Testing the new gear

Over the Melbourne Cup long weekend (a four day weekend for some of us), we went up to our usual camp spot at big river, but this time with a whole pile of new gear!

Mel and I decided a while ago to get a new tent. Not just any old tent, the biggest one we could find! We ended up getting ourselves an Outdoor Connection Galaxy 2 tent. A 6m x 3m beast with a bedroom either end (with own entrances) and a common area in between with the main entrance. We also purchased a queen size camp bed to make it easier for Mel to get in and out of bed in her current pregnant state. We also thought it would be a good time to try out the new work car on some of the tracks around the area.

So…How did it all go? Well you’ll just have to read on to find out.

We left Melbourne a little after lunch time friday with a fully loaded car and trailer. We have begun taking our own firewood for the first night and morning so we can have a decent fire without having to search around and chop wood the moment we arrive (thanks Simon for the trailer load). After a brief stop in Healesville, we climbed the black spur and headed to the river. The trip up the spur was slower than usual due to a number of Model-T Fords heading to Eildon for the weekend rally. It also proved to be a serious diesel guzzler. Given all the hiccups we made pretty good time and arrived at the river with plenty of daylight left.

The road into our usual camp spot was probably the worst we have ever seen, and the track down to the spot was terrible. It was no problem for us in a real 4×4, but the other guys all have x-over SUV’s and Mel and I almost went somewhere else, but figured at worst we could always tow the other guys out.

It took about an hour to get the tent, kitchen and bed all set up. We were almost finished when Kris, Michel and Jasper arrived. Some final set up happened, then the fire started roaring and dinner was cooked. Dan and Rob finally arrived about 10:30pm, the girls went to bed and we got stuck into some serious drinking.

Saturday morning Ziggy arrived and the boys went out for a ride. Myself and the two girls hung out a cmap and relaxed. Tried a spot of fishing but the river was flowing too fast to really expect anything. I also tried repairing the air mattress as my side had deflated during the night and made for a very uncomfortable sleep.
That afternoon the rains came, and it bucketed down. The girls and I got fed up with the rain and went to bed early. The other guys stayed up, drank, got soaked.

Sunday morning the rains stopped, although the day stayed overcast. This marked the beginning of the problems! We discovered the first flaw in our new tent. The toggles which hold the fly windows open seem to leak. They are also quite long and touch the tent. As a result there were four small puddles of water inside, two in each bedroom. Water also pooled on top of the bedrooms. This second problem seems to be fixable however, and we’ll just have to wait for the next wet trip to see.

Sunday marked the exit of Dan, Robert and Ziggy. Ziggy was given a lift to the top of the track to his car and he made an early exit. The other two left not long after lunch. Robert, with three bikes on the trailer managed to make it about twenty metres up the track before he lost all traction and had to reverse back down…Not an easy task even without the trailer. They made it, we switched the trailer onto my 4×4 and got up the top without any further hassles. Because the day was so dull, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing scrabble in the tent and had an early night.

Monday dawned a beautiful day. We chopped some more wood to see us through tonight and the next morning, played some badminton, and just chilled out around the fire. Mel managed to get sun burnt but it was a nice relaxing day. It ended up being a late night for Kris and I as we tried to finish off the remaining beer, but didn’t quite succeed.

The next day we packed up and left for home. Mel & I went up first while the others packed Jasper into his car seat and followed, but didn’t quite get there. After waiting at the top, I decided to take off the trailer and head down to see what was going on. Just as I was about to leave, they appeared on foot. Kris had got bogged in some really soft soil, and the trailer was in a position stopping him from even reversing a little to have another shot. I reversed the 4×4 down the track with Kris acting like an aircraft guide helping me get down…The tray prevents me from seeing much behind.

Snatched the car up first, which turned out to be a really easy exercise, then back down for the trailer. In all, it took about an hour. A quick stop in Eildon for some lunch, a visit to the boat ramp for a look and to listen to the great race, and home the back way through Alexandra and Yea to avoid the spur, a much easier and potentially faster trip.

In all, another great camping weekend. Some photos are up in the gallery, I still have to get the pics from Kris’ camera which was the most used over the weekend.

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