Bringing Henry Home - Katherine to Kununurra

Saturday, Jun 17, 2017 at 10:00

Peter Beard (WA)

The drive from Katherine to Kununurra is a delight, the Victoria Highway runs through spectacular country. The first section from Katherine to Victoria River is covered in low bush and beautiful tall gums, their brilliant white trunks and pink branches a stark contrast to their dark green glossy leaves. At the Judbarra/Gregory National Park a valley has been carved in the tall, flat top red hills by the wide, green Victoria River - full of crocodiles, according to the signs. Pete and Ali stopped for a rest break then pushed on to Timber Creek for lunch.

First attempt to fill up Henry was a failure. A set of pumps at the first roadhouse operate only after inserting a credit card into a machine behind a cage about 50 metres from the pumps then you have to work out how much you want before the pumps will work. If you don't have the pump hung right the fuel won't dispense. With a bit of shouting (and cursing) Pete and Ali managed to get $20 into Henry then found that the roadhouse just next door has real pumps with real people and food on offer as a bonus. They moved on, filled Henry, purchased a couple of sandwiches and sat under a tree for sandwiches and hot tea watching the eagles circle way up high.

Henry had been getting hot again so Pete took the driving lights off the bull bar to see if that would let in more air. By this time the ambient temperature was a pleasant 30 degrees and Henry just doesn't like heat. Ten minutes after taking off from Timbre Creek, sans driving lights with the air conditioner on Henry started to get hot again. Looks like it is not the driving lights causing the problem.

The boabs start after Timber Creek, more and more dot the landscape as you approach the WA/NT border. Beautiful rocky red hills appear and before long you have crossed the border and are in Kununurra. Back in home territory.
Pete and Kris's sleep on the first night of the Shitbox Rally at Roxby Downs was interrupted around 3am by an engine sputtering to life and a rousing cheer from triage. Kelvin and Ian of Team Thunderbox had finally got their Fiat X19 to start, solving a complex fuel problem. It wasn't long before all the camp was astir for a hot breakfast on a cold oval, teams packing up swags and contemplating the day ahead.

Group 7 was nearly last to leave, the rally heading off in reverse order for the second day. It was an all dirt day - first along the Borefields Road, recently graded and reopened following heavy rains and flooding over the last few months - then the legendary Oodnadatta Track, a bit rough and corrugated here and there but nothing too extreme. The biggest problem was dust, dust and more dust. Henry doesn't seal very well (you can see daylight clearly through all the door seals) and Team Lost Claus opted for an open top Saab so they didn't stand a chance.

The team stopped to check out Lake Eyre then had a beer at Williams Creek, happily mingling with other teams making their way along the iconic track to Oodnadatta. Digs for the night were at the racecourse about 5km out of town. Pete and Kris filled up Henry at the famous Pink Roadhouse then settled in for another entertaining night watching Team Thunderbox try to coax one more day out of the Fiat.

Photo: Kelvin Woods/Russell Clayton.


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