Thursday 14 April 2011

Nowhere Road

I wrote this many years before Dan took the photo, about a different car. But the road in the backwoods of the Sunshine Coast is the same as it ever was. The pic captures everything perfectly - the green valley, the big sky, that sweet hard-packed gravel surface and a car that's been waiting 30 years to tackle it.


Open door, slide in. Buckle up. Start. Clutch in, first gear. Crawl down the drive. Right, left. Creep out on to the narrow dirt road, turn left. Stop.

200 metre straight ahead of you. Curves right then left over the old creek bank, another short straight before a decent hillclimb. One hand on the stick. Seconds tick by.


The straight is gone in a moment, you've just changed to third, but now you're back to second, engine screaming as you throw it through the switchback and up the hill. Slight left-hander over a crest, then a long straight downhill run. Pick up plenty of speed.

Second gear corner, a wide sweep of hard gravel. Plenty of throttle and balance it sideways, straightening out as you come through the big dips, gum trees high on both sides. You feel the engine screaming, begging for third gear, but hold as another hill and right hand turn loom in the windscreen and disappear.

Down a snaking track of loose gravel, the first serious braking point. Tiny slide as you reach the bottom and it's a hill climb again, 30 metre drop on the left and a high bank on the right through trees. Suddenly, another crest and you burst out in to open farmland. Down another big set of ruts to a sweeping left hander. Another short drift, then straighten up.

The dirt disappears in to blacktop. Now the fun begins. The first straight run is good for 150, if you don't mind a little bottoming out on the dips over bridges. Up between the twin pines and a huge sweeping left hander opens up in front of you. Back to third gear and pick your line through it, praying there's not a cattle truck coming the other way.

You're now flying through open farmland. Barbed wire fences and green, green paddocks. The engine's singing in 4th, the wind's in your hair. Brake gently for a sharp right-hander past the dairy, then hard on them for the left hand hairpin. A short uneven section, a dip for a bridge.

Now there's rolling hillside on either side, tall trees beside the road. Lovely wide s-bend, you slip across to the right hand side and pick a line through the centre. Blood's pumping now. Biggest straight of the journey unfolds over the hill and you nail it. It's over in a moment, and you're past the third bridge and braking hard so you don't shoot across the main road.

Roll to a stop. Breathe.

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