Week 10 Weekly Blog 29/07/2021 - 04/08/2021
Last week saw us have an interesting trip to Weipa after being at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse for 3 nights waiting for a tow truck. Read on below for what adventures we got up to in week 10 of Allan and I exploring Oz.
Today we packed up camp and said goodbye to Sue and Brian as we part ways from Weipa. Allan and I had to head back to Bramwell Station to pick up the camper. The road out from Weipa had been recently graded so was very smooth, with only a few rough sections on either side of creek crossings. Allan and I were expecting extremely rough corrugations on the PDR to Bramwell Station, but it seemed like the PDR had also been graded recently. There were some corrugations and dips, but nothing like what we remembered from 5 days earlier in the tow truck! We got to Bramwell Station in just over 2 hours. We booked one night camping and Allan found a great spot next to a shelter to camp that already had firewood and a fire bucket all set up. We took the camper out of storage and set it up for the night. We made a cute setup under the shelter with lights strung through the shelter struts and the camper kitchen out with our table and chairs. We had been set up for about 2 hours and were sitting chilling in the shade when a caravan decided to pull up 3 foot in front of the front of our car, which boxed our car in, so we weren’t able to go anywhere. We were extremely angry because there was a huge paddock and this van had to park straight in front of us. Their mate they were travelling with parked on the other side of them parallel to them. I was blatantly obvious that I was not happy with them making comments within ear shot of the person about how I was glad that we don’t have to go anywhere in a hurry, because we wouldn’t be able to get out anyway. We went to the bar and had a drink during happy hour before coming back to camp and starting the fire to cook dinner (steak on the camp braai and sweet potato roasted in alfoil in the fire). We ate dinner and while listening to the entertainment and chilled by the fire before going to bed.
We packed up camp. When putting the camper away, the gas struts that control the camper when opening and closing it had stopped working, so the camper closed with a bang. Before we were going to go, Allan had to fit the new dust cap for the wheel of the camper that we got from Weipa. The dust cap was the correct diameter this time, but it wasn’t deep enough to clear the castle nut. Allan asked the staff at Bramwell Station if they have a mechanic onsite. Unfortunately, the mechanic was out mustering, and staff were told not to disturb him until 6pm, but we were pointed in the direction of the staff quarters to ask for Anne. We found Anne and she took us to the shed where all the spare parts were to try and find a spare dust cap. Unfortunately, there weren’t any dust caps that would fit our camper, but Anne did suggest duct taping a spray can lid or half of a can until we can source a dust cap. Once back at camp, Allan found a spray can lid (from the degreaser can we got yesterday) and used a hell of a lot of duct tape to tape the spray lid to seal the unit so the bearing doesn’t get dust in it. We left Bramwell Station for Coen. At the end of the driveway of Bramwell Station (6.5km), we jacked the trailer up and checked the wheel bearing and Allan was happy with it, so we got back on the road travelling south to Coen. The road was not too badly corrugated, as it had been graded pretty much all the way to the bitumen section near Archer River Roadhouse. We did have a few shallow creek crossings which we had to go very slowly through so our makeshift dust cap did not get wet and then come off. We stopped at Archer River Roadhouse for some food and asked if they had any spare dust caps that were 62 mil and quite deep. The station owner came back with a deep dust cap (had been used) that looked to be 62 mil, so we bought it from them for $10. We got back on the road to Coen. The first 20km from Archer River was extremely corrugated, but the council workers were out grading the road so for 40km we had smooth, freshly graded road. We got stopped at the biosecurity checkpoint to check our fruit and veg and we were also carrying wood for a fire. We were told we had to burn all the wood we were carrying tonight and not take it any further than Coen and we were fine with that. The last 40km to Coen was all bitumen and smooth sailing. We went to the Post Office when we got to Coen as Allan was waiting on some mail there again, then booked a night camping behind the Sexchange Hotel and set up camp. We had a relaxing night around the campfire and made sure we burnt all the wood we were carrying which Allan was very happy to do.
We packed up camp ready to get back on the road to Musgrave Roadhouse. Allan tried to fit the dust cap we got from Archer River Roadhouse, but the dust cap was too big in diameter and wouldn’t fit, by 1.5mm. We tried the general store in Coen, but they didn’t have any dust caps at all and there was nowhere else in town, so Allan had to re-tape the makeshift dust cap back over the castle nut to seal the wheel bearing and we got back on the road. The first 20km out of Coen was bitumen, then about 20km of highly corrugated road. We then hit roadworks, which was a grader, so we managed to get about 40km of freshly graded road (just our luck), before more corrugations for about 15km. The last 20km before Musgrave Roadhouse was freshly graded, but roadworks, because they are preparing the road to be sealed with bitumen. We decided to stay the night in the campground at Musgrave Roadhouse ($12 per adult per night unpowered). We spoke to the owner who told Allan to park in the tent section and said, “find yourselves some shade, as it will keep wifey happy”. As we were driving into the tent section, we were stopped and got chatting to a guy (Fenndog Aussie Gypsy) who was walking from “Cape to Cape” or the northern tip of Cape York to Tasmania in 140days to raise awareness for men’s mental health. We said bye to Fenndog Aussie Gypsy and set up camp in the shade next to the horse paddock. There was a rogue cow that had managed to get into the campground which was chased out by a worker on a 4wheeler motorbike. I bought some chips and gravy from the roadhouse for lunch which were delicious, and we ate them chilling in the shade at camp. We caught up with a family from Adelaide who were also going to stay the night at Musgrave Roadhouse. By 4pm the campground had filled up. Allan tried to start the fire to cook our red chicken curry in the Bedourie on the fire. The fire smoked for about an hour, so I took the kid from the family to collect some more firewood. We brought back an armful of sticks each and the kid wanted to show us the crocodiles (freshwater) in the dam out the back of the campground. We saw 3 crocodiles and then the owner was walking towards us carrying a bag of meat and had a crowd of people following him. The kid explained that the man was going to do croc feeding and sure enough, the man walked towards the edge of the water, grabbed a stick and started banging the stick against a pipe and calling the crocodiles in. About 9 crocs came up and took it in turns to get a piece of meat. Once he had no meat left, he walked over to the horse paddock with a bag of bread, and he gave the kids an opportunity to feed the horses the bread. Most of the kids feared the horses and stood too far away from them to feed them properly. Once back at camp, the fire was still smoking and had pretty much smoked out the whole campground, so Allan decided to abandon the idea of cooking on the fire and put it on the stove instead. One hour later, the fire had stopped smoking and there were some perfect coals for cooking. We finally got to eat the curry at 8pm and we played card games in the camper and went to bed.
This morning was very dewy, so we took a bit of time to pack up camp. We bought bacon and egg rolls from the roadhouse for breakfast ($12 each), which were massive! We got back on the road with the intention of staying at a free camp on Mitchell River. This next leg of the trip was all new to us and we were a bit excited and nervous about it. We had lucked out again with the unsealed PDR having been recently graded, so when we turned off onto Artemis Station Road, we were a bit nervous about the road condition. The road was very well maintained, which we think is because the station keeps it in good condition and then it turns into national park, which was still in good condition. We had to keep slowing down and speeding up because there were over 30 creek crossings. Some creek crossings were a bit sketchy with hidden holes and dips and some were wet, so we had to be careful to ensure no water got into the duct tape to make our makeshift dust cap fall off. We stopped and walked to a wetland area which had beautiful waterlilies and lili-pads and tried to spot a croc. There was also a broken-down truck which looked like it had just got bogged and left to rust. We kept driving passing through a few bulldust holes. We crossed more water crossings, but the road seemed to be recently graded. We stopped for lunch at Mosquito Waterhole which was also a free camp and looked like a good campsite, but we decided to keep driving. I had to open and close 5 gates, then we got to a road closed sign and were told to take a detour. We started on the detour, but it added an extra 100km to our trip, so Allan decided to turn back around, ignore the road closed signs and drive around them. We were wondering why the road was closed and then we saw that we had to cross Mitchell River at the Dunbar crossing. We got to the start of the crossing and saw 4 cars all towing campers or caravans and they said the crossing was only shin deep, but there were some bolts sticking out, which they put sticks on. I was packing my dacks, but Allan was keen to go through. I had to film us crossing the river and it took about 2 minutes to cross, but it was no deeper than knee-depth. There was no free camp on the other side of the river, as there had been roadworks to fix the river crossing from the wet season and the debris they had excavated had been put in piles. We had no option than to just keep driving, so our next destination in mind was Maramie. We were still driving on unsealed road which was very corrugated, and we passed the road closed signs from this side of the river as well, but they were getting packed away by someone. We got to Maramie and soon realised it was a station and there was nowhere to camp. We continued our road trip, with the option of going to either Karumba or Normanton. There was only 20km difference, so Allan decided we would go to Karumba. We had no service to call ahead and book anything so we just had to hope that we would get service soon to book accommodation or they would still be open at 6pm which was our ETA. The road was extremely corrugated, so about 75km after the Mitchell River crossing, we stopped for a rest and Allan noticed that our makeshift dust cap had come off. Allan fretted for a bit because there would have to be dirt in the bearing…again, but we didn’t have a spare bearing. Allan decided to run the risk and just tape on another makeshift dust cap and keep driving. It was 37 degrees and extremely dusty, but Allan managed to fix another makeshift dust cap on. We kept driving with our ETA for Karumba to be 7:00pm. The road condition got better, as there was roadworks with graders, so we had a stretch of about 50km of no corrugations. It was now getting on dusk, so we had to start dodging wildlife. Thankfully, most of the wallabies stayed put, but there were multiple times where wedge-tailed eagles were feasting on fresh roadkill on the road and didn’t want to move, but at the last minute would decide to try and fly off. If you know what wedge-tailed eagles are like, you know they are a large and heavy bird which means that take-off is very slow! Both Allan and I were anxious about the wheel bearing holding up, wildlife, not having accommodation for the night and just to add to the anxiety, our fuel light turned on. Luckily, we were carrying a jerry full of diesel. We hit rough corrugations for about 100km and then we hit bitumen, which was a blessing, because by this time it was almost dark. With 50km to Karumba, we stopped to fill the car with the jerry, but Allan didn’t have a syphon or a funnel, so I had to hold the small funnel that comes with the jerry and Allan had to pour the diesel. I think more diesel got on me than in the car, but we put about 10L into the car. We got back on the road and the fuel light was still on, but we should make it to Karumba to fuel up there. We only got phone reception and internet 5km out of Karumba, so I quickly tried to call caravan parks to no answer for all of them. We arrived at the Karumba Hotel/Motel at 7:30pm and asked if they had any availability at all. The lady said there wasn’t and suggested another caravan park, but they weren’t answering their after-hours phone. Allan bought a carton of beer, a bottle of red wine and a 4-pack of cruisers for me from the Hotel. There was a 24/7 diesel service available, so we fuelled up and drove out to a free camp the same way we had just come into Karumba. Karumba is a coastal town that is surrounded by wetlands, so we weren’t sure about camping on the side of the road in case we were in floodplains/wetlands. The person that served Allan at the Hotel had said that the Rangers were fining anyone who was camping within 10km of the town $277 per person. We drove to the free camp on a creek 40km out of Karumba and set up the swag as there were a couple of other people camping and we didn’t want to make too much noise. We ate Doritos for tea and drank red wine while playing card games in the swag. It was a great end to a very long, eventful day.
Woke up, had coffee and packed up the swag. We went for a quick walk to see where we had stayed last night and there was a river that would have some fish in it. We got on the road to go to Karumba Point to try our luck at booking a site for 3 nights. We got to Karumba Point Sunset Caravan Park by 8:30am and I went in to see if we could get a site. We managed to score the same powered site for 3 nights ($46 per night). We had to wait until 11am to check-in, so we went for a walk around Karumba Point and had a chat to someone fishing on the beach. We went to Ash’s Café for brunch and had burgers which were delicious and super filling. We checked-in to the caravan park and set up camp. We lucked-out with the site, because it was shady, and it was easy to reverse the camper into (saves the arguments). We chilled out at camp, patted our neighbours’ dogs and went for a swim in the pool. I even had a small jump on the jumpy pillow. Allan was keen to go fishing so he bought some bait (pilchards and prawns), and we went fishing on the bank at dusk. The fish were biting, but I couldn’t land them. Allan caught a tiny fish and things got serious then. He then caught a bream which was within legal limits, so we kept it. It was getting dark; I was getting bored when I got a huge hit and when I was winding it in the fish got off. That was the end of our fishing adventures. We got back to camp, had leftovers for dinner, played cards and went to bed.
I was energetic this morning and decided to go for a walk to Karumba through the wetlands which was 3.7km away. I got lost, as I took a wrong turn and ended up in the mangroves, before deciding to turn back, which added 1km to my walk. It was quite an interesting walk which took me about 1.5hours return. We chilled out at camp all morning and Allan got a phone call from Sue who was in Karumba and had booked in at the Karumba Point Tourist Park for 5nights. We met Sue and Brian at the pub for a drink. We went back to the park and went swimming. Allan filleted his fish, cooked it and we ate it as a snack, because the fillets were not big enough for a meal. It tasted beautiful and was well-cooked! It come up very windy this afternoon, so we decided to walk to the pub and share a chicken schnitzel for tea rather than cook. Walked back to the park and played games in the camper before going to bed.
It was extremely windy this morning, so we didn’t rush to get up, as the caravan park is all dirt and dust was going everywhere from the wind. Telstra had an outage in the area which meant we had no phone service, and a lot of the shops couldn’t provide eftpos machines as they run off Telstra phonelines. We chilled out at the park this morning, went swimming in the early afternoon then went to Karumba to go to the Barra Centre. The Barra Centre was very interesting and had lots of interactive information boards. We went to the supermarket to get some supplies and had lunch at a café. We saw Sue and Brian at the pharmacy, and we planned to meet them at the pub in Karumba Point. First, we stopped to get a new bearing kit for the camper trailer and attempt to get a new dust cap. Nowhere we went sold the correct sized dust cap, but we were able to source 2 new bearing kits. Unfortunately, because Telstra was out, we couldn’t pay for the bearing kits, so we planned to return the next day to buy them. We went to the pub for a drink with Brian and Sue, then went back to the park and chilled out. Telstra had finally come back into service. We went for a walk to the beach and met our neighbour with the 2 dogs who introduced himself as Joe was fishing on the shore. Joe hadn’t caught anything and had hardly got a bite. We chatted for a bit and his partner (Jade) walked the dogs to the beach. Joe and Jade had planned to go to the pub for a drink but didn’t have any cash and the pub was only taking cash as the eftpos machines were down. We let them know that Telstra was back so they could try the pub. We all walked back to the park and made plans to catch up later to play cards. Allan and I cooked and ate tea and were playing cards. We went over to Joe and Jade’s site, and they were happy to teach us how to play Monopoly Deal card game. We spent a couple of hours playing cards and chatting before parting ways to go to bed. It is always great to meet people on the road, especially when we are travelling the same way. We hope to meet up with Joe and Jade again on our travels.
This week we parted ways with Sue and Brian and started a new adventure to get to the Northern Territory. We had a few troubles with not being able to get a dust cap and makeshift caps falling off. We spent a couple of nights at Karumba Point, a beautiful coastal town. Stay tuned to see where we go after Karumba Point and see if we can finally find a dust cap for the camper trailer.