Cape York via Simpson Desert 30 June 2015 – Day 29

Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 21:14

Peter Beard (WA)

Very sad to be leaving Lorella Springs today, this is such a wonderful place. We hit the road not long after 8:00 after tasting the fish we brought back yesterday for Rhett - he cooked most if it last night for dinner and pickled the rest in a spicy brine that included onion, chilli, stock, garlic, vinegar, peanut paste and other interesting bits. It was delicious. The best check-out farewell we have ever experienced.

The track back down to the Savannah Way brought us back to reality - corrugations, washouts, bull dust. A couple of gates and a courteous car towing a caravan allowing us to pass helped the transition.

Not far north of Lorella Springs is Southern Lost City - sort of a cross between the Lost City rock fields in Litchfield National Park just south of Darwin and the Bungle Bungle/Purnululu National Park in WA. Spires of vertical red rocks balance precariously, banded with colours from deep vermillion to pink. White gums dot the scenery, sharp spinifex fills the gaps digging in to exposed legs as we wander through the bizarre scenery.

From here the track heads north, reasonably well-mannered with creek crossings, a few corrugations and very little traffic. Past Nathan River station and through Limmen National Park – and all the river crossing are very dry. The cows also seem to get bigger the further north we go and their horns change direction too. Instead of straight up or sloped slightly back, they turn forward - like buffalo.

Finally the Savannah Way track hits a T-junction and heads west, picking up the line of the Roper River. At first it is a well graded relief from the corrugations, washouts and bulldust. Just after Ngukurr the track does a big loop south then north again up to Roper Bar. Not far in we found what seems to be the only road crew working on Northern Territory roads. The front end loader had a flat tyre and so did the grader; we think the only grader in NT. We have classified the roads in the NT as the most in need of attention. Cross any border into to the Territory, from WA, SA or Qld and the roads become dreadful. We don’t blame the NT administration though; it’s not a state and it relies on the Commonwealth for road funding. So we'll just blame Tont Abbott for that too. Judging by the track after the roadworks, the section they were working on must have been pretty bad to warrant a patch-up.

The 40km of gravel road from Roper Bar to Mt Cook is excruciating corrugations until finally it hits the bitumen. Then ... quiet. Listening for new squeaks and rattles from the car as everything settles, but all we can hear besides the ringing on our ears is road noise from the now under inflated tyres; better than the harsh thump of corrugations and the clatter of gravel smashing against the undercarriage. Time now for a bit of Roy and HG and old Triple J podcasts of This Sporting Life to keep the attention for the trip to Katherine - no ABC radio broadcasts out here.

So here we are at Katherine, ready to head back to our home state - WA. Next fun bit, the Gibb River Road.


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