Sunday was the day of the Deadwood Safari.
Each year, there is a National 4×4 Trials competition. Each leg comprises 30 short obstacle courses designed to challenge the ability of driver and co-driver to navigate their vehicle through it without taking out the marker pegs, and I think, without losing forward motion. Points are added for each peg run over or not passed. The objective is to get your front hubs past the end posts having lost no points. Zero is a perfect score. It is loud, spectacular and totally outrageous for those mindful of carbon footprints. It’s also a lot of fun. It attracts thousands each year to the farm in Whiteman’s Valley where the Wellington leg is hosted. I went last year and enjoyed the opportunity to take pictures close to the action, so I went again.
After weeks of dry weather, there was a monumental downpour in the Wellington region on Saturday with 43mm of rain in the Hutt Valley. This contributed enormously to the mud obstacles. These seemed to have the consistency of overcooked porridge. Even so, when you have four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and up to 500 hp, the porridge gets stirred vigorously and the marshalls and any spectators foolish enough to get too close share in the distribution of the mud.
There were many photographers around the course, including a team driving a high-end drone which could get very close to the action without the operator getting dirty at all.
Some sections were more challenging than others and there were some that most got through with a lot of bellowing from the exhaust, and the occasional breakage. At least one tie rod snapped leaving the car with its front wheels pointing in opposite directions.
Some obstacles became more impossible as the day wore on and the mud was stirred up. Each section had either a farm tractor or a hydraulic digger nearby to rescue stalled vehicles. It must be galling for the crew that a farm tractor just attaches a towing strop, engages a low gear and lets the engine idle the whole mess out of trouble. No bellowing exhausts or spinning tyres, just a relaxed “ponk! ponk! ponk!” from the exhaust and the crew and their car are plucked from trouble.
Not all of the obstacles were mud. Some were steep dry crumbly clay with short sharp pitches which required the co-driver to be really skilled on the four brake levers. Overall it was an enjoyable day assisted by many volunteers and the best $10 investment for ages.
Towards the end of the day I was coming over SH58 (The Haywards Hill) in golden afternoon light. It occurred to me that the view back down the valley from Mt Cecil Road towards Judgeford was worth a look.
That’s enough for today.