good lunch break by Whittens Creek. The youngest members of the group were happy to paddle in the cooling water of the creek.

There were many river crossings which were of low to mid depth and the road was lost in one section due to previous flooding which meant following Dave’s lead back to regain the road. Successfully on the track again we continued along the Nevis Valley.

A handful of sharp hill climbs were tackled, with people gaining confidence in their truck’s ability away from the tarmac.

At around the ¾ way mark, Paul said goodbye to the group and headed back up the Nevis in the Jeep and back to Roxburgh, with his Sunday likely to be a day getting back into the DIY on the house.

The remainder headed on up the hill towards Garston and down to the Southland Ski Club hut (circa 1934) which has been maintained by various people over the years and is in reasonable shape considering the damage done and rubbish left at other vehicle accessible huts.

The trip was now pretty much at its end. Just a wee bit further down the hill and it was time to inflate the tyres back to road pressures, some goodbyes and 5.30pm saw us hit the road for home.

Thanks Dave and Kevin for organising the day and weather for us all. The Nevis is a fantastic trip for families and those new to 4wding. It’s a good trip to try your vehicle out and learn about its capabilities.

The trip was a total length of 69kms and took 7 and a half hours.

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