TITLE: The Eight Hour Drive.
A hot shower, an oversized bowl of cereal and yoghurt each, tents packed away, mats and stretchers folded our gear rearranged so it could be secured better, vehicles topped up with diesel and we were out of there! Given it’s the last place with fuel until Borroloola Hell’s Gate Roadhouse has a certain feel about it and everyone there had a story of their own to tell. Leona had certainly looked after us and I was feeling very fortunate to have such wonderful people supporting The Bold Line.
It wasn’t long before the scenery changed, taller green trees lined the dirt road, the dips in the road became more pronounced and the signs that usually accompanied them missing. The attention required was intense, but as far as dirt roads go I was pleasantly surprised, what I’d been imagining was far worse. We powered on, dodging the big rocks, navigating sandy patches, pulling right off the dirt into the dirt to let the big road trains pass, tackling more water crossings and generally just enjoying the ride! Seven Emu Station was close enough to hold out on lunch, about 35kms off the Savannah Way we crossed the Robinson River and made our way up the hill to the Station itself. Frank Shadforth is the station owner and he was there to greet us. I’d spoken to him a number of times in the lead up to this stage. Frank had a dry sense of humour that I appreciated. Just the day before I’d phoned to see what the water crossing was like.
“Oh it’s REAL deep.” He said
“Oh.” I said already worried. “Perhaps you could be more specific?” I asked
“Well I saw a duck cross it and it was up to its waist.” He said, no change in tone.
Needless to say I’d not been worried about the crossing at all that day.
Frank let me use his landline to give Mum a call as we’d not had reception and wouldn’t have it for a few days yet. He then pointed us in the direction of the campsite, a further 6kms through the scrub on a track forged by other campers and mustering vehicles. It seemed to never end and the further into the bush we went the more isolated I began to feel. By the time I reached the camp the prospect of setting up camp for the night had lost it’s appeal somewhat. In saying that the view from the cliff top we’d emerged out on was incredible, the Robinson River was quite a site from up there. We were pretty hungry now, it was about 2pm by this stage so we decided to make wraps. Back in Cairns we’d made most of our selections at the supermarket based on not having a huge amount of fridge space and well, we wanted food that would last. This is my justifying the fact we were about to eat spam. I upended the spam into a bowl and Jason sliced it, there were flies everywhere! We had cheese, pickles and much to our surprise, avocado. We were surprised because the avocados had suffered immense trauma on the road, so much so the flesh inside had dislodged and we thought we’d open one to find it inedible, rotten and brown. But no! Unable to cut it we squeezed one and out came the most vibrant green ready made guacamole. Perfect. It’s likely that Jason consumed a little more protein than us the flies preferred his wrap to ours.
The long drop was stationed a mere fifty metres away, I vowed to make this the quickest visit to any loo I’d ever made. No roof, the missing wall to allow those brave enough to sit longer to enjoy the view and Frank flying overhead waving from his helicopter was more than enough to have me out of there in seconds.
Road trains showered us with dust as we pushed on to Borroloola, about another hour and a half down the road. It was here that I would join the lines on the map and complete this part of the journey. Between us, Dad and I, we’d travelled right around the country. It was a great feeling and as always, quite surreal to be standing in a remote town that Dad had been to however many years ago. I shook hands with Jason and Fred and thanked them both – Fred snapped a photo of me by the ‘Welcome to Borroloola sign,” grinning proudly.
By this stage it was 4pm I made a quick call to Cape Crawford, another hour and a half further down the road. We weren’t expected there until the following night but Kerry the Manager there didn’t mind at all and told us there’d be a room for us that night too if we wanted to keep going. We did. Jason led the way at a top speed of 80kms an hour – still a bit concerned about the thermostat. Given the time of day slower was certainly the way to go anyway!
We pulled in at The Heartbreak Hotel more than ready for a meal and a cold beer. Jason and I worked out we’d been driving for nine hours with a one hour break for lunch. We were tired but it hadn’t felt like that long. I suppose when you’re concentrating so intensely time flies!
TIP: Trust your own instincts!
TRACK: Eyes the Behaviour – Electrical