Heart of the Hunter 2009

Heart of the Hunter 2009

22nd August 2009

The Plan
This year’s Heart of the Hunter was set to include 2 categories of navigational skill and classes for pre 1985 vehicles and for 1985 and on. Event director, Geoff Thomas’ objectives for the competition was to give those with what he considered were intermediate navigational skills something to learn from and not get too lost, while for those with less experience could participate and still enjoy the full experience of a navigational style rally.

The Navigation level competitors were provided with instructions which included both route chart style directions as well as some challenging map reading exercises. The entry level Route Chart competitors were provided with detailed route instructions. In both categories, an accurate and reliable trip measuring device was to be essential and traps were laid to assist in overcoming potential tie-breakers.

On the day we had four entrants in the Navigation category and it looked like there would be some serious competition. In the Route Chart category, eight cars were to compete and an additional seven crews had entered the Register Run.
The course was to include questions on unmanned control boards and to count the number of times railway tracks were crossed. Just a few things to ensure road awareness and observation skills were not ignored.

The Start
At the start at Freemans Waterhole, there were some new comers and some interesting cars entered in the Register Run including Colin Goldie in an Alfa Spyder, Warren Buckingham in his grand Fiat 2300 Coupe and Steve Blair who left the Integrale at home and instead arrived in a recently acquired very early model Toyota Corolla all smicked up in full rally kit. This was to be a shake-down exercise for the Corolla which Steve had entered in the Classic Outback Trial which coincides with the WRC Repco Rally Australia scheduled for the following weekend. Another interesting entrant was that of a Lancia Fulvia 1300. Unfortunately this vehicle was sans speedo/odometer and was forced to withdraw from the event. (Ed: We hope to see more of this car in future and a store of spare speedo and Halda parts are available for next time if required.)

The event
To mix it all up a little, Geoff ensured that the Navigation entrants and the Route Chart entrants had slightly different routes to follow. And, a couple of traps had been set to sort the serious enthusiasts. From the start, the field were directed in an easterly direction before turning north and on towards suburban Teralba where the Navigators were presented with their first challenge which was to sort a random list of clues from map locations and chart the correct course. Route Charters were given at one point an instruction to Turn Right at an intersection. There were two options to choose from. The correct one was quickly discovered though. From the vicinity of Teralba, the field were taken across F3 Freeway and onto George Booth Drive where the Navigators and Route Charters were once again joined up and were then directed across Sugarloaf and on to Richmond Vale Road. At Mount Vincent, a right turn took the field along Sandy Creek Road. A pleasant winding country lane which one minute is open flat country, and the next, tight twisty turns with a quick drop to a narrow one-lane bridge before more open country. At Paxton another trap was laid and only those with local knowledge, maps and/or highly accurate Terra-Trip instruments would be able to resolve. Those less fortunate missed a control board. Bugger ! From Paxton, the field was directed along the Wollombi Road to Bellbird where a turn onto Kendall Street took the cars up onto Mount View Road for a spectacular drive through Wine County’s high vineyards which overlook Pokolbin.

From Mount View Road, the route took the field along Marrowbone Road then Broke Road Pokolbin where some of the early vine varietals were just entering budburst heralding in the next vintage of Hunter Valley wines. Lovedale Road was another treat with more vineyards until the route ventured off along Campo Road to Greta where an offered fuel break opportunity was a welcome break for your scribe who had been co-opted into Steve Blair’s Corolla at the last minute. Although the Corolla was in excellent trim, the trip meter had not yet been calibrated. So, several stops were requited en-route to manually calculate the intermediate distances for the rest of the first section up to the lunch break.

With Greta being situated on the New England Highway, the latter was traversed for a short distance up to the environs of Branxton. It was at he departure of Branxton that the nature of the countryside changed as the field headed towards and through Elderslie. Wide, open and flowing country was a marked change from that experienced in the early part of the event through suburban areas and Hunter Valley Wine Country.

From Elderslie, it was a straight run beside Webbers Creek through to Gresford and on to the lunch stop at Dungog. Now, we can’t leave the lunch stop without some comment on our esteemed director’s culinary skills and preparation. His wife and good friend Liz had cooked up 5 dozen sausages on the BBQ and had “Fresh” bread rolls at the ready when the crews arrived. This was washed down with a cool soft drink . Thank you for your time and effort girls, well done.

After lunch and more hurried and inaccurate calculations by your scribe, the field headed south east and circled around the township of Alison where the Navigation entrants were given a map reading exercise that included a number of Out Of Bounds locations, landmarks and map features. Meanwhile the Route Chart entrants were given concise instructions that took them down to Vacy via Wiragulla. From Vacy, the directions took the field a short distance south then headed back in the direction of Dungog before heading south again towards Martins Creek. It was in this area that the Navigators were required to cross a railway four times. From the vicinity of Martins Creek, the field continued south and circled around Paterson then further south again onto the Tocal Road and past the Agricultural College. The southerly direction was maintained on to the vicinity of Bollwarra Heights and built up areas and then westerly through Rosebrook then Luskintyre where the Tiger Moth Aviation Flying Museum is situated. Shame we didn’t see any flying about on the day. The route then took the entrants onto the New England Highway for a short distance before turning onto Allandale Road which becomes Lovedale Road. The field were now travelling in the opposite direction to that taken in the morning’s run on Lovedale Road. At Wine Country Drive, a turn left and a short distance further along the crews arrived at the Potter’s Brewery and the finish control.
There was a good and relaxed gathering which was maintained during the quick scoring to find a winner and to conduct the draw for the GT Racegear offered by event director Geoff Thomas.

The Results

Navigation Category
 Car Vehicle Driver Navigator Position
 1 Datsun 240Z Scott Warner Amy Warner 1st eq.
 8 Triumph Dolomite David Walshe Barry Prasil 1st eq.
 4 Ford Territory Laurie Cunningham Alex Bratovic 3rd
 10 Nissan S12 Steve Cox Brenda Cox 4th
Route Chart Category
 5 Datsun 260Z Dave Mitchell Dylan Mitchell 1st
 6 Peugot 504 Ian Packard Neil Watt 2nd
 3 Ford Cortina Russell Baldwin Robert Baldwin 3rd
 2 Toyota Celica Andrew Carloff Michelle Atkinson 4th
11 Toyota Sprinter Andrew Ference Vicky Topp 5th
12 Ford Falcon Ron Fraser Elija Fraser 6th
 9 Holden Commodore David Chippendale Michael Sams 7th
 7 Mitsubishi Lancer Richard Armanski Sharon Armanski 8th

Modern Awards
 4 Ford Territory Laurie Cunningham Alex Bratovic 1st Nav
 12 Ford Falcon Ron Fraser Elija Fraser  1st R.C.