Burton's Perth to Cape York Day 6 Wed 5 April 2012 Roadside Camp to Warburton

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 12:06

Mike & Amanda

Awake at dawn to a zillion pesky flies, in your ears,nose, eyes and out with the hat and FOF net. I connected the gas and put the billy on for the first cup of tea. Chairs opened up and moved from under the protective awning to outside around the tables waiting for the rest of the family to wake up. It was already hot and the flies weren't going to go away so we decided on a quick brekky and hit the road....uh...track...uh...dirt track....
Amanda and I used the Tanami pump for the first time and what a success it was. It didn't take long to transfer the 4x20 litres into the tank using the air compressor. Did I mention thank goodness for the fly nets.

This section of the highway, ...uh road...uh track...was very bad, or good dependent on your point of view. It took us 2 hours to reach Beadell's Camp and many more hours to reach Mt Sampson where we turned south down the Heather Highway, another misnomer if I ever heard one. We lost the track several times, it just seemingly disappeared. Walls of spinafex as high as the roo bar reared up. It almost felt a little like Len's descriptions from his book. A check of the radiator revealed that it was slowly becoming clogged although there were no symptoms of overheating yet. The tyres were holding up well at their 30psi, the TyreDogs keeping us informed, although the right rear on the trailer kept dropping out. The gullies and washaways became very bad. Usually there was some form of bypass made by previous travellers. One gully was very deep and we edged slowly down, the Cruiser sliding a little sideways, leaning over, the kids playing games by trying to keep the centre of gravity. When we were upright again we found ourselves trapped in what looked to be a river bed with no viable exit. Steep sides faced us. I got out of the Cruiser with difficulty as the doors was constrained by the gully edge. A walk revealed that we might make it out a little way along, however it would be a challenge, the tall steep vertical edges about 600mm high. After placing the old girl in low range auto I charged the edge and rose over the top with an unpleasant lurching and some crunching. We made it up, the trailer sliding sideways but eventually following like a faithful dog. A quick look revealed no damage, the bank edge had been fortunately soft and had given way. Lesson learned - take the bypass if there is one! Other sections narrowed and as Len Beadell described must have been Landy tracks. He said most of the original bush tracks had been forged by Landrovers and were therefore quite narrow. The Cruiser was hammered by branches and pinstriped regularly. The radio and Telstra aerials were knocked and battered.

We eventually arrived at Mount Beadell, stopped and read the information sign before climbing to the top to take in the wonderful views as well as Len's theodolite mounted for protection in a cage. Further on we spotted Len's tree and plaque.

The Heather 'Highway' was rapidly approaching and we unanimously made the decision to take it. For now, we all had had enough of the bush bashing and mistakenly thought that the Heather Highway would take us away from all this....well, it actually disappeared. There was no track to start with....it eventually appeared as two ruts overgrown with wattle. It was no better, in places much worse than the Gunbarrel but eventually gave us some optimism as sections allowed us to creep up to 50km/hr! Herds of camels could be seen glaring at us. We spotted colorful clouds of darting budgies. A few wallabies and emus loitering in the bush. We arrived at the Hunt Highway or oil road and it was luxury! Wide gravel and a speed of 70km/hr. Lots of woopdies, up and down but at last the average was creeping up. The Great Central Highway loomed and wow, at least six lanes wide, smooth gravel and would you believe it, traffic! We passed a truck coming the other way!

Soon we arrived at Warburton averaging a surprising 70-80 km/hr. We'd suddenly realised that tomorrow was Good Friday and maybe it was important to get fuel today. This turned out to be true as everything is closed tomorrow. The guy unlocked the cages around the Opal bowser and filled us up - aargh - $2.20 per litre...to fill up the tank and the four jerries cost us $300.00!!

We decided to stay the night as it was late and we'd had a long day bush bashing. I needed to check over the Cruiser and do something about the spinafex. There was inviting grass behind the Roadhouse and we quickly set up for $12 per adult and free for the kids. We were constantly warned to secure everything especially the jerries as the local community have been known to climb the fence and help themselves...this proved not to be the case during our short visit, although it did have the effect of keeping us awake.. alert to every noise!

The spinafex was a nightmare to remove, sharp and scratchy. The ARB compressor was of no use and I ended up scraping it out with my hands....the showers were welcome, a little basic in the cleanliness department, but hey, wet and flowing....the temp outside was still warm with no breeze. Very humid, only a few flies and only the occasional mossy. The toilets have encephalitis warnings and other mosquito borne disease stuff posted on the walls.

The middle and last sections of the Gunbarrel would have to be the roughest track we have been on. Similar in some ways to the Holland Track with its twisty narrowness between bushes and trees, very overgrown. Some of the corrugations are as bad as the Mitchell Falls road but can not be compared to normal gravel roads like the Gibb which would be like a real Highway compared to this goat track....normal caravans wouldn't have a hope no matter what the driving skill. Smaller offroad units could do it, but be prepared for slow travelling and much scraping.
Mike & Amanda
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