WA’s Quokka Talk for April, 2019: Super EMR – The Pemberton 1000

Photos thanks to Wayne Proud and Ellie & Mike Hamilton

Our friends in Western Australia are back in a big way this month with the Super Early Morning Run – The Pemberton 1000. Read on, and catch up on all they’ve been up to with this report by Steve Pretzel and photos thanks to Wayne Proud and Ellie & Mike Hamilton.

Quokka Talk – Super EMR – The Pemberton 1000

by: Steve Pretzel

photos: Ellie & Mike Hamilton and Wayne Proud

Our EMRs are always popular, but there’s one each year that creates a special level of anticipation – the Super EMR.

Unlike the normal Sunday morning EMRs, the Super EMR is a whole weekend spent driving our Lotus cars on some of the best roads WA has to offer.

This year was dubbed ‘The Pemberton 1,000’.  The route would involve a thousand clicks, with relatively little of it on highways.  And the destination: Pemberton in the heart of the South West’s magnificent Karri forest.

Like last year’s Manjimup run we had two starting points – our traditional Guildford railway station and a Byford start for those who live south of the river.

Arriving at Guildford was Steve and Ali Pretzel in Steve’s orange Elise, Justin Lewis in his Exige (also orange), John and Robyn Edmondson in John’s Exige, Adrian and Lena Brown in Lena’s red Elise, David and Dawn Finnie in yet another orange Elise, Wayne Proud (Exige) and Dillon Quinn in his immaculate Lotus 7 replica.

Organiser Steve informed the Guildford crew that he would be aiming to keep to a tight schedule on day one, with the objective of reaching the Karri Valley Resort well before sundown, so we could all relax and enjoy the serenity on the shores of the billion litre lake.

We arrived at Byford about fifteen minutes behind schedule.  There to meet us were Mike and Ellie Hamilton in the always-immaculate red Elise, Paul Clark in his white Elise and Gareth in a white Europa.  After exchanging brief morning pleasantries and clucking about with John & Robyn’s two dogs (yes they were very small!) we were soon on the road again.

It was straight off the highway and up Nettleton Road, ascending the Darling Scarp towards Jarrahdale. From there our route took us past Serpentine Dam along Kingsbury Drive where we were held up for some time by a group of Harley riders.  Tempting though it was to blast past them, discretion was considered the better part of valour, so we patiently cruised at Harley speed until they all mercifully pulled off at a lookout.

A short stretch down South West Highway followed, then up into the Scarp again via Del Park Road to Dwellingup where we stopped at the Blue Wren Cafe for the first coffee break of the trip.

Waiting for us at Dwellingup were Ross and Denise Mathewson in Ross’s S2 Elise.  Residents of Mandurah, south of Perth, they elected to cut inland rather than travel north to Perth only to have to turn around and travel south again.

By this time John and Robyn had turned back, as they had to open their shop in the afternoon, and after coffee we also bade farewell to David and Dawn who also had other plans that prevented them from joining us for the full journey.

The next stage, Dwellingup to Waroona via Nanga Road was an absolute pearler.  A smooth, well maintained road with fast sweeping corners, interspersed at times with some twistier stuff.  The weather was perfect – clear blue skies and just warm enough to be comfortable with the roof off.

At Waroona we re-joined the South West Highway to Harvey where we stopped briefly for fuel before peeling off the highway again at Mornington Road for the run through to Collie.  This is yet another road that winds its way up the scarp before easing out into a picturesque series of long sweepers.

The route next took us through the heart of Collie, skirting south of Wellington Dam en route to our lunch destination – the Wild Bull Brewery in Ferguson Valley.

As tempting as all the produce from the on-site microbrewery was, most of us eschewed the beer in favour of something softer.  There was plenty more driving to be done and hopefully plenty of time when we hit Karri Valley to enjoy a refreshing ale.

Ferguson Valley is a delightful drive.  More sweeping turns and elevated views.  Originally the Pemberton 1000 was scheduled for May when the anticipated autumn rains would have greened up the countryside, but this timing was abandoned as it would have clashed – perhaps literally – with the Targa South West Rally in the same area.  So the paddocks were still wearing their summer colours.  At least they provided contrast against the vibrant green of the trees.

Just before hitting Donnybrook we took another detour to avoid the South West Highway.  This time Sandhills Road, which tempted us with yet another special section of ups and downs and perfectly formed corners.  As well as being blessed with great roads we also scored a win with the lack of traffic.  Barely any cars passed in either direction.  But, as with any rural roads we were always on the lookout for a farmer pulling out of his driveway!

A brief regroup and we were back on the South West Highway for a short stretch to Balingup.  With anticipation building we turned right, crossed the railway line and cruised slowly through to the outskirts of the little town.  And then we were there: the start of the famous Balingup to Nannup Road.  Forty seven kilometres and hundreds of gear changes of pure Lotus bliss!  Left, right, up down, tight, open, tighter. The motoring music of revving fours echoing off the surrounding trees.  A huge fire had blazed through the area over summer, and the afternoon sun now shone golden through the blackened trunks and singed leaves.

Again we scored with the lack of traffic, although on this road you never know who or what you’re going to encounter coming the other way.  Late in the stage we waved to a platoon of Aston Martins and a BMW as they cruised past in the opposite direction.  I knew who was having the best fun on this road, and it wasn’t the Astons.

Arriving in Nannup we stopped for our second refuel of the day then continued on along Vasse Highway to our destination of the day – Karri Valley.  By now we were seriously into Kangaroo time on the roads, so our final leg was taken at an appropriately cautious pace.

Pulling in to the Karri Valley Resort just after 5pm.  There were a few clouds around to colour the sunset, and the air was still and warm – quite unusual for Pemberton at this time of year.  We had plenty of time to freshen up, take in the vista and enjoy a beer by the lake before heading in to dinner.

In fact we had more time than we realised.  Our table had been booked for 7.30pm – but it had been double-booked.  We didn’t end up sitting down for dinner until after 9pm, but at least the restaurant kept us fed with some very tasty snacks while we waited.  And the wine was on the house!

Sunday morning was cool but pleasant.  After a hearty breakfast we departed Karri Valley for the town of Pemberton and the trip home.  In Pemberton we collected Steve Grobler in his Esprit and Dillon who had accommodation booked in Pemberton, then it was up Pump Hill road and into some more spirited driving.

Channybearup Road was a great early road to get us into the rhythm of the day.  Tall trees, sweeping turns and plenty of ups and downs.  We popped out onto South West Highway just south of Manjimup and cruised through the timber town on our way to Bridgetown where we would again leave the highway for another prime road to Nannup.

In Bridgetown we bade farewell to Ross and Denise, and nearly bade farewell to Paul’s Elise when his handbrake didn’t hold and the car nearly ended up in a ditch.  Our stop was delayed just a bit more when an older gent with a drone insisted we stayed where we were so he could get some footage of the Lotus fleet.

The Bridgetown to Nannup road starts off very similar to the Balingup Road, but then opens up after ten or fifteen kilometres into another of those sweeping, swooping tall-timber forest delights.  We hit Nannup for our morning tea stop, then realised that Steve G and Dillon weren’t amongst us.  It turned out that Dillon suffered a loss of oil pressure and pulled off the road, so as not to risk his BDA.  Fortunately Steve was behind and was able to continue on into Nannup, buy some oil and take it back.  Dillon’s 7 seemed better after that but he elected to leave us at Nannup and take the most direct route home.  Steve also decided to take the more direct route.

We were now down six cars from our peak numbers, so it was a smaller platoon that took to the Nannup – Balingup Road.

After a break at Balingup to catch our breath we again returned to the South West Highway.  Having lost time at Nannup waiting for Steve G and Dillon, the decision was taken to skip one of the side roads and head straight to our lunch destination – another micro-brewery in Ferguson Valley, this time the Bush Shack Brewery.

Lunch over we hit the road again with an entertaining run up Pile and Henty Roads back to the Highway and on to Waroona where we again enjoyed the fast sweepers of Nanga Road.

Dwellingup was our last coffee stop and by then we were down to just four cars, Wayne having continued straight on at Waroona.

By the time we arrived back at South West Highway we were well into the afternoon, so all but Steve and Ali elected to head straight to Perth.

Determined to reach the full 1,000 kilometres, Steve and Ali turned back off the Highway at Kingsbury Rd, passing the Serpentine, Canning and Mundaring Weir dams and arriving home having completed 1003.1 kilometres over the weekend.  The Pemberton 1000 had lived up to its moniker!

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