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Dams & Dwellingup, November 10, 2002 - Article by Richard H

Far too early one fine Sunday morning, 14 bleary-eyed car enthusiasts descended on Fast Eddy's Fremantle for coffee, breakfast and many jugs of complimentary orange juice.

This was the initial mustering point for a cruise "out of town", and the parking spots outside quickly filled up with FTOs.

Spurning the offer of a group table in a room at the back, we instead hijacked all the tables with street frontage. With all the curvy Japanese imports on display, the "room at the back" simply wasn't going to cut it! The staff at Fast Eddy's did their best to dodge the flying furniture as we built one giant table - one with arguably the best view in town.

Breakfast

Before we knew it, we had a great turnout on our hands, with a number of new members introducing themselves.

Fred Moi arrived in a white FTO heavily decorated with RALLIART signage - not to mention the aggressive bodykit. It apparently lit up like a Christmas tree at night as well...

Fay's FTO had recently been imported... complete with Tein suspension and other goodies. Unfortunately, it was holed up in her garage awaiting compliance plates! Instead, she and other half Graeme were out and about in his Calibra... a show car of no small repute.

Jules and Rebecca turned up ready for the cruise in a '96 GPX, and Rachel accompanied Matthew Roberts. Additionally, Rowan and Yvonne made it to the breakfast, but sadly were not able to join in the rest of the cruise. There's always a next time, though!

Parked Up

Before the breakfast coffees were emptied, we'd performed a head-count of those intending to continue on to lunch. With this, we rang through a table reservation at our next food stop... the Millhouse Cafe in Dwellingup. How organised!

With breakfast out of the way, we wandered outside for a bit of tyre-kicking. This gave everybody a chance to meet those individuals who had been at the opposite end of the big breakfast table!

Fred's vehicle was by far the most visually arresting vehicle in the pack. He had owned this for about 2.5 years, and was obviously not a fan of the subtle approach! We joked that we'd have to hide him in the middle of the pack, as this car was the ultimate "cop bait".

In truth, there was no expectation of police attention... This day was all about having a leisurely cruise and socialising, not hosting a cannonball run!

RalliArt

Rowan and Yvonne departed for their previous engagement, and the rest of the party prepared to form the convoy to our next destination. At a couple of minutes to nine, our departure was perfectly timed... right before the street parking stopped being free!

The convoy snaked its way through Fremantle, managing to somehow stay together down South Street. Before too long, we were bound for the bottom end of the Kwinana Freeway.

The posted freeway speed limit is 100km/h. However, despite keeping the "lead car" speed consistent at around 95km/h, the vehicles at the rear found themselves having to vary their speed significantly at times - the typical problem of convoy length "rubber-banding" due to various external factors.

The convoy passed a (very surprised looking) slow-moving vehicle with caravan in tow, then left the freeway for an East-bound run on Mundijong Rd.

Exit

This was a great route to cross inland to the Darling Range, with country speed limit, great visibility and some nice sweeping curves past the rural back blocks. The sun was shining, the windows were down... The cobwebs were definitely blown away!

Before too long, 8 FTOs and a bright red Calibra passed through Jarradale, on the way to Serpentine Dam. Several years before, our very first "mini-meet" of 3 FTOs had made the trek to the Serpentine Tea Rooms, and we aimed to make a triumphant return.

Dam Wall

Sadly, it was not to be! The tea rooms (and, indeed, the entire upper car park) were closed, locked and bolted. Not part of the plan...

Instead, our convoy found a better place to park - stretched out across the access road of the dam wall itself! With a vast expanse of water on one side and a steep drop on the other, it was quite a picturesque location for a tyre-kicking session.

The image to right shows Mark's car in the foreground, shiny wheels and all.

In the background, the critical extent of Perth's water shortage can be seen. Those wide expanses of red soil should really be underwater!

It must be all those car owners washing their vehicles every weekend...

Mark's GPX
Steroids

Another look at Fred's bodykitted GPX... even the rear lights had been given the full treatment!

It was hard to find a panel that was not sporting some form of sticker or decal.


The views from the dam were impressive, and there were many photo opportunities. Still, after about 20 minutes in full West Aussie sun, we decided to move to the carpark on the far side of the dam. The rush was on for the shady spot at the far end!

Shady Spot

Serpentine Dam was the final cruise stop for Mark A, who needed to head back into Perth for a prior engagement.

Nevertheless, we reckoned that getting 9 vehicles out and about was a good turnout for the FTO Drivers Club. Graeme, however, noted that the last Rollaboyz cruise he'd done had ended up with a convoy of 103!

Quiet Sunday

With 103 cars, you'd need to find a much larger dam...


On departing, we followed Kingsbury Rd back down the scarp to the highway. From there, it was a case of settling into a relaxed pace for the drive through North Dandalup and Pinjarra.

On the Road

We slotted neatly into light traffic, and were fortunate to avoid any hassles on the way. There is always some nutcase in a 4x4 who refuses to accept that the log truck at the front of the queue really is only capable of 80km/h up a hill, and must prove themselves in an insane game of 'chicken' as he overtakes everyone.

We kept an eye out for this guy, but still hadn't seen him by the time we reached the town of Pinjarra.

The road from Pinjarra to Dwellingup starts on the coastal plains, before ascending into the hills. We had a perfect, clear run on the flats, but as soon as we reached the foothills became stuck behind an ancient truck loaded with concrete blocks, barely able to manage 50km/h.

One by one, we blasted around him when the straights (and full visibility) permitted.

We had just about reached town when out of nowhere came Captain Chaos in his 4x4, on a suicide dash to nowhere at Mach 3. As well as scaring oncoming drivers witless, he also managed to fire stones the size of golf balls at the convoy with inhuman accuracy. Practically everybody reported a direct hit on either windscreen, spoiler or wing mirror. Good one, mate.

We reached Dwellingup safe and sound, with all vehicles (and windscreens) accounted for. We rolled through town until we spotted the Millhouse Cafe. Given Dwellingup's modest size, the search took all of 45 seconds!

This restaurant is a great destination for a day on the road. There is as much seating as you could want, a pizza oven and a large balcony overlooking the town's oval. It is apparently a favoured lunch stop for many Perth car clubs. Dwellingup is not too distant from Perth, but enough to make it a good drive.

Cafe
Trackside

Upon the owner's recommendation, we parked opposite the cafe, under the gum trees bordering the oval.

The Calibra certainly stood out from the pack of FTOs... for a start, it was the only vehicle painted in an actual colour, as opposed to white, black or silver!

Yet another opportunity beckoned for poking at various vehicles, but the call of food and drink (not to mention nature!) was simply irresistible.

We'd reserved a table on the balcony, and had the group of vehicles in full view as we grabbed some drinks. Late Spring was turning out to be quite hot, but that's just life in this part of the world. Cold beer in hand, crickets chirping, flies buzzing... another perfect day in Oz!

The food itself was excellent. Despite a decent array of choices, the vast majority went for the pizza. We all got our liquid intake back up to par (especially those not driving back!), and everyone enjoyed having a good chinwag.

Lunch

The Lunch Party

(left to right) Rachel, Matthew, Graeme, Fay, Leigh, Rich, Fred, Rebecca, Jules, Luke.

Tyre Kicking

Eventually, it was time to depart. Leigh did the honours and collected the funds from everyone (and was apparently able to quit his job and retire early thanks to our dodgy maths).

We headed back over the road to our ad hoc car park, wondering if we would fit behind the wheel after the lunch we'd just demolished. To work off the excess weight, we walked around the vehicles and talked shop some more.

Moving Out

Leigh's vast drift wing was quite a talking point that day. It also provided shade for three other FTOs parked behind it.

Graeme's Calibra was "between entertainment systems", unfortunately, but plans were afoot to drop a vast array of subs into the rear. Come the next car show, it will no doubt be bursting judges' heads and winning some more coveted awards.

Dam

Our final stop was South Dandalup Dam, only about 10 minutes from Dwellingup. Graeme and Fay did the honours in leading the way out of town, with 7 FTOs close behind.

As we were passing the dam on the return leg anyway, it seemed appropriate to drop in and see if one dam was much like another. It was! ...but at least it gave us a final stop before the uninterrupted trip back to Perth.

Once again, a convoy of vehicles snaked across a dam wall, only this time we decided against taking over the whole access road, instead finding a car park with a view of the water below.

We indulged in one final (slightly exhausted) kicking of FTO tyres.

Soon enough, it was time to head home. The convoy made a beeline for North Dandalup, and then retraced our route to Mundijong Rd. Finally, we rejoined the Kwinana Freeway for the northbound run to Perth.

Final Stop

We peeled off at our respective exits, heading home after a great day on the road.

In the days following the cruise, I had several people comment to me that they were impressed by the manner in which everyone conducted themselves, both on and off the road. Thanks to everybody who made the day a success!


Thanks also to everyone who sent in the great photographs.


(c) 2002, All Rights Reserved