Burton's Perth to Cape York - El Questro to Home Valley 28-30 June 2011 Day 90-92

Sunday, Jul 29, 2012 at 19:22

Mike & Amanda

Accidently setting the car alarm off at 0530 whilst crouching down to light the fire does not win you any popularity contests. We school the kids to be ware of and considerate to those around us and then I blow it! Well it did mean everyone got up for an early pack up LOL. Five nights in one place is a record for us this trip and was a most welcome rest. One learning from this epic adventure is that we will allow more down time…I guess this means that the next trip should be at least….say 12 months…grin! Better be off to see either the bank manager or the lotto agent!

Managed to head off around 0900, visiting the Township shop to reclaim our camping deposit of $10 each. This is to essential keep track of people and I think it’s a great idea, especially with the small amount of private campsites. We filled our water tanks on the trailer and can’t really decide if one is leaking – sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. It could be an overflow, but more likely a hairline crack due to some careless impact during a particularly rough track. Kate tried to find Moonshine to say goodbye. She retrieved all her Pony Pal books last night from one of our rooftop spacecases and now wants to have riding lessons rather than learn to play an instrument. Note from Mike – I hope this passes as a fleeting fad….

The El Questro driveway was still fun, the creek crossings still bringing boyish grins to our faces as we headed out with the authority of experienced El Questro whizzes, tolerant waves to the newbies driving in.

From the last trips we learned that you only have a brief fleeting opportunity for photos. These moments can not be repeated during the trip, no it is essential to overcome natural laziness and make the effort, no matter how much a dork it makes you look to take the shots! Crossing the Pentecost was just such an amusing exercise. Back and forth we went, cameras out – surely we must have crossed it dozens of time! This year the water was lower and it wasn’t the spectacular crossing we’d previously experienced.

This part of the Gibb was much rougher than our fragile memories could recollect, even though we know it is a seasonal thing. Nothing too tragic, just quite bouncy, enough to give the OME shocks and coils a bit of exercise.

Before we knew it Home Valley was upon us, after all it is only 35 odd clicks from the ELQ turnoff. Having been here before we made a beeline for reception and secured a powered spot. We later determined this to be a mistake and should have gone down to the Pentecost riverside campsites. The campground around the station is not well laid out and sports are not clearly marked so people were all over the place trying to get close to a coveted power pole. Some were broken compounding the issue. We ended up right behind the ensuite block and unfortunately the large gas tank at the end was a victim of plumbers and stockmen doing strange things to it for the whole time we were there. They even drove up a large excavator and proceeded to dig up a working water or sewerage pipe – gin and tonic in hand, we could even see that one coming! When working, I’m contracted as a Federal Safety Officer, so it was tempting to chat to these blokes authoritatively, however in my usually vacation-inspired intoxicated state they may not have listened…lol.

We took advantage of a very early arrival to catch up on some well earned lazy time. Amanda temporarily absconded from this and threw loads of sheets and towels into the washing machines straight off, as the machines were in limited supply and we’d been bush camping for some time now….. it was quite warm so Amanda anticipated that they should dry in time for wine o’clock. It seemed much warmer here than it was at El Questro. Lunch was consumed, Pat and Jeff went were right at home and went of to look at the cattle yards whilst the socially deprived kids hit the playground where they instantly made lots of new friends. I decided to do some exercise and reclined in my Oztrail chair and read (chuckle) whilst Amanda played catch up with the iPad diary.

With Kate's new obsession with horse riding she discovered that they do miniature pony rides for the kids here so she just simply, positively, absolutely had to go on one. Unfortunately they were all booked out so she missed out much to her disgust. Her new friend Emily had booked-in earlier, so Kate followed her around on her ride (which was just a circuit of the campgrounds). Afterwards they went over to the stables to look at the horses. When they got there they saw that the horses had no food and had knocked their water over. One of them was even licking the bar it was so thirsty! Jeff told us later that he had seen the angry little girls go up to Reception (you could just see their eyes over the counter top) and tell that staff there what they had seen and that it was “simply disgraceful and something should be done about it”.

We treated ourselves to dinner at the Dusty Bar and Grill all ordering huge steaks, which they managed to completely mix up the type of steak and sauce options on, but the steaks were perfectly cooked and tender-as. We were all yawning by 8pm and soon in bed. We’ve been spoiled by bush camping and find it hard to adjust to all the noisy people around, banging and crashing. One annoying thing is some shower and toilet users seem to bang the doors loudly early in the morning or very late at night, whilst others seem to gently close them so as to not annoy others….grrrr.

Next morning we drove out to the Gibb River Road looking for the turnoff to Bindoola Falls. We had heard it was "16km from the homestead" but couldn't find a track anywhere. Ended up calling HVS on the UHF repeater - they let us know that the track actually comes out the back of a parking bay. Backtracked and found the bay (14.6km from where the HVS driveway hits the Gibb) and the short drive in to a small parking area. The walking tracks in weren't very clearly marked but we wandered in and came across the bottom pool (not flowing at this time of year) then wandered further on to the top pools where there was still a small waterfall flowing. It was a bit of a scramble to get down to the water. At this point in time two families with 7 young boys between them turned up, so we graciously sat back and let them test the water for crocs. Once enough time had passed for any self respecting croc to have either made his selection and dined (or been scared away by the volume of noise being generated) the kids and I went in for a dip - cold!!. Wandered back out to find Pat and Jeff had set themselves up next to a nice warm trickle of water which they were paddling in.

Had lunch back at camp then a lazy afternoon. Pat and Jeff wandered around stickybeaking, the kids met up with their new friends in the playground and Amanda and I had a short swim in the rather cool swimming pool. What is it with the Kimberleys this year? Cape York beckons again….tropical warmth ahh.

As it was a bit warmer, gin and tonics were the order of the evening. Pat had brought a bottle of Gilbey’s and plenty of quinine reinforced tonic. I supplemented this with a bottle of Gordons. This was a bad habit we picked up whilst travelling in Africa…it’s for the malaria you know old chap! Well organised Pat even brought some lemons!

An old acquaintance Jeremy Perks from Global Gypsies turned up with a tag-a-long group. He was sporting a fine bushy grey beard, much larger than when we met him last, was as cheerful as usual although looked a little tired. This was understandable having babysat a bunch of four wheel drives for that last three weeks. It was good to catch up and have a chat about roads, places, issues and Toyota 200 series with problems. He couldn’t stay long as his customers were calling. I’m sure tagalongs play an important role, however at this stage of our touring career, I cringe thinking about being on one, I’m probably too antisocial and selfish…oh well.

The bloody showers were worse than El Questro! What is it with these places! They take your money and provide little service. The water was a dribble and would turn cold in 30 seconds. We’d do better hooking up our own Oddy gas shower! Nice evening around the table (rather than the campfire) solving the world's problems.

Much warmer night again – hoorbloodyray!. Everyone around us up early packing up (Jeremy’s Global Gypsies moving on Eastwards). Got ourselves moving then got caught up chatting with Melinda and Brian with their Quantum (recognised us from the AORC forum). Eventually followed them out to the riverside camps where they were going for a sticky beak and we had planned to try a bit of fishing. We set up both the cars with their awning out near the banks of the Pentecost and got out our rather extensive collection of guaranteed catch a big barra lures. The low tide was at 9.36am and there was plenty of mud along the edges along with lots of mud skippers. Before they'd even wet a line Kate had slipped over twice in the mud. Discovered that the tide charts we had were for Wyndham and the tide here is an hour or more behind that, so the water level went lower before it slowly started getting higher. I walked down to find a spot to cast in bare feet and sunk to my ankles in disgusting Queensland black soil type mud…thought we’d escape that stuff lol. Amanda made us some lunch and still no action with the tide. Wasn't until mid afternoon that the water really started moving, but Granddad and the kids had a great time casting away, despite not catching anything. One of the station hands came past and told us that someone had caught a 1.2m barra here just the other day, but not for us. We spotted a saltie swimming downriver, and had seen another one lying on the far bank, so that was one box ticked at least.

Headed back to camp just before dark. If we come again we would stay at the riverside camps as the riverside ablution block had warmer and better pressure water than the main camp did (Pat actually had her shower here before coming back as she had her gear in the car) and you can run generators so the powered site wasn't really essential.

Overall we probably spent too much time at Home Valley. There are no station 4WD tracks as we’d thought, so there really isn’t that much to do. The riverside campsite is better, quieter and has great views. The Dusty Bar and Grill was good, quite expensive but hey, the food and service was fine, the atmosphere fantastic. The station camp and showers were not good and we wouldn’t stay there again unless the infrastructure improved. It was good for the kids to see other children and have a play; their first playground in months was a real winner. We couldn’t buy milk here and the only bread was frozen white cardboard. It was also pleasant to catch up with Jeremy and other camper trailer owners, generally a friendly bunch, always keen to chat about their rigs and destinations.
Mike & Amanda
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