Day 8 Mystery Box Rally Stage 2 - Milparinka to Innamincka 21 October 2018

Monday, Oct 22, 2018 at 05:00

Peter Beard (WA)

Clear skies and a beautiful sunrise greeted a camp load of bleary eyed, hungover, happy Mystery Boxers on the dusty ground surrounding the Milparinka pub and historic homestead. Buddy Group 14 was no different from the rest of the bunch - although some more hungover than others. Digger Boys and Behaving Badly scrubbed up surprisingly well, although that is likely due to having no blood in the alcohol system at this early hour.

Today is National Lampoon’s Vacation dress up day so there is a weird variety of Chevy Chase lookalikes walking around. The most popular dress up is the white bath robe, blokes hopefully looking for Christie Brinkley and a swimming pool, closely followed by the very classy lederhosen then the moose heads and the “I’ve been to Wally World” T-shirts, as chosen by Pete and Ali. Pete had a nice touch – he tied a dog lead and collar to the back of Henry in memory of poor little Dinky. Even the evil old Aunt Edna showed up - a blow up dummy sitting haphazardly on top of a hatch back.

Briefing was a bit late but not surprising given the length of the queue for breakfast did not diminish until well after 8am. James climbed up onto Rally 1, fiddled with the speaker until it didn’t work then let us know what we had in store for the day. And it’s...Innamincka! 382 km pretty well all dirt today. A real test for the motley bunch of old cars.

First stretch was easy - hard packed sandy gravel all the way to Tibooburra where it was a perfect time and place for a team photo, a fuel top up (for most) and a sit under a shady tree at the edge of town for Pete, Ali and Henry. Pete had topped up Henry from the jerry cans this morning so no drink needed.

Once leaving Tibooburra there is absolutely nothing but flies, dust, rocks and more flies. Not far out of Tibooburra is the Queensland border - all people please note the time change and set your clocks back to 1950 (that’s a joke and a rare opportunity for West Aussies Ali and Pete to have a crack at another state for a change). Buddy Group 14 had a dream run for most of the morning, stopping for lunch at the Cameron Corner turnoff. Rally 1 with James’ sister Deb and stopped too, having trailed Buddy Group 14 for many kilometres.

The track changed from hard white chalky dirt to smooth, slick clay to tyre eating sharp red rubble. On one such stretch Digger Boys had a flat and Good, Bad and the Ugly smashed their sump and transmission on a rock. Once these dramas were dealt with and the team hit the road again it was Henry’s turn to play up. Slow going is not good for Henry; pootling along in a line of cars in the dust makes him hot under the collar. He quickly hit the red causing another stop. After application of a bit of cooling water the Buddy Group decided to get put Henry out in front to get some clean air. It worked. Pete and Ali waited for the group at the first corner, Henry now purring nicely back in the operating temperature range. The down side is no more air conditioning for Pete and Ali, Henry just can’t cope with the outside heat while trying to cool the interior.

Things went well for another hundred kilometres, although casualties in other teams started to mount up. Recovery teams were busy with many dead cars being loaded up and fast freighted to triage at Innamincka. Passing a whole bunch of teams on the side of road at a snail’s pace got Henry heating up again. This time Pete and Ali had no choice but to sit on the side of the road until the majority of teams passed by, needing a clear run to get Henry home for the night.

As a result Pete and Ali ended up in Innamincka well before their buddy group, who had detoured to the historic Burke and Wills Dig Tree. Fuel up, then the mandatory stop at the Innamincka pub. Cold beer and Coopers Pale at that!Innamincka is back in South Australia, so three states crossed today!

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