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Rally roads near Oberon - April 13, 2019

One of my hobbies is driving around doing media work at forest rallies. During the 1970s and early 1980s I competed in rallies, both as driver and navigator. I was also on the other side of the fence as an official, both at the organisational level (I set several rallies in the Oberon/Bathurst region as rally director and was heavily involved in running others) and as a worker bee (for many years I was a control official at both the Australian Rally Championship round, the Bega Valley Rally, and at the international Southern Cross Rally). I retired from rallying at the end of 1981 for reasons that don't matter now. In 2015 I moved to Oberon to go into semi-retirement and soon noticed a lot of familiar landmarks. Nostalgia broke out.

Part of my semi-retirement was to reinvent myself as a freelance journalist. I had been writing about science for many years, and after a few months driving around the roads and forests near my new home I thought that perhaps as part of the journalism reinvention I could get back into rallying, not as a competitor but as a spectator with better access. You can see some of the results of this at https://ausrally.com.

Part of the media coverage is to go into the forests after the events and record the stages from inside the car. These videos aren't to prove how fast I can drive, they are to show people what rally roads look like. I stick to about 60km/h because a) it's the legal speed limit in State Forests, and b) my 1993 Falcon wagon with rear leaf springs, road tyres and pretty useless rear shocks is not a rally car. This means I try to avoid sliding the car on stony roads or jumping it too high over crests. Also, I have to remember where to go without anyone sitting beside me reading out instructions.


The editorial Falcon having a rest in Boggy Creek Road after a drive through Jenolan Forest


For the second year, the Singleton Auto Caves Classic Rally was based at the Oberon Leagues Club. The rally was Round 2 of the following series:

  • MTA NSW Rally Championship
  • East Coast Classic Rally Series
  • TechWorkz Clubman Rally Series
  • NSW Development Rally Series
  • SpeedMaster Open Rally Series
  • Premier Panel Beating Hyundai Rally Series.

As the name might suggest, this event had traditionally been run in Hampton and Jenolan State Forests. In 2018 the stages added Lowes Mount forest and this year as well as Hampton and Jenolan the cars saw Vulcan and Essington forests. (Essington forest had not been used in a rally for about 30 years and I was very probably either a competitor or one of the organising committee). You can see a full report of the event here.

Here's what the roads looked like from inside the car. Remember that in a car in the event the scenery would have been going past about twice as fast.

Bindo stage - Hampton State Forest.


Remember what I said about how fast I drive recording these videos? This video is 10:50 long, the fastest car in the event (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) did it in 4:32.

Jenolan State Forest


The final part of the stage from MRC9 to the end.  And yes, I had to pause a couple of times to check the instructions. My memory is not that good these days.

Essington State Forest


From the start control at the intersection of Beaconsfield and Sewell Creek Roads to about MRC13.

Vulcan State Forest


That speed thing again - this video is 11:10 long, the fastest car in the event (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO7) did it in 5:26.

The previous time I attended a rally in this section of Vulcan State Forest I managed to trip on some blackberries and my camera did a nose dive into the ground, never to work again. When I went back a few days later to make an in-car video I totally destroyed a tyre. (I discovered the flat in the middle of the forest but the wheel nuts were immovable and I had no mobile phone signal so I had to drive about 15 kilometres out on the flat tyre to just near the spectator point to call the NRMA for assistance. Ford make excellent alloy wheels.) It was not a cheap event for me.




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