Bringing Henry Home - Karrratha to Carnarvon

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 10:00

Peter Beard (WA)

Today was a day of wrestling Henry the 600 or so kilometres from Karratha to Carnarvon. It is amazing how much difference a bit of power steering makes. On the long straights it was pretty fine - small adjustments to the steering wheel to keep straight only requiring a firm hand. Overtaking requires a more steady approach to move smoothly out across to the other side of the road and back again. Pulling in to service stations, negotiating roundabouts and parking require a very firm hand, Pete making sure Henry did not hit anything including kerbs.

The landscape on the first section out of Karratha is one of wide plains covered by bright red Sturt Desert Peas and low grasses - more cattle country - and hills that look like stacks of rock exactly the same colour as the mountainous stockpiles of iron ore at Port Hedland. Flocks of bright green budgerigars swoop across the road, the ever present crows, hawks and eagles clustered around any creature unlucky enough to have had its life ended on the road.

After Nanutarra the rolling red sand dunes commence. These red ridges of rock and sand cover central Australia in bands clear to the Queensland border and beyond at this latitude through the Great Sandy Desert, the Tanami Desert and the Simpson Desert. Further south they run through the Gibson Desert and Great Victoria Desert covering much of Western Australia and into South Australia. The road climbs gently between these rolling giants, the land between covered in bright golden spinifex and low trees. Finally Carnarvon appears, its rich market gardens and banana plantations offering a pleasant green alternative to the reds and golds of the drive. Time to stop for the night.

Pete and Kris's last day of the Shitbox Rally did not go according to plan. Kris had suffered a stomach haemorrhage earlier in the year and was starting to feel unwell leaving Einasleigh. Before too long it became apparent that he was not well at all. Arriving in Mt Surprise the rally medical team caught up and took a look - they were very concerned the haemorrhage had recurred so it was on to the ambulance service to organise an evacuation for the pair. Kris ended up in Atherton Hospital accompanied by Pete after a long and bumpy ride in the back of an ambulance. Ali, Lindsay and Morgan met them there and were able to finally get Kris back to Cairns late in the evening. A virus had caused havoc with this insides but a good dose of saline and rest meant the hospital staff were OK to let him go - as long as he was kept under observation by the family and able to be readmitted in Cairns if things deteriorated.

So what about Henry? Well, he was handed over to a couple of spare support team mechanics who brought him down the winding road out of the tablelands and finally into Cairns. Henry crossed the finish line at the Cairns Hyatt making him a bit of a celebrity. Beardies’ Bucket of Bolts crossed the line without the Beardies - it is the first time a car has crossed the line sans drivers. He was even valet parked! Well sort of. When the valet got in Henry he could not find first gear only reverse. That loose, bodgied up fix on the gear stick means there is no gate between first and reverse and the poor man just couldn't get Henry going forward. The surrounding Shitboxers took pity on the him and pushed Henry down the drive and into the car park. What a way to end the rally.


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