Adelaide Jeep Club, South Australia
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Pictures by John Herbert and Sue MacMillan.

Bendleby Ranges 2014

Venue: Bendleby Ranges via Orroroo Date: Saturday October 4th > Monday October 6th 2014. Trip leader John Herbert

The Adelaide Jeep Club has a long history with the Bendleby Ranges that goes back many years and many of our members past and present have many memories of this great venue.

Our group this year was made up with 10 vehicles with 8 Jeeps and a new 200 series L/C and a Toyota Prado.

Four of our members were fortunate to leave on Friday giving them more time to explore areas of the property before the rest of our group arrived.

On Saturday we had 6 vehicles at our meeting point at Roseworthy before heading off around 8.30am, traveling through Tarlee, Riverton and onto historic Burra for morning tea where we all ventured into the local cafes and bakeries. We were soon on the road again traveling north past the huge wind turbines near the township of Hallett before heading into Peterborough for a short stop and a fuel top up. After a quick stop at Orroroo we were soon onto the dusty dirt road to the Bendlebys, passing many camels and emus in paddocks and the odd bearded dragon on the side of the road. We arrived at the homestead around lunch time and we were greeted by Jane and Warren where we signed in and paid our fees. We were met at our campsite Rhagodia by the other members that traveled up on Friday.

With campsites completed we decided on venturing out to explore the area, as we had 10 cars we decided to split into 2 groups with those that arrived on Friday traveled east to check out the Quartz gorge and group 2 took to the western Hills undertaking the Link track, Quarry Springs and the infamous Kokoda track with many photo stops we eventually travelled back to camp and enjoyed a night around the camp fire.

Sunday we woke to a sunny day with the expected temperature of 31, we were all keen to travel the Hungry Ranges and we decided to have the same two groups with Paul & Steve TL for group 1 And John & Paula TL for group 2, We both had our agendas worked out with group 1 leaving half an hour before Group 2.

Steve took his followers up the Ridge track followed by the Billy Goat track and along the back track.

John took his group via the front track onto the back track up to Ekes Peak lookout, followed by the Ridge track. The tracks are rocky and have some challenging parts with the suspension working hard on all vehicles. We all descended from the Ridge top to the valley floor without any dramas as our TL gave instructions and track details on the radio. After stopping for lunch we proceeded to the base of the Billy Goat Track. With some of our members on their first time to the Bendlebys they were quite nervous of what lies ahead with all the hype that has been said prior to the trip. Those that have travelled the track prior also have fond memories of the upcoming challenge of the Billy Goat.

As our TL traveled up he called us up one by one to sections along the way, but Mike and his passenger Eddy did not travel far before coming firmly stuck on a very familiar rock that Ian & Geri remember very well from last year. With a following party assisting us with a High lift jack to help free Mike from his predicament we were soon on our way again.

As we climbed higher Eddy became a spotter for us at a tricky part of the track that required precise wheel placement with little room for error with a severe 500 metre drop off on the side of the track, and with a degraded track surface made it very challenging. Once past this point we all crawled and scraped up over the rocky parts of the track to the top of the Billy Goat Track, after a brief stop for some to catch their breath and a chat we progressed down to the Middle block and headed back to camp for another traditional happy hour where we all spoke about the individual experiences and challenges that were had. (Note: The condition of the Billy Goat Track had deteriorated considerably in parts since our last trip and is only suitable for experienced drivers)

Our Sunday venture covered around 80km and took us 7 hours to complete which all the cars made it through without any issues, though one Jeep owner in group 1 did complete the entire week end with no low range. Ian Roddy took out the inaugural Bendleby Drop Bear award for improved driver competence over the last 12 months. To all who attended and a big thanks to those who assisted to help make this trip a success that it was. Most of us packed up early on Monday and headed off home but some members went onto other places for a few days leave.

John Herbert