"It's about time we did a little local run, lad," said the Arfer, "There's plenty to see around here."
I knew what he meant because it was only a couple of months ago that I'd told him about a new 1:50 000 scale map that, strangely, he'd not known about, and he had been avidly studying it. This meant only one thing: kidney crushing rough 4WD tracks, for our Arfer is keen on discomfort, "Trial by ordeal!" he calls it.
He lives right next to the start of the Castlemaine end of the Historic Goldfields State Reserve, an area wild in its gullies and peaks and pockmarked by thousands of old mineshafts and tunnels. In the US it would be termed "the Badlands". There are hundreds of tracks, and the new map showed them all, which had excited the Arfer, cause he has an affinity with old ruins, being one of them.
He had graciously invited us to his home for the start, to whit:
Aah Yorick you raggedarsed nag
Be a fine neddy and convey this to the herd:
10 am on the 22nd the electric fence gets switched on, the unfed mastiffs get unchained, the acid moat gets topped up, the Spandaus zone in on the perimeter, the landmines (thousands of the fuckers) get primed, dingo baits dropped, western carstrators are sharpened, razor wire rolled out, well water poisoned, elephant pits covered, trophy head stakes installed along approach avenues, trenches deepened, mustard gas canisters filled, and 30 muff-tongued lesbian SS guards will patrol the outer flanks. The only stone removal employed in these parts will be that carried out by the aforesaid overall - garbed goose steppers upon the nether parts of any low bellied rock flogging bricklaying bastard who penetrates the defenses and lays his tugger on one of my rocks. Other than that you are most welcome even those Mooloort monkey munchers)
Remorseless as ever
(your man in the trenches)
(The reference to the rocks was that the Brickie had suggested that, maybe, some of his stonewall fences might provide good building material for Robbo's Ruin.)
It was a good start, we thought, without the usual club acrimony.
The weather was perfect. The forecast had been for rain developing, but this turned out to be heavy thunderstorms and torrential rain. Just what we needed on slippery clay based ground.
The turnout was splendid, and in the style of the Ferals, sequential. The Wolf in the Huddo and Fowl Andrew in the Dodge turned up, followed soon after by Rex Walrus in the SS1, and we sat down for muffins and coffee. Then the Mauler and Nursie Lee came along, in the Dodge, to get more muffins, then we pfaffed around a bit till Deaf John, son Ben, and a coupla grandkids fronted. A phone call confirmed that the Brickie was coming, in the Nash, as was Robbo, in the Chev6 but....the Brickie was having fuel problems (surprise!!). Then, when the weather cleared a bit Yandoit and Young Tom turned up in the Crossley Snail, as did the Coliban Cockie, and new sprog in the Series 1 LR. That was more than enough, so we buggered off.
Within 2 minutes of leaving, those who had never been on an Arfer Frolic knew what they were in for. Up a steep mountain side with erosion gullies that would swallow a small car, with jutting out rocks designed to puncture soft tyres, or low sumps, and you could not slow down.. oh no.. because with the rain and the slippery clayey subsoil, you would have to reverse down the entire slope, and start again. It would have been nigh on impossible to stop and then resume up.
Those of us in vintage machines did it easily, though Rex Walrus in the SS1, a car designed for the suave Boulevadiere in Saville Row suits, and having fuck-all ground clearance, made a bit of a meal of it.
Fowl Andrew in the Dodge Lurcher discovered that his suspect clutch was confirmed as fucked and barely made it up the first of many Arfer Hurdles. Trial by Ordeal.
By this stage we were no more than half a mile from Arfer's place, and the best was yet to come.
The bastard led us down hollows a demented rabbit would have thought twice about, and up rocky crags any respectable goat would have been excused from passing up, on account of nose-bleed. It was great!
Somehow we managed to spend about an hour, and yet we were not more than two miles from the start. Those two miles sorted out the Fowl One, whose clutch finally carked it, and he had to be towed back to Deaf John's joint. He was soon back, and we crossed a few roads and made it to Vaughan Springs. We explored the camp site, but thought it was a tad too anal for us, so Arfer led us down a fucking appalling decline.
As we were going down this rutted precipice, I thought: "I hope there's another way out, or we'll not make it up again."
At this point, as an indication of the terrain, the SSI's exhaust pipe parted company with the car, but hey..only a flesh wound.
At the bottom of the precipice we found a beautiful area at the base of an ancient mine, with a blacksmith's furnace flue that went up the steep hill, and was lined with stone, ending in the chimney some hundreds of feet above the floor.
Seemed like a good place for a barbecue.
After several restorative ales, and a few snags, we buggered off again. Yandoit, the Wolf and the Arfer took off first, and veered off onto a diminutive overgrown goat-track, and continued on till we came to some interesting puddles. We thought we'd wait here for the others, and maybe get some pics. We waited. Then we waited some more. And, for a change, we waited a bit longer. "Ah, we," thought, "they've missed the turn and tried to get back up. Good luck!"
We went to the end of the track and waited a bit longer. Whilst there, the Fergus, he of the broken-thumb-cause-he-don't-know-how-to-crank-a-Dodge (see pic), and I speculated, as you do. This country is pretty wild. In the old days escaped convicts would sacrifice one of their number and eat them. We debated who it might be. The kids? Not much more than an entree we thought. After considerable discussion, we decided that Robbo would have to be the obvious choice as he was in the best condition. At this point in the canabalistic ruminations they arrived. The delay had been caused by the Brickie having fuel problems (surprise!). Made us look at Robbo in a different light though.
Back to the Guildford Pub, and then home.
But it was not all one-way, no-sirree. He showed the local lads the finer points of the gentleman's game of pool and I'm sure they gained a lot from his tuition, and will be the better chapsfor it.
After the lesson, and a few demonstration trick shots, an impromtu tournament was arranged, and although Shaun won it hooves-down, he was magnanimous to the end, and awarded the coveted trophy to the runner-up.
A member of the Ovine Aristocracy is our Shaun, which you can see from his noble visage. I can divulge that he originally came from a property in the Western District of Victoria called Nareen, and that the local squatter had more than just a hand in his coming about. But discretion, as always, is the mark of the Ferals....nuff said.
Set up camp at the lovely Landsborough camp ground, opposite the Pub, then went over, and the rest is a bit of a blur really. I can recall the publican saying that after closing hour he would dim the lights, shut the doors, and it would be a private party. Which I suppose it was, and I suppose I was there, but I couldn't swear to it.
After a scratchy start, we were sorta ready for the game, well, at least some of us were.
The farm boys, Robbo and Kenny had farm duties to go back to; animal husbandry, or ploughing, or both, so they buggered off. The Comma boys were in hot persuit of another Comma apparently languishing in a paddock, and they buggered off, which left only Yandoit , Brickie, and the Wolf to uphold what ever honour the Ferals possessed, which frankly was fuck-all.
We played in 3 groups, all starting from different holes, one Feral in each group. This being the case, it was passing strange that the other groups chose to put their beer into Shaun the Sheep eski, when they would have no access to it, and, worse still, leave it to us to lighten the load!
What can you say about a game that fucks up a good walk?
The standard of play was as you would expect, appalling. The Wolf lost his ball off his tee shot, and had to start again, Dodgy Dave rarely made it past the ladies tee off on his first shot, and consquently owes everyone gallons of beer, the fairways were infrequently visited, and "the greens", well there weren't any, they were bloody sand scrapes, which (don't tell the Greenies) is sand and sump oil. Impossible to land on.
And the scoring? Well probably approximate is what you would say. anything that would not stretch the bounds of credibility.
We finally made it around with Shaun much more spritely on his wheels, and Frazzle having had the benefit of a hare to chase.
Yandoit broke his heirloom club, but soldiered on. Still not sure how he did that, there must be a protest in that.
No doubt you are breathless to find out the scores? Well the Ferals had an average score of 75, and the CUNTS had an average of 73, so they won. If for some deluded moment you think: "Hey! These boys can really play!" Forget it. This was for 9 holes, and any score over 10 per hole was counted as a 10. It was shite golf.
The Venerable Trophy, which took Bull almost 15 minutes to hand-craft was passed over, and apparently it's our turn next year. Be still my beating heart, I can hardly wait! Nah..it was fun, and we'll do it again, but it may be Irish Road Bowls, and not golf, over say, 6 k's of bush tracks, near Arfer's place.