Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 241 – 10 Aug 09

Very pleasant campsite at Durack River crossing. On the east side there is a bank about 20 metres high which overlooks a large pool and on the west side there is a large area of sandbanks with lots of trees. I decided to stay on top of the bank and stay clear of the mozzies. I pulled in past the first parking area and went to the second and set up. I must get into the habit of doing a bit of exploring before deciding on a site. After I set up, I went for a wander and the next area along was absolutely beautiful.From the photos, the river looks like it's full of water, but it is deceptive. The crossing itself is actually bone dry. The water is in the form of pools although having said that, they're bloody big pools. Some great bush walking in the area. I went downstream about 4-5 km's and there was plenty to see. Sometime I'll do this road again and I'll plan for a week or more at each stop and do some serious hiking.
Two nights at Durack River. I could have stayed longer, but I’m running out of bread and milk. I have plenty of supplies, but I do like fresh bread and I can’t stand that UHT milk. I have about 4 litres of UHT for emergencies and some tins of evaporated, but I prefer fresh milk if I can get it. Got to the Kulumburu junction about midday and had to finally make my mind up whether to head for the Mitchell Plateau or not. Travellers have told me that the road is a goat-track the other side of Drysdale, and a couple of people have told me that there is not all that much water because it is so late in the season.

Had some lunch and decided to push on through to Barnett. I tell you what, you see some amazing things out here in the bush. I hadn't gone more than 5 km's from the Kalumburu turnoff and there, on the side of the road, was a couple of (I presume) backpackers having their "wicked" van being winched onto a tilt-tray truck. First, I wonder who told the poor buggers they could do the Gibb in a crappy van, and second I tried to do a mental calculation of how much it was going to cost to carry the van through to Derby. I got to about $20,000 and gave up.

I hadn't gone more than 2 or 3 km's further when I spotted the strangest traveller I have seen this whole trip. According to people I spoke to later, his name is Klaus and he has been wandering around the area for many years. I admire his initiative, but I think he could pack some washing powder in that van, he was absolutely filthy, and I think the camels smelled better than did Klaus.

Just before Mt. Barnett, I made a side trip where a sign indicated “Barnett Gorge 3 kms.” That’s not far, I thought. Took me half an hour. The track was really, really rutted. I spent most of my time with one wheel on the centre hump and the other in the scrub. It would appear to be not maintained at all, and after a wet season, it resembles a creek bed rather than a track. Anyway, finally got the 3 km and pulled into a parking area and spent half an hour wandering around a pretty scabby creek. There was a rock wall about 2 metres high on one side of the creek so I supposed that was the “gorge”. Note to Travellers: There is a gorge, but it is a further two km on. A sign would be a nice thing or a correction to the original sign. The gorge is FIVE kms from the road. So I missed it. Oh well, something for the next trip.

When I got back to the main road, I noticed I was down to a quarter tank, so I thought I’d fill up from the jerry’s. A kindly 4wd pulled up and asked if I was OK, and I explained that I was just topping up. He asked me If I new that Mt. Barnett roadhouse was only 30 km ahead and when I said I did, he gave me a strange look.

Arrived at Mt. Barnett and what a hole! Diesel was close enough to $2 a litre and was I glad that I had jerricans at $1.35 a litre. Bugger! They didn’t have any bread or fresh milk, so looks like I’m on the UHT for a while. Yukkkk!.

Stopped at Galvin’s Gorge, and, while it was very picturesque, there was not a great deal of water flowing, so I’m glad I didn’t make the trek up to the Mitchell. There were hordes of red-tailed Black Cockatoos and a beaut water monitor chilling out.

The road from the Kalunburu Turnoff to Mt. Barnett was VERY corrugated, but west of Barnett it has been excellent. I have been sitting on 90 kmh most of the time so I will make it through to March Fly Glen tonight.

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