Targa cars roar into rural tranquility

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IT IS a crisp, clear autumn morning in North-West Tasmania.

There is a distant moo of a paddock bovine and a native hen wanders idly on the side of the road.

A faint roar grows closer and louder, and birds scatter from the trees.

Targa Tasmania is in town.

You can hear them before you see them.

Then they appear, hurtling around the corner straight for the crowd of 50-odd spectators gathered around the hairpin that joins Oppenheim and Valley Field roads.

Brakes are slammed, tyres screech and occasionally there's a puff of dirt as the Targa entrants skid around the tight left- hander.

With a gear change and the pedal to the metal, they squeal off up the hill and into the distance.

There are cars of all shapes and sizes - cute boxy Fiats, roaring Toranas and sleek Porsches.

They all fly through the undulating countryside of patchworked green and brown paddocks.

As they approach the corner, the seated spectators sit up a little straighter.

They're often rewarded with a wave, a hoot of the horn and the occasional spin-out.

The onlookers themselves are set up and well-versed in this sort of outing.

There are camp chairs and picnic rugs and, about noon, the eskys and lunch bags are broken out.

We are all so close to the action, with little but a barbed-wire fence and some thistles separating us and the racers.

Thank goodness for skilled drivers and good brakes.

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