Berrigan Racing

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of Australia  ,
Saturday, October 29, 2005

Let me rewind a little from the last entry. Ben works for a little car company called "Daimler Chrysler", heard of them? They were holding the Australian launch of their new car, The "Chrysler 300c", which is a massive car, 5.6 litre V8 engine, go on, type it into google. Journalists picked up the cars in Melbourne drove round for a couple of days, ended up in Apollo Bay and were then choppered back to Melbourne. In order to get the cars back to Melbourne Daimler Chrysler asked for volunteers to get in the empty choppers down to Apollo Bay and drive the cars back up, how could Ben refuse? Not only this but we were heading about 500Km north for the weekend and Ben asked if I could help him with the driving, how could I refuse?

I sat at the garage for a while, and then saw my first Chrysler, just the one at the garage and then it was off. A few minutes later another arrived, then another, and another, before long the garage was full of them. They all had to be filled back up again for the trips to Melbourne. After a few more minutes Ben turned up in his one and I hopped in. It was really surreal. At one point three of the Chryslers had gone through the pumps and had parked, about 6 others were currently filling up at all the available pumps and the queue was entirely made up of the Chrysler 300c cars.

We zoomed off as soon as we could as we reckoned we had about 5 hours driving ahead of us. Ben hadn't driven one of these before so was trying it out a little bit, it's a heavy car but I tell you it picks up speed like nothing else I've been in. Ben drove for a few hours while I sat there patiently, waiting, it would be mine, oh yes. It got dark outside and I waited. It started to rain and I waited. Eventually we had to have a comfort stop and Ben gave me the nod, here I go. The question on many of your lips will obviously be "Is it as good as the Peppermint Rocket?" (This was my 11 year old 1.2 litre Vauxhall Corsa that I owned prior to this trip).

One thing to bear in mind is that I would be driving in a foriegn country (on the left thankfully), in a car far more powerful that I'm used to, after not driving for 5 months, in the dark, and in the rain. Let's just say I was hyper cautious when I pulled out. I overtook a couple of times and it was a breeze, you'd just go shooting past. At another point though I was happily sitting behind another car when we were overtaken by a car towing a boat, Ben was a little distraught at this, he couldn't believe that I'd let something like that happen.

The roads in Australia are long and straight. I'd see a car heading towards me in the opposite direction so decide not to overtake, but then it'd take best part of a minute before we'd pass each other. With both of us driving at about 100 Km/hour this meant that the car would be about 5 Km (3 miles) away when I spotted it. I did giggle like a kid at some points, especially when we got stuck behind 3 cars that weren't overtaking each other, I waited a while but then when the moment was right I cruised passed 3 cars like they weren't there. I had a great time, that was until Ben prised my fingers off the steering wheel and pushed me out the door. It was his turn again.

As for the peppermint rocket question, yes, I'll begrugingly say that the chrysler's a better car, but I miss my rocket, I feel sad whenever I think of it in the scrap yard.

We eventually arrived in Deniliquin in New South Wales a little after 10pm. We'd driven up for a weekend of horse racing and general fun with a group of people that Nikki and Ben know. Apparently a few of the bunch of people have been doing it for 30 years, Nikki and Ben only joined in the fun a couple of years ago. We arrived at the pub and I was able to meet many of the others, a group of about 25 in total. Thankfully they agreed not to test me on the names that I'd remembered or forgotten later. I could probably have got back to the hostel earlier that I did, but I didn't.

In the morning I was delighted to find out that we were having a big barby, these ozzies just can't enough of it. We were onto a bus at 10:30 in order to drive for an hour to Berrigan where the horse racing would take place. This is just a small country town so I was promised that I'd see rural Australia at its best. The day's main activity got off to an early start as Ben handed me a bottle from his cool box, i'd have to be careful.

The setup at the racing was brilliant, everyone brought a little something for the communal table which meant there was a large spread of food available, all of it really tasty. Not long after arriving many of us headed off for a closer look at the races and to sample the fair available there. The local population had done themselves proud. Suits with white trainers and aviator sunglasses were spotted and some garish dresses on some of the women. At least everyone was having fun.

I'd been promised that the weather would be good up in Berrigan, but sadly the rain didn't agree and it started lightly once we arrived just getting heavier and heavier through the day. I talked to one of our party that lives in Deniliquin and she told me that they only get 12 inches of rain per year so it was a shame I had bad weather and that it never rains two days in a row (which turned out to be wrong as I awoke the next morning to further deluge).

We had a communal pot of money for betting, 10 dollars each which was fine by me, I have a budget to stick to afterall. The first few races didn't go our way and it was looking like i'd be kissing the cash goodbye, but then our 'quady' started looking good, this is a four race accumulator, the first 2 came in and we watched the thrid race with interest. When that came in we were getting rather excited, we had two horses in the last race with a field of about 12, either had to win for our 'quady' to come in. And it did. We went wild. It paid out over 1000 dollars from a 60 dollar bet, sadly 16 of us were in the syndicate and we ended up with 65 dollars back each, still not bad for a day's 'work' though.

At the end of the day everyone spilled back onto the bus to head back, things were getting a bit lively by this point. We stopped at the traditional watering hole in a small town on the way back in order to give the local some business. It was a proper little town pub with the words 'Pub' actually written on the tin roof, and I thought that was just a stereotype. I think it's probably one of the busiest nights of the year there as it won't be often that a bus load of people pull into there. As I was leaving one of the other guys handed me a 'traveller', it was a can wrapped in newspaper. This appeared to be some sort of diguise, or maybe it was just to keep the beer cold. Even the Ozzy guys had never seen their travellers wrapped this way.

We arrived back in Deniliquin and visited some more spots, the locals were incredibily friendly and were mostly interested in what a Scottish guy was doing out in the middle of nowhere. Although I don't think that all of them were the brightest as one of them asked me with a totally serious face "Do you know Billy Connely?", Ermmmm, yes?

Ben lost his shirt at one point. For some reason he thought it was a good idea to take it off and twirl it around his head, he gave it to some stranger to look after who promply disappeared with it. It took a little search before Ben and shirt were happily reunited, at least for a little while.

Throughout the bus journey back from the races several songs had been sung and The Proclaimers '500 Miles' became a bit of an anthem. I think they liked the genuine scottish accent in my singing, at least that's what I like to think. Just as we were about to head home the band started to sing it, we couldn't believe it, so we all got up and danced around to it. This kept us energised for a little while longer before heading back home.

The next day was a far quieter afair, with a quiet breakfast and a long drive back to Melbourne. Nikki was heading off to visit a friend so I had to say goodbye to her half way down and I continued down to Melbourne with Ben and a couple of other guys. It'd been a great weekend but I was feeling knackered, then of course I had to get up at 5:30 the next morning in order to get out to the airport, I'll need to sleep in New Zealand when I get there.

I'd like to thank Ben and Nikki for the past 10 or so days. I had a brilliant time in and around Melbourne and I've got you guys to thank for that. When you're next in Scotland you've got a place to stay and a tour guide waiting for you. Thank you.
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