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Pack a lunch - Bennie's Trip Report - Sept/Oct18 - lots of pics!!!

El_Freddo Ruby Scoo Trip Report L series Desert offroad

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#1 El_Freddo


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Posted 05 January 2019 - 02:27 AM

Bennies September 2018 Trip

Its about time I got this sorted, a few details have slipped and Im not so good with the names of ppl I just met. Apologies to these ppl I met on the trip, I hope I havent offended you and I hope we cross paths on another trip soon!

So before we really begin, our planned trip was delayed for two days due to prep plans not working in our favour. By the time wed packed it was late enough to say its not worth the effort to leave now, only to set up camp a few hours out of Benders. So we decided to get up super early and roll out of town in the wee wee hours of Thursday the 27th of Sept.

Our aim was to visit the top North Westerly point of Vic and McCabes corner where NSW, SA and VIC borders all meet. Then head south along the border track from the very tip of Vic, into the Murray Sunset NP middle section before meeting up at Pinnaroo on Friday with a group of fellow subi nuts from a facebook group that we decided to hook up with for the border track run in the Ngarkat NP on the SA side of the border.

Day 1 - Thursday, 4am we were up, packed those last few bits and headed off at about 4:30am. Fuelled everything up and off we went, headed for Mildura for our next fuel stop before we hit the desert. We had a good run and to set the trip off we swung around to snap the sunrise, about an hour out of Ouyen from memory:


We refuelled in Mildura, added a few bits to the kit that we forgot but worked out at breakfast (north of Ouyen beside the rail line).

Once on the border, we turned right off the Sturt Hwy and headed north towards the corners of the three states. We saw a couple of these along the way:


Headed for McCabes corner first, this is as close as we could get. Ive been told its about 4km from the actual point:


We then turned around and tried for the Vic Tip. This is as far north as we could get:



We did our usual country thing that we grew up with stop and ask a local! The farmer didnt seem very welcoming at first but after an introduction and what we were doing he gave us some information that was super handy but not so great for what we were trying to achieve.

Firstly, McCabes corner is in the middle of the River. This is the point where NSW/Vic/SA meet. The land on the Vic side is now owned by someone who doesnt want the public visiting and theyve effectively shut off any access tracks to the area. So its by boat access only now. Ive read on the web that theres a monument, I believe on the NSW side of the river.

The tip of Vic was another story. No actual tracks to get there, even from the SA side. But it could be accessed by following the fence line bush bashing. The fella we were talking to didnt go into much detail about this option as it wouldve been on his land or his neighbours We opted to turn around and head south, aiming for the Shearers Quarters for our camp for the night. It couldve been an ambitious trek depending on what lay ahead. We had planned to camp on the Murray at one of these places but that changed.

On our return trip south from where wed come we stopped for a few highlights along the way, first, this survey marker:


^ Someone did a good job on that one! Even the official government peg beside it says that the marker is 3m to the south of the peg!

Then this interesting kink not many people seem to know that the Vic/SA border is not actually straight. Or that theres about an 11km section of Murray River where SA is on the northern banks of the river with Vic on the southern side So this kink in the border, Looking south:


Looking north east-ish:


^ Behind me theres another corresponding corner that re-aligns with the border, its about 150-200m further along.

When we first hit this section of track we saw Shingle-Back after Shingle-Back. I snapped this little one, then promised the crew that Id get a pic of them with the next one (that we didnt see until the next day Murphys Law!).


We crossed the Sturt Hwy and pulled up at the start of the next section so we couldnt see the main road and had some lunch. While we were doing this a police car (territory) drove past on the main section. That was interesting. Next thing we knew he was on our side track in front of us, didnt hear him until he was right on us. We had a chat, he complemented our setup for desert travel and he told us of a few 2wd vehicle rescues hes been involved with he put them down to the GPS showing them into the desert without any warnings of the terrain or requirements for self sufficiency out here. Off he went and so did we. This is basically what we saw for the majority of the rest of the day until we swung in an easterly direction to get the to Shearers Quarters:


There were a number of sections that would be quite boggy in winter, and a couple of little climbs that could be done too. Generally it was pretty easy going. Once headed east the vegetation changed to more Mallee Gum and we encountered some fun corrugations in the road:


This was an interesting find an airstrip in the middle of nowhere!


As we neared the Shearers Quarters, we saw a couple of wild goats that roam this area, then we were there. Not the greatest pic as I couldnt get Ruby Scoo in the best position due to the vegetation out the front of the place. Theres a big 6 (maybe) vehicle shed off to the right of the image:


The campground is about 100m further up the track in some lovely native pines or Sheoak. Im not totally up with the different species but theyre a cool native tree none the less. At dinner time the new cargo setup was working its magic! Unfortunately there was a massive stuff-up with my Bunnings Special Order and the slides for the kitchen box didnt arrive, so its perched in place in this image but still demonstrated that the design worked well for us:


The next day we did a Blockie headed east from the Shearers Quarters, then north, then west, then south with a run along the airstrip (my top speed for the desert trip while out bush 80kmph I didnt know the condition of the airstrip and I wasnt out to break any land speed records, it was just nice to drive without corrugations for a little bit). Just east of the camp the vegetation did another dramatic change from open Mallee gum to this Sheoak tree from camp:


It was a really cool looking area and the whole ambience was changed just from the vegetation. It clearly followed a change in soil or hydrodynamics underground. And this is why we did a blockie The Creator:


It really did look like a creator, but its more likely that its a result of salinity, wind and sand movement. Of course the little sign in the bush says vehicles prohibited or something of the like but those muppets that think its their entitlement to go where they want had been here and driven all over the bottom of the creator, leaving huge track marks everywhere. Its disappointing that people have to go and ruin these places. Theyll only get closed up if we dont look after them!

On our way in to the Shearers Quarters there was this track that intrigued me, they always do:


So of course we took it rather than heading back to the Border Track. It was a fun section that could have a bit of pace going if you were careful. Basically youd crest small sandy dunes that werent really steep or anything, more rises than actual dune dunes, if you know what I mean! The vegetation was mainly Mallee and it looked like this on a high point:


We passed a photographer who was just as surprised to see us as we were to see him! Getting bored of this track I (I say I as Mrs El Freddo had fallen asleep at this point) decided to head back to the Border Track. I felt like Id missed a good section of it. So we turned right and headed west on this complete goats track:


I was worried about staking a tyre on a hidden mallee root or collecting spinifex looking grass under the vehicle and starting a fire, but none of those issues arose and I was very glad when we finally met the Border Track again. This section was interesting as we started seeing some actual dune climbs, typically with flat clay based sections in between so it wasnt as exciting as Big Desert or the next section of the Border Track in the Ngarkat NP. That was until we got to this little pocket of good fun:


Behind me in this pic is a short sharp drop off the top of the last dune. You sort of meander your way up it then drop into this sandy valley. This pic was after my first attempt to get out and it was at the time we shouldve been meeting the group in Pinnaroo. So I aired down for the first time this trip (yes, I was lazy, but I also didnt really trust the roadies with Mallee root so kept them aired up until I really had to drop pressures, like now). It did cross my mind that we could get stuck here then I thought about the cop yesterday with his recovery stories Anyway, second attempt was pretty good and I didnt need to stress!

From here the sandy dunes became more frequent until we ran out of 4wd tracks and ended up on public roads this was like the back block section while we tried to cut our way down the border as close as possible. It involves heading east for a few km, then south west, then west before you find the next section. We pulled up because wed never seen this before MASSIVE tumbleweed!


No joke, we found many of these to be as tall as the window sill of Ruby Scoo. We even found one with a Witchetty Grub living in the stem. Poor bugger got a free ride they probably didnt want! To the left of this pic (in the west) were a number of farm crops. This tumbleweed was probably about 10m deep into the bush depending on how many larger trees were around to stop the penetration by the weed. From here it became a bit tiresome to try and follow the official border track. So we cut into SA and headed for Pinnaroo to fuel up and grab some basic veg etc.

The BP on the main road was a bit of a 4wd circus when we arrived. It made us realise that the next days adventure might be a bit of a bumper to bumper car park event. I wasnt looking forward to that. And of course everyone was here, it was the AFL Grand Final weekend all Victorians had the Friday public holiday and SA had the Monday public holiday. Great.

We headed into Big Desert State Forest solo to meet up at camp as communicated by Nachaluva and a mate wed invited last minute (more on that shortly). About to hit the sand on our way to camp about 15km IIRC:


We arrived at camp, no one around so we parked up and waited. It was blisteringly cold with an unrelenting wind. The weather for this whole trip was cooler than usual and tonight was definitely a low point. Eventually the group met up after their afternoons adventures playing around at Thompsons Peak.


Going back to that mate we invited last minute, thats the Prado. Our friend purchased it a week and a half before we left for this trip and they managed to slip it into their schedule for something different. They drove this thing well and enjoyed their trip. I admire their courage with such sort ownership of their first 4wd. I have a mate that owns a 130 Defender, tells me how its a real 4wd etc yet its never seen any action beyond a typical dirt road

Day three of the trip. We lined up as others finalised their setup with pressures etc. Other played in a bog hole, not to stereotype, but it was the P platers that wanted to have some fun.


The Pretty Disco in the group got bogged, the 110 Defender pulled them out (the green one above, driven by Dave Groll), then ripped through it. Then we met some rangers. The gist of that conversation was that we were on private land and we also needed a vehicle permit to enter the Ngarkat NP. $10 per day. News to us, it wasnt like this the last time we visited 4 years ago. I guess the SA government is doing it tough atm, at least thats what my uncle tells me!

The rangers also told us the track was pretty chopped up and in poor condition so it could be tough getting through (yes!).

We all scrambled back up the track to get phone reception to book our passes. There was much radio chatter about which website and how many days we needed one or two. One if youre confident in what youre doing and know your setup. Two if youre just cruising. If going for two days, youll also need a camping permit!

From here the fun began and excitement was high. Not many pics from here due to mainly driving. We met a few groups along the way, one that wanted to push past, so we let them through, only then to have them slow down and block us. That was probably the most frustrating part of the day I reckon.

Heres one of the early dunes that Ruby Scoo got hung up on. This climb was rutted out by diagonally articulated vehicles, so it was a hole on the left, then right, then left, then right etc. Too deep for me to skip over them and maintain my momentum:



Some track work and we were off again.

Generally speaking, the track was easier than when Nachaluva and I did it four years earlier with a few other mates. The base was firmer and the daily temps much cooler too.

At lunch we stopped and watched this group do a dune climb. They drove like your typical steep climber when the engine bogs give it more until you get out of it, but you dont get out, you just dig deep holes and quick! Then we were surprised to see one TOWING a camper van up the dune


Yay, they clearly cant read! But they made it with some real effort. I dont think the track liked it though! For Ruby Scoo we went around this climb after seeing how rutted out it was. Its not worth throwing my historic subi over that for the sake of it while out touring.

A couple of ks further down the track and some good little dune climbs with ruts and stuff I realise I dont have my DSLR with me where did I have it last..? Oh ____!! I had it on the roof at lunch and left it there while I tended to something with the intention of taking more pics. Luckily it was still where I left it between some deck chairs!! Bloody lucky! This was the point where I found it, and you can see more of what was to come in front of us:


The later parts of the Border Track become flatter and you can pick up some pace if youre careful about it. You also have to be aware of fatigue too. Mis-read the section of track in front of you while at speed could result in your vehicle being violently thrown around up and down. Not fun!

While collecting some Mallee root for the fire I snapped Ruby Scoo with a couple of the Foresters:


We made it to Red Bluff campground on the Vic side of the border (few ks in actually). It was packed. A small group from our group decided to bug out back home (theyre nuts!). We ended up finding a neat patch near the entry to the camp ground. There wouldve been about 80 4wds here! Its the most packed bush camp ground Ive EVER stayed in! Heres our little setup from the top of Red Bluff:


And half the camp ground including our bit, and the fellas we passed earlier on the track skull dragging a Gen2 Pajero all wearing cricket whites mustve been a bucks party or a cricket teams bonding trip, either way they were tame and enjoying a late arvo game of cricket that you might see in this pic:


Red Bluff in the setting suns light:


Day four. Pack up camp and head south before departing each others company for the trip home for others and our trip into Radelaide! This day had the second dune that Nachaluva was looking forward to on the trip! Its another good little play area too. Ruby Scoo climbed, watched and decended. Actually we went back down from where we came to try a different route to the top, anyway, pics!


Crazy angles!


Mitres foz looking tough:


The SH completing another climb:


@Nachaluva cresting:


The sand pit doughnut hole. Last time we were here this was just a flat space!


While parked here watching the action up top, namely a recovery of Mitres foz that ended up in the scrub on a precarious angle, we met several other groups of 4wds that passed through. All were out for a good time, one fella put his patrol on its side the day before. He cracked his windscreen and dented the front RHS guard. All his mates were still giving him poo about it! He was bloody lucky I reckon!
Everyone was interested in the Subarus being out and about. It was a good attitude change to what weve typically come up against while out bush!

The last section of the track before you get pushed out to the main road meanders its way through the border easement with little dune climbs and tight corners on a narrow track. While in this section we found this lazy thing kicking back:


After completing all the track we could for the Border, we aired up, said our goodbyes and headed off in all sorts of directions. We continued west towards Radelaide. We still had plenty of fuel in the tank and two jerry cans full so opted to skip on fuelling up at Bordertown. Now, I cant remember at what point along the way this was, but the car had a vibration under acceleration that was getting worse as time went on. This came on suddenly. Then it couldnt maintain cruising speed. I worked out pretty quickly that we were running out of fuel. We pulled over by this beautiful old ruin off the side of the Dukes Hwy:


I also investigated a squeaking noise that seemed to be getting worse. Initially before the trip I could hear it just at walking pace as the car began to move and I hoped it wasnt a clutch issue. I couldnt find anything, mounts seemed good etc.

We continued on while making plans for where to stay the night. We selected a little caravan park on the Radelaide side of Tailem Bend, it took us down a side road then down to the Mighty Murray River. We got a spot for the night for a top price and it was BEAUT!


Couldnt have got a better spot! The facilities were a little dated but clean which is always the important detail. It was good to have a shower! Our plan for the next day was to enjoy the morning then head over to the Monarto Zoo after dropping in the second jerry can of fuel. The Monarto Zoo is another step up on our Werribee Zoo. Plan a FULL day to be here if you want to see most of it! Being that we forgot this Monday was SAs public holiday, we encountered this line out the front of the zoos front gate!


Well, we decided to high tail it from there and come back another day rather than put up with crowds. Since we were on the old highway we decided to take it all the way into the city if we could. It was great to visit some places that family used to live in too, theres a lot more urban sprawl out there too, it seems to be an epidemic :(

Then we came to Harndorf. Awesome little German town



until you put a festival in the middle of the single main rd town. That wasnt much fun! We continued to follow the old highway as much as we could, we fuelled up at some point too.

In the end we made it into Radelaide, and that squeak had turned into some other noise that was becoming concerning. We cruised around checking out a few things before finding another caravan park to crash at for the night. We stayed at Moana Beach CP. Nice beach a stones throw away too:


At some point I realised the issue with the noise was a uni joint. It was now becoming a nasty vibration. Plans were made to visit a wreckers and HOPE another L series was there (these are getting thin on the ground and are basically non-existent in Melbs self serve parts yards). There was ONE there, and it still had its tail shaft. I took the whole thing, and a turbo crossmember from a vortex (score!).

We caught up with some family for dinner then headed off to camp out at Pink Gums in the Adelaide Hills. This campsite was recently refurbished, and wasnt really my idea of camping as such, but it was a neat area anyway. Again, a permit was needed to camp here.


Before we headed off I swapped out the tailshaft. Heres the offending unit. Theres no way we couldve made it home with this the way it was and we were reduced to 80kmph the night before:


After that was sorted we headed back to the Monarto Zoo for most of a day out there, then head home. The leg it home didnt happen. We ended up getting a hotel in Tintinara for the night and tripping home the next day ( day 8 ). On our way home we decided to mix things up and make a detour to Stawell for some pics at the Sister Rocks, then head to Benders via the back roads and we took some back roads! We found some places to go exploring on our way back home. It was looking dodgy for a bit there!

The Sister Rocks, I dont condone graffiti at the best of times, and I really hate it in the bush yet this makes an interesting backdrop and is the only place Ive seen like this (I hope it stays that way! the number of locations like this is what I mean!):



Once again, a great trip away. These need to happen more often! Im very happy with the setup in Ruby Scoo. The new cargo space has revolutionised how we operate with the vehicle and our gear. Not having to remove our stuff from above the fridge to access it was a real game changer as was the kitchen cabinet - that still needs to be finished off

If youve made it this far I hope I havent turned you off from reading trip reports. Glad I FINALLY got it done!


Where did all my apostrophes go??
"The lounge room is not a workshop..."
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#2 Barbbachello


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Posted 06 January 2019 - 11:00 PM

Awesome reading and pics as usual Bennie. Took me back to the trip through little desert i did with my brothers a few years back. Felt a bit like cheating in fully kitted land cruisers compared to an L series but haha


#3 duncanm


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Posted 07 January 2019 - 06:15 AM

good stuff -- kitchen/fridge setup is looking pretty good.. is that the bunnings 25mm square-section connect-it stuff?

#4 acres


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Posted 07 January 2019 - 07:25 PM

Thanks Bennie, that was a great read! Awesome photo of the campsite on the Murray. Looks like you have so much fun with your setup.
Would love to have the time to setup a gen2 wagon and take it on trips like this

#5 El_Freddo


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Posted 08 January 2019 - 01:29 PM

Awesome reading and pics as usual Bennie. Took me back to the trip through little desert i did with my brothers a few years back. Felt a bit like cheating in fully kitted land cruisers compared to an L series but haha

Thanks mate. Fully kitted or not, its all about getting out there and enjoying our environments. Ive found the Little Desert to be of little challenge the few times Ive been there. That doesnt mean its not worth visiting it though!

good stuff -- kitchen/fridge setup is looking pretty good.. is that the bunnings 25mm square-section connect-it stuff?

Yeah Duncan, thats the kit I used for the build. Getting the cuts bang on right angles is probably the most important thing to get right. Well see how long it lasts but it should be fine as Ive added some support gussets and the security door mesh I used around the fridge has added the most strength to the whole thing. Ive still got to add the mesh to the middle and lhs upright sections, then its pretty much done.

Having the fridge on the slide is magic and really allows us to make the most of our available space. I highly recommend one if youve got a fridge!

Thanks Bennie, that was a great read! Awesome photo of the campsite on the Murray. Looks like you have so much fun with your setup.
Would love to have the time to setup a gen2 wagon and take it on trips like this

Thanks Acres, we didnt end up camping on the Murray like wed hoped to, maybe one day well get to do it up this way... The problem is that all the land is privately owned up to the edge of the river, so access is the issue.

You could easily setup a Gen2 - look up Subi Lift Oz and youre halfway there, throw in a Foz box (from a 2L for the good low range), matching rear diff and 27 or 28 inch tyres then youre pretty much sorted ;) But dont follow my timeline, Im at about ten years now I reckon!

Heres a couple of videos from Mitre who was on the trip. He puts some decent effort into it thats for sure! Ive skipped part one as that was part of their pre-trip trip.

Meet day and the arvos shenanigans at Thompsons Peak:


The Border Track day (I need to reseal my exhaust!):


Vids obviously not mine. I havent had time to think about video editing for a few years now ;(



PS: edited twice, still dont know where all the apostrophes have gone ;(
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#6 Beckers


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Posted 10 January 2019 - 09:37 PM

Looks like a great trip m8.

Glad you had a good time.

I think my outback might be a bit low for this trip.

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