Bloody typical! Women! You bowl up a googly like: "We're going camping in the mountains. It's going to be cold, d'ya wanna come?" And they say "Yes."
As a mate of mine said: "They are a funny breed of cattle." But by Christ they make you pay, pfaffing around for hour after hour after hour, packing stuff you never even realised you owned, and when you have re-packed the car for the fifth time, they bring out some gizmo, and say;"Strap it on the back!"
But it was reassuring to see that by the time we got to Arthur Long's hideaway, at midday, Friday, for the 10.00am sharp departure, there were several male Frazzles there, apart from the dog, and a bloody mountain of luggage. Not only was Her Musical Indoors there, but also Arthur's Ms Fizz, and Deaf John's Kathey (TNT). Apparently Yandoit Andy, along with Madame Yandoit and all of the little Yandoits were going to join us up there on the Saturday, in a French Unmentionable Car (FUC).
On the road at last. Arthur in the Ute, no doubt in a boyish attempt to rid himself of the frustrations of the last few hours, opted to eschew the bridge at Taradale, and instead gunned the Ford at the ford at considerable speed. It was merely momentum that saved his Raoul Mertons from an unwanted baptismal experience, though not his dizzy.
But, as they say, it is the unexpected that defines a journey, and we were all in better spirits for the diversion.
We headed east across that lovely open country around Baynton, and surrounded by hills, we parked the Huddo to act as a windbreak and lunched on wine and cheese from the back of the Ute. Does it get any
better than that?
From there we mosied along various backroads till we came to Pyalong, and had a gawp at the old railway trestle bridge. You can judge the scale of the thing from Arthur, down at the bottom of the second support in the pic on the right. The massive mountain ash posts go up 40 feet and they were also driven down into the soil for that distance at least. Until they hit bedrock.
What gets me is the precision of the whole shebang, before the Age of Pre-stressed Concrete. And before one gets too misty-eyed about the nobility of artisans in the pre-industrial age, this was done in the age of ruthless capitalism where the workers were screwed for every penny and worked till they dropped. A bit like The Little Rodent's Work Choices.
From there, we headed to Tallarook, where, contrary to reports, things were not that crook. Well at least the pub still had some beer, though less of it by the time we left.
We hit the Hume before Seymore, and were glad to get off that madness, but, refuelling at one of the mega-bowsers along the way, the Lupino made a discovery.
The carriage of choice for the Mad Hun is the 2 ton, 4.8 litre, 7 seater, 1927 Hudson Super Six Tourer; a car one would not choose if one were to conjure up in one's mind the idea: "Economical.", especially if one were to encumber it with 4 people, 1 dog, and enough camping gear, and supplies, to overwinter in the antarctic.
The Lupino has, however been tinkering. He chucked out the original carby and installed a Chrysler Valiant downdraft,(pre-pollution crap) which he linked with a LandRover air cleaner, and then fitted an LPG unit to it. No other modifications were made to the engine, gearbox, or diff, except that stainless steel exhaust valves were fitted, just as a precaution.
There was one other slight modification, which I shall not mention, as it would get the Originality Fundamentalists all hot and bothered. You know how these weirdos work; they get all consumed about what precise shade of blue a bloody car had in January 1923, and agonise endlessly about it, then reel back in horror when asked to drive on precisely the type of roads they had in 1923, and for which the cars were made.
I won't say what else was done to the car precisely because the Restora-fascists get such sanctimonious enjoyment from their outrage, but, the end result was that he got the $Equivalent of over 33 miles per gallon.
So a pox on the bastards! May the chooks nest in their cars, and shit in the gloveboxes! Here endeth the spray.
It was decided that the Huddo should be re-christened "The Wowser", because of its abstemious nature. We reckon that even given the flatulence of the dog and other gaseous emissions from inside the car, we were still carbon neutral. When the carbon trading scheme gets off the ground we will sell "Wowser" Futures, and make a fortune just driving the fucker around. Well, we've all got to do our bit for the planet you know.
Arrived late at our destination, and barely had time to set up camp and organize a good campfire before it became dark.
We were camped in a quarry.
The place belonged to Arthur's ex-son-in-law, a mad Chilean called Javier. The place is just below Mt Broughton in the Caveat Highlands area north of Yea, and stunning country it is.
Javier happened to be in the Molesworth pub when a fellow drunk said he had a couple of hundred acres to sell which had a quarry license attached to it. The deal was done.
So, surrounded by Doctors, and Lawyers, and Stockbrokers, and equipped with little else other than gelignite and heavy earthmoving equipment Javier set to work.
A surreal landscape evolved worthy of feraldom. Here we were with a spring-fed trout stream on one side, mountains on the other, and in between cairns of carefully sorted stone, rock, and topsoil. It was all strangely beautiful.
The night was cold, but a good meal, a roaring campfire, and some bottled heat kept the damp at bay.
On retiring, one was just nodding off when a dull roaring started. "Fuck! It's that mad bastard Javier starting one of his bloody quarrying machines. And at midnight!"
On a closer listening, however, it seemed to be coming from near at hand, and it did not have the "Beep, beep." associated with most heavy machines. After extensive research (sleep being out of the question) it was established beyond reasonable doubt, that the industrial strength noise was coming from the adjacent tent, and from the larynx of "The Night Thunderer"!
A bit of the next morning was spent in the relocation of tents, and then a bit of touring till we met up with the Yandoits in the FUC.
A part of the purpose of the Frolic,(if Feral Frolics can be said to have any purpose, or indeed need any), was for Arthur, Kathey and Madame Yandoit to revisit areas where they had spent significant parts of their youth. This was especially so for MY whose family was one of the pioneering families of the district.
Drove over some spectacular mountain dirt before returning to the quarry where we dined on a superb marinated roast provided by MY, and which went a long way to ameliorate the affront of turning up in a FUC.
The dispersal of camps resulted in a better night's rest after a really good night around the campfire. The young Yandoits were a delight and provided unintended entertainment for the crusty old bastards who had left all of that behind, and could enjoy without responsibility.
The morning saw some of the more adventurous,(read here "un-hungover"),go for a vertical walk up the mountain. This certainly restored the phagosites in the brain, as well as making you aware of individual muscles in the thigh.
On returning we had gained a dog. the Lupino had noted the day before, two large beagles in howling hot pursuit of a fox across the slopes above the camp. One of them had apparently gone astray, and a lovely mut it was too.
We spent the rest of the day touring around the dirt roads of Caveat, guided in part by the childhood recollections of MY, and on some splendid dirt roads were we steered.
It was amazing, however, how often we returned to the Caveat-Dropmore Road, till we believed that the locals had named every bloody road in the district by that name.
But we were circling in on the lost homestead, and by a steady process of elimination it was finally located, and MY went and made peace with her past.
We even found a plaque that celebrated her ancestors.
After the obligatory visit to the Grotto and Cross at Caveat, and the also obligatory photo-op that is associated with same, we returned home to the quarry for our last night.
That evening, her Musical Indoors gave an impromptu concert (at home we call it music practise), and won the approval of Deaf John, who shoved his sole good ear bang up against the end of the flute and experienced more or less live music for the first time in years.
In the morning, after another good campfire session, we packed up with a bit more alacrity because of impending rain, and headed off to go the long way home.
The first 5K's were more or less straight up hill from the quarry, and when we got to the top, Arthur had a bit of trouble. The Ford had shed half a fan blade, but instead of going out of balance, the remnant half blade jammed against the radiator, stressed the water-pump housing and cracked it . Water exited the Ford, and the journey was over.
We rolled the car back down the hill, and drove it back into the quarry for Arthur to pick up the next day. After that we packed an extra two people into the Huddo, making it 5 adults, 1 kid, and 1 dog. Cosy.
Thus loaded, and without the speed limiter of the Ford, we cruised back at around 95kph or so, picked up another passenger along the way (less than cosy), and safely made it back.
The Frolic was deemed a success, especially the 4 Day format, and it was decided that soon we would do likewise in the Sunset Country and the Hattah-Kulkyne Park.