This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2006 Travels April 27

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.

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Near Riversleigh

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.

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Inside the Riversleigh entrance shelter. Representations of creatures re-created from fossil bones found at the site.

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Walking track round Site D at Riversleigh

The ford through the Gregory River was about half the height of twelve days ago!

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One section of the Gregory River ford – much lower than the last time we came through

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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.

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2000 Travels June 14

WEDNESDAY 14 JUNE   MT ISA TO TENNANT CREEK   693kms

Our alarm went off at 6am, because we had a long drive ahead, today. We left the park at 7.20am.

There was some cloud. At times, we could see light rain falling from the clouds, but we only collected a couple of small spits. It was not too hot.

Initially, out of Mt Isa, was interesting range country, then it flattened out into grass and scrub lands.

The road was not great. It alternated single width strips of bitumen with normal two width road, all the way to the NT border. There was a lot of chopped up areas beside the single width sections, and tyre ruts, showing where vehicles had to pull over for oncoming traffic, in last week’s rain. I remembered hearing that a road train carrying cattle had run off on one of these sections last week, and overturned, killing a lot of poor cows.

We encountered a number of road trains – too many! Also met the occasional wide load and were very glad that the verges had dried out!

Camooweal did not look to have much of interest. We topped up the fuel there, to get the last of the supposedly subsidized Qld fuel prices, before crossing into the NT. The Qld government had recently announced that it was scrapping the fuel subsidy because the companies were not passing it on; they planned to reduce registration costs instead. There had been much yelling and screaming about this from various interest groups. The proposed changes would not benefit interstate tourists like us, in the way the fuel subsidy did, which would be fair enough when we come from other States.

At Camooweal we paid 99cpl.

The road improved greatly once we were into the NT.

We were crossing the southern part of the Barkly Tableland, but not the true grass plains of a bit further north, because there were still some bushes about. The mulga was in flower, and all was very green, with still some surface water about. We were lucky to see it looking so good. There had been quite a lot of flooding of these northern parts of Qld and NT from a cyclone a couple of months ago.

We stopped at the Barkly Roadhouse to eat lunch and buy a cool drink. We could have overnighted here at their caravan park, but opted to do a long day instead.

At the intersection of the Barkly Highway with the north-south Stuart Highway, at Three Ways, we turned left for the run south to Tennant Creek. It would mean a short back track when we headed north again, but we wanted to explore Tennant Creek. We’d also asked K to send mail here, thinking it could be a while before we would be near a Post Office again.

Reached there at about 3.30pm, Central Standard Time. We’d “gained” half an hour as we travelled west. So it took us nearly nine hours to do that leg; we seemed to have a tail wind.

Booked into the Outback Caravan Park for three nights for $17 a night. It was on the edge of town. It had nice big sites – dirt and gravel, of course, with cement slab. It was all very spacious.

After setting up, we drove back to the town centre to try to get a paper, but they were all sold out. “Those tourists…” the man said!

Tea was soup, cold pork, salads.

We were very tired and went to bed soon after tea.

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