Racing Through the Southern Forest: Targa

Car racing and rally driving in Manjimup and Pemberton
19 May

If you’re not a car or racing enthusiast then the word Targa probably means nothing at all to you. It meant squat to me, too, when I first moved here but apparently it’s a world-wide phenomenon that is extremely popular. So what is Targa? Targa is a car rally run on closed tarmac roads, some of which go directly through towns like they do here in the Southern Forests.

Car rally driving in the Southern Forests
Racing through the Pemberton Area. No time to enjoy the beauty of the forest. Photo courtesy of

I was introduced to Targa in 2014 when my husband signed up to volunteer to man one of the chicanes (another completely new word that has since been added to my vocabulary). He went to a few safety meetings and then, lunch packed, off he went to do his volunteering duty (I suspect it wasn’t such a duty as he loves motor sports) and I was still really none the wiser.

It wasn’t until he took me in to see the final run in Manjimup that I actually had any real idea of what Targa was. I have seen rally driving through the bush but this is a whole different concept as I discovered when we drove into town and half of the main streets and some back streets were closed off. You see, the rally goes literally through the town on streets that the previous week hosted regular suburban traffic, kids going to school on bikes and people walking their dogs. On this one weekend a year all of that changes and souped up cars roar through the streets, skid or go sideways around corners (I’m sure there is a more technical motor sport word for such a thing) as they race each other in time trials.

My husband, wanting to be in the thick of things took me right up close to the barrier- which for the first ten minutes

Car rally driving in the South West
Excitement on the Targa South West Tarmac Rally

when nothing was happening – didn’t bother me in the slightest. However, when the cars started screaming up the street straight towards the bend that we were standing on it took all my courage not to step back in a real hurry. It made me nervous. My husband, on the other hand, loved it!

According to my husband there are a whole range of different makes and models of cars- none of which I could tell apart not being a car enthusiast myself- but for those that are you can expect to see Mustangs, Corvettes, Nissan Skylines, Ford Capri, Ford Escorts and good old Aussie muscle cars just to name a few. Sounds pretty cool heh!  Even I think so and I can’t really tell one car from another.

So, this weekend it is all on again! The eighth edition of the Targa South West Rally is on from the 19th to the 21st of May and if you’re any sort of car rally enthusiast then you really shouldn’t miss out. With 35 teams it promises to be as exciting as ever with heaps of vantage points in Pemberton and Manjimup so everyone can see a bit of the action.