I have been asked to write about Raid Australia 1996 which starts in Uluru (Ayers Rock) and travels to Alice Springs, north west up the Tanami track to Kunnunara and Broome and then back to Kalbarri just north of Perth - it's really not as short as that as it covers about 9,500km ! I am slightly hesitant about writing this because I know that not everyone can afford to go and it could be seen as elitist but it is a big 2CV event and I have been asked to write it so I will start by talking about why I am going and the preparation of the cars and perhaps write a couple more articles about sending the cars to Australia and the actual raid itself.
I sort of got involved in Raid Australia 1996 after talking to Annie Walters (a recent Overseas Co-ordinator) and it sounded like really good fun so I slowly slipped into the mode of going and found myself (very happily) on the slippery slope to Australia. It helps having been born in that neck of the woods as well.
The first thing was to find a car that was more than 15 years old on the date of importation into Australia. By having a car over 15 years old the technical requirements necessary to import it are considerably reduced and the tax to be paid is significantly lower.
I will deal with cars over 15 years old here. Ideally you need a good car (well all the good ones are over 15 years old aren't they ?) and the modifications required are:
1) Seat belt attachment bolts to be fitted behind the centre of each rear seat
2) Automatic reversing light switch
3) Kilometre speedo
4) Integral headrests
It is also sensible to fit an 'Arab Waffler' chassis support especially if you have a Citroën chassis.
Seat belt attachment bolts
You can buy these from any car parts shop but they needed to be attached to a mild steel plate of specific dimensions (4½ x 1½ x¼) for Australia. We thought that the petrol tank had to come out to fit them but discovered when the tank was out that this was not necessary - lesson number 1. We hope they will pass inspection in Australia - they did.
Automatic reversing light switch
Again you can buy these and I managed to find a well known High Wycombe Independent with one for sale. Just take off your old gearbox back plate and replace it with the new one with the hole drilled and tapped and the switch in place. All you have to do then is wire things up !
Reasonably easy to get - just ring someone you know on the continent but remember to tell them if you require a small one (as per the late model Spécials) or a larger one as per the Clubs and Charlestons or if you require the square or round connectors.
These are reasonably easy to get in Germany (they were a requirement there). I was lucky and managed to get ones which matched the seat cloth in my car.
'Arab Waffler' chassis support
Quite why it is called an 'Arab Waffler' I do not know but it is (and it probably waffles Arabs). It consists of three bits of ¼ inch plate steel, two of which attach through the front and rear axle bolts respectively and the third one is attached through the engine mountings at the front. To these plates you weld four lengths of 25mm T bar which strengthen the chassis longitudinally. The problem here is that when you want to change your cross-box you may have to either cut the 25mm T bar or alternatively lift the engine and gearbox. We'll cross that one if and when we come to it but we have put a strengthening bar in front of the cross-box just in case. I did blow a cross box and found that jubilee clips and exhaust bandage were quite sufficient.
Getting the car to Australia
Well the first thing you have to do is get authority to import the car which comes from Canberra (they really are very efficient) and you have to fill in a form and send copies of the V5 and current MoT and such documents to prove the car exists and is the year it purports to be and so on (ring Australia House (0171) 379 4334 between 10:00 and 12:00 and wait for a human voice to answer !). If your application is successful you will receive the necessary papers to import your car into Australia - without these you won't get it out of the port of arrival unless you are on a Carnet de Passage.
One of the important things is to seal the engine and gearbox as much as is practicable which means using 'jubilee clips' on any gaiters (especially the gearbox one) and ensuring that the carburettor nuts are really tight and sealed - well I didn't want to use a trade name ! Our air filters have been slightly modified to pre-filter the air before it goes into the usual air filter. This way it will not be choked with red dust on the very dusty sections.
The car also needs to be steam cleaned before it leaves the UK and again on arrival in Australia - very clean people these Aussies !
The cost of getting the car there by boat (either Roll on / Roll off or container) is around the £800 mark - do haggle as some of the prices we were quoted were up around £1,100 ! On top of that you have to pay wharfage charges in the UK and again in Australia, pay Customs, Tax, Insurance and Road Tax ! I am hoping to send my car via my employers - if this happens it will be the fastest - 575mph (927kph) and highest - 35,000 feet 2CV and it will only take it 19 hours and 10 mins (according to the schedule) to get to Perth ! That's a lot better than the six weeks we will take to drive from Perth to Alice Springs and then back to Perth again ! It did go by air and took 18hrs and 48 mins to get to Perth.
Addressees / Phone numbers:
Federal Office of Road Safety
GPO Box 594
00 61 6 274 7111
00 61 6 274 7922 (Fax)
The importation and registration (rego in Australian terms) was really easy and was done for us by Greg Bracegirdle (a 2CV fanatic in Perth) along with help from Ralph and Hanny Hibble of Jolly Nice 2CVs Repairs and Spares. There was a further cost of about $300 here for the inspection and a year's tax. It is very important to make sure that the car is in as good a condition as possible as the inspection is extremely tough and you don't want to put the 'helpers' in Australia to any unnecessary extra work.
The next thing is of course to get yourself to Australia and you have to leave quite a bit of time to buy camping equipment, insure the car (another $200), fit a CB radio (most essential) and get yourself to the starting point which is about 2,200km away over dirt roads.
Most of us were in Perth some two or three days before we were due to depart on a mini-Raid to Ayers Rock and we spent nearly all our spare time loading the cars this way and that to ensure that we had the weight in the right places (as far forward as possible) and buying all the necessary bits of camping equipment we would need.
The planned day of departure was 23rd July and by the evening of 22nd we had done everything except for buying the food - more weight to add to the cars. Departure time was 06:00 the following morning.
We departed from our lodgings at 05:25 and made it to the Service Station (Servo) just in time to meet up with the other cars - we were now about seven in number including a Toyota 4 x 4 which was known as Mother Goose. It was carrying the spares (as it would for the whole Raid).
We had a fairly uneventful trip going east into the rising sun towards Kalgoorlie (some 600k distant) and the goldfields with a couple of stops for fuel and food. We eventually bush camped just north west of Kalgoorlie (not as far as we would have liked) but a wonderful camp sandwiched between the main road and the railway line.
A cloudy morning and as we ventured north west towards Menzies the rain started. We stopped in Menzies for petrol and the (by now required) bacon and egg toasted sandwich. We went on to Laverton (the start of the dirt and the Warburton Road) and fuelled up again with the sun now out.
On to the dirt and a few of us had a bit to get used to. A couple of stops for photographs and by 5:00pm we had arrived at Tjukaruru Roadhouse where we again fuelled up and pitched camp for the night. There were hot showers here and just after showering a desert storm hit us. Panic stations to keep some of the tents in one place and Rens and Natalie spent the night in the ladies loo !
Off by 7:30am on towards Warburton. The pressure was on to put some kilometers behind us and by 1:30 (now on Northern Territory time) we were at Warakuna Roadhouse and about to head off towards Docker River. The sky was threatening but we had planned to camp at Lassiters Cave. On arrival there at 7:30pm the rain was falling in stair rods so after a quick discussion over the CBs we decided to make a run for Ayers Rock some 180km further on. We made good progress but about 10km before the bitumen (the Australians call it Black Top) a message came over the CB asking us all to stop as one of the cars had suffered an unknown suspension failure. When we returned the car looked very sad and there were some long faces. An attempt was made to fix the car (without too much success) and eventually the occupants spent a cold and lonely night in the desert whilst we drove on to Ayers Rock and set up camp. We met up with friends old and new in a very comfortable campsite.
A beautiful day and nowhere to have to drive to. Some of us did the washing, others climbed Ayers Rock, we went to watch the sunset (magnificent) and had a good evening meal at a 'cook your own' barbecue. The damaged car was recovered to Ayers Rock and the sheared rear axle bolts replaced. It sounds like a quick job but with a view to the future it was done slowly and methodically to ensure it didn't happen again. At this point we started a daily ritual of washing the airfilters and greasing the kingpins. A lot of time was spent meeting friends old and new. In the evening we had our first Raid meeting.
An easy day today, just 120km to Mt Conner, and a wonderful bush camp. We all thought that Mt Conner was more beautiful than Ayers Rock.
Another reasonably easy day to Kings Canyon (and a proper campsite). A lovely walk around Kings Canyon in the afternoon.
Off to Glen Helen to-day via the Mereenie Loop Road - it was very rough. Permits were required as this road passed through Aboriginal Land. We also visited Gosses Bluff (where a Comet hit the earth millions of years ago). The Glen Helen camping ground looked awful on arrival but once filled with tents and cars was fine. We dined in the homestead in the evening and had a cooked breakfast there in the morning.
30th July - 31st July
A leisurely trip to Alice Springs (the Alice) and strange things such as traffic lights appeared. Visits were made to tyre repairers, the washing machine and the showers, probably in that order. We spent a day in Alice buying some last minute things. In the evening we went to the old railway station (The Ghan - named after the original Afghan camel drivers) to have a 'getting to know you' barbecue.
Note (This is from an Oficial Austraian outback publcation)
The Tanami Track passes through very remote land where water, food and fuel are scarce. However it is common to see other vehicles travelling this road so breakdown need not be dangerous provided adequate provisions and water are carried. It is possible for conventional vehicles to travel the Tanami Track but it is only recommended for experienced travellers. High clearance vehicles are recommended. Much of the track can be impassable in wet weather, supply of fuel cannot be guaranteed and heat can be extreme. Organise periodic contact with a friend who is aware of your travel arrangements and seek local advice from Alice Springs or Halls Creek before starting your journey. Travel in convoy with another vehicle if possible.
The Tanami Track passes through huge areas of Aboriginal Lands both in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Although a permit is no necessary to travel on any of the main roads a permit IS necessary for ANY deviation into Aboriginal Lands.
A very early start and then off on to the Tanami Road. This road crosses the Tanami desert from Alice Springs to Halls Creek and is some 1,054km in length and all but 60km of it is dirt, corrugations and sand. Because of the early start we stopped for breakfast just before the dirt and then continued on. First stop was Tilmouth Roadhouse for petrol and then on to Yendemu, an Aboriginal community, for more petrol. Yendemu left most of us feeling very sad at the lifestyle of these people. We went on to a wonderful bush camp that evening, greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters..
The big thing of today was the a visit to Rabbit Flat Roadhouse. Supposedly the most isolated Roadhouse in Australia. We had been warned that the fuel was expensive ($1:30 a litre compared to $0.77 in Perth) and not to upset the owner in any way - he had been known to approach some customers with a rifle ! Everything passed off well and we headed on towards a second bush camp after crossing (and photographing) our movement back into Western Australia. We greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters.
We were still on the Tanami Road today but there was the promise of a 'proper' camping ground at Halls Creek and decent showers. There were some quite difficult 'dips' to negotiate at the end of the Tanami Road but we all kissed the bitumen when we got to it. We greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters.
All day in Halls Creek. We maintained the cars, did some shopping, went for a flight over the Bungle Bungles (a large and amazing rock formation in the Kimberlys) and had an evening out at the local Hotel.
A leisurely run from Halls creek to Lake Argyle via Kununnara (where we shopped for food). Bitumen all the way ....... We took part in the Australian Census.....Got a broken windscreen from one of those horrible road trains....
All day at Lake Argyle. There was a lot of maintenance carried out, some swimming and a superb trip on Lake Argyle. Some of the group swam in the Lake along with 35,000 freshwater crocodiles. We greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters.
Back to Kununnara and then on to the famed Gibb River Road. We were heading for Jack's Waterhole but after about 5k on the dirt the CB squawked into life with a urgent message that one of the cars in our group had a major problem. We returned and found a very sad looking car - all down at the back and the right hand spring pot hanging off at the back. This car had a non-Citroën chassis and the attachment lugs for the spring pot were just welded on the outside of the chassis and did not have a connecting member through to the other side (0/10 to who ever manufactured it). The welding gear was called for and Bruce (Father Goose) Elsegood welded it up using a cutting torch (due to the excessive amounts of galvanise also known as galvo). It was decided that the risk of taking the car further on the Gibb River Road was not worth it so it returned to the blacktop together with another car for company/safety and we met up with them again at Fitzroy Crossing. A number of swing arms were broken on this road today (surprisingly just about all of them were offside rear ones - any ideas anyone ?). We eventually made it to Jack's Waterhole well after dark. The showers were awful. We greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters.
An earlyish start and we headed for Ellenbrae station to get fuel (out of a 44 gallon drum - think that is 205 litres). We had an enjoyable time pumping the fuel and stopped for a coffee here as well. The road was still diabolical but as the day progressed it got better and better and were did manage 120km/h at one stage. There were a number of water crossings as we approached Mt Barnett Station (where we camped for the night and swam in the most idyllic water hole you can imagine). We were also presented with stickers which proclaimed we had survived the Gibb River Road .... We greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters.
On again with some dramatic scenery and a side trip to Lennard River Gorge. A difficult scramble down the rocks was rewarded by a most refreshing swim. A reasonably quiet day ending up at Winjana Gorge and a walk on the wild side with crocodiles very evident. We greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters.
Heading to Fitzroy Crossing today but a quick side trip to Tunnel Creek where we walked through a range of hills. Very enjoyable as was the stop at Fitzroy Crossing where we luxuriated in the showers and managed to wash some clothes. We greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters.
All the way to Broome today. Bitumen all the way, Really quite boring after the dirt but we thought the cars probably enjoyed it. Passed an enormous load going into the desert and managed to book a camel ride on cable Beach.
All day in Broome. Work on the car - the exhaust was blowing a bit. All cars on the beach for 08:30 for a photograph (before the tide swallowed them) and then again at 3:15pm for a television appearance. Conformation that Steve Hill is a few sandwiches short of a picnic today when be parachuted from 10,000 feet. Looked like he really enjoyed it.
All the way to 80 mile beach today. All on bitumen with one bit 39km long without a bend in the road. Boring boring boring.
All day at 80 mile beach and no swimming - too many noxious pests in the sea but a wonderful sunset and an amusing auction of the remaining tee shirts. One of the French chaps was christened 7 dollars as that was the amount he bid for each and every item....
On to Port Headland (an Iron Ore port) - some cars went via Marble Bar (the hottest place in Australia - or even the world - with over 100 consecutive days above 100F phew - ). Shopping in South Headland and then a magical bush camp with singing from Maryse.
On to the Auski Roadhouse - don't think they were expecting us - and then to Kariniji National Park. Lovely swimming and a super park headquarters. Camping at Joffre George was not the best. In an area where blue asbestos was mined - lots of warning signs. We greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters.
A visit to Wittenoom - a very sad town which the Government are trying to close down. However it still has 25 residents and we managed to buy some home made lemon marmalade. Excellent dirt roads. Also visited Hammerslery Gorge - the power of the earth as there too see and quite amazing. Camping at the Kaiser Steel Corporation town of Tom Price. We greased the kingpins and washed the airfilters.
A tour of the mine (opencast) was most interesting. Then a fairly leisurely day at first on dirt and then on 'black top' to Stuart Creek. I think everyone stopped at Duck Creek to take a photograph. Another magical evening around the campfire and in fact our last bush camp.
A quick trip to Nanutarra Roadhouse for breakfast and then on to the coast at Coral Bay. We had a struggle over the dirt road due to the head winds but Coral Bay was worth the effort.
Lazing around at Coral Bay. Trips in glass bottom boats - real relaxation. There were three Raiders birthdays today and they were all the same age.... Take away pizzas for tea - what a luxury.
Whale watching. It took a long time to find them but they were really worth it. Quite humbling to watch them with their families. Probably the best $45 spent on the Raid. In the afternoon we left for a bush camp but it was too wet (they had had a lot of rain) so we camped in the grounds of a Roadhouse and pitched camp in the dark - well we were getting fairly good at it by now.
On to Hamelin Pool Telegraph station - not that far (in our terms); only about 120k. The flies were very bad so we pitched our tents and headed for Denham and Monkey Mia in the hope of seeing the dolphins. We were not disappointed and on the way home saw a spectacular sunset at Shell beach. At Hamelin Pool are the oldest living organisms in the world - stromatolites - fascinating things.
On to Kalbarri National Park and our final camp before the end of the Raid. We were delighted to be met by Association of Citroën Enthusiasts club members. They helped us get used to strangers !
Our first rain of the raid and very welcome it was. A wonderful end of Raid do was held at Findlays fresh Fish BBQ - what an evening.
25th August - 27th August
Back to Perth and a bed in a house..... Lots of last minute shopping, preparing the cars for storage and getting all the baggage in the proper containers..... A big party on the Tuesday evening and tears being shed on saying goodbye to people we did not know four weeks previously.
It was a wonderful experience, I'd do it again tomorrow and cannot wait for the next Raid Australia hopefully in four years time.
I think special mention here should be made of those people who worked so hard to make it possible for us to enjoy ourselves so much and (in the words of one of them) in no particular order they are Greg (Batman) Bracegirdle, Ralph and Hanny Hibble, David Gries, Uli Witting and Steve Weddel.
Can anyone throw any light (i.e explain the theory) on the following facts:
About 95% of the rear arm failures were on offside rear arm
About 90% of the punctures were on rear offside wheels