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Thomson Gorge (Omakau to Bendigo): June 10, 2023

Report by Johnny. Photos Belle, Johnny, Kerrin, Keith, Kevin, Leigh

An awesome trip from Omakau to Bendigo (Blue Mines Rd). It was fair to say the morning was crispy at minus 7 at 9.30 am the meeting point on Racecourse Road, Omakau. I had decided to stop and look at the Clyde Dam to bore my passengers with photos I couldn’t find of the Dam filling up then bore them further with a drive over the Clyde Bridge and a zig zag root back though the rich tapestry of streets that is Clyde and it is for those reasons I am writing this. Yes all that made us last.

We had 15 people in 7 trucks. Kevin and Ray (Prado), Shaune and Leigh (Raptor), John (Jeep), Johnny with Belle and Micaelle (Hilux), Keith with Dave and Tess (Pajero Sport), Clifford and Judy (Disco 4), Soren and Kerrin (Hilux)

The trip began with the traditional Airing Down now common place the first time I saw it I thought “what the hell, how are they going to get those back up anyway a thorough briefing from Kevin followed and we were off, remembering to bring Lollies for the gate opener we were feeling pretty confident and our only real concern was the short duration until morning tea and if the Pie warmer would be able to reach BYFOT (burn your face off temperature).

It was a text book Central Otago hoar frost the trees frozen on time and the squares on the netting fence almost closing up with the repeated frosts.

Over the radio you could have been forgiven for thinking it was some sort of South Island Safari as there was a Red Stag on the left and then a Stag and four hinds emerged out of the fog and effortlessly bounded over the fences in single file as though they were leaping over Keith’s Yellow Mug which may feature later in the story.

We quickly climbed out of the cloud and a stunning day was revealed with amazing scenery below as well as great tips and lessons for Life.

After some pretty easy climbing, Soren stopping to try and spot some deer and some photo stops we arrived at our Morning Tea spot, the Old Stone Hut built by the County Council in 1908 for drovers and travelers. This was also the scene of individual trucks unveiling a variety of sumptuous treats for morning tea. A new tradition of leaving something important to you at the hut was inaugurated and in this case it was Keith’s prized yellow cup which still can be seen there to this day.

Then it was on to Mt Moka: Highest point snow play @ 1300m. Mt Moka ascent – vertical climb of 241 m in just 1.2kms (from 981 to 1222).

Leigh with her brand new hip only one week out of its plastic wrapper ascended the summit of 1222 m. After saying to my Co-Drivers “you should be in second so that if you need speed and momentum you have the range left” around the very next corner I did the very thing I had said not to and parked it up, owe Keith one for a tow.

Upon everyone getting to the top it was decided there could be an element of campers free time Soren wasted no time in getting into 4th and turning the Hilux into what looked like a snow making machine only to stop abruptly into a Snow Bank of his own making.

Snatched back from the bank Soren created then coming back stuck in on ther side. Kerrin enjoyed it!

After he was extracted this seemed only to spur everyone else on to greater heights or at least another 88 metres to the very top, each vehicle pushing on a little further until the goal was achieved.

Such was the excitement in the Hilux with Belle not wanting to be outdone by Keith, Kevin & Soren I think I learnt Brazilian for “you were ___g amazing”.

After the snow play we headed down the hill and came upon the Santana drilling Rig shares at 50 cents this also served as the lunch spot, some people took a further excursion down to the newly restored Come in Time Stamper Battery. The Queenstown Wa___ers of which I included myself, busted out the silver tea set, Rib Eye, folding table and Daffodils. Motto being, Just because we are in the wilderness there is no need to suffer”

After getting slightly mis-mothered and Tail-End Charlie becoming the leader for a while we made it to the Bendigo workings and the old stone houses and remnants of pubs.

A few took the opportunity to “Air Up” and some were going to do it at BP Cromwell but couldn’t be _rsed then because it was cold and did it about a week later but I don’t know who that was.

The debrief was conducted at the 5 Stags Bar in Cromwell curiously I could only count 4 behind the bar but everybody appeared to be very thirsty and there was some very good debriefing happening.

As everyone drove off the Hill and was able to walk unaided to the Pub it was classed as a highly successful Day.

Other Points to Note:

  • Fall Over Count Keith, Shaune, Kevin, John C

  • Proposal of a new Award when something is left behind hence forth to be known as The Keith Yellow Cup Award

  • Another possible award nomination, as Soren charged off into the snow drift and getting stuck and through share skill managed to get stuck in the snow he created but coming from the other direction, The Double Ended Slow Learner Award (see photo above)

Over all 39.9km total; moving time 2 hrs 40; total elapsed time 6 hrs 20.

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