Return to Mt Dale July 2021
Richard & Naomi – Pajero (Trip Leader)
Matt – Pajero
Ivo – Landcruiser
Dave – Prado
Lin – FJ
Joel – Sierra
Trent – Discovery
Simon – Perentie
As we hadn’t been out Mt Dale for awhile it was decided to run and easy overnight trip with the option to scoot home on the Saturday arvo for those that wished. With everyone gathered at the meeting point it was time for a quick outline of what I thought the trip may entail before heading off along Brookton Hwy to where we could air-down,
as numerous people had never been into this area, I took the group out to the actual Mt Dale lookout. At 546 m above sea-level it is easy to see why it was used for a fire lookout tower,
after checking out the view we headed around into the valley behind the hill. It would appear that this is not such a secret spot now, however the damage done by plantation timber operations outweighs track damage from recreational use and I’m concerned this will be another area lost for exploring.
I took the group into just below a special hill climb I know of, but no one was prepared to go visit it on this day as it can be a panel killer. After making our way up the valley to an open rocky shelf in the river some decided to have lunch whilst others chose to play nearby.
In the past I have camped just above this rock shelf, but the area is very small and you can’t fit any more than one or two tents in there so it was no good for tonight’s camp. Whilst on this rock shelf a largish group of vehicles headed through on the track, I had planned to take to our next play area. I knew this track has some deep ruts/holes in it, but evidently due to all the recent rain these were now basically mid track lakes and we very quickly caught up with the other group after heading off again. Their lead vehicle was a GU Patrol and he had gone ahead into one “puddle” and the water was over the top of his bonnet. After talking to them it was decided to get our group of eight vehicles to back out to where we could do a multipoint turn around and I would then find another way around after heading back and crossing the river just above where we stopped for lunch.
My plan was to show the guys who were not overnighting an easy exit back to Brookton Hwy for when we finished exploring. I also wanted to take them to a play hill I knew of in the area which could also make a good option to camp at. When we pulled in it became apparent how much water the ground was holding as the entry track quickly became very sloppy, once in there we came across some guys who had set up for a weekend of dirt bike riding. The great thing about this area is there is plenty of room for everyone to play and get on, just need to respect other users. Whilst our group had a drive on the small hill climbs,
I went over and had a chat with these guys to let them know we would get out of their hair and were planning to camp the next valley over. After leaving this spot it should have been an easy run by gazetted roads to our camp spot, along the first bit of track I had to drive around a fallen tree and could see the ground was damp ahead. With a little bit of momentum, the Pajero basically glided over the ground, Trent who was behind me in his Disco also running road bias tyres had to take a second run at the damp bit, but still got through ok. However, the dreaded call out came from Simon “I’m stuck”, after giving him a wind up about it’s not too hard I turned around to see he was in fact about 30 m short of what I considered the challenging part.
The Perentie had basically fallen through the track surface and it was not going to come out by driving it. Thankfully Matt was behind him and able to winch Simon backwards,
whilst I directed others to a shortcut across a stream to where I was now parked. Our first recovery for the weekend proved quiet entertaining and again reinforced why venturing out in groups provides a safety net. After getting the Perentie back on firm ground it didn’t take too much encouragement to get Joel to have a try as I honestly thought the Zook would also glide across the surface, yeah, I was wrong!
So, we now had another recovery which wasn’t as hard as a Zook is considerably lighter than a Perentie, thanks to Ivo all it took was a quick snatch backwards to free Joel.
After getting everyone through onto the same side of the creek we proceeded down the valley towards where I planned to overnight.
Even though this spot is not the most picturesque it provides a large fairly level area that you can set up multiple tents etc. and you’re well off the tracks out of the way.
There are also some good little technical driving bits nearby and most of the group headed off to try their suspensions out. As there was rain forecast for that night and the next day it was good to get some gazebo’s up, so we stayed relatively dry. With the sun starting to set our daytime trippers bid farewell and were led out by Simon back to the well graded road leading down to Brookton Hwy. That left Matt, Dave, Lin, Naomi & I to sit around the fire and enjoy the evening.
One good thing is the rain brought cloud cover which stopped it getting too cold even though it was wet, I remember one trip out here that dropped to -2°C overnight and it was slow to get going the next morning that time.
The next day had the usual morning coffee and breakfast before packing up and planning our exit. I’d given everyone the option of going out the short way to Brookton Hwy or heading NNE via Yarra Rd so as to avoid the back of the dam and popping out on Great Southern Hwy.
Apparently, I couldn’t have screwed up too bad this weekend as I was trusted to lead everyone out to Yarra Rd, I knew basically where I wanted to get to and started our way out of the valley. As there is so many tracks criss-crossing this area, I tried to stick to tracks I had used before that should have led me to a marked track running due east, thankfully after driving around a few pine plantations we emerged where I thought we wanted to be. The run up Yarra Rd was as uneventful as I thought it would be and we basically ran all the way in 2WD up to just before Talbot West Rd before airing back up.
From here most bid their farewells with some deciding to call into The Lakes Roadhouse for refreshments before the trip home down the hill. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves, I feel this general area has a lot to offer and many areas we as a club have not yet explored.
All the best