"No Fishing allowed !!"
By Flash Mullet
Challenging the first rays of the incoming sun had us re-approaching the township of Wingham feeling quite proud of ourselves in completing our 'Sweep' duties and the mere fact that we had actually managed to locate Wingham again had my (not so intrepid at the time) Navigator, Strop, feeling a sense of achievement. As for the Cortina GT, straight as it was, it's front end looked as though a 2 tonne wombat had fallen on it splaying both front wheels out in generous negative camber, (now if only we could make that workable?) memories recall it certainly turning heads as we searched for our service crew with the tyres leaving their protest on the bitumen.
The ensuing weeks back home had our 'dubious' project now surrounded by even more prospective drinkers, lads wishing to be a part of history?, as the Cortina and crew had, contrary to popular belief, returned reasonably unscathed from the battlefields of the previously unknown, and these guys wanted part of the action. Further 'bonding' nights at home with said beast had us now surrounded by multiplying cardboard cartons so we decided to try and keep the cartons separated as we were certain they were up to their own midnight activities! ........................ Nobody could have consumed that much!????
When the offer came to be road orfishalls at the Southern Cross Rally in '77 we set about packing our gear and planning our strategy two months out. (nah! we weren't keen!!!) . Our main task was to look after a monster competitive stage of 200km, somewhere the backside of Taree and Kempsey. Our instructions were to Clerk the course for the first 100km then set up a passage control (the in thing in those days), just after an optional service point (time in service added to your competitive time), wait until all the field had passed and then complete our duties by sweeping the remaining 100km. It goes without saying that on hearing the news I had absolutely no trouble in rounding up the group, who at the time consisted of (Mullet unnamed at the time, but we will use those names anyway!) Pom Pom, Navigator Brick (as Strop had run out of excuses for a week off work), Jeckyl, Sparks, Goanna, Linda, Radiator, Pat, and at the time, Tiddlers such as Revs, Harry, Scott and the crew from the Pacific Rally Club, Garden Fork, Tom, Ian, Sharon, Yellow Submarine, (and apologies to anyone missed in the memory warp). Jeckyl, a mate of Bricks was also finding his way back to the Macquarie Fields HQ of the 'beast' strangely coinciding with the time we were looking for a back up crew for "The Cross". Strange how he appeared in a full house XU1 complete with driving lights and halda. He got the nod because a) the car was factory red and b) we figured it would be good practice keeping up with a red XU1. As we departed in convoy for a glimpse of rally action at Amaroo dirt circuit I could not help but cast my thoughts back to the same day 12 months earlier when we were on the end of a Southern Cross BDA/180B/Mazda convoy heading north in our $620 (Then $1208 4 Dr Cortina GT British Racing Green Special). Being new around the traps our assignment was not anything really exciting like course car duties but still exciting enough as we were to be control orfishals and we would get to see our heroes close up incl. the cars.
Our crew that year consisted of families and Billy Lids along with members of the Tom inspired Pacific Rally Club. Little did we know at the time that my $1208 special was going to take a total dislike to running on you beaut top of the range engine oil (mistake #1). We went, we carried out our control duties (more on that later), we were sociable at the 'Sand Castle' (Rally HQ), we did the in thing by strolling down Howich St. Port Macquarie in our 'I'm not really a wanker,' Rally Jackets, did some more serious socialising at the Sand Castle, and travelled back home to Sydney in Radiators' mafia staff wagon! Yes our beast on wheels had really registered its discontent with it's new life dropping a cylinder and having to piggyback it's way back to Sydney on the back of an Inter!
The formative direction of the future habits of the as yet unborn Killer Mullet Rallye Team were cemented into being during this visit north.We had arrived early at our Finish control point inland from Telegraph Point, found the esky, snags and the portable BBQ (a sheet of iron and two bricks) whilst the billy lids went to investigate a river crossing at the foot of a long straight descent of the road and only about 300 metres before our control point. Whilst we were debating the advantages of putting a hydraulic handbrake into Radiators Valiant Wagon the lids arrived back with a wooden depth marker, it had apparently snapped off at the 1 metre mark. Well the rest is history as we decided to put it back where it should have rightly been minus the missing piece, it certainly livened up the entrance behaviour to the crossing which of course now read 1 1/2 metres at water level!. Feeling quite proud of ourselves in achieving a working environment with accompanied action we departed little knowing the consequence of our actions in the future years.
Under Tom's expertise my forlorn 'beast' had a major engine rebuild in it's temporary home at Galston, the convalescing gave us the opportunity to get on top of the multiplying carton problem by clearing out the garage, how were we to fit another car in there with that rubbish! yes another car! . We had heard on the grapevine that a certain 4 door Cortina rally car had had a serious altercation on the Princes Hwy. near Sutherland with another car coming out of a side street and was now for sale, it was soon occupying my garage. The purpose of this extended insanity was of course to deprive oneself and fellow helpers of any further reasonable sleep! We stripped any re-useable parts in readiness for when our soon 'real beast' was to re-appear. We managed to salvage a few trick bits, panels and motor which had scored a direct hit from the front. The long range fuel tank was a score which meant we could chuck the gummed up underslung unit which reminded you every time you opened the car of your last failed attempt to seal it! Having now graduated (under the watchful eye of Radiator) to a semi professional outfit turning up with eskys, not cartons we had managed to strip our second dubious project before welcoming our first dubious project back home. The re-creation of our forest racer now code-named "Disaster", had even more inquisitive bods dropping by, (with esky) obliging to lend a hand whilst muttering "I'm glad it's you and not me". I managed to sidestep their confidence in the project by pointing out the feats managed by Bo Seton and Harry Firth in a similar car. The engine job by Tom had given the car a new lease of life, I now had a genuine 1500cc 4 Door GT Cortina and realising how down on grunt the original was. The midnight oil was being burnt at Macquarie Fields in transferring the many trickbits from dubious 2 only to stop when someone would announce that the Paul Hogan show was on, (a cult following of ours at the time and never to be missed!)____ no, Delvene had nothing to do with it! The crew at this time consisted of Sponsors son, Wayne, Vulture (he was an undertaker), and took on the job as our Publicity Officer,..... pretty brave? KJ, Brick (who's love of minis found his name), Peter Mullet (because it sounded right), Jeckyl (who's other side in the forest was Hyde), Donut (who had thrown the odd few) also Cortina bound, Strop (as prev. mentioned), Distributor (as we all felt he was a bit retarded), and Radiator (guardian of the eskys, no, really he could not keep the same radiator in his cars for longer than 2 months!). A few shake down runs around the Raby rd. dirt circuit, yes, before they spoilt it with bitumen had us pleased with our efforts, then someone said "lets give it a new colour scheme", before we could refill the esky there it stood in a shed at Glenfield all masked up and ready for a foreign order task of two tone British Racing Green and White. I recall our first event of the year the 'Ulladulla 400' was still 2 weeks away and we were all looking forward to a team effort in our rebuilt, repainted grunter. It was amazing how fast 2 weeks can go when you are trying to borrow time!, I recall Jeckyl who had talked himself into navving for me and Brick (service crew) still peeling off masking tape the morning we were departing for Ulladulla, the enamel still sticky. We had given ourselves plenty of time for a casual drive down (just in case our car decided to do what most rally cars do when going to or on a rally .... play up!.
With Jeckyl strapped into the 'death seat' and Brick taking up a casual position on top of the tyres in the rear area we pushed off to tackle the first of the NSW State Rally Series of which we had decided to compete in that year.
Making it to the lights at the bottom of Mt Ousley without as much as a hiccup had us discussing maybe a top 10 WHEN, out of the slight drizzle on a straight 4 lane stretch of highway emerged a Swedish block of flats unsteered by a rather flustered feminine hair do! from the opposite side of the road, after trying to negotiate a slight L/H bend in the road. Traffic conditions were reasonably heavy having just taken off from beforesaid set of lights in a group of cars so when it came to a Volvo and a Cortina occupying the same 50 metres of road travelling in opposite directions ??,,, eh?, what !? aw gee folks it appears it's my shout! and you what a thirsty lot these mullets are! see ya in episode. 3.......