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home > articles > alpine autumn frenzy '04 report by mike kelly

Alpine Autumn Frenzy '04 Report
by Mike Kelly

New to the Porsche Club of SA I am but to Porsches I'm not, having owned two 928 models, the first one purchased in 1992. Twelve years of continuous Porsche ownership and loving it.

The 928 community is alive and well in SA as it is right across Australia. The most popular forum is probably the landsharkoz website, which actively encourages local Porsche Club membership.

Through this web based email forum, 'frenzies' (a gathering of 'sharks') are often organised. I have been fortunate enough to participate in a few of these over the last few years, in SA, Vic and NSW.

At the end of April, beginning of May this year, an energetic soul from the Blue Mountains, Shane Navin, organised the Autumn Alpine Frenzy to take place in the snow fields of Victoria and New South Wales. "Be prepared for cold weather" says Shane "but we will be ahead of the snow season".

Well the weekend before, 30cm of snow fell at Dinner Plain, the scheduled second nights stop for the group. "This is very early, just a flash in the pan" We hear!

I had my beautiful 1994 928 GTS, all 350hp of her, washed and polished from front to back, inside and out, ready to represent SA in the best possible light.

Thursday morning, quick call to the Department of Agriculture to find out where the dreaded locust plague was waiting to 'splat' me, then my lady and I set off for our first night in Bendigo. Fortunately for us but not the farmers, no rain and very thankfully, no locusts and we pulled into the classic old Shamrock Hotel in Bendigo as the sun set.

A leisurely breakfast, followed by a quick look around Bendigo, then we met up with friends Roger, Deb and their two children for lunch. They had just travelled up from Geelong in one of the finest 1989 928 S4 Porsche's in the country.

Lunch out of the way, we set off for a spirited run together, destination Beechworth and our next night and the official start of the Autumn Alpine Frenzy.

After checking into the beautiful Latrobe at Beechworth, we met for drinks, then dinner with about thirty 928 devotees and their partners and children.

Fifteen 'Landsharks' line up on a freezing, misty morning in Beechworth, Victoria.It rained heavily all night and was still raining at 6:00 am when I convinced my bemused partner Sharyn of the benefits of filling the room rubbish bin with warm water and washing the now brown and Grand Prix white GTS before breakfast. Who wants to have the dirtiest 928 in the obligatory morning line up after all?

The plan from here was to have morning tea at Mount Buffalo but it was snowing again and chains were required so we opted for the Autumn Carnival in Bright instead.

The chain hirer's delight - a yard full of Porsche.Our next night was booked at the Crystal Creek Resort at Dinner Plain, the only freehold land above the snowline in Australia and it was still snowing higher up. With much discussion and lots of "I'll never put chains on my Porsche", myself included, it was decided that a bulk deal be done at the chain hire shop in Harrietville. We may not need them but we are required to carry them, so carry we will.

"I'll never put chains on my Porsche"We set off to cross Mt Hotham on route to Dinner Plain with more reports of snow still falling. The two cars from the western side, Deniliquin and Wagga Wagga, having to come back the same way, opted to head for the 'low plains' rather than be snowed in on the wrong side of the mountain, a long way from home and work. The rest of us started the long climb up the mountains in the rain.

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It was not long before the rain stopped and this funny 'fat rain' started hitting the windscreen and the ground became progressively whiter. Soon the road was covered with snow and ice and the visibility was down to a couple of hundred metres.
Progress was still quite steady, though slow was the order of the day being my first time driving in snow and ice.

The PSD 'Porsche Slip Differential' light became a regular feature of the instrument panel as the brilliant Porsche traction control stepped in at every detected rear wheel spin, to ensure the best possible grip and safety.

We came to a particularly steep and quite sharp bend where one of the group had completely lost rear wheel traction, stopping him right in the middle of the road. Fortunately he was able to reverse back to a fairly wide verge, clearing the path. Back into drive we went and cruised right on by only to meet up with the two front runners stopped to fit their chains. The 'spousal warning system' had kicked in, "We're going to die if we slide over the edge".

"We've only got a few kilometres to go but they are the worst, so we're opting for chains", were the wise words of the leader, so out came the chains. Yes, the, 'I won't fit chains' ones!

I was very happy to be travelling with experienced alpine drivers and took their advice gladly and on we plodded.So out into the snow, at a mere 2.5 degrees C, went my sweet lady, armed with said chains. Fortunately the snow stopped falling soon after we stopped and the snow plough made a couple of speedy runs, so by the time the other two had theirs fitted, it was decided to take mine back off and give it a go without.

The scenery now was just breath taking. The snow had stopped falling and the visibility was up to a few kilometres across the snow covered valleys as we cruised into Dinner Plain, the log fire, the bar and great company.

The group emerged next morning, one by one for a sumptuous breakfast, then out into the -2.5 degree C morning to start the ice covered 'landsharks'.

From Dinner Plain to Omeo for fuel, (hard to find 98RON fuel in these parts).

There aren't many bigger smiles than on a service station owner's face when ten 86 litre fuel tanks roll up, owners with credit cards at hand.

Now for a spirited drive down off the mountain to Bairnsdale, then fish-n-chips for lunch at Lakes Entrance before winding back up through Cann River, Bombala and Cooma, to arrive in the dark at Lake Crackenback Resort near Jindabyne for the night.

The morning line up for the last dayThe next day brought us to the last morning as a group. Monday already and work duties calling for most.

We had beautiful sunshine once more as the line of glorious Porsches snaked their way across to Adaminaby for lunch and goodbyes.

Sharyn and I stayed on at Adaminaby for the night, then set off early the next morning, via Cabramurra, the highest town in Australia, through more snow and sub zero temperatures as we crossed the Alps to follow the Murray River to Swan Hill.

Such a change from the narrow, twisty snow covered roads, to touring the open flat farm country with the cruise control locked on 100kph for hours at a time.

From Swan Hill to Mildura and the fabulous Grand Hotel, with dinner at Stefano's Restaurant, of 'Gondola on the Murray' fame, then back home to Adelaide the next day.

3000km travelled in just one week, through dry open plains, beautiful forests, stunning south coast, snow covered Alps and pouring rain. This really is 'God's country' and how better to travel it than in a superb V8 powered Porsche?

Mike Kelly '94 928 GTS


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