Seems it was the weekend for racing in the Mallee. Whether you enjoy a bubbly, trying your luck at the TAB or the sound of revving motors until your heart’s content, last weekend you were well-catered for. So while everyone else beautified themselves for a day of clattering hooves, I donned the dishevelled trackies from the back of the wardrobe, chucked my hair back without a brush and set off to attempt racing of the ‘wheel’ variety.
Untrue to my farming heritage, I dislike cars. In fact, I loathe most things with a loud motor: motorbikes, racing cars, old cars, remote control cars, lawn mowers, tractors and trucks etc. If my car wasn’t a tool of convenience, I would probably despise it as well. A phony farm girl, I spent most of my years growing up with ear muffs on, while my irritating motorbike loving brothers recklessly revved their motorbikes past me; day in and day out. The noise haunted me for the rest of my life.
Definitely more of a ‘horsey’ kind of girl (yes, I was a passionate member of the ‘horses are better than motorbikes’ gang while growing up), last weekend I decided to broaden my horizons – certainly broadened by the majestic Lake Tyrrell – and reacquaint myself with the Sea Lake Mallee Rally last Sunday after at least 20 years of absence.
Although the idea of indulging in champers all day, betting on my favourite colour horse and letting loose at Barrels until 4am (see my co-contributer’s survivial guide for equine events) appealed far more than a weekend of blowing up diffs, smoky exhausts, relentless revving, skids, wheelies and dirt moustaches, my babysitting quota had been fully exhausted, so I remained open-minded and immersed myself in some noisy off-road car racing with my kids. All the magic happens outside our comfort zones, right?
However – while reluctant to admit it – the Mallee Rally turned out to be quite an entertaining day and something that the kids thoroughly enjoyed. My hearing may have deteriorated with age, but the noise did seem to be less amplified on Sunday than in my haunted teenage memories. So I have compiled a list of reasons why this motoring paradise might be another racing option to consider in future.
Cheap and effortless
Forget expensive hair appointments, makeup, spray tans and fashionable clothing. Spend your savings on beer. ‘Anything’ goes at the Mallee Rally. Wear a balaclava if you’re having a bad hair day. Wear a holden racing cap. Wear your dressing gown if you feel like it. This is your chance to delve into the darkest and most terrifying sections of your wardrobe and share the clothing love. You’ll be toasty and warm, and the best part is, there will be no white strappy shoes in sight (read ‘Swan Hill Races- a survival guide’). Guaranteed.
No taxi, no problem
There is no shortage of taxis at a car race. Cars are in abundance, most likely outnumbering people at a ratio of 2:1. And these rev heads like to get behind the wheel. So unlike my co-writing counterpart at the horse races, hailing a willing taxi will be trouble-free (not to mention break record speeds).
However, if hitchhiking is not your thing, you can always pitch a tent. Three days of revving and burnouts is great for the soul!
No more toilet queues
You’ll never have to experience a lengthy toilet queue ever again at the Mallee Rally. With hundreds of hidden bushes at your disposal, gone are the days when toileting is classy and sophisticated. You were kidding yourself if you thought it was anyway.
You actually see the race
How many times have you been to the races and failed to see a horse race? Thankfully, you will not miss an ear-splitting moment of the Mallee Rally. In fact, you will be so engrossed in the persistent revving that you will not be able to do anything else. One lap of the course may be a whopping 90km, but crowd engagement is always 100% at that decibel.
Marquees with unlimited hours
We all aspire to be in a marquee on races day, sipping on champagne and indulging on lavish platters. However, that can be a reality at the Mallee Rally too. Get friendly with a few local farmers and you might score an exclusive invitation to a private trackside party- totally free of course. BYO as much beer as you can possibly consume over a weekend, cook a few snags, pitch a tent in the paddock, crank the fire and watch the action unfold in your old moccasins for three days. Bliss. Just don’t get bogged like this green rally goer almost did, or you will be removed from the guest list indefinitely.
Whether you are fond of cars or not, there is no denying that Lake Tyrrell is one of the most stunning backdrops of any race I have ever seen (admittedly champagne has narrowed my depth of field at many races though). Chinese tourists are paying thousands of dollars to travel to this wondrous lake, and here we are with it in our own backyard.
I may have had a slight coronary as I watched my potential trail running tracks shredded before my eyes, but as we watched the colourful cars dragging each other off over jumps and around muddy bends with a mind-blowing Salt Lake as the backdrop, it is easy to see why the Rally has been a consistent feature on the Mallee calendar of events for numerous decades.
Guided to the 450km rally by my babysitting despair – and secretly avoiding the dreaded task of chauffeuring my co-contributor around after 12 glasses of wine at the horse races – I attended the Mallee Rally with reluctance. However, I am glad I went. Not because I escaped my taxi duties or that I have now converted to ‘car lover.’ But the work that goes into organising such an incredible event – organised by a very small off-road club mind you – is inconceivable. Bringing exceptional economic benefits to the small community of Sea Lake year for a staggering 43 years with over 100 competitors from interstate and overseas, they are doing something pretty special.
I may be dreaming about gearboxes, diffs, clutches and revving for the next month, but I’m at least $100 richer and blister free!
Check out the Mallee Rally Facebook page for more details https://www.facebook.com/Sea-Lake-Mallee-Rally-321907904510987/?fref=ts