Sunday, 9 August 2015

A man and a mountain!

Hi everyone
We're now about a week out from when news of Mum's stroke broke, and life is settling into normal.  I didn't think it was right before now to do a writeup of last weekend's 4WD course - seemed kind of a lightweight thing when something more serious had happened.
This has nothing to do with anything but I took it the other night and it's a cool picture! 
Anyway, last Saturday I drove over to Murchison where I was going to meet with Ross, a fellow volunteer from Tatura who was bringing our unit's Nissan Patrol.  Murchison, as I think I've said before, is a little town with a big bridge.  It's a pleasing design to look at and has this little echo of being a pocket Sydney Harbour Bridge.
We drove down to the Seymour unit where the initial stage of the course was to be held.  The trainer was Kris, who does a lot of the training in the North East region for SES.  This has two good points.  First, because it was an SES course, there was an assumption that everyone involved knew literally nothing about Four-Wheel driving (in my case, completely true).  Secondly, Kris is ex-military, which means his preference for training is to start building knowledge ab initio. So, my being a basic vehicular klutz wasn't a problem.
The ideal training aid was supplied in the form of a chassis stripped down so that one could literally see what goes on under the floor of a vehicle.

We were put into groups of four people and allocated to one of a number of vehicles for training purposes.  One of the real assets my group had was a member from the Benalla unit who is a machine operator from quarry, and who was able to point out things I was trying to find on the vehicle during pre-drive checks (which filter was which, for example).  This is another reason I enjoy these courses: People are happy to explain things to you. You meet good people in orange.
After the more theoretical side of the course we headed down to the Tallarook State Forest.  The State Forest centres around Mt Hickey, and it's a long climb up to Freeman camp where we started most exercises from.
Even though we were in the forest, I could still see the trees.
After a couple of laps of the forest, the day wrapped up and I headed for home.
The second day started with muster at the Seymour unit and then we drove back down to the forest for what would basically be a day of driving.  The first part of the day was an exercise in keepoing vehicles going though mud and water.
It was as awesome as it looked!
The second part of the day took us up and down Mt Hickey on a track so rough I would have hesitated even to try doing it on foot.
This was the view from the top of Mt Hickey.
It also has some rather cool communications and air navigation infrastructure.
I'm expecting a visit from ASIO any day now!
Up and down we went.  I'm proud to say I managed not to wreck the Patrol!
Well, I'm happy to say that I'm now accredited to drive under operationally.  I'm proud of that, mainly because it's one more way of showing that I'm not in fact a complete lightweight.  The more I can do, the more I can help people.
One more thing that I would like to do in the wake of this weekend is get a map and a compass and do an exercise on map and navigation from one end of the forest to another.  Maybe even overnight if I leave it till spring.  I could get used to an outdoor life!
Having typed this, it's less textual than I'd planned.  Well, no matter.  I hope you liked the photos!

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