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Friends, at 7.41am yesterday morning we decided to give the other 140 entrants a chance.

Yes we decided to stop the starter motor working so we had to push start the might 1990 BMW 3 series (it celebrates its 30th birthday in 2020…30 car years is the equivalent of 193 human years). Naturally I suggested Michael should do the first push of the day mentioning that the car would be lighter with me behind the wheel. Mick (as he is known to his 78 brothers) gave the Beemer a mighty heave, I let the clutch out slowly and MM was last seen kissing the wooden floor of the Silverdome (guess why It’s called the Siverdome?).

Once we got him out of emergency he threatened me with a slow death if he ever had to push the car again. More of this later.

In the rally proper we traversed much of the back country of North east Tasmania. It’s fair to say that the original names board had a big laugh at the early settlers when they handed of place names. There’s the aptly named town of No Where Else, the three hills Bust-Me-Gall Hill ,Break-Me Neck Hill and Black Charley’s Opening and then there’s Lovely Bottom, Pisspot Creek, Prickly Bottom and Ding Dong Rainforest. Of course my renaissance man co-driver Michael (the nude faith healer) McMichael was taken by such puerile names as Dick’s Drop, Lake Fanny, Guys Dirty Hole and Funny Knob Creek.

But on to the serious racing commentary.

We started this morning in 110th place with a determination to grind our way up the ladder with a mix of daredevil driving and sparkling navigation. Well you know how that went. I navigated the first stage but before the start I read the course notes and I was too frightened to read them again let alone give Michael instructions during the 200kmh stage. Beside that I felt car sick every time I looked down at the notes. As Mick pointed out a racing helmet full of this morning’s breakfast is not a good portent for the rest of the day.

The course notes carried warnings like and I quote: “at 10.5 km the road goes straight on then 60m road goes left-don’t cut this corner the culvert will consume a vehicle” and “at 14.6km a tight right hand corner with a straight drop down on the side of 1500 metres….drive cautiously it is hard to retrieve bodies from the bottom of the ravine”.

Anyway we had managed to keep the engine running all morning but around 11am we had to refuel. This meant stopping the car at the St Helen’s Dodgy Petrol and Gas station with poker machines in the toilets and having to push start it again. “Don’t worry” said Michael “I will get some friendly locals to help”.

While I filled the car MM went off to find friendly local citizens ready to do a good deed for visitors to their Apple Isle. As it turned out he managed to convince four members of the St Helen’s chapter of the Hells Angels to get behind the beemer and push. Which they did. Once we arrived at the St Helens Football Netball and Underwater Dominos Club and field for lunch I did make Michael aware that the boot lid had gone, the BMW badge had gone and all our tools and gear that were in the boot had also mysteriously disappeared.

Lunch was a treat.

Friends how long is it since you had shepherd’s pie made with Wallaby meat with Deb Instant Mashed Potato on top and the vintage gravy left over from the Royal Visit of 1958 covering the lot?

Anyway we pushed on (to start the car) to the next stage which involved a sprint up a 15 km mountain with a corner every 250 metres with an impenetrable rock wall on one side and certain death on the other. Luckily Michael had a few settlers over lunch and he was extremely calm, steering with one hand and holding a can of Wizard Smith’s Pale Ale in the other. But friends at the end of the day when we looked at the scoreboard after our mighty effort, it showed the results of our mighty teamwork. We are 110th.

Tomorrow we head to Strahan (pop 658). A local entrepreneur has just started a new 3 Million Dollar Tasmanian Lottery. The winner gets 3 dollars a year for a million years.

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