Burton's Perth to Cape York - Kununurra to Leycester’s Rest 20 June 2011 Day 82

Saturday, Jul 28, 2012 at 09:43

Red Dirt Australia

A $1000 later and the problem with the Cruiser was not found. The guys at Argyle Toyota worked hard, changed all the fluids and essentially completed a 100,000 service, but could not find any faults. They guessed it was something to do with fuel, however there did seem to be more confusion as to where the fuel filters were, and besides there weren’t any in stock!

We packed up and left Lake Argyle with our new travelling companions Pat and Jeff in their Hilux. Although the route is fabulously scenic, the seventy k trip into Kununurra was becoming a little tedious the third time round and waiting for the ‘broken’ Cruiser to lose power again took the edge from the fun driving experience. During my absence yesterday the family visited the Durack homestead and completed a short bushwalk around the ridges surrounding the huge dam. We detoured over the dam wall amazed at the huge lake surrounded by the contrasting rugged red cliffs and gorges – this place is certainly worth a good look. We were all a little sad that we missed out on the cruise due to the bloody car.

At this time of year Kununurra is a bustling place, cars, caravans, campers and backpackers everywhere. It is challenging to find a parking spot for a long rig. Overall the atmosphere is very friendly and there are some great small cafes serving tasty coffee and food even if they are a little pricey! Six hundred dollars later the food boxes were well and truly stocked – excepting for booze! Alcohol restrictions unique to Kununurra and Derby mean you can only buy low strength alcohol (3.5% only after 2.00pm – this is then restricted to two bottles of wine or one carton of mid strength beer per transaction! This meant developing a creative purchasing plan with all of the adults visiting all of the outlets, back and forth until our stocks were refilled. What a ridiculous process! The locals told us that they buy all their booze online, meaning local businesses miss out. I personally like the NT method of maintaining a Banned Drinker Register which prevents problem drinkers from buying takeaway alcohol. This is much more equitable and doesn’t inconvenience anyone except problem drinkers! Whilst waiting for the infamous 2.00pm deadline we dropped into the excellent Mt Romance Sandlewood factory buying some mossie sticks and incense.

Using Jan Holland’s incredible Priceless Campsites and Rest Areas book we targeted Spring Creek on the Great Northern blacktop for our overnight stop. It would benefit anyone travelling in the NT or WA to pick up a copy of these detailed and unbiased books. There are a lot of free camping books around but we have found Priceless to be precise, clear, accurate and totally honest although at times a little dated.

The damn car started playing up again after a couple of hours of driving. The iPad connected to the car’s computer via a wireless OBD II plug showed no warnings or codes up. With no dash warning lights either, the car had no power after 3000RPM. This is intensely frustrating especially when trying to overtake or encountering a hill. Oh well, as Amanda says, we were still going forward! Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

Getting on for sunset and having a no dark driving rule we were looking forward to setting up camp. Unfortunately Spring Creek was packed. Grey nomads were parked wall to wall – we probably could have squeezed in, but it didn’t look at all pleasant, especially when we noted several little fluffy yappy dogs running around! (Kate’s eye’s lit up and she forcefully suggested that this was here preferred stop for the night!). We moved on about another 10ks in the wrong direction to Leycester’s Rest. This was our last option due to impending night. We found it to be busy but not full. It was a much bigger area with little tracks and roundabouts leading to assorted secluded areas in the surrounding bush with some of these near the river bed. We didn’t have the opportunity to explore, just chose a vacant area next to a huge Kedron from Broome and quickly set up. Jack is becoming very proficient at putting his tent up and I’m sure he is pleased to have “his own space”. We used some of our precious stored jarrah to build a small campfire leading a pleasant evening, huge sky, stars, moon, fragrant smoke and good conversation over a glass of difficult to obtain wine ;-) We were very glad of the wine because the night turned intensely cold! I don’t remember this sort of chill from our last visit up here.

We later found the pit toilets (not too bad) and a big sign explaining why the stop was called Leycester’s Rest. Leycester was killed here in a road accident in 1999 aged 13. Leycester collected five cent pieces - at the time of his death his briefcase from school was found to be full of them. The family say that every time they see a five cent piece it is Leycester popping up to say hello. Underneath the sign was a huge pile of five cent pieces left by travellers in dedication to Leycester. We all searched around the car and trailer until we found some coins and added to the pile, marvelling that no morons have stolen it.
Mike & Amanda
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