THURSDAY 27 APRIL ADELS GROVE TO SOUDAN BORE REST AREA 340kms
After breakfast, we hitched up, then took Truck to the bowsers to refuel. We’d done 368 kms since the last fuel (in Mt Isa), so John only bought 40 litres, at $1.50 cpl.
O had been expected, at 8.30am, flying in from Pungalina in the Jabiru, on the way to Isa, but had not appeared by the time we left. Pity – I had been looking forward to a quick catch up with him.
As we left, wondered if this was goodbye to Adels forever? Or if we would be back sometime?
Headed south, on the Riversleigh road. This was a lot drier than when we came up, less than two weeks ago. The areas broken by the trucks had not been fixed yet, but the side tracks around them were well settled and would present no problems for travellers.
The sky was grey today and it looked like it might rain. It was actually strangely cool, which was a pleasant change.
We stopped at the Site D at Riversleigh, for a nostalgic look around. John had expected to be doing the Adels tours down to here! We went in through the entrance structure, with its informative displays, then walked around the track through the site.
The ford through the Gregory River was about half the height of twelve days ago!
Still a fair current across the ford!
Took the Thorntonia road again, to the Barkly Highway, then turned west.
We picked up some radio reception. Heard that a trough was coming across these parts – the remains of Cyclone Monica that went through Arnhem Land three days ago. That explained the change in the usual weather.
Stopped at Camooweal to refuel. 225kms. $1.56cpl. The guy had to come out of the pub to serve us and did not seem at all happy to have a customer.
Rain set in, west of Camooweal, as we crossed the border into the NT.
There was plenty of surface water lying around and little streams were flowing, in places as shallow floodways across the road. The country was very green and pretty.
On a tableland section, with no trees at all, there was a repeater station with a high fence around it – and a bird of prey perched on every post. It looked quite surreal.
We noted a very good looking overnight free camp area at Avon Downs Police Station – with toilets and a phone.
Our intention had been to reach at least as far as Barkly Homestead Roadhouse. But the rain grew steadily heavier, and the head wind stronger, until we were facing into almost horizontal, driving rain. John was driving very cautiously and quite slowly, but the conditions continued to deteriorate to the point where driving was unwise.
Then, about 5pm, we found a rest area, that we later found was Soudan, and pulled into that.
The conditions by now were such that it was almost dark at this time.
There was another caravan and a group of camper trailers pulled up there. We found a spot where a small tree night act as a bit of a wind break. It was actually quite hard to see far and we did not want to risk driving around and maybe getting bogged. Neither if us wanted to get really wet and cold, walking around and looking!
There was a water tank and windmill there, but no facilities for travellers.
We did not unhitch or put up the poptop on the van. The wind was moaning around and getting stronger all the time. The rain was heavy on the van roof and getting heavier.
We got drenched, just getting from Truck to van. It actually felt very cold.
The bush smelled wonderful wet – really aromatic.
We wondered how far north this rain band was reaching, and whether it would delay the opening of the Gulf Track even longer. Also wondered whether Pungalina was affected – that might have accounted for the no-show by O.
I prepared a scratch meal, having to work partly bent over due to the low roof. Just tinned tomato soup, with Salada biscuits.
It rained heavily and the wind gusted, shaking the van, all night. It was certainly the worst night we had ever spent in the van. Had no way of knowing just how bad it was going to become and could only hope that the weight of the rig would keep us on the ground!
John was really worried that the unsealed surface of this parking area would be bog by tomorrow and that we would not be able to drive out.