Bringing Henry Home - Townsville to Cloncurry

Sunday, Jun 11, 2017 at 22:14

Peter Beard (WA)

Sunday 11 June 2017

An early start for Pete, Ali and Henry in Townsville. Pete coaxed Henry into life around 7:15. After a few splutters and coughs and finally a big spit (if you've ever driven an old Ford you'll know the sound) he finally began to idle smoothly and the trio headed out of Townsville for the long drive west to Cloncurry - 780km through flat, dry cattle country. First stop however, was for fuel (a full tank plus a jerry can just in case), another litre of power steering fluid (Henry has been haemorrhaging for as long as anyone can remember) and to pump up the tyres (still a bit soft after doing lots of gravel and corrugations on the rally).

Western Queensland is sparsely populated, much like lots of Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory. The small towns are a welcome sight to travellers, offering coffee, fuel, sandwiches, beer supplies and toilets. Henry purred through Charters Towers, Hughenden, Richmond and Julia Creek, passing the occasional road train - he can really step up when required - arriving at Cloncurry just after 5pm. Pete and Ali were happy to be there before sunset, the number of dead kangaroos on the side of the road between Charters Towers and Cloncurry is frightening. Every two or three kilometres a flock of crows and hawks - plus some eagles - are feasting on roadkill. On a road trip of nearly 650km that is a lot of dead animals, and it would be likely that Henry would come out second best if a big boomer hopped out in front.

There were lots of kangaroos on Henry, Pete and Kris's second day drive from Norseman to Eucla and Henry managed to avoid those too. Coming down the Madura Pass onto the coastal plain there were a mass of kangaroos both alive and dead. Madura is an incredible experience for those making the long, straight drive across southern Australia. For what seems to be countless kilometres the road travels dead straight through an endless flat plain until it gets to Madura and all of a sudden it dips down into a valley full of trees and travellers get a whiff of ocean. Then the road eventually winds back up to the plain on the final approach to Eucla and the WA/SA border.

It was at Eucla where Pete and Kris found some fellow Shitboxers heading to Adelaide and where they also picked up a passenger. Colin Fox from the Team FoxCox team had made it there as a passenger with Team Cow Town sitting on the centre console of a 1980s Toyota Hi Lux ute but his intended Shitbox hadn't. The Saab he was driving to Adelaide for the rally got a belly full of water (literally, a big waterhole near Salmon Gums swallowed the Saab and filled the engine with water) rendering it dead before even making the start line. Not to be deterred Colin was heading to Adelaide anyway, something would turn up. Pete and Kris were happy to make room in Henry for a fellow adventurer.

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