S***tbox 2016 – Narrabri to Maleny to Rockhampton

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 00:28

Peter Beard (WA)

Rockhampton for the Beardies tonight, staying at the old Criterion Hotel on the banks of the Fitzroy River. The Criterion is an iconic Australian pub built in 1889 and famous people to have stayed here include Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the English cricket team, Rockhampton’s own tennis legend Rod Laver, plus Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall. And that’s besides the Beardies.

During WW II it was headquarters for US Army General Eichelberger and the planning headquarters for the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of the Pacific. The “Old Cri” as it’s known was often visited by General Douglas MacArthur during WW2 and many more international identities ever since. Plus tonight, the Beardies.



Pete and Paul had a day off in beautiful Maleny in Brisbane's hinterland yesterday. Pete wanted to catch up with an old school mate Danny (old as in they are both 63 this year), who is a consummate jazz musician and a well-known local having lived in the beautiful little town for more than 20 years. They drank way too much on Sunday night digging up old memories and talking about old friends and filling in the blanks for each other on the ones they have had contact with since high school in 1960-something and pondering what happened to the rest. A fabulous time in a fabulous place with a fabulous guy talking about fabulous people from a fabulous era.

Danny had a gig at the Maleny Wood Show – reportedly one of the world’s best expo of all things wood – at 9:30 the next morning and Pete and Paul rolled up after Danny and his saxophonist accompanist had started their set, late because Henry decided to bless them with a flat battery. Fortunately Henry was parked on a hill (pretty much unavoidable in Maleny) and even more fortunately facing downhill so it wasn’t a problem to get him started. Thank you Henry for coming with a manual transmission.



At the Maleny Showgrounds another hill was found to park on (pretty hard to find somewhere in Maleny that’s not on a hill) so after Danny’s set Pete and Paul wandered around the show a bit then went back to the facing-downhill parking bay at the Maleny pub where they were staying to find the fault; a dodgy alternator.

Pete got on the phone to call around auto electrical shops in and close-by Brisbane, only 100 or so kilometres away, only to find yesterday (Monday 3 May) was Queensland’s Labour Day public holiday. No joy there. So then it was a call to the Perth branch of a company that had an internet listing for a 1985 Falcon alternator to ask them to check the stock of their Brisbane branch and … the closest one was in Sydney.



The Perth branch had one in stock so Pete asked the sales assistant to put it under the counter with his name on it, then called Ali in Perth and asked her to drive from Fremantle in Perth’s west out to Belmont in Perth’s east to pick it up (and while you’re at it call into Rare Spares and pick up a new door handle) and drop it off to Kris in Perth’s southern suburbs, who is flying from Perth to Mackay on Thursday to start the rally with Pete. Problem solved. Only thing is Pete and Paul need to find hills to park on where ever they need to stop between Maleny and Mackay. There seems to be no shortage of hills on Queensland’s central coast.

So the Beardies have been on the road for a week now and have had some sort of mechanical problem five of those seven days. They reckon that’s why it’s called the S***box Rally, and Henry is certainly reinforcing the brand.
Tomorrow it’s Mackay to wait for Kris and the new alternator. It will also be a good opportunity for Pete and Paul to do something about the dreadful headlights, which are just plain dangerous to drive with at night. And there will probably be a bit of night driving on the rally, give the rain that has fallen in the parts of Queensland and NSW through which the rally will travel. But that’s just part of the fun. Isn’t it?!?

As a footnote, following a bit of feedback to ExploreOz the hosts of this blog, they have reviewed their naughty-words policy and have assured Pete that from here on he will be able to include links to the Unmentionable Rally rather than force readers to find links on the Beardies’ Bucket Facebook page. So here goes.

Click here for more information on the S***box Rally and here to see Pete and Kris’s rally preparation over the last nine or so months. Most important, to help in the fight against cancer click here and then click on the Give Now button. Everyone has been or will be touched by the horrible disease that is cancer and every donation helps in the fight against this scourge.

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