Blue Mountains Drive – 22 July 2012

July 23, 2012 10:44 pm

After the fun some mates and I had in the Blue Mountains a few months back, I was keen to get back out there again and explore a bit more. After the huge response to the last drive day that we advertised on the OZRS forum (forty-plus cars, for those who missed it) we decided to keep this one offline and to a small group.

Having kept in contact, since the OZRS Hunter drive, with Dan (from a certain Aussie car magazine) I invited him along and, given his access to press cars, he said he’d bring something interesting. The boys washed and polished their babies and a shockingly early (after a 1am bed time) meet of 6am in North Richmond was set.

I arrived at the petrol station to the site of a red 86 GTS and could only think, “Of course he did.” I have to say it looked quite good in profile, sitting there, save for the 4×4 ride height and alloy wheels. The others arrived, refuelled and chinwagged for ten or so minutes about the 86 and its obvious competitors, the other cars present: two Clio 197s, a Megane 250 and a NC MX-5.

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Bells Line was first, with a nice casual warm up of the brakes and tyres, before the turn off to Mount Wilson & Mount Irvine. This is a tight, and bumpy but relatively deserted sequence of corners, which passes through the small community of Mount Wilson and ends (for us) as the dirt roads start at Mount Irvine. It’s well worth the 26km run each way, however, for one hairpin in particular and a series of left-rights on a flat, seriously smooth bit of tarmac between some very dense foliage – just mind the dangling vines.

We rejoined Bells Line of Road, on route to Lithgow, looking for a hearty breakfast. The steep, sweeping corners down into Lithgow were joyous on the new, smooth tarmac but we got held up at the bottom so there was only one thing to do: chuck a “youee” and do them again. The run up was preferable given the slightly greasy conditions but the bends were just as much fun on the second descent.

Lithgow was yet to wake up as the 4-cylinder brigade rolled into town at 8:30, hungry and in need of caffeine. We found a small cafe with a surprisingly large covered outdoor space out the back, and 3 Big Brekkies were ordered for the Renault drivers while the two supposedly more masculine RWD drivers ordered poached eggs with spinach… Breakfast chat revolved around cars, car magazines, driving and track days. Good.

Fuelled up on a greasy mix of pig and Arabica, we jumped back into our steeds as the rain started to fall ever so lightly. We were keen to a try a new road, recommended to us by Dan and apparently a regular of the Wheels test team. From Lithgow, we headed south for a few kilometres before turning west and heading for Tarana, via Lake Lyell and then on to Oberon.

What a great run! Fast, flowing corners mixed with big undulations and a few unsighted crests and dips, all across beautiful countryside. Definitely one to head back to as we only came across one car the entire way, a Corolla that pulled over and let us past. How unusual…

From Oberon we headed the back way into Jenolan Caves, which is a trick we learnt last time that avoids the tourist traffic driving into the caves from the Sydney side. The road from Oberon is closed between 11:45am-1:15pm and it is very narrow, tight and steep. But it sets you up for a run against the traffic on the glorious bends out of Jenolan Caves. I led the crew uphill, radio in hand, calling out for oncoming cars and thoroughly enjoyed the tight bends, with the 197 right in its sweet spot in second gear above 5000rpm for most of the time! The tight, twisting road turns into a flowing, open section of sweepers, reminiscent of many parts of Tasmania which, in a different way, is almost as fun as the tight stuff.

We stopped just off Jenolan Caves Rd, not long after Hampton, to say our farewells as buddy and I had to head back to Sydney. The others opted to try a little known road off Rydal-Hampton Rd that is actually used as a hill climb on occasion. From all reports it was great fun, so I’m keen to head back soon and try it out for myself.

There aren’t many better ways to spend a Sunday than enjoying your RENAULTsport on some twisty roads, with a bunch of like-minded enthusiasts. I’m sorry we didn’t invite you all out but the logistics of managing so many people often means you don’t get to enjoy the drive that much! I hope this serves to give you some ideas for new roads to explore and enjoy.

Route: Google Map

For more photos: Flickr

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