This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels July 11

WEDNESDAY 11 JULY   KURRAJONG CAMP TO FITZROY CROSSING   460kms

It took us a couple of hours to pack up. That’s the down side of tent camping.

The trip out to the highway was fine. The access road to the Bungles had a reputation for often being really corrugated, but not this time. Perhaps the rains had smoothed it right out? More likely, there had not yet been enough traffic on it, since it was graded at the start of the tourist season.

The Fletcher Creek crossing – which I had been quietly dreading – still had plenty of water in it, although the level had dropped considerably since a week ago. It was still enough to be a deterrent to some travellers.

The crossing was still too damned rough! A man on the highway side as we crossed, took some photos of us. We talked with him after we got through safely, and he said he would email me copies of the photos of Truck doing the crossing. (He never did).

I took photos of M driving across.

Then it wasn’t far to the highway and the 120kms or so to Halls Creek and diesel. In planning what we did in the Bungles, we had been aware of the need to conserve fuel, within reason. The thinking went like – it was about 160 kms between Turkey Creek, where we’d topped up the tank, and Halls Creek, where we would refuel. The access road, in and out, added about 120kms to that. Although we’d never tested it out, the range of a tank of fuel should have been around 550-600kms. So we had two or three hundred kms of driving in the Park to play with. It hadn’t been hard to accumulate those – a return trip from camp to Piccaninny Creek was 64kms – and we’d done three of those, for starters. Still, as it worked out, John thought we had enough diesel left to get comfortably to Halls Creek, without having to top up the tank with the jerry can.

The best laid plans……..

There was no diesel to be had in Halls Creek! They’d had a lot of multi-vehicle tag-a-long tours come through and the fuel tanker was running late, by a day or two. They “thought” he might be in tomorrow…….or the next day. Now, Halls Creek was not a place we wanted to stay, although it was not as bad there as it used to be. There were a number of very disgruntled travellers already staying there, waiting for fuel.

Also, did not much like the idea of filling up from a freshly filled servo supply that had been depleted – that was the way to finish up with gunk in the fuel.

So, we decided to try to make the 290kms to Fitzroy Crossing. John emptied our 24 litre jerry can into the tank. Whilst he was doing that, I bought a few necessary groceries.

Our plan of attack was that, if we did run out of fuel, M would take the empty jerry can and fetch us some from Fitzroy Crossing. She had no worries – with her dual tanks, she had plenty of fuel herself – but we had no way to access any of hers. It was a bit of a gamble, but John thought we could make it. If not, and we ended up with issues like having to bleed fuel lines, so be it.

I tried to phone the caravan park at Fitzroy Crossing to book sites, to make sure we would not get caught out there – but they didn’t do bookings! This day was rapidly going downhill….

We drove at a more economical speed than usual – about 85kmh. That made for a very long seeming 290kms.

We did seem to be a bit jinxed on this section of highway – in 2000, we “did” a wheel bearing on Truck, along there.

After a rather tense drive, we reached Fitzroy Crossing about 4pm. Immediately refuelled, at the Lodge. The gauge read empty, the odometer read 882kms, and the tank took 72 litres. It was supposed to hold 75 litres, so we’d  been just about running on fumes, I reckon.

The diesel cost $1.44cpl.

Of course, there were no powered sites left at the Fitzroy Crossing Lodge Caravan Park. They charged us $22 for an unpowered site. I really disliked the attitude of the Reception staff – they made it very clear that campers were low on their customer priority order. A pity, because otherwise it is a very nice park – well grassed on the powered sites, with modern amenities, and well set out.

However, the unpowered section that was our lot, was rather unshaded, dry and dusty.

We had planned to treat ourselves to a meal “out” at the Lodge’s motel restaurant, but after the unwelcoming attitude encountered, decided to keep our money and spend it somewhere else, later. M and John did walk up there and bought a bottle of wine, each, though – a treat.

I had just a cup-of-soup for dinner, John had an instant noodle dinner, left over from his hike food. Low cuisine to go with the wine!

It was a bit annoying having to put the tent up for just one night, but the motel units here were too expensive for us to contemplate a night in one of those.

The showers were wonderful! Hair wash was much needed…..

Phoned son. No change on that front – he still miserable.

It was another very cold night. So much for my hopes that being a bit closer to the coast would have a warming effect.


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2007 Travels July 4

WEDNESDAY 4 JULY   KUNUNURRA TO KURRAJONG CAMP, BUNGLES   310kms

We got up early, but did not get away from Kununurra as early as I’d hoped.

Because John had gotten mired down yesterday, in trying to sort out his technology stuff, things that should have been done yesterday – like tying down the roof rack contents – had not been done.

Then John had to call Telstra to get the new phone scenario sorted out. Today, they told him that the new phone could keep the old number, after all! Talk about left hand not knowing…..A new sim card would be sent to our home address. We did not, after all – and again contrary to previous advice – have to send either phone back to them.

There had been much angst and time wasted over the whole business. Note to self – in future, absolutely insist that any technology changes are done at home and well in advance of any planned travel!

We had to hitch up the packed van and tow it around to the Park’s storage area, which was beyond the waterfront unpowered camp area, but overlooked by some powered sites higher up. This part of the Park was securely fenced with a really high mesh wire fence, so I was reasonably content about the security of the van. I put on the Treg lock that stops the van being able to be hitched up. John sprayed our very powerful ant spray on the ground all around the perimeter of the van.

After all that, left town about 8.30am.

The highway west, then south, from Kununurra is such a scenic drive, with the stark red ranges always present – near or far. We had, of course, travelled this way last year.

Stopped at the roadhouse at Warmun – formerly Turkey Creek – to top up the fuel at this last available outlet, knowing that given our plans, we would need every drop!  $1.60cpl.

The place was humming – I was surprised by how many travellers were here. I noted that they now had a fenced van storage area here, that looked well patronized. Still, for a long period like we were planning, I thought Kununurra was the best place to have left ours.

We travelled about 250kms on the highways, before turning onto the unsealed road into Purnululu National Park – the Spring Creek Track.

Not far along the track, we came to the Fletcher Creek crossing. This was nearly the end of our Bungles expedition! After all the rain, it was quite wide, with a noticeable current, and muddy brown in colour – obscuring any idea of the nature of the creek bed.

We joined other vehicles parked up, waiting to watch someone else drive it! Logic said that since the track was officially open, this crossing must be do-able, but it looked pretty marginal to me. Eventually, a vehicle appeared on the far side and headed towards us. He took a curving path and made it without mishap, though it became obvious that the creek bottom was very uneven as he tilted about. His vehicle only looked to be in about 60cm deep water – we could manage that. With its rubber matting floors, a little water ingress was not a big deal for Truck; the rear contents, the HF radio unit and the air compressor controller, were all some 10cm higher than the footwell level for us, as the floor was stepped.

So we ventured in – with us in the lead and M waiting till we got through, and watching the line we took. We must have crawled over some fairly large rocks under the water – certainly got up some distinct leaning! The rocky bed wasn’t firm, either – a couple of times it felt like we slipped sideways off rocks. But got through unscathed, as did M when she followed us. Funny how the angle of tilt feels so much greater when one is sitting in the vehicle, rather than just watching on…..

It was clear, despite our success, that this crossing was obviously deterring the majority of would-be campers. No one seemed to immediately follow us. Maybe our crossing looked as bad as it felt!

Fletcher Creek as it normally is. For us, it extended bank to bank (Zoom)

After that, the track was quite good – a pleasant surprise as it had a reputation for often being rough. We covered the 52kms from the highway in about 90 minutes, to the Ranger Station/Three Ways corner.

We decided to go to Kurrajong Camp area; the alternative – Walardi – was much closer to the helicopter base, with its attendant noise. It cost us $20 a night to camp (unpowered of course), plus an entry fee of $3. Because John was going to be out of camp, up at Picaninny Gorge, we were only charged a $15 camp fee for each of those nights!  Not cheap, for a National Park!

We booked for a week in all. That would, we thought, allow us to visit all the special sites, do the walks, and for M and John to have their two nights away, and then recover afterwards, which I suspected would be needed.

At Kurrajong Camp, we set up in their designated generator section – wanting to be able to re-charge camera and laptop batteries, if needed. This area was large and pleasant and had hardly any other campers. Across the little creek, the non-generator, “quiet” area was quite crowded, and really not quiet at all. I think we may have stumbled on a useful campground strategy!

I wondered how many of the campers here were recent arrivals, and how many were still waiting for Fletcher Creek to go down before leaving, after a prolonged stay?

It was a pretty camp area, with the nearby range red in the afternoon sun. The little creek behind us was dry. The pit toilets were not too far to walk, were alright for their type, and there were water taps not far away.

It took us a while to set up our camps. Our big tent was relatively easy to put up, as these things go, and we had done it many times before, so knew what we were doing. But it did take time to unload the gear from Truck and set it up – like the plastic crates of foodstuffs, in the tent. Had to blow up the lilo we slept on – the Truck air compressor did that. Then I had to make that up with underblanket and sheets, and open up the sleeping bags that would be our top coverings.

Setting out the shade cloth that went under the tent floor

The camp gas stove, outside tables and chairs were set up. The Chescold fridge was unloaded and placed in the shade of the tent, and its gas bottle attached and fridge lit.

Then we felt we’d earned a beer or two before cooking tea. So good to be out in the bush again.

It was a really dark night – no moon to speak of and no general urban light.

We were exhausted again and went to bed early.