Middle Mountains Trip

Middle Mountains Trip
Saturday, 15th September 2018 

Ron Owen TRIP LEADER Pajero
Neil and Megan Kitchener Patrol
Norman and Olivia Shin Patrol
Shane and Kylie Beatson, Isabel, Olivia, Foel Suzuki
Hugh and Dagmar Rees LandRover
Matt and Alison Smith Suzuki
Phillip and Linda Favaloro Patrol
Dianne and Eric Linney, Laura Rodeo
Kristi and Ryan Jones, Adam, Jacinta, Jocelyn Prado

What a difference a couple of days makes. Read on to find out more. Two vehicles and four people were on Thursday’s recce. We had 9 vehicles and 24 people on the trip. We met across from the vehicle checking station at Bell in a clearing next to the road as there is no unauthorised parked at the checking station. Ron briefed us and prayed for us. We departed and went left onto the Darling Causeway. A short distance later we turned right onto Hartley Vale Road anddown into Hartley Vale. On the recce we were stopped by a road crew and now the side of the road was nice and tidy. I received a few comments as we passed the reserve on the left. My patrol had noisy fan belt on the CMS Summer School trip after going through come mud puddles. Ron stopped at Comet Inn and commented it was named after a brand of kerosene which was produced from shale in the area. The local school was now a residence. We exited onto the Great Western Highway after the brief historical drive.
Ascended to Mt Victoria over the old convict built bridge turned left at top of pass and travelled to Mt York. On the way, we stopped at the convict dug wells and went down to take in the views. At Mt York we viewed the obelisk and took in views of the western plains. The historic markers include memorials and dedications to the first Europeans to build roads and explore the region. On the recce Ron and I walked remnants of Cox’s Road. we went down a few 100 metres to where some people were abseiling. Today I was happy to talk and have morning tea while others explored the area and its rich history.
Exit Mt York to the Great Western Highway, turned right at the junction and descended Mt Victoria to valley floor and turned left to Little Hartley Village. You can visit the historical buildings for $6 a head plus GST but no one went exploring. Took a group photo outside the court house. In the tourist information office Eric, Phillip, Laura, Dianne and Linda explored the various art works and checked out the walls. National Parks had exposed the original layer. We were also interested in the arches, flooring and the doors. The building used to be the local pub.
We departed Little Hartley and turned right back onto the Great Western HWY and travelled back towards Mt Victoria turning left into Middle Hartley Rd. We continued and followed the back door into Lithgow. Not far ahead we come to a sign regarding rock slides and shortly after made a sharp left hand turn onto a gravel road to Hassan Walls. This was another lookout with magnificent views and our lunch spot. We all went to check out the view. I noticed the Section to the Great Western HWY was now complete. Laura was climbing all over the rock and took some great pictures. It was now lunch time and the wind picked up. At this time, I should mention there was a total fire ban and I got to test my new seats. Check them out at www.muputrax.com.au . There was even a drone in the air.
After lunch we travelled down into Lithgow and stopped at Queen Elizabeth Park for a bathroom stop. From here Ron lead us to Atkinson Road and onto State Mine Gully Road. We turned left at Bungleboori onto Black Fellows Hand Track (now known as Hands Trail). After a short turned into Sunnyside Road. The end of the road was 14/15km not the 4/5km advertised and this is where the fun started. The road out of Lithgow was corrugated and full of pot holes. Sunnyside Road had the addition of mud holes. On the recce, I decided to use 4WD as I was not sure of a couple of puddles plus there was a little downhill section before the lookout. At the lookout we took in the views but on the day, it was blowing a gale and we all stayed away for the edge. I should mention two things. One, on the recce Ron tested out the 4WD in his Pajero on the little uphill. Two, on the day Laura crawled over the bonnet to lock the Rodeo’s hub after coming to a stop in one of the puddles. Reminded me of Bulahdelah, when Matt had people crawling over his vehicle for a winching.
Hugh had a flat at the lookout and so it was all hands on deck to change the tyre. Neil took a few PSI out of his tyre to provide better tracking. On the way back, Shane’s father’s Suzuki developed a noise and he stopped near the Spanish Steps track to investigate. Nothing was really obvious.
Back at Bungleboori Shane checked again and found a broken stabiliser and removed the offending piece. A couple of vehicles had started to head home and we found that Ron had a flat tyre. They returned to help. It was a combined effort and we had him back on the road. It was now about 7pm when I lead off but missed the Old Bells Line of Road turn in the dark and fund myself and others back in Lithgow. Matt made the turn. A couple of us went to the Workers and another group when to Maccas for tea. Linda and I ended up getting home about 10:30pm.
What a trip!

–Phillip Favaloro

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