2015 has seen the GET Series take adventurers on a range of 4WD tag along tours from Augusta to Monkey Mia; from Lancelin to the Lesueur National Park. The 2015 calendar came to a climax in our biggest event yet- GET Sandy in Cervantes.  35 4WDs, 90 swashbuckling explorers, 6 finely honed RAC DTEC trainers and a specialist support vehicle.

Momentum created over the year saw the event sell out in days demonstrating a real thirst for this type of weekend adventure amongst RAC members. Undaunted by the size of the group, the prospect of an unseasonably warm 38 degrees and the fact that the first day was Friday 13th the DTEC crew got their hands to the pump.

 

The first job was to pick up the supplies for the welcome BBQ.  You can relate to the pressure of hosting a gathering at your place? Scale that up a group of 90. Andy McLeod, RAC DTEC Training Team Leader and his Toyota Prado rose to the challenge. Already laden with camping and recovery equipment, three fridges of meat and salad were loaded. After adding the calculated amount of bread the Prado looked like an advert for meals on wheels!

 

On arrival at base camp in the Pinnacles Holiday Park in Cervantes tents were quickly pitched on the beach front sites with the exception of a few families that had decided to take advantage of the on-site cabins or required a larger patch of land for their caravans. By 6pm we were soon in full BBQ mode with traditional fare: steak, sausage and salad. The flow of food continued for two hours catering for the later arrivals, during which time the participants met the trainers and were given a package explaining what was going to happen over the weekend. With the formalities complete, groups telling 4×4 war stories soon formed, bragging about where they had been and what they had done.

At the 8am briefing the following morning, clearly everyone had slept well and were raring to go. The group contained a broad mix of ages, abilities and vehicles. At the top end were some highly modified 4×4 vehicles were clearly capable of tackling some quite extreme conditions, right down to a surprisingly spritely Mitsubishi Delica. As a consequence the group was split evenly into 3 groups; experienced, moderate and beginners. After half an hour to sort out vehicles, air-down tyres and most importantly pick up breakfast from the on-site café the first group rolled out at 9am with the UHF radios crackling into life.

The 20 minute gap between groups worked well as the beginner group, some of whom had never taken their vehicles off road, were given additional tuition on tyre pressures and how to put their vehicles into 4×4 and low range. As the excitement of the adventure grew one lady exclaimed that she was absolutely terrified. Her fears were allayed and after a short time the “Beginners” were ready to roll.

The concept of the beginner group going last was well thought out with the idea being that the track would be packed down and cleared by the more experienced users. However, with the hot, dry weather the first climb had started to become quite soft and challenging. Cue the first lesson of the day: momentum and confidence.

Having negotiated the short drive to the beautiful white sand dunes, came lesson two: recovery techniques. The components of a safe snatch strap recovery was a new concept to a number of people and the group visibly grew in confidence once this potentially very dangerous operation had been correctly explained. After a number of these exercises the next stop was the ocean for everyone to cool off. As the mercury soared to well in excess of 30 degrees and the pristine beach and the turquoise water cast its spell the planned 30 minute rest quickly dragged out to an hour with most people taking the chance to take a dip and allow the kids to have a fantastic time burning off some energy in the waves.

Setting off again on the final haul to the river mouth plenty of challenging tracks hills and short beach runs saw a couple of bogged vehicles put the recovery theory into practice. It was fantastic to start to see skill levels rapidly develop. A late lunch at the river was a welcome break for the youngsters and a few people decided to cast a line returning with Bream and Flathead as the catch of the day. The return journey went a short distance back up the coastal tracks before cutting out back to bitumen. After airing up the tyres the day’s adventure concluded back at the campsite at 4pm.

The evening itinerary kicked in at 6pm with the convoy departing the campsite to enjoy an incredible sunset over the spooky environment of the Pinnacles. It had been a fantastic day, very sunny with a little bit of cloud bubbling up, giving a spectacular end to the day with small amount of cloud on the horizon turning orange and then red with a golden lining. The sky turned through every shade of blue with the pinnacles casting progressively longer shadows over the deep red sand. If you have never witnessed the sunset over the pinnacles please add it to your bucket list; it is purely magical. The thin crescent moon couldn’t dim the stars blinking into existence one by one and to top it off the clear dark sky revealed the Milky Way in all of its magnificence. People headed back down to the camp site at 10pm heading straight to bed after a small night cap with new friends.

The following morning was a more relaxed start with most people packing up camp by 9:30am and the RAC convoy forming a very impressive line. The mostly bitumen drive up to Stockyard Gully Caves finished with the last five kilometres on a soft sand track. Descending on foot into the fabulously cool and dark caves brought welcome relief from the heat. This is where the journey ended.

Speaking to almost everyone individually, without exception a fantastic time had been had with most people commenting on how much more confident they would feel when driving their vehicle off road. Even the terrified lady at the start of the trip stated that she had had a wonderful weekend proving the old adage of doing something every day that scares you, even if only a little bit.

The journey home allowed time to reflect on what had been an awesome adventure exploring some of WA’s hidden gens with people that may have never experienced this type of adventure had it not been for the RAC GET series.

Look out for the 2016 GET Series, rumour has it, it may include exploring a winery or two…