Suzuki Club trip – Meryla State Forest – Day 1

A couple of weekends ago (11/12 July 2009) Mat and I took the opportunity of another Suzuki Club trip to head out bush and spend a night camping, and get some off-roading action of course! Unfortunately we were a little late and so I landed the task of writing the trip report, something I wasn’t too wooried about as I knew it would mean I could use the material twice by getting a blog post from it too, instead of my usual trick of having something in draft for ages and never actually getting round to publishing it. As it happens I wrote the trip report over a week ago and it’s still taken me ages to get it up here. So here we go, a complete rip off, word-for-word, trip report as published on the Suzuki Club website (though you can only see it if you are a member):

Mat and I set off nice and early to meet everyone at Mittagong at the appointed time of 10am. However, fifteen minutes after our departure Mat remembered he had forgotten to pack the gas hose for our camp stove so decided to go back for it. This resulted in us being half an hour late and the last people to arrive, therefore by tradition, the allotted authors for this trip report 🙂

It didn’t take us long to reach the forest and not far in we reached our first site of interest, a nice hill climb with paths of varying difficulty. The site used to be an old quarry, so say, and really was the perfect start to our trip; a little playground just for us.

Tim conquering first hill climb

It was important that this trip was not too difficult, or at least had optional difficult bits, as Ray & Sandra (old members from 5 years ago or more) had brought along their brand new Jeep, just two weeks old, and were not overly keen on giving it a new paint job or anything else so early on in its new life. Brian also had to leave his SJ behind due to a previously poor welding job and was in his GV which had less clearance than normal.

After airing down and a nice little play on the hill we commenced our journey, exploring on the way. The first mishap (and fine) of the trip occurred when Brian, forgetting he wasn’t in his SJ, got stuck on his belly testing his break-over angle. He got stuck in gear and couldn’t shift it but Tim came to his aid and it didn’t take long to get back on track.

The first place that Darren had in mind for the camp site was a bit too muddy so we continued a bit further and found a nice level spot under some trees with a ready made hearth in the middle. We decided to set up camp and have a spot of lunch before going for another explore of the tracks. It was then that the second fine of the day occurred (a little harsh imo) when Phil announced he had forgotten all his sleeping gear; tent, sleeping bag, the lot. Darren Smith offered him the use of a space blanket and Phil assured us he would be ok sleeping in his car.

After lunch, around 2pm, everyone bar Chris and Sharon took off again for another explore. Although Tim and Darren had done a reccie of the site beforehand there were lots of trails that were unknown so it was fun to explore, not knowing what we might come across. The first track we took came to a dead end with a long drop off into a valley overlooking Bundanoon Creek. We all got out to have a look and take some photos and discovered a burnt-out car upended in a tree over the edge. Apart from this the view was spectacular, although it could be argued the car gave a certain artistic quality to the scene.

Overlooking Bundanoon Creek Burnt out car

Our next stop was a large clearing interspersed with shrubs and some more burnt-out cars. There were a couple of deep muddy ruts to drive through and trails amongst the shrubs to career round. We also found some wombat holes but left these alone. After some more fun we split into two groups; one went back to collect some logs we’d previously spotted by the side of a track on the way in and the other, including Mat and I, went to investigate more tracks. We came across some more dry looking wood so loaded as much of this as possible before declaring it beer o’clock and heading back to camp. Along the way, Darren F got stuck in a muddy rut and had to be snatch strapped out by Phil (resulting in another fine?).

Rescuing Darren F (Mat trying to keep Phil's brand new shiny snatch strap out of the mud)

We arrived back at camp around 4pm to find the fire already going, thanks to Chris and Sharon. Brian had a coffee before taking his youngsters back home as he had lots of work to do on his Sierra the following day. Ray and Sandra also departed for a hotel in favour of camping due to Ray being still in recovery from flu. They would rejoin us again in the morning but accrued a fine anyway.

Having lunch at our campsite

So that just left the ten of us with a nice relaxing evening and an intimate fire. Darren F got to test out his camp oven for the first time, getting professional tutorage from Darren S, Tim and Dave. Noah had a great time with the shovel, trying to help out with the hot coals and kept Darren and Jack on their toes, ensuring he was safe from the fire. Tim, Darren S and Jack were sharing a meal and had a slap-up feast consisting of marinaded garlic prawns as an entrée followed by a veal roast and veggies, all done in their camp oven. Mat and I had a tasty masaman curry cooked on our stove but after all the camp oven action think we will definitely have to invest in one for next time. Dave even got his going later with some beer damper (bread made from flour, beer and sugar). Mat and I had already gone to bed by this stage but got to try some of the leftovers the next morning; it was delicious!

[Day 2 to follow. I thought I would break it up as there a lot more photos from the Sunday.]

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