Burton's Perth to Cape York Day 9 Sunday 8 April 2012 Finke River to Alice Springs

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 22:07

Red Dirt Australia


A swim when you first wake up is a gift. Icy cold water blew away the last vestiges of sleep! On the way in tiptoeing over the painful river rocks and then through the course river sand the dingo tracks could be easily seen. A big dog! The ancient red bluffs towered overhead and the full moon was still glaring in the lightening sky. Ah bliss. I was relieved to encounter little Easter eggs around the camp site, the kids had been a little concerned that the Easter Bunny might not find us in such an isolated place, or might not be able to make it past the Rabbit Proof Fence. The pièce de résistance were two large bilby chocolates embedded in the sand facing the water (bilbys being more politically correct than bunny rabbits out here). Then came the most important part of the morning, putting the billy on for a cup of morning tea. The kids freaked! "the Easter Bilby came!" They had great fun hunting around the camp site until all eggs were found followed by a sugar overload breakfast of chocolate. As Amanda said, it is only Easter once a year. This Finke River National Park is a real paradise. No people and this pristine camp site all to ourselves.

We had several swims before reluctantly packing up and heading off towards Boggy Holes (we hoped). The track was just as treacherous or magnificent depending on your point of view. As a four wheel driver it was technically challenging with everything from the previous section repeated. The track is not well signposted with the very occasional post and triangular arrow sign pointing in dubious directions. Several river crossings, lots of stone. The most difficult for us was the narrow boggy sandy sections that appeared suddenly whilst climbing a river bank and then turning 270 degrees robbing us of any momentum. With the trailer on the back with its longer drawbar we had to slow and take each angle very wide. Giving the big V8 a poke was no good as these sections were inevitably pitted with deep holes and high rises, resembling the big dipper at the Royal Show. Amanda and the kids were subjected to a real roller coaster ride, all holding on for dear life! With the tyre pressures down to 18 the Cruiser idled through most of it, with no repeat of yesterday's bogging. Next came the narrow lane ways, tree trunks scraping the trailer sides as we ducked and weaved. Then the steep washaways and gullies. At one point we followed the sign into deep, tall grass and doubled back onto ourselves. I said to Amanda this is the wrong way! She thought the sign wouldn't be wrong! I decided to try and turn around, even though no open area presented itself. This took a 21 point turn and wow were we impressed with the trailer's departure angle! I think this is when we damaged the Stone Stomper. It's support bar on the Cruiser was bent in a contour moulding shape around its bumper. This turned out to be perfect as it minimised the gap for stones to fly up....now for the other side... Unfortunately we also snapped the trailer wiring plug bracket, easily repaired with a versatile occy strap. Another job for the rapidly growing to-do list!

An oncoming vehicle proved to be the Ranger. She gave us a heads up on conditions ahead and timing looking dubiously at our "not recommended trailer"....oops again. To cut a very long story short, the track slowly improved way passed the overrated Boggy Hole ( I think our camp site was better).

We encountered four or five vehicles all camped, owners waving....until finally we hit rough gravel road and the bitumen - Hermansberg! We fueled up, it fortunately being open for business, before hitting the dirt again to Palm Valley. We were greeted by a ferocious sign - "severe 4WD track, very rough conditions". Well it was a doddle compared to what we had just been through. About 17 km to a mediocre campsite, around fascinating ancient red cliffs, once again reminiscent of the American west. After last night's campsite Palm Valley did not press our buttons and the kid's needs for socialisation and a swim in a "real pool" turned us around towards the bitumen and Alice Springs. It didn't take long and we splurged on a powered ensuite site for about $55 per night. As Kate said "we have our own tooiilet Daddy! With no spiders! And it flushes!"
Had to back the Oddy up a high kerb to end up adjacent to the ensuite cube. Disconnecting proved to be a problem. This was the first time we had actually unhitched since we left. The very versatile DO35 appeared to be locked on. Mmm what to do? A quick spray with WD40 didn't seem to have much affect. A swift blow with the camping axe did the trick, I just love the transfer of energy as a solution.

Bit of a shock to be on a grassed site, surrounded by sedans, tents and clean people. Noisy kids cycling around, reminding us of the corellas in the gorge, although not as nice!
We have decided that cleanliness is relative. A week ago we were very clean people. Today we are red people, our standards have miserably dropped. Although by now the kids will be clean in the park's pool and the pool will have inherited a red stain....tomorrow will be busy cleaning out dust, washing clothes and stocking up on food and essentials like Nice bikkies and delicious preservative free snakes..let's not forget some more wine and beer! I also need to carefully survey the indomitable Cruiser and trailer to see what other damage I have wrought. I suspect at the very least the air cleaner will be very red, like us and let's not forget the remnants of the spinafex and other new grasses in the radiator fins...

p.s. I am typing this on an iPad using the Apple App Pages - it stinks! Jumps all over the place and changes my words for nonsensical American corrections, so apologies for any missed oddities......
Mike & Amanda
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