By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
They may be comfortable driving at 300km/h around one of the world’s most famous race tracks but the six V8 Supercar drivers who visited the Blue Mountains last Tuesday [September 9] could not tame our Blue Mountains.
Exactly one month before this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Bathurst great Red Bull Racing’s Craig Lowndes and current champion Pepsi Max Crew FPR’s Mark Winterbottom joined young Mount Panorama hopefuls Scott McLaughlin, David Reynolds, Tim Slade and Nick Percat at the gateway to Bathurst.
The six challenged themselves to stand on the edge of a mountain and literally let go. Some fared better than others. The sheer drop was, almost, as daunting as Mountain Straight, Skyline or Conrod.
However, they were in safe hands under the guidance of 25-year abseiling veteran Darren Trew from Katoomba outdoor adventure business High n Wild and his expert guides.
High n Wild dedicated six guides as well as Mr Trew to the event, which went for the entire morning.
Five-time Bathurst 1000 champion and eight time Sandown winner Lowndes said while he wasn’t terrified, he was not as comfortable abseiling down a cliff as he was behind the wheel of a race car.
“It’s a funny feeling at first – you wonder whether the rope’s strong enough to hold your weight but then you just have to trust.’’
Lowndes said he was a fan of the Blue Mountains, which is a great stop over or base for Bathurst race goers. He and his family had stayed at Blackheath Glen Tourist Park for several days last year on their way to Mt Panorama.
Reigning Bathurst champion Winterbottom said: “Most of the guys have that fear of heights or something, where we drive 300 kilometres an hour people are surprised that we have fears, looking over the edge it is a bit daunting. You have no control so a little bit different.
“It’s beautiful here, it’s crazy to go to Sydney, drive past this place and not stop because it is a wondrous place. I might come here for a few days before the stress of Bathurst.’’
After their abseiling experience, the six drivers and their crew lunched at, where else, Leura Garage. Owner James Howarth opened the converted garage, now a thriving funky cafe/restaurant, especially for the group.
The visit was facilitated by Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT), the official regional tourism organisation.
BMLOT chairman Daniel Myles said: “We may not have a V8 Supercars racing track in the Blue Mountains but our thrilling outdoor experiences absolutely match the adrenalin hit sought after by the likes of these speedsters.
“This region is also an ideal pitstop for petrol heads travelling to and from the races at Bathurst, so break your trip with a meal and a cuppa, stretch your legs along a bush track and visit one of our outstanding attractions businesses.
“Better still, stay a night or three and really recharge the batteries. Who can argue? Lowndsie said so!’’
The chequered flag will fall at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on October 9 to 12.
Go to visitbluemountains.com.au for more information about accommodation options, attractions and experiences in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region.