We drove from Laura to bramwell junction, eating a lot of dust over the 140 k that we drove. So much dust that I actually felt physically ill from breathing…a function I normally enjoy being able to perform!! I also felt physically ill as a 4wd at one point came skidding around the corner, powersliding towards our vehicle. Starting to compile some road trip rules. #1: take gravel roads slowly!!
Every 30 k we had 200 m of bitumen road for overtaking, but there’s not much traffic when you’re this far north!! When I wasn’t taking in the scenery…classic Australian bush with dusty red roads…I was battling with sudoko and minesweeper on my phone, which right now is pretty much all its good for as Vodaphone reception seems to be something we left back in cairns!!
We camped at bramwell junction roadhouse, where the ant hills are taller than our cars, and cooked up pasta on our portable bbq before heading to bed. Darkness sets in pretty quickly out here as its extremely flat, and when it does the sky lights up with the most amazing amount of stars you’ve ever seen, its almost a crime to be sleeping in tents!!
This morning we took on the telegraph track. For the first 3 hours we managed 3k. Yes, for those mathematicians out there that’s 1k an hour!
We spent half an hour walking and clearing out a huge river crossing which had extremely large drop offs. Jacintas legs turned to clay in the process! It was a large vote of confidence for us that the river was full of floating car parts. We kindly let the 4wd which drove up behind us go first, and aside from a jurassic park sounding scream from the exhaust of the car, he drove through with relatively no problems, aside from bending side step. Then we heard the car tires squealing and skidding and realised getting up the drop off on the other side was going to be our issue.
Calista drove through and winched herself out of the other side. Cam gunned it and came out without needing a winch. It had taken us 6 hours last night to fix the electric winch, an effort well worth it otherwise we would have been stuck today with a handheld!…not ideal.
I jumped in toms car to hold all of the loose gear. Windows went up. Wheels were airborne on the first drop off before we reached the river, however we made it, and gunned the car to get through the next drop off.
The car hit the side wall, roof was perpendicular to the ground, the roof rack snapped and flew backwards, mud flew from the tires and smacked the windows quite hard, the guard was ripped from the right back side, and only seconds from rolling did the car for some reason correct and shoot up onto solid ground. What would have been slightly worrying was if the 20 litre jerry cans on toms roof rack had exploded during the flight! Luckily we all still have our eyebrows…and our jerry cans!!
After the smoke cleared the car resembled more of a mud monster, I found my stomache and luckily the only damage was a dint on the passengers doors. By this stage, we were all through and thanking god we had left early as there were 10 cars, including trailers queued on the other side. To toms credit, he wasn’t winched out, as many of the cars behind him were. Dad, were fine and tom drove safely but the roof rack wasnt apparently built for strain…only minor cosmetic damage to the car.
We made much better time after that first hole in the road. The telegraph track is for all intents and purposes an obstacle course for well fitted 4wds. Extremely windy, extremely narrow, with often a few choices of road, each a worse option than the next, trees scratched our arms through the windows, inclines, rocks and ditches in the road tested our reflexes and breaks, and river crossings provided an opportunity to get completely saturated.
After driving through a grey clay pass we arrived at a rather large river. Due to the drop, which was actually more of a cliff at an inconvenient part of the crossing we had 8 of us stand in the river to make a safe pathway for the cars. Boys being boys, they of course revved the wheels while passing to which we were greeted with the whole river in our faces! The showers were working this morning, so I didn’t need the wash.
The rest of the afternoon was pretty cruise driving. We stopped at a creek crossing for lunch, spotted a platypus, tom bogged his car once or twice, the road had us thrown at angles I didnt even know were possible and then we got to gunshot creek. Well known from YouTube for the ferociousness of the drops!!