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Member Article: The Rally – Part VI

Day 5 –Tooleybuc to Corio

I woke up just after 4 am to the sound of rain on my tent. I decided to hope that my tent was put together properly, really was waterproof, and that I could just fall back asleep. A couple of minutes later I realised the rain was quite heavy and hard, but rhythmic. After almost drifting back to sleep I was woken with a jolt. Fuck, that’s why there’s green grass here. The sprinklers were on. I made the decision to leave it to someone else, and stay in my tent and try to fall back asleep. It was cold and wet outside. Fortunately Lisa and Veronica had it all to hand and managed to somehow stop the sprinkler, or turn them the other way or something.

We were to be one of the last buddy group to leave today, so we had a slow morning. Today was Dress like a Pirate day, and WOW, some people had gone to extreme effort. A lot more than me, who very kindly accepted Anthony’s offer to arrange the costumes. After breakfast we were went to stand in the background of the shot for the Today show live cross. A producer and cameraman had driven 4 hours from Melbourne to Tooleybuc for what turned out to be a 4 minute live cross. But it looked great and got some great publicity for the rally.

Right after the live cross we had the morning briefing, where we were told that we weren’t allowed to take our swords or any imitation weapons onto the Spirit. We’d meet in the Spirit carpark and have a sword fight there from 3:30 before boarding opened at 4:15. The final part of the briefing was announcing the departure order starting with Buddy Group 20. What?

Buddy Group 21 should have been first, but whether it was a faux pas or a conscious decision instead of going last, we were going first so there was a mad scramble to pack the car to be ready and head off over the border into Victoria.

Today was all sealed roads. We stopped off in Bridgewater Bakery for morning tea, then detoured into Bendigo to wash our cars to comply with quarantine requirements for Tasmania. Then we headed for Castlemaine, where we were meeting a few of my friends. Unfortunately Noel (who painted my car) had just had his final round of chemo and was too sick to make the 20 minute trip from Bendigo to Castlemaine. But a couple of other friends and former work colleagues from when I worked in Castlemaine were all there to cheer me on. Two had even made a banner.

We did have a slight mishap where the navigator in our lead car took a phone call just before the freeway exit, and the driver missed the turn-off. There was a few non-rally cars mixed in with our group, and I sailed off at the exit oblivious that the rest had missed it until we’d already gone off. Ordinarily we’re supposed to wait there for everyone else to come back, but we headed into Castlemaine and waited for them to come there.

We had a relatively uneventful run down south, until we hit roadworks in the Brisbane Ranges. Part of the road had washed away in the floods over six months earlier, so there was only one direction getting through at a time, controlled by a traffic light with no reference to traffic volumes. With an extra 250 cars coming through on the road, it was slow going. After five days of driving, and a 4:15 deadline lots of team were starting to get a bit frustrated, and you could hear it in radio conversation.

It was difficult staying together in Geelong, with traffic and traffic lights so we decided just to follow our GPS’s to the Spirit, and hope that no one would brake down. Trevor (Anthony’s partner) had come down to see us off, so we’d each given him a bag to bring there for us before we left Melbourne. We were able to offload our jerry can, swords and a few other things and easily fit our post rally gear in now. The upside was that we now had fresh clean clothes for the last leg that weren’t covered in dust.

My parents had also come to see us, although were expecting us there a lot earlier so had been waiting a few hours. They had a natter to other people who were down there to see rally people off and got to see the cars. We had a brief chat, then joined the line up to check in. The new Corio terminal works brilliantly and is extremely efficient. We were on in no time. They had bins for prohibited goods that were overflowing with toy swords,

Given the boat has capacity for 1800 people, I was curious whether the 500 or so rally participants would outnumber the non-rally people on board. As it turned out, aside from a few truck drivers, we didn’t see anyone that wasn’t on the rally at boarding or on the ship.

On board I was expecting loads of shenanigans, but on the whole most people were pretty quiet. We generally all had a nice seat in the bar and a great social catch up with our buddy groups. They’d sold out of cabins, but we’d booked early so had one. A shower, a toilet that you didn’t have to leave your tent to go to in the middle of the night, and a nice comfy bed. To be honest, the boat trip was one of my favourite parts of the rally. A nice relaxed catch up with everyone.

Words and Photos by Daniel Borton

Paul Hollingworth

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