Brisbane to Sydney

The overnight run from Brisbane to Port Macquarie and then transporting to Sydney was certainly no doddle with three very demanding stages set in the country made famous by the Southern Cross Rally. The final stage before Port Macquarie caught out a number of crews including Brock, who nearly lost the event, and Portman, who rolled off the road yet again pretty much putting an end to his event.

Q12 –Wobbly Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
80.3 km1 hour 30 minutes6.00 pm Thursday Click here

With the first car leaving Brookside Shopping Centre at 4.30 pm on a Thursday afternoon, traffic would be a major challenge as crews had to traverse Brisbane and head down towards the Gold Coast for a special stage in the Gaven Stage Forest behind Nerang. This was before the multi-lane Pacific Motorway to the Gold Coast had been built! Fortunately the time allowed was adequate and later cars that missed the peak hour traffic were even able to book in quite early if they wanted to regain late time. Despite an apparent 1 km error in the route chart just near the end, pretty much everyone was on time except for Mizel (18 minutes late) and Jackson (21 minutes late).

Q13 – Brisbane (Gaven) Special Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
11.8 km9 minutes6.09 pm Thursday Click here
Also here

Whilst ultimately pointless in the overall scheme of things, this was a nice little stage, winding through some tight forest roads in the Gaven pine plantation. With quite a few junctions and ending on a short stretch of bitumen in a new housing estate, both drivers and navigators were kept busy. The first car started the stage just after dusk. There were some excellent views of the lights of the Gold Coast for those crew members not watching the road! The stage no longer exists as it has been developed into the Pacific Pines housing estate.

The last corner of the Gaven Special Stage, the end control to the right (there were no houses there then!)
Photo grabbed from Google Maps Street View)

The road order at the front was Brock, Ferguson, Mehta, Nalder, Dunkerton, Portman, Carr. Carr was notably slower, as was Fury, and it may have been because of hanging dust. The results show Portman dropped 22 minutes, which suggests he had a problem, but in reality it must be a typo in the results as he did not lose road position. Watson was also very slow, dropping over 13 minutes.

The results record 75 cars as having completed the stage. Fastest times:

  • Portman 2.03 - maybe!
  • Ferguson (Bell) 2.36
  • Brock 2.42
  • Mehta 3.14
  • Colless 3.31
  • Dunkerton 3.32
  • Johnson 3.36
  • Nalder 3.45
  • Carr 4.01
  • Loader, Rowney 4.05
  • Fury 4.06
  • Davis 4.10
  • Barth 4.16
  • Miettunen 4.32
  • Herrmann 4.38
  • Giddings 4.42
  • Jackson 5.00
  • Beveridge 5.14
  • Faulkner 5.26
  • Roberts 5.37
  • Hurrey 5.42
  • Jensen, Clarke 5.44
  • Foden 5.48
  • Minett 5.58 Lockhart 6.00

Q14 – Border Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
208.3 km3 hours 10 minutes9.19 pm Thursday Click here

Crews initially headed into the Gold Coast, joining the Gold Coast Highway at Broadbeach and continuing south for a refuel at Palm Beach where there was a big crowd of perhaps 5000 people making it difficult to actually get fuel! There continued to be lots of people spectating in all the towns through which the rally passed, including Murwillumbah, Lismore and Casino. It was a mild night and still dry so dust could be a problem on the subsequent stages. The first of these started near Ellengowan, about 20 km south of Casino at about 9.30 pm after a fairly comfortable transport.
Most crews were on time or booking in early to regain late time, the earliest being Jensen at 33 minutes early. On the other hand, McCubbin, Roggenkamp, Boys, Donoghue and Tholstrup all had problems and were between 50 minutes and an hour late. At the front, somehow Portman was ahead of Dunkerton on the road although neither had lost time on the transport.

Q15 – Tick Gate Trial Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
56.4 km43 minutes10.02 pm Thursday Click here

This trial stage meandered around the Bungawalbin and Glencoe (now Doubleduke) State Forests, passing through a number of gates near Gibberagee. The roads were mostly fast gravel or hard packed earth until near the end where it became a bit tighter, but the stage was always going to be cleanable at the 80 km/h average set. Dust was a problem but as all the leaders were early it didn’t really matter. Apparently Brock, being first on the road, hit a kangaroo.
The results show 65 cars completed the stage and 18 cars cleaned. The majority of other cars lost 12 minutes or less. Lahiff had a problem, dropping 46 minutes, while McArthur, O'Shanesy and Nicholson skipped to the end of the stage, taking a maximum 4 hour penalty for the wrong direction.

Fastest times:

  • Brock, Ferguson, Mehta, Dunkerton, Nalder, Portman, Barth, Herrmann, Carr, Fury, Davis, Loader, Faulkner, Colless, Stockley, Johnson, McCubbin, Boys clean
  • Boaden, Carter 1
  • Jackson, Neilson, Beveridge, Roberts, Lance 2
  • Kahler, Bird, Goldsborough, Giddings 3
  • Miettunen, Hurrey, Meehan, Jensen, Tholstrup, Watson, Rowney 4
  • Lockhart, Glover, Herdy, Penny, Koseki, Ingerson, Farmer, Travis 5
  • Minett 6

Q16 – Grafton Service Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
98.7 km1 hour 20 minutes11.22 pm Thursday Click here

It was 59 km down to Grafton along the Summerland Way to a crowded refuel on the Pacific Highway at South Grafton where the first car arrived just before 11 pm on Thursday night. Not much time was allowed here for servicing with a further 40 km after the refuel down the somewhat twisty Kangaroo Creek Road to east of Nymboida. A number of crews didn’t realise how tight the stage was and dropped time, including the Mehta Commodore which dropped 2 minutes and fell behind the Nalder Celica on the road. Ferguson and Portman were each 3 minutes late but each held road position ahead of Nalder and behind Mehta respectively. After Portman came Dunkerton and Carr. Loader was 4 minutes late, Watson 5 minutes late and Mizel 9 minutes late. Others were clearly having problems with quite a few cars up to half an hour late while Roberts dropped over and hour and the Maloney P76 shows a 4 hour maximum penalty after which they started to skip controls through to Port Macquarie.

Q17 – Black Mountain Trial Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
76.2 km1 hour12.22 am Friday Click here

This trial stage through to Dorrigo used roads that had been used previously in the Southern Cross Rally. Interestingly, the middle part of the stage used much of the Shipmans Special Stage used in the modern Rally Australia and the last part used all of the Brooklana Special Stage, noted as the stage where Sebastian Loeb rolled the Citroen in 2011. These are all fabulous mountain roads and with some dampness around, dust was much less of a problem than it had been earlier in the night. The early part of the stage is a narrow mountain track, somewhat rough and steep in places, the middle section quite fast and treacherous with many blind crests, and the main Dorrigo road is tight and twisty, but an excellent gravel surface.

The main Dorrigo Road hasn't changed much
(Photo grabbed from Google Maps Street View)

Carr and Portman were both flying and Portman caught and passed Mehta who had brake problems (boiled the fluid!), while Carr caught and passed Dunkerton. Nalder punctured allowing both Portman, then Mehta to pass in quick succession. Brock and Ferguson were taking it carefully but maintained their positions on the road.
The results showed 64 cars completing the stage with most times between 17 and 30 minutes late. Fury struck trouble dropping 2 hours, as did Sheridan who then skipped to Sydney. Clarke apparently became lost in the 180B after their Halda failed.

All the times:

  • Carr, Portman 5
  • Mehta 7
  • Brock 9
  • Dunkerton 10
  • Ferguson 11
  • Herrmann 12
  • Johnson, Kahler, Colless, Boys and Lance 17
  • Rowney, Loader, Nalder 18
  • Jackson, Goldsborough 19
  • Roberts, Davis 20
  • Glover, Faulkner 22
  • Jensen, Lockhart, Lloyd, Giddings, Stockley, Finlay, Gough, Bveridge, Barth 23
  • O'Donnell, Cafe 24
  • Bird, Rayner 25
  • Farmer, Donoghue, Murray 27
  • Watson, Mizel, Minett, Birrell, Roggenkamp 28
  • Meehan, Lahiff 29
  • Travis 30
  • Foden 31
  • Koseki 32
  • Boaden 33
  • Walker 37
  • Wilson, Heaton 41
  • Herdy 44
  • Ingerson, Tattingham 45
  • Miettunen 49
  • Hurrey 51
  • McCubbin 55
  • Tholstrup 1.00
  • Fullagher 1.03
  • Clarke 1.56
  • Fury 1.59
  • Sheridan 2.28

Q18 – Dorrigo Drive Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
34.9 km30 minutes12.52 am Friday Click here

The first cars passed quietly through sleepy Dorrigo before 1 am and continued down the main Bellingen Road to the start of the next trial stage at the famous Horseshoe Forest Road which the first car would start soon after 1 am (Brock was by now running about 15 minutes behind schedule).
The 30 minutes allowed for the 35 minutes was tight but adequate, but plenty of crews dropped a few minutes including Davis and Mizel (1 minute each), Loader (2 minutes), Dunkerton (3 minutes) and Jackson (4 minutes). The Barth Porsche dropped 26 minutes with a mechanical problem. The road order going into the next long trial stage was Brock with then probably a four minute gap to Ferguson, another good gap to Portman, then Mehta, Nalder, Carr and Dunkerton. Fred Gocentas conned the control official into getting an extra 5 minute gap to the Nalder Celica although the night was now cool and damp so that dust was not a problem.

Q19 – Courage Trial Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
86.3 km1 hour 10 minutes2.02 am Friday Click here

The name suggested that drivers might need courage on this stage, which seemed a bit out of proportion given the places that the event had been over the preceding 11 days. It was perhaps referring to the descent on Koseki Road, known locally as “Jacob’s Ladder” and used previously on the Southern Cross Rally. The instructions included a Kilfoylian cryptic note suggesting that “Jabob was presumably a fit fellow!” Nonetheless, the stage was predominantly on superb mountain roads, including almost the full length of Horseshoe Forest Road, then at 54 km a turn hard right onto Mackays Road, at 60 km down Koseki Road and then along Targamindi Road out to the finish near Taylors Arm.
Other than the aforementioned steep descent, the other hazard was a logging truck parked more or less in the middle of Horseshoe Forest Road and crews had to carefully negotiate a way around it (crews were warned about it at the start). Apparently Harry Jensen dropped a wheel off the edge there and rolled the Volvo down the hill, ending his rally. The Jacobs Ladder descent required care, yet Jurgen Barth in the leading two-crew entry, rolled the Porsche 924 on the descent and subsequently lost 1 hour and 28 minutes extricating themselves. Some reports suggested Barth had broken his wrist in which case it was remarkable that they were able to continue to the finish of the event. Portman, Carr and Mehta (probably Aaltonen driving) were flying but with the gaps they had they did not have to pass anyone. Brock had eased off and Ferguson must have almost caught them, picking up 4 minutes, but the 05 Commodore still had an overall lead of about 15 minutes over Ferguson/Bell/Boddy. Watson was slow in the underpowered Peugeot, dropping 34 minutes while Fury must have been struggling with the Cortina, dropping 40 minutes. Davis also had a problem dropping 52 minutes, while Mizel dropped 55. Only 47 cars completed the stage. Clarke, Foden and O'Shanesy went to the end of the stage and took a wrong direction while the others skipped directly to Port Macquarie, although a couple picked up the control at the end of the Collombatti Special Stage on the way.

All the times:

  • Portman 9
  • Carr and Mehta 10
  • Dunkerton, Nalder (Richards) 16
  • Ferguson 17
  • Herrmann, Loader, Jackson 18
  • Brock 21
  • Glover, Lockhart 24
  • Rowney, Stockley 26
  • Tholstrup 28
  • Meehan, McCubbin, Colless, Giddings, Bird 29
  • Faulkner 30
  • Lloyd, Lance 31
  • Roberts, Minett 32
  • Birrell, Cafe 33
  • Watson, Penny, Kahler 34
  • Koseki, Finlay 35
  • Boaden 39
  • Fury, Hurrey 40
  • Roggenkamp 42
  • Herdy 43
  • Johnson 45
  • O'Donnell 47
  • Goldsborough, Miettunen, Travis 48
  • Davis 51
  • Wilson 55
  • Mizel 57
  • Beveridge 1.02
  • Barth 1.28

Q20 – Taylors Respite Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
16.0 km15 minutes2.17 am Friday Click here

The short transport from Taylors Arm was quite tight because of the twisty gravel road to the south of Taylors Arm. Several crews lost a few minutes on the transport, including Brock who lost 4 but held first on the road. Brock may have had a car problem that had slowed him on the previous long trail stage, and may have needed extra time on the transport to attend to the problem. Portman dropped 3 and may have fallen behind Mehta on the road. Others to drop time were Loader and Watson (1 minute each), Herrmann (2 minutes), Davis (5 minutes) and Barth, still recovering from their roll (9 minutes). Mizel must have had problems to drop 31 minutes.
Brock would start the Collombatti Special Stage at just before 3 am. Nalder knew that Carr was well in front and let him go first into the Special Stage, so the road order was probably Brock, Ferguson, Mehta, Portman, Carr, Nalder, Dunkerton, spread across about 25 minutes.

Q21 – Collombatti Special Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
34.0 km27 minutes2.44 am Friday Click here

Carr on the Collombatti Stage (Photo: Darryl Wilkes)

This special stage took a fairly direct route through the Collombatti Forest, extensively used by the Southern Cross Rally, finishing along Range Road. The route included a notoriously tricky corner on Western Range Road where George Fury had rolled the Datsun 710 in the 1977 Southern Cross Rally. Brock was caught out by this corner but managed to only slide the front wheels off the edge. The Commodore was not damaged but needed to be winched backwards. Noel Richards put out a warning triangle while Matt Phillip and Brock got the winch organised. Unfortunately the winch line had to be across the road but it would only take a handful of minutes to get the car back onto the road. By the time Ferguson arrived they would have been nearly out anyway, but Ferguson could not pass until the winch was disconnected. No-one else caught the two cars. It cost Brock about 8 minutes, Ferguson about 3 or 4 minutes, so Brock still held the lead by about 6 minutes. Mehta may have also arrived and been slightly delayed, as their time was a bit slow. When Portman arrived, obviously pushing hard, he got out of shape and rolled the Stanza so far off the road that neither Carr nor Nalder saw it! Portman claimed that the warning triangle left by the Commodores had distracted him. Amazingly, Portman got the car out in about 15 minutes, probably before Dunkerton arrived. Further back, Fury, Barth, Rowney and Watson were all distinctively slow.

Portman's battered Stanza in Sydney after the Collombatti roll
(Photo courtesy Ray Berghouse, Chevron Publishing)

The results show 48 cars completed the special stage (Foden rejoined having not completed the previous trial stage). All the times:

  • Carr 2.15
  • Johnson 4.45
  • Nalder 5.19
  • Jackson 5.26
  • Stockley 5.37
  • Mehta 5.45
  • Herrmann 5.53
  • Dunkerton 6.17
  • Colless, Tholstrup 6.35
  • Roberts 7.18
  • Loader 7.28
  • Lockhart 7.35
  • Goldsborough 7.42
  • Hurrey 7.47
  • Faulkner 7.48
  • Ferguson 7.53
  • Boaden 7.54
  • Miettunen 8.10
  • Davis 8.12
  • Meehan 8.17
  • Birrell 8.18
  • Foden 8.31
  • Beveridge 8.31
  • O'Donnell 8.57
  • Lloyd 9.17
  • Koseki 9.24
  • Minett 9.37
  • McCubbin 9.52
  • Travis 10.00
  • Bird 10.06
  • Kahler 10.27
  • Clarke 10.35
  • Brock 11.12
  • Lance 11.14
  • Fury 13.35
  • Finlay 14.15
  • Wilson 14.47
  • Barth 15.18
  • Clyborne 16.20
  • Penny 16.25
  • Herdy 18.07
  • Mizel 18.10
  • Portman 18.45
  • O'Shanesy 22.24
  • Rowney 35.20
  • Cafe 37.49
  • Watson 38.17

Q22 – Relief Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
64.7 km55 minutes3.39 am Friday Click here

This transport took crews out to the Pacific Highway then through Kempsey and into Port Macquarie for a refuel and breakfast. The first car would have arrived at about 4.30 am (Brock was by now about 50 minutes behind schedule). The reason for a control was again, like Maryborough before Brisbane, to allow scores to be tallied and communicated to Sydney before the field arrived there. Portman lost a further 8 minutes as he carried out makeshift repairs on the battered Stanza.

Q23 – Pacific Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
421.3 km6 hours9.39 am Friday Click here

The Sydney Harbour Bridge really did have a 20 cent toll!
(Picture taken from the Nalder Celica by Ian Richards)

While 6 hours was allowed for the long transport to the Sydney Showgrounds, a meander through Newcastle traffic to Charlestown Shopping Centre for a “publicity” stop, together with mixing it with Sydney’s morning peak hour traffic, would ensure that this transport was quite tight. Back in 1979 there was also no motorway bypass around places like the Bulahdelah bends and the towns of Tarree and Raymond Terrace. Indeed many crews would have been late just as a result of the “normal” traffic jam trying to get onto the Harbour Bridge (this was pre-tunnel) and then through Darlinghurst (this was pre-Eastern Distributor). Interestingly, the bridge toll was then 20 cents while there was a 60 cent toll coming off the Newcastle motorway at Hornsby! Many crews would be late but no penalties were recorded. The first car would have arrived at the Sydney Showgrounds about 10.30 am on Friday morning. Even the leading crews only had about a 6 hour rest break in Sydney.

Next: Back to Division Q Summary


Ian Richards said...

As I’d lined up the car at Brookside I drove down to the special stage near Nerang. The traffic was quite heavy but there were many spectators around and it was still light. Dunky was tailing us and we had a bit of a race through Brisbane weaving in and out of the traffic. He came up behind us at one set of traffic lights, probably around Ashgrove, edged forward to touch our bumper then started to push us forward. Cheeky bastard! He had a big grin on his face, as always, when I gave him the finger. Down on the Pacific Highway we overshot the turnoff and had to do a U-turn about a km further on but we were at the start of the special in time and chatted to Dunky about Carr’s absence, but he arrived OK and was out after Portman who was behind Dunkerton who was behind us!
Wes drove the special which was quite good fun including several tight handbrake turns. There was a policeman at the end with a radar gun as we did the last stretch on tarmac but we were only just over 100 km/h whereas Bell had reached 160 k/h. Those Commodores were quick!
We set off immediately on the transport with Wes still driving and I dozed in the back. There was a big crowd at the Coolongatta refuel so I stayed in the back of the car as the guys managed to get and pay for fuel! Wes drove all the way through to Casino, passing the Brock car briefly when they were being interviewed by the constabulary. We stopped in Casino for some takeaway and I then drove down to the start of the next stage where we arrived just as Brock was heading off. We were out at 9.37 pm.
I quite enjoyed the Tick Gate stage even though it was fearfully fast and obviously cleanable. I did spin at one T-junction but no great drama. Portman came in quite close behind us and I apologised for the dust but he shrugged and said “Who cares, we’re all early again!” I continued to drive down to Grafton while Geoff and Wes slept. I caught the Mehta car, I think with Barry Lake driving, and followed them through the streets of Grafton but he then took the road to Armidale and I was sure the refuel was under the railway on the Pacific Highway, which it was, so ignored them and took the car into a very crowed refuel. Geoff and Wes awoke quickly, somewhat startled by the lights and people. We didn’t dawdle as the transport was tight and I drove fairly quickly down the somewhat twisty and slippery road to Nymboida. Wes got in to drive the next stage but the Mehta car was nowhere to be seen. With one minute to go we could see them coming, almost 2 minutes late, and they swerved into control, locked up everything stopping in front of us as we were given the 10 second countdown. Wes just slipped around them and off we went!
Strangely, we did not see Mehta and I was in the back keeping a lookout as they was little or no dust. We punctured on the Dorrigo Road and were a bit leisurely changing it and a car approached but it was Portman, not Mehta, but Mehta was very close behind, so we dropped back to fifth on the road. Wes drove down to the start of the next stage at Horseshoe Forest Road and I felt we were getting a bit too relaxed and decided I’ve have a bit of a go on the next one!

Ian Richards said...

Carr arrived at the start of the Horseshoe Forest Road stage before we departed and asked if they could go out first. I said that we’d look out for them and that there wouldn’t be much dust up in the hills anyway. We didn’t know that they would then conn an extra 5 minute gap but good luck to them. We departed at 1.30 am. I had a great time on this stage, but certainly the car was not powerful enough to make a really good time on the first part that just climbs and climbs. It then continues as a good well graded forestry road through to McKays Road which is narrower but also good. I was really careful on the steep descent which I recalled going down in the 76 Cross with David Bond. The last part of the stage was beautiful flowing mountain roads and I had a ball, but I felt exhausted. We did the same time as Dunkerton. Carr came in soon after us and was about 6 minutes quicker.
I had managed to make Geoff car sick for the first time in the event so he drove the tight transport over to the Collombatti Special Stage where we took a few extra minutes and agreed to let Carr go out ahead of us. Wes drove the special and punted along really well setting quite a good time. Amazingly, I actually slept quite well and barely remember a comment when we passed a hazard triangle but so no-one. This was where Brock had been off and where Portman WAS off, but we didn’t see the Stanza.
I then slept soundly all the way into Port Macquarie and only woke up at the service station which was owned by Southern Cross director Dan White. We had hamburgers for breakfast as it was 5 am, a wash and cleanup and then headed off towards Sydney with me driving, Geoff in the back sleeping and Wes sleeping in the passenger’s seat. We knew the transport would be tight and I tried to keep the pace up around 120 km/h on in the 100 zones but a police car tailed us for quite a long time after Bulahdelah. At Raymond Terrace Geoff took over the driving and Wes got in the back and I navigated Geoff through to Charlestown shopping centre where there were good crowds at 8 am in the morning! Herrmann was right on our tail as we headed down the Newcastle expressway but I had dozed off with only Geoff awake. Once past the toll gates I figured it was 41 km in about 45 minutes with the traffic quite heavy so at the first set of traffic lights Geoff and Wes swapped places. Wes pushed through the traffic as hard as he legally could. There was the customary traffic jam getting onto the harbour bridge then another traffic jam at the end of the Cahill Expressway. We were down to 3 km in 5 minutes and we entered the Sydney Showgrounds with less than a minute to spare. Adrian Ryan did interviews. Wes parked the car and a gentleman from the nearby Toyota dealership introduced himself and took us to the nearby Macleay Street Travelodge. It would be a fairly short sleep in Sydney but fortunately, Dick and Steve were already there as they needed sleep even more than we did! Someone went and got hamburgers and then we were all asleep but we’d have to be up at 4 pm, and it was already almost midday! We were barely interested in scores because we knew that Carr would have passed us and we would be sixth.