KKR 2017

Day 8: From Moama to the finish line!

Editor’s note: Kath Downie shares more of her 2017 Kidney Kar Rally adventures in her blog post below!

After having the two afternoon stages cancelled on Friday, we faced the same bad news for the first two stages on Saturday. So we took off from Moama and travelled to Urana School for lunch before completing the final two stages of this year's rally.

The Kar in action! The Kar in action!

So after the pics of the canola yesterday, we hit some serious forest tracks - well, some might call them tracks but many were barely visible!!! It was a tough stage (class 3) with some serious focus needed by both driver and navigator from beginning to end. But we got through it (1 minute early) unscathed! Then the final stage which, although it was a class 1, saw us venture into a couple more forest tracks before we overtook a couple of the leaders and before we knew it we were the first to cross the line at the finish! Not that this counts for anything but our time was perfect and we were greeted by a large crowd of locals and rally officials. As is normal at the end of the rally, we all gather at the finish line for a light refreshment while we cheer everyone finishing. We then convoy it into Wagga, check into our hotel and get ready for the official closing dinner.

So not only did we manage being the 4th highest fundraiser for the second year in a row, we finished equal 14th for the whole rally, so we are pretty pleased with ourselves really! Congratulations to the Bathurst Surf Life Saving Club for being the outright winners of the rally and to all the competitors for their camaraderie and their fundraising for those amazing Kidney Kids - that's why we do it!

Until next year...when we will be tackling Goulburn to Queanbeyan via Ballarat!

Day 7: Renmark to Moama

Editor’s note: Kath Downie shares more of her 2017 Kidney Kar Rally adventures in her blog post below!

Two stages cancelled and many changes today...lunch at Ouyen primary school and then bitumen to Moama!

We are on our way to Moama after completing the two stages this morning and enjoying a spectacular lunch at Ouyen College!

So. Much. Canola. So. Much. Canola.

Two class 3 stages...I can't say done and dusted as there was not so much dust but heaps of water and mud! After nearly taking out a couple of photographers who were strategically placed to get splash shots, we slipped and slid our way through lots of mud and stopped just short of a fixed camera they had placed on a bend! Soon after that we span out and ended up sideways on an embankment! Scary as hell at the time but quite funny looking back now! Needless to say poor little Subie is a little the worse for wear and in need of a good wash!

The Kar is in need of a kleen! The Kar is in need of a kleen!

Day 6 - Broken Hill to Renmark

Editor’s note: Kath Downie shares more of her 2017 Kidney Kar Rally adventures in her blog post below!

Last night's 'Silver City'-themed fancy dress event definitely delivered some very creative costumes! Congratulations to this team, for what can only be described as an outstanding commitment to the theme!IMG_4895

I'm not sure that Paul and Scott from Bendigo thought this outfit through - how does one drink one's beer?

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Broken Hill has been a great place to stay for the day - the whole city promotes Kidney Health!

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But with our rest day behind us, it was time to jump back into the car for another day of adventure.

With three stages down and one to go before we arrived in Renmark for the night, we stopped for lunch at the Coombah Roadhouse.

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We discovered that one car was out with a fuel pump problem, and another with an injury to the side from a rogue roo!

There's been a lot of dust today, and some very long (and not so winding roads, like this beauty:

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And there've also been some iconic Australian sights.

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As we drew closer to Renmark, though, the contrast in our surroundings was immediately apparent.

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And our room in Renmark provided a terrific view of the Mighty Murray!

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Overall, we had thought we'd had a pretty good day, but it seems the averages were a little faster than we anticipated, particularly in the last one! 2 minutes late on the first stage, even on the second, 1 early on the third and 3 late on the last! So 6 points down for the day, plus our 4WD penalty sees us at 17th overall. We don't find out our scores tomorrow, they save them up till the final night so no-one knows where they might finish up!

It looks like the rain has already impacted on tomorrow's stages...the 'day before car' has been out and determined the 3rd and 4th stages are too dangerous so it looks like it'll be bitumen roads from Ouyen to Moama. Oh well, maybe I'll have time for an afternoon nanna nap!!!

Day 5 - 'Rest' Day

Editor’s note: Kath Downie shares more of her 2017 Kidney Kar Rally adventures in her blog post below!

Today is our rest day, an essential part of any rally! Typically, we use the spare day to make any minor repairs to our Kar, do a bit of sightseeing and, of course, try and get a bit of rest.

Being in Broken Hill, today's rest day meant an obligatory trip out to nearby Silverton to visit the Mad Max Museum.

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Given the fact that Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior was filmed out here, it was the perfect place to take a behind-the-scenes look at the 1981 hit.

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There was plenty to see!

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We then went to the beautiful lookout at Mundi Mundi. Looks like you could drive off the edge of Australia!

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Back in Broken Hill, the Geocentre Museum also provided plenty to look at, including the famous Silver Tree.

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And in continuing with the theme of 'silver,' we capped the day off with the Rally's 'Silver City'-themed dress-up night. (Many thanks to the very talented David Bowler!)

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There wasn't much rest to be had, but rest assured, it was a sensational day!

Day 5 - 'Rest' Day

Today is our rest day, an essential part of any rally! Typically, we use the spare day to make any minor repairs to our Kar, do a bit of sightseeing and, of course, try and get a bit of rest.

Being in Broken Hill, today's rest day meant an obligatory trip out to nearby Silverton to visit the Mad Max Museum.

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Day 4 – Tibooburra to Broken Hill

Editor’s note: Kath Downie shares more of her 2017 Kidney Kar Rally adventures in her blog post below!

We woke up early enough to catch the sunrise, and weren’t disappointed!

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Yesterday was a great day, but not without its challenges! We finished 18th for the day (1 early, 1 early, 2 early, 3 early). A sneaky secret control on the last stage caught most of us, so most people were early on that one! Yesterday's results left us sitting at 17th overall.

We left Tibooburra early this morning headed for Broken Hill. Two class 3 stages to start with before lunch in Packsaddle (yes we were only just here it seems). 2 stages down, 2 to go!

The treat for today was 53 gates to open and close! By lunch we were 32 down, 21 to go. Navigators hate gates, they are the ones who have to get in and out of the car at each one. The drivers just sit and wait...! Good if you can arrange to have a car close in front and another close behind - they can open and close and you just cruise through!

The afternoon brought us a little drama as we managed to shred a tyre which was changed with such lightening speed by our friends from the Tumut Transplant Team that we don't think we actually lost much time on the stage. Trying to change a tyre in red sand in high winds was quite the challenge indeed. Other than that we have a couple of other minor car issues we will try to get sorted tomorrow which is our much needed rest day!

And the bestest surprise ever:

My children and grandchildren drove all the way up from Melbourne to surprise me - I was overwhelmed to say the least.

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Day 3 - To Tibooburra

Editor’s note: Kath Downie shares more of her 2017 Kidney Kar Rally adventures in her blog post below!

We always forget how exhausting the rally is!

Ken was looking a little tired this morning. IMG_4830

But, as heralded by a spectacular White Cliffs sunrise, we had another big day ahead of us.

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Above: Sunrise at White Cliffs – breathtaking!

A bolstering – albeit chilly - outdoor brekkie at the White Cliffs Pub was all we needed to kick ourselves into gear.

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A few good hours of driving later, we stopped for lunch in Milparinka. The weather was a balmy 30 degrees – a bit of a change from the shivery Melbourne winter days we’ve become used to!

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A jaunt along the rust-coloured (and spectacularly dusty) Silver City Highway would take us to Tibooburra, our final check point of the day.

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Above: just a bit of dust on the inside of our Kar!

Everyone agrees we have never seen quite so much roadkill as we have on this rally. The first couple of days we were dodging large roo carcasses which added to the challenge for the drivers! But we have also seen a large number of live animals - lots of goats, kangaroos, emus, cows, sheep and frilled neck lizards.

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The landscape seems so bare and bereft of any greenery, yet they all survive (unless hit by a car or truck). Some farmers actually thanked us for forcing the Roos to move away from their properties as we all zoomed through!

What an amazing country we live in!

We finally made it to our check point…IMG_4838

…and our day was bookended by a spectacular sunset, Tibooburra-style.

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Days 1 and 2 - Condobolin, Cobar, Tilpa and White Cliffs

Editor’s note: Kath Downie shares more of her 2017 Kidney Kar Rally adventures in her blog post below!

Saturday proved to be a great start for us, as we managed to get through our first three stages unscathed. The reward? A lunch stop at Condobolin.

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The final stage for Day 1 was by far the longest. There was a lot of jostling for place among the Kars, with some truly spectacular driving taking place – and a lot of dust!

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Above: Coming up on another car and then being overtaken by another...

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Fields of canola brightened the final leg of the day, as we settled in to Cobar for the night.

If the temperature gauge on the Subaru was to be any indication, Sunday was all set to be a day of extremes – and it delivered.
IMG_4820Above: a cold start in Cobar!

From the extremely flat, arid terrain out near Tilpa…

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Now at the end of day 2, we are at equal 11th, so pretty pleased. In the 4 stages yesterday we managed to lose only 5 points.

Today we have completed another 4 stages - the first one was a doozy! A class 5 that took its toll on a few cars and has left us with what looks like a rock in one of our brake drums. This little Subaru has certainly taken a beating over the 4 previous rallies and this one makes 5 - a lot to ask of any car, but hopefully she will get us through to the end!

Dinner tonight is outside at the local pub and while it may be a little chilly, it'll be nothing compared to the minus 1 when we left Cobar this morning!

2017 Kidney Kar Rally - Griffith

Editor's note: Straight from the front seat of the Downies 'Kar', Navigator Kath Downie will be keeping us updated on all the thrills and spills she and Driver Ken face while participating in the 2017 Kidney Kar Rally. Here's her first entry!

We’ve made it to Griffith, the starting point of this year’s rally!

First on the list today was compulsory scrutineering of our Kar. Always held the day before the rally officially starts, scrutineering allows the paramedics to check our first aid kits to make sure they are current, and the scrutineer to check all our safety equipment to make sure we are properly equipped to handle any misadventures that may befall us during the course of the rally.

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Then, following a street parade through Griffith, we had the essential briefings for drivers and navigators.

Above: The 'bible' - everything you need to know during the entire rally is here!

We also had the opportunity to visit the kids at Griffith Public School, who loved meeting Billy the Kidney and checking out the rally cars!

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As day turned to evening, it was time for the official start dinner. It’s an important event, and always an exciting one for us, as we get to find out how well we have done in the fundraising!

These guys below from the Artline Team have once again achieved an amazing fundraising total to take out the Jodie Lanyon Memorial Trophy for the highest fundraising total of more than $47000.

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We are once again thrilled to have been placed 4th in the fundraising total with over $23000! Thank you so much to all our sponsors once again!

During the dinner, this man – an absolute legend - gave one of the most moving speeches to the entire rally group tonight. His daughter Beccky passed away as a result of the anti-rejection medication she was taking following her second kidney transplant. Congratulations Paul Johns - you held it together and there wasn't a dry eye in the house!

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Tomorrow is Day 1, so stay tuned - fingers crossed we have more thrills than spills to report!