Over the recent long weekend, I had the opportunity to head to the Willowglen 4WD Challenge, which is hosted by the Toyota Landcruiser Club of Australia (TLCC). Willowglen is their property, which is based about 35 minutes out of Goulburn.
Having never been to a WIllowglen event, I was unsure of what to expect.
The event is run over the Long Weekend in October, and has a night course on the Friday night, followed by 4 courses Saturday, and 4 courses plus The Mud Run Sunday.
I have to say that the setup that the TLCC have down at Willowglen is impressive. They are very well organised, and it is very rare to meet such an eclectic group of people who all get along and contributed so strongly to the club.
A number of volunteers had been preparing for WIllowglen for weeks prior to the event, removing fallen trees and setting up the courses that would form the challenges.
I was told the weather was going to be perfect, so naturally I did what anyone who knows Murphy would – packed a rain jacket, and on Friday night I was glad I did. Despite the course having been prepared for dry weather, it rained most of the night.
I had the Tvan with me, and was very comfortable having it all to myself. I was told that I’d be shown out to ‘The Canyon’ the next morning, which was the hub around which the Saturday events were based. A number of the friendly club members reminded me that I’d need a 4WD to get out there because there were some steep hills.
That made me slightly apprehensive about whether I’d get the trailer to where I needed to be without making myself look stupid, given the rain. Truth be told, all of the nearly 10,000 km I’ve travelled towing the Tvan since July has been on a mix of tar and outback dirt roads, so I honestly had no idea what the additional weight behind the Patrol would do in the wet.
Reflecting back, I think this gave me an understanding of the apprehension the competitors would have been feeling, given they knew the challenges were setup for dry weather…
The work that the TLCC had put into the tracks and challenges was hugely impressive. And that’s coming from a guy who does a ridiculous amount of events a year and understands what goes into making it happen!
It wasn’t long until the first competitors were on the course. I distinctly remember hearing the sound of a V8 roaring as the driver of a custom old Hilux started a hill climb. The challenge had begun!
The way the event ran was really clever and also relaxed. There was no set order to the way competitors had to complete the challenges each day – you could do them in any order you liked. I found it fascinating to watch the different team strategies here – some did the courses in a very set order. Others were less worried and went to the tracks with the shortest queue.
I saw similar contrasts with the driving styles. Some drivers had super low range gears, and were very focused on the line they took, letting the vehicle literally idle along the course very smoothly. Other drivers went for speed and momentum to carry their vehicles over obstacles. It made for very interesting spectating!
Each course had its share of obstacles, and what was great was that vehicles that fared well on some courses found others more difficult which I thought was great because it kept everyone honest.
The courses this year are summed up below:
A drop into a rocky, twisting rocky creek bed with a loose hill climb to finish.
A rocky creek bed climb with a difficult rock hill obstacle climb to finish.
A figure 8 shaped track through a gully driving over a mixture of tyres, rocks, logs with hill climb to finish.
A series of log steps ascending up a hill. As you climb the logs get bigger.
Up the Creek
A step ascent followed by a steep descent, through a natural ravine climbing over rocks, logs, tyres and dugouts.
Rockin ‘n Rollin
A rocky course with opposing and unusual holes designed to test the car’s suspension.
All Shook Up
A course over fixed logs finishing with a difficult log hill climb to finish.
A course through a gully which weaves its way up and down the hill sides over logs tyres and rocks, finishing with a steep long hill climb.
Tyred ‘n Twisted
A ‘U’ shaped event involving large excavator tyres and angled logs.
The Mud Hole
A course set in a natural Amphitheatre with hidden holes in the mud, run in a zigzag pattern.
Camping was encouraged, and the TLCC even set up a dedicated family camping area away from general campers so that families could get some privacy and also not be kept awake by younger neighbours with a few beers in their belly.
Sunday also saw some great competition with hill climbs, rocky challenges, tyre driving, and the grand final – the mud run which was very exciting to watch.
Food and beverages were available, so bring cash to buy your coffee, bacon and egg roll, or lunch.
I had minimal reception, even using the Cel-Fi mobile repeater in the Mobile HQGU. Plan on not having any.
There were ample portaloos for everyone at the event.
Fires were allowed – as long as they were not unattended.
What date next year?
October Long Weekend 2020
All in all, Willowglen was a brilliant experience. It was very family friendly event, and catered to all types. The competitors it attracted were all very supportive of each other, making a very positive experience for everyone.
See more photos below!