Cape York via Simpson Desert 14 June 2015 – Day 13

Sunday, Jun 14, 2015 at 22:46

Peter Beard (WA)

Rain, rain, rain and lots of it. What started as a light drizzle when we left the Birdsville pub heading for our room turned into a steady downpour then an absolute drenching throughout the wee hours of the morning. Ali laid awake listening to it, thankful there is a tin roof and not a tent roof between bed and the elements. Pete laid awake listening to it, thankful the lakes, claypans and creeks of the Simpson Desert are behind us. By sunrise the lightning and thunder had set in with a vengeance, torrents of water turning the car park at the motel to mud and pools of water.

Checking out, Ali eagerly read the freshly printed road reports and double checked the track and town names against the map on the wall. All tracks south all the way to Lyndhurst closed. All tracks and roads north not mentioned. Phew. Looks like a trip to Cloncurry is not out of the question. Leaving the mass of people trying to extend their tenure on a motel room (those heading south, presumably) and the ladies behind the desk phoning prospective customers to see if they would be taking up their booking (those heading up from the south, presumably), we left the motel, found the bakery, purchased coffees and a couple of rolls for lunch, then headed north out of town in the downpour.

The gravel starts immediately, well graded but very slippery with big puddles and rivulets flowing across the countless floodways. The first vehicle we came across was a police van heading towards Birdsville. The driver waved at us in a friendly sort of way, not in a frantic "stop, you are heading towards danger you lunatics" way. Reassured we continued on. The next few cars appearing out of the stream falling from the sky were towing caravans. They also waved in a friendly manner. Looking even better! If caravans made it this far we should be able to get out alright.

And so we did. The track had long sections of bitumen, easing the strain on driver and car. By the time we reached Cacoory Homestead ruin the sky to the north was a light grey instead of dark charcoal and the downpour had reduced to a drizzle. A bit further north we crossed Eyre Creek, this time running steadily under the bridge at the point where, according to the Queensland department of Transport website the road was closed yesterday. Our thoughts went out to the gum trees on the Eyre Creek bed at the end of the QAA Line, and the poor people still out in the Simpson Desert who hadn't come into Birdsville last night. This rain must be making life very interesting and may mean another couple of days camped in red mud. Wonder what happened to the Holden Adventra? Hope they are OK.

Our next crossing of the Eyre Creek, over a bridge near Glengyle Station, exposed an avian sanctuary. Parrots swooping and calling raucously across the stream, tiny finches collecting bugs and majestic pelicans swimming down the muddy waters.

By Bedourie the rain had stopped all together, the bitumen settled in and we were on our way north through Western Queensland. There is not a lot out here apart from cows, birds, rocks and Mitchell grass. We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn on the way to Boulia, heading north to Dajarra and the right turn along the Cloncurry Dajarra Road. This is a well graded gravel road through cattle country with many flood crossings, lots of cows, a couple of kangaroos and four little pigs.

The rain persisted in fits and starts throughout the day offering a fantastic cloudscape, increasing in beauty as the sun set. We passed through Duchess, a town consisting of a pub, mine and rail siding looking forward to the gravel to end and Cloncurry to appear. The final 40km was in darkness, Ali peering through the windscreen sweeping from right to left looking for cows and kangaroos, Pete keeping the car on the narrow road to the highway and safety.

We are safely ensconced at the Post Office Motel in Cloncurry, a meal and a couple of beers under our belt and a nice easy drive north to Karumba tomorrow.


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