Bringing Henry Home - Darwin to Katherine

Friday, Jun 16, 2017 at 22:40

Peter Beard (WA)

16 June 2017

Leaving the tropical paradise of Darwin - this week a city gripped in the racing fuelled excitement of a V8 Supercar round - Pete and Ali filled up Henry (with fuel) and the Engel (with beer) for a sedate drive south to Katherine. Apart from a hot cup of tea at Pine Creek it was a very uneventful trip, Henry behaving himself well, happily sitting on 90km/h without overheating to allow Pete and Ali the luxury of air conditioning.

It was a different story three weeks ago on Saturday 27 May when Pete and Kris joined the throng at Adelaide Convention Centre for the start of the 2017 Shitbox Rally. Lots of locals turned up - including an ABC news camera crew - to see the old cars make their way out town on a grey morning. Pete, Kris and Henry were part of Group 7 - their buddy group for the week ahead - consisting of a variety of cars all worth less that $1,000. Buddy groups are important. They are participants’ travelling companions for the week, providing support and companionship along the road and willing to try to fix your car if it breaks down (Henry bears a spanner sticker indicating Pete's status as a mechanic), stay with you if your car breaks down and can't be fixed (until the trailer comes to sweep you up), and try to find a good camping spot every evening.

The first day of the Shitbox Rally was a comfortable trip on sealed roads up to Port Augusta and Woomera then up Pimba Road to Roxby Downs for the night. Henry started to show his overheating issues, any speed over 100km/h caused the temperature to rise into the red zone. It was therefore a slower trip for Group 7 than some others, but they still managed arrived at Roxby Downs’ RoxbyLink Community Centre and sports ground around sunset. Finding a good camping spot proved quite easy. Many had set up on the oval but as no one was allowed to put in tent pegs (out of respect for the underground reticulation piping) Group 7 found a spot off to one side under a nice bunch of trees that enabled the swags to be stretched and pegged.

Dinner was provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, local Rotary Club and the Olympic Dam Sporting Club, all of which did a great job of serving up a hearty meal for hungry Shitboxers. A few beers, a visit to the rally mechanics area known as triage to help the mechanics get first day’s casualties back on their wheels then time to hit the swag. Tomorrow would be all dirt to that place called Oodnadatta on the legendary Oodnadatta Track in the centre of South Australia.


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