Gulf Country Day 56 - Kurumba to Lawn Hill

Thursday, Sep 17, 1998 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

The drive from Karumba to Burketown proved quite interesting. Mel and Gill had warned us about M Creek crossing which, when they crossed it a few weeks earlier, had a broken bore and caused them a sudden, sharp dip into the river where a causeway should have been. We kept a close watch for it as we neared the area but were dismayed to find they road was closed and we had to take a bypass road. We'd been driving at around 90-100km per hour on the main road but we hit some heavy bulldust on the bypass which soon slowed us down. We can't seem to keep out the bulldust even with a new set of rear door seals. Just past the bad patch of bulldust we came across a young couple in a trayback with a caravan sitting in the ute. We stopped to ask if they were OK but they were only readjusting the load. Apparently, the caravan had shifted when they hit the bulldust.

A little further along the track we came to the intersection at Floraville. We wanted to head towards Burketown but I had heard that nearby were the Leichardt Falls although they were not on my Hema map. We came across a German couple in a 1980 green Troopy with a yellow kangaroo painted on the doors. They had a Lonely Planet guide to Australia and a different map to ours so together we found the falls.

I think it was becauase we had company that we made the mistake of venturing just a little too far off the beaten track. The road took us along a deep gully with walls of sand 6 metres high on either side opening out to a long causeway. The falls were said to be just off to the right. The rocky surface was too hot to walk on so David drove us across to where we thought the falls must be. Unfortunately, we didn't bank on the sand being so deep and so soft and with the trailer on the back we didn't make it very far. We had to unhitch the trailer, let down the tyres on the car and even still we had to dig it out. Thankfully, Herbert our new German friend drove across to help David push and pull the trailer into a position where we could hitch it back up and drive it out again. We then had to stop and top up all the tyre pressures of course without a tree in sight. All this in the midday heat of the Gulf county! After all the excitement we didn't even bother to get out of the car to explore the falls - they were dry anyway.

We pulled into Burketown around 4pm and the first thing we saw was the pub - hooray! The second we walked into the dark and dingy place the locals swiveled around and commented on seeing a female. The barmaid quickly told me that the ratio of guys to girls is 10:1 so a blonde like me was bound to raise a few eyebrows. She looked a little too neat and tidy herself which I later discovered was because she had only left Melbourne 6mths ago. Jennifer was her name, and she had spent a year working in New Zealand previously and then saw an advertisement in the Age stating "Outback Adventure - barstaff required" and she and her boyfriend packed up and left. Jenny told us some funny stories about the locals in town and then added that she'd had enough and was heading back to Melbourne as fast as she could. One of her stories was about the change of ownership in her first month of working at the pub. When the new owners took over they started to go through the stuff in the shed and came across the landsailers but couldn't find the sails for another 3 weeks. When they rigged them up they took off down the main street until the local Police suggested they should find a better location. We noticed a photo up on the wall of the 4 landsailers on the saltpans and Jenny concured that they had some great times out there.

We continued onto Escott Station just 13km out of town and discovered paradise. Escott is a working cattle station with it's own airfield that not only attracts touring pilots but gliders with the hope of capturing a photograph of a Morning Glory. While we were there the army brought in 5 helicopters for a "mission". It was here that we heard of a 4wd track out of Lawn Hill that would bypass Burketown via Kingfisher Camp. We will check it out as we get closer because it will give us a 150km shortcut.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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