Steaming to Mildura
Stir Crazy! That's what you'd have to call it. Been like that for a bit. Trying to herd the Ferals into an event, and each time, it would fall through. Same with my counterpart at the C.U.N.T.S., Bull who had been trying to rouse the masses over at Great Western. We'd even tried a joint event, but there were the usual excuses: work, haemorrhoids playing up, car broken down, or just indifference, etc,etc. So we thought we'd accept the offer from the MADFUCKers at Mildura to have a squizz at their steam event. A bit further than we'd originally wanted to travel, but, at least a decent drive!
The Ploughboys were going to go in Kenny's 1937 Buick, with the Brickie and Robbo. We'd been there and done that and were not going to stand around for hours while they pfaffed about, so , Deaf John, Frazzle, and I piled into the '27 Huddo, and headed off to meet up with Bull, in the Chev Fleetmaster in Donald.
En route, we naturally called in at the Logan to see Keith and Family, and, it being about 10.00am to have the first restorative for the day. Deaf John is here pictured wearing the ex-Muffin, the late family moggie, and having the second of what would be countless libations on that day.
Fuelled up at St Arnaud, and descended down off the Great Dividing Range into what is really the heart of Australia, the vast flatlands that run, with occasional ripples, till you hit the Indian Ocean, about 3500 k's away, a truly continental frolic. But we were only going 450 k's to Mildura, a mere doddle, even in vintage cars.
As we descended down the Range, I mentioned to Deaf John, that it would be a good idea if he drove after Donald, and I'd pick up again after Ouyen. "Notagoodidea, onnacountoff, I'm pissed." And indeed he was, and continued to be so for the rest of the journey, topping up as necessary, to keep the reading steady.
I didn't mind. After weeks of being stationary in the hills, it was great to be in a car on the flatlands, roaring along , listening to the engine, and Deaf John banging on about the honour of being given permission to enter the Heavenly Garden as one of the greatest of earthly delights. This apparently has a lot to do with sex, and nothing about gearboxes, on which subject he is also eloquent.
At Donald we met up with Bull and his lovely Missus, Di. They are a sharing and caring couple, as can be seen. Nothing wrong with dressing up for a night out! Everyone to their own thing, and dress sense is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.
While we were at the local pie shop, and attracting the attention of the usual chooks, who seem unnaturally attracted to a decrepit 1927 car, a particularly animated crone approached.
"What a splendid vehicle!" she trilled.
"Not as splendid as you are," replied Deaf John, "I'm 69, d'jareckon we'd be a goa?"
"What do you think I am?" replied the crone, "A bloody cougar! I'm 95, and don't go out with boys!"
We left Donald with few regrets.
We continued on, interrupted only by a soggy feeling in the rear end, which fortunately turned out to be a flat tyre. Tyre changed and onto Ouyen where we stopped , as is usual at the splendid Hotel Victoria. I have previously commented on this pub, with it's beautiful wooden interior and stained glass, and wondered why this lavish edifice was here. It turns out that this was one of three, the other two being at Murrayville and Lascelles, all built by an optimistic consortium who were cashing in on the expansion of the railways.
Whilst at the pub, rang the Brickie to find that they were still at the Logan, some 240k's behind, waiting for Plugger.
If pfaffing was an olympic event, these boys would be a shoe-in for gold.
We continued on, reaching Keithy's at Yelta, just on sunset.
The boys were supposed
to join us there, and we'd all track off to the Merbein Club for dinner.
A couple of hours later, a plaintive phone call came in saying that the Buick had run out of petrol on the Sunraysia Highway, and that they were waiting for Plugger to arrive, who had taken the alternative Calder Highway! Go figure!
The running out of juice they put down to the evil influence of the Brickie, the other stuff-up was just pure genius.
They arrived late that night.
In the morning there was the, by now traditional repair session at Keith's: the Huddo's tyre, the Chevrolet's cracked windscreen replaced with a bit of perspex, and the Buick, which had lost not only all fuel, but all brake fluid. All was eventually put right and it was decided to go for a river drive in Keith's collection of Suzuki's.
Put four groups of people in four 4WD's and stuff will happen. Competitive dirt racing was just a small part. The bogging was particularly impressive. In a mud wallow that any self-respecting pig would avoid like the plague, the boys ran the Suzuki's through. Once each was probably OK, but to run them through again, on the return was inviting the inevitable, bogging to the axles.
Everyone got out, and no harm was done.
The drive ended perfectly, when after dark, and 15 minutes from home, one of the cars got a flat tyre, and there was not a single jack to be had between them all. A problem? Not really. These cars are so small that a few guys just lifted up the side, and a spare was quickly fitted.
Next morning, off to see some steam, first at the enormous Chaffey pump at Nichol's point, where there was a fair assembly of chaps in blue overalls in attendance.
After that it was the long journey, via some back roads to Lock 9, where the MADFUCKers were running the steam pump.
This affair is not as grandiose as the Chaffey Pump, but it had more appeal to us, not only because of who was running the show, and the fact that the engine was made by Thompsons of Castlemaine, but also because several of the aforesaid MADFUCKers worked at the local wine bottlers, and the walls were stacked with boxes of the pre-run test bottles, which were not allowed to go to waste.
There were quite a few people camped there, some that the boys knew, and some visiting tourists. Amongst the known local identities was Harry, ex drover, shearer, pugilist, and all round good guy, who had been with us to Tittyburra, the previous year, and who is pictured right at the Packsaddle Pub, on that particular trip.
Harry was in a particularly social mood when we arrived, which improved even further as the night wore on. Harry had taken it upon himself to make sure that the pressure in the boiler did not reach too high a level, by the simple matter of blowing off the steam whistle every now and again.
As the level in the sample boxes went down, his concern increased and he blew the whistle more often, and with such vigour that the string broke. Not to worry, another, longer piece of string was attached, and, so as to not shirk his duty, Harry set up his swag under the string. Every few minutes Harry would blow the whistle, then yell out; "It's not me! I'm in bed." which, indeed, he was. And so it continued till 2.30am, when fatigue finally set in.
It was a particularly cold night, with frost on the ground as soon as you got away from the river, and we think it was probably this that resulted in no-one getting out of their tents and thumping him.
In the morning a few harsh words were spoken, but nothing too serious, and besides, the sun had come out, and it was a glorious day.
After a good breakfast, and a couple of pics at the pump, we headed back on the 6 hour drive. And very pleasant it was too.
FERAL / C.U.N.T.S
This event had been planned for a while by Yandoit and the Bull, and while there was initially some enthusiasm, as the time drew nearer, the numbers dwindled, but that did not necessarily matter. Bull had arranged for the game to be played at the Elmhurst Golf Club, but when it came to the day, he was told that they were playing some sort of competition that day, and that a pack of drunks, each with only one club, and dragging a fibre-glass sheep eski on wheels across the course would not be permitted. The bastards! So the golf was cancelled, but the trip was not, and we went to Plan B.
After a late start, we (The Yandoit and The Wolf), met some several C.U.N.T.S. at Raglan, near Beaufort, with the intention of heading up into Mt Buangor State Park, and camp at one of the huts on Mt Cole.
While we were gathered there having a beer, a local farmer came up to us and asked if we were the Ferals. We denied it until we were sure of his motives.
He banged on for a bit about cars he had including a pile of rusty junk in the shed that was never going to be worked on. "What was it?" we asked. "Just the remains of a 1920's Bean."
At this point someone expressed some enthusiasm and wondered if it were the same model Bean as Francis Birtles had. As the conversation continued, the farmer became more guarded about what and where this treasure was, and no more information could be got from him. Ah, the perils of enthusiasm!
We were pleased to see the latest addition to the C.U.N.T.S. collection, in the form of a splendid truck belonging to Bull which was in large part Chevrolet.
According to The Book, the Great Tooth Fairy In The Sky, spent six days to create the heavens and the earth. Bull, in contrast, spent a couple of shekels and eight days putting this together. On
the scale of things, I reckon Bull did pretty well, considering he didn't have a host of angels to pass him the spanners. It just goes to show what can be achieved when you bother to make the effort.
We were particularly impressed by the widened Buick radiator shell, with the filler cap cunningly concealed, and the subtle lengthening of the bonnet. Also the nice mix of wheel types, with lightweight wood on the front axle, and steel sankey on the back to take the brute force.
All in all, a really top effort. Now, if only he would drive it up to the Logan Pub dressed in his party gear, I reckon he would clear the bar, if not the entire locality.
Confucius once said: "When water pump he leeky, check radiator level before fuckee off." This is wise advice which the Wolf should have followed before climbing Mount Cole. That he didn't is obvious from the pic on the left.
A few minutes late, and both Wolf and Huddo topped up with fluid, we continued our ascent.
We had planned to camp at the Mt Cole Hut, but a group of unfriendly urban 4WD types were in residence, so we moved on to the euphoniously labelled Mugwump Hut. This lovely edifice was above the cloud line, with a small creek running beside it. To top it off, the previous night's occupants had left the fire burning, and a good supply of logs beside the hearth. Perfect!
We spent the evening drinking piss, laughing and listening to the music of The Beards (check 'em out). My favourite lyric was: "If your dad hasn't got a beard, you've got two mums,
Two beardless mums!" Brings a lump to the furry feral froat, dunnit?
In the morning we buggered off home.