Cobar is once again preparing to host the Cliffhanger challenge, an off-road four wheel drive competition that tests out teams and their vehicles over 20 gruelling stages.
The biennial competition attracts teams from all over Australia who come to test out their skills at Mt Gap Station, 90 minutes north west of Cobar on country that is home to scrub and hills as far as the eye can see.
Cliffhanger originated in 2004 at White Cliffs and moved to Cobar in 2010.
The teams will start rolling through town this week with the competition to kick off this Saturday.
On Sunday locals can spectate at a free 2835 day with all the action starting at lunch time.
People are also welcome to stay into the evening and watch the night stages as well.
Cliffhanger’s executive director Steve Hobbs provided some information about the event including a new Buggy Class they have introduced to the competition this year.
“For the past 14 years we have had just a class called Winch Trucks.
“They start life as a normal 4WD most commonly Nissan Patrol and then have about $75,000 spent on it so it can belt across untamed terrain at high speeds, winch up large rocks or wade across chest deep water,” Steve told The Cobar Weekly.
“Most have V8 conversions, expensive suspension, roll cages and all the safety gear.
“The tyres are about $600 each and measure over three feet tall.
“We use satellite tracking so we know where someone is should they get lost or get into strife.”
The new Buggy Class entries are purpose built from scratch.
“They have an amazing ability to climb very steep terrain and travel at very high speeds,” Steve said.
“This year some of our teams raced in USA’s ‘King of the Hammers’ desert race and others have raced in the Malaysian rainforests and the Moroccan deserts.
“Australia has a fair bit of off-road talent and it’s exciting when they get together and race each other at events like Cliffhanger.”
This year’s event has attracted 50 teams to contest the 20 stages.
“Some stages are rally-style on farm tracks, others are cross country rally stages in the order of 100km in length up hills and down dry creek beds etc,” Steve said.
“Some stages are up vertical sandy
creek banks (our trade mark stage) while others are up exceptionally steep boulder strewn hills.
“Most of these rigs can do over 120km per hour in natural scrub – that’s not that fast you might think at first but the ground is rough and that is just in low range.
“It’s twice that of a normal 4WD in low range,” he explained.
“There is nothing standard on these machines either – the winches can cost over $6,000 and can pull a vehicle through mud faster than a person can jog.
“Watching these guys in action is a sight to behold,” Steve said.
He said locals can keep up with all the action on their Cliffhanger Facebook page and web site or they can go out and camp alongside the competing teams and join tag along convoys to see all the up close action each day.