Patriots O'Tooles 10th Annual Gathering trip report


So we've just gotten home from our epic, but too short trip away to O'Tooles!

Despite rumours from the BOM - the weather on Saturday and sunday was almost perfect!


Here is the campside on Saturday morning. It was a huge turnout and I think every vehicle was from 4x4earth!

Video the duck race!

I will upload more photos over the next couple of days!


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I did a Facebook Live coming in about how magnificent the weather was. About 30 minutes later, not so much. Lots of rain and we could see the lightning over the mountains. Looked very interesting.

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It's amazing the people you meet in the Aldi Moe! I saw Amanda there and so we decide to go in as a group, especially as the weather was getting a little spicy! By the time we were north of the Thompson Dam wall, it was pouring down. We stopped to air down and also because the rain was so heavy that we couldn't see more than 10 meters in front of the vehicle. We knew the storms had been pretty intense, there were patches of hailstones on the side of the road!

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Graeme went first so we could see how deep the river was. Water up on the bonnet of his vehicle - and we had a BT-50 to get across the river that didn't have a snorkel. This made us get the map out and look for alternatives. We almost turned around to take the long way in, but Will suggested I drive Tina's BT-50 (the one without the snorkel) and she drive mine. Yes let's get the guy who has already killed a vehicle in a creek crossing to go across. I was confident that going a little slower would decrease the bow wave and keep the water down.

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Hooray, I made it through and Tina enjoyed some fun in the river!

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Time to set up. I had my Darche swag, so that was pretty much throw on the ground and I am good to go, which left some time to supervise Will getting the tent up :)
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There was a bit more rain on Friday afternoon, but it was either short and sharp or it passed to the north of us. I was surprised at the number of vehicles in there. It was already a pretty big turnout.

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The trophy's and lists and organisation of the committee. A big shout out to the committee and the work that they had done.
Graeme and Amanda, Brian and Kylie, Craig and Rebecca, David, Mandy and Pete, Deb, and Bruce. An amazing effort.
There was a lot of work that went into the planning and organising, and before everyone arrived they whipper snipper and mowed the grass and Craig put extra lime into the toilets. A great effort everyone!

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Saturday morning and the campsite starts to wake up.

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Had my trusty Goal Zero system to power the Acer laptop and charge up the other bits and bobs. Tried to not use the laptop too much and it was great being an hour from phone coverage.

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Some of the ducks from the race later in the day getting a pre race inspection of the area!

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This was the highlight of the trip. Dave took us out along White Star mine track and along to the Toomstar mine. From there, we had a look at the exit which was about a 30 meter drop at about a 70 - 80 degree angle. Dave dropped a rope and some climbing gear down the bottom and said, "We'll be needing that a little later!"
We headed down the side of the mountain and found the entrance. From there we entered and started into the actual mine complex.

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This is something a little different to what people normally do offroad! As you can some of the spaces were pretty tight! For those a little claustrophobic, it was a little interesting. We had Will and Lizzie with us! Lizzie was not too confident at the start, but she was actually more scared walking down the mountainside and once she got over the shock of it being so dark, she actually enjoyed it.

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Don't stand up! Can you image working in these conditions? Can you image working in these conditions every day? This is why mining was one of the most dangerous jobs in the 19th century.

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This is what met us at the end. Tina tried first and didn't get to far with just the ascenders, so I thought I would have a crack. I made it to the top. As normal, the hardest bit was right at the top. Nothing focuses the mind on your arms than knowing that if you fall it is a long way down and there is a lot of hard rock and I have only 1 soft brain! Pav followed next just with the rope, which was pretty damn gutsy, because I made good use of the ascenders! After that we hauled the kids up. Will climbed almost all of it, but would have fallen very if it wasn't for the harness that Dave had bought along.

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Here is Tim Bates getting up to the top. The relief on everyones face when they reached this point and knew they was out was pretty clear to see.

This is why I 4WD. Anyone with a 2WD car isn't getting to Toomstar any time soon and so it is one of those elite experiences that only us 4 wheel drivers can do. :)
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Well-Known Member
I'd like to think I'd go alright with those confined spaces, but have never tested that out as yet. And what's that on your bonnet through the water crossing, note book/crosswords book?


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It was a big achievement to get up the wall safe and sound, the family loved it. Big thanks to Dave for organising it. An epic new way to experience the glorious history of the high country

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After the mine experience, we headed down to the stamper and boiler at the bottom of Whitestar mine. The stamper was blown up after they had finished with it. There wree some pretty thick pieces of iron there, so it must have been a big explosion. I wonder if it was done to stop others getting their hands on it after they decided it would be too hard to get the gear out. Image using bullocks to bring these pieces up and down those steep hills and then having to assemble them!

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Time for a coke!

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One of the beuatiful tracks on a beautiful day heading back to camp.

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On Donnelly's Creek Road there is a plaque about the old cricket ground. This gives you an idea of just how big this area was, that they had their own cricket pitch and cricket team!

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Lizzy was loving it. It was great for the kids to have a couple of days without their Ipads and to spend some time running around doing kids stuff with other kids. A lot of them spent a lot of time in the creek.

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Getting ready for the floating of the duck race that stops a nation!

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And their off!

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Eagerly awaiting the winner.

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Part of the crowd at the presentations.

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Dave award some of the prizes and the raffle.

Thank you so much to out great sponsor:
-Got ya Covered
-Wholesale Automatics
-OZ tent

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Birthday cake! Big shout out to Kylie for the epic cake! This brings us right back to the start of 4x4earth where Heels cooked a cake for a QLD trip. This cake was epic, great flavour and 4x4earth sticker to boot!

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The kids tucking in to the party food.



Well-Known Member
Nice report James,

Looks like you had a good mix of good weather, interesting 4wding and great company !!!


Active Member
may I just add patriot, grey ghost did a full lap on Monday last week to clean fire pits and any rubbish etc in prepetation, so it was clean to start with.
I then did a full sweep of otooles today after everyone had left, I took 2 garbage bags to collect up any rubbish or remnants of cans etc.
to my absolute delight, I did not even find enough to half fill a shopping bag.. And i had to scratch to find that. Congratulations and well done to all that attended. This really made my day.


4x4 Earth Contributer
Now the weekend is over and most of us are back to reality, this year we are donating $1140 to Erica Kindergarten. A great amount raised and a big thank you to everyone who donated, enter the raffle, bought ducks, stickers and stubby holders. We donated $700 to the Kinder a few years ago and they were very grateful. I am certain they will be again this time around. Again, thanks to everyone involved.