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Tales of the travels, trials and triumphs as we explore Australia in a converted bus

Motorhome Travels - October 2004


A new month, and here is some statistics for all you budding statisticians out there...

As at the first of October 2004 we have:

Enough of facts and figures, here is what we have been up to...

After leaving Mt Isa we were planning on travelling directly up to Lawn Hill to visit the national park. However, we ran into Rob and Chris Gray travelling in their amazing motorhome "wothahellizat" (see www.robgray.com) - they told us of a nice camping area outside of Camooweal. So to Camooweal we went. We stopped there for a few days taking photographs of the abundant birdlife living around the waterhole.

The road from Camooweal to Lawn Hill is reported to be "a bit rough in places". Now that is a bit like describing the earth as "mostly harmless". By the time we reached the camping ground at Adel's Grove (just outside of Lawn Hill National Park) we had been shaken and bounced so badly that we have broken a number of bits of plumbing, almost lost the generator when an outside bin shook open, snapped off the bracket holding one of the rear shock absorbers, and broken two brackets retaining one of the air tanks. The effect is much like placing the entire 10 ton motorhome in a giant paint shaker for a number of hours and switching it to one setting above high. We had a 24 can pack of beer in one of the cupboards - when we stopped we were amazed to find that every single can was silver. 99% of the painted label had been removed by the shaking and constant abrasion (fortunately the content still tasted the same (and more importantly had remained inside the newly polished cans for the entire horrendous journey))

Lawn Hill National Park is everything we expected it to be and more.

Lawn Hill National Park is everything we expected it to be and more, NT - [Click for a Larger Image]
Lawn Hill National Park is
everything we expected it to be and
more, NT

While things are a little hot up here at this time of the year, it is relatively deserted. We drove the moke from Adel's Grove to the National Park and arrived at 8am to hire a double canoe. We quietly paddled up the gorge to the falls then climbed to the lookout - what a view! On the way down we found the Geocache we had researched earlier and recorded our find in it's log.

After a long leisurely swim at the falls, we paddled back to the camp, returned our canoe and walked to the cascades for lunch. We then climbed up the rock face to the lookout appropriately named the stack. The fish we saw in the creek here are so large that they could almost be mistaken for dolphins and we are told that the freshwater croc's that feed on them are every bit as impressive.

Adel's Grove camping ground is one of the nicest we have seen and almost makes up for the atrocious road that you are required to traverse to visit here. The staff are friendly and the park is very well laid out and well cared for.

Just before we left Adel's Grove we noticed that the right front tyre has been damaged. Closer inspection revealed that it is seriously damaged and in urgent need of replacement. We phoned the engineering workshop in Burketown looking for a replacement, they did not have one but suggested that we try the Burke Shire Council. By a strange stroke of luck the council workshops had our exact tyre and no longer have a vehicle that uses that size. We left Adel's Grove with the damaged tyre still on the motorhome and our fingers crossed. We stopped for the night at Gregory Downs then left early in the morning for Burketown. Amazingly, the damaged tyre stayed intact for the entire journey. After a little negotiation we took possession of the new tyre (brand new, $150 compared to the one we purchased in Croydon for $400). After having it fitted we took refuge from the heat at the river and drank cold beer until the sun set.



We left Burketown and headed west early this morning. The plan is to visit Kingfisher Camp then follow the Savannah Way across into the Northern Territory. There remains some doubt about state of the road, a few people we have met have heard that it has just been graded while others suggest that the creek crossings will be too much for the motorhome - I guess we will just have to try it an see for ourselves.

Kingfisher Camp is located 45 km off the main road, on the Nicholson River. In the dry season the river stops flowing but a natural dam creates a large waterhole over 5km long. This waterhole provides water to the camp year round and allows the owners of the camp to maintain one of the best lawn camping grounds we have seen in Queensland. Swimming in the waterhole is a eerie experience as you are sharing the water with at least 40 freshwater crocodiles!

After two days of R & R at Kingfisher, we headed west again, past the Famous "Hells Gate Road House"(the only reason that we could see that it could be famous for is the most expensive fuel we are yet to see - $1.46/l). Just a short distance from the road house we spotted a pile of boulders that looked interesting. Closer inspection revealed that they would provide a nice place to camp for the night. I decided to line up the sat dish so that we could watch the Australian Federal election results. After surfing channels for over half an hour looking for some news of the election we discovered that the election was in fact yesterday! Stumbling across the coverage of Great Race at Bathurst was a pretty good consolation prize and we proudly watched as the Kiwi driver Greg Murphy took the chequered flag for the second year in a row.

It really is getting too hot up here now, yesterdays temperature inside the motorhome peaked at 42 degrees, it is time to head south - we just hope that Alice Springs will be cooler for Zoie's visit.



We crossed the border into the Northern Territory at 11:30am on Monday the 11th (note new time zone). We thought the road state may change - but nope - just as bad on the NT side of the border.

Today we arrived at Borroloola. We were a little worried about the road between Wollogorng and Borroloola as we have had a number of conflicting reports. There were a number of river crossings and some quite sharp creek dips, but nothing to stop Hobohome. Putting the generator in the back bin seemed like a good idea at the time - however, that bin is the first to get submerged on river crossings, I'm sure it will be fine when it dries out!

After looking around Borroloola (not a big task) - we headed for the coast to a small fishing village called King Ash Bay (actually it's not quite on the coast, but on the McArthur River). The fishing here is reported to be very good, so fingers crossed for a nice big Barra for dinner.



Before I start, I need to have it entered into the record that shortly after posting the last update Tracey did in fact hook a sizable barramundi (I am apparently also required to inform you that the hooking occurred after many death-defying hours of casting a bait net into the crocodile infested waters of the McArthur River). I can testify to the hooking of the great fish because I was witness to the battle that raged between fisherwoman and fish for the next 22 seconds (during which time the large fish leapt from the water several times). Sadly the great battle ended with the fish claiming victory as the line parted and the prize (my dinner) returned to the muddy depths. Baked beans on toast for dinner!

We left King Ash Bay the following afternoon taking nothing with us except the memory of that great fish (which incidentally grew in size estimations as the day wore on).

When we reached the Cape Crawford Roadhouse (billed as the best in the Northern Territory) we discovered that the back right-hand side of the motorhome was considerably lower than normal. After a quick crawl under the motorhome I was able to confirm my fear that we had indeed broken a leaf of the right rear springs. This left the tyres perilously close to the guard and in danger of damage. I also feared that the broken spring would place additional stress on the clearly already tired remaining leaves. There seemed little else to do but to pack the axle off the chassis with whatever we could find that was likely to last the continued pounding of about 10 tons of motorhome. The only thing we had was a few cut pieces of timber left over from our last construction job - they will have to do. After consulting the map we altered our route to a more direct and more travelled path past Daly Waters and Tennant Creek.

The day became hotter as we gently guided the wounded motorhome over bumps and dips. As we were looking for a camp for the night our searching was sharply interrupted by the unmistakable sound of yet another exploding tyre - inside left rear this time. It took only an hour to change the tyre this time (practice). Just one final drama to finish off the day before we stopped to camp - one of the cans of beer stored in a box in the bedroom announced its displeasure with the heat and new vigorous vibration (caused by the packing wood replacing the broken spring) by exploding and depositing it's contents in a variety of places around our sleeping quarters.

What an eventful day - I must say that it never ceases to amaze me how many unfortunate incidents of the day can be forgotten by the simple application of a little Jack Daniels.

The following day we arose early and headed for Daly Waters electing not to travel during the heat of the day in our current condition. The only tyre we can locate is in Tennant Creek (some 400km away) and it is extremely expensive (at $560, I suspect that cost increases in proportion to need).

As it is Friday, we will stay near Daly Waters for the night then make our way south to arrive in Tennant Creek on Sunday morning to rendezvous with our mail (hopefully without further tyre incident).We have decided that we will replace all of the remaining rubber when we reach Alice Springs.



Porscha - our burmese cat

A Sad update : 17 October 2004 - after travelling with us for nearly 16 months, we tragically lost Porsche, one of our Burmese cats, when she was hit by a vehicle 150km north of Tennant Creek. Porsche was very special to both of us and will be missed enormously.






We arrived in Tennant Creek at about 10am on Sunday. We booked into the local (expensive) caravan park and relaxed for the day. We now have a decision to make ... we now have no spare tyre and the only available tyre here is $560 - do we buy that or do we risk the 500km to Alice with no spare? Just 50 km out of Tennant Creek the decision was made for us when another tyre voiced its objection to the heat and lack of suspension. We had no choice but to load up the poor little Moke with the two blown tyres and take them back to Tennant Creek for new ones to be fitted.

We found some of the marbles that the Devil lost, NT - [Click for a Larger Image]
We found some of the marbles that
the Devil lost, NT

Four hours later we were back on the road!

We stopped at the Devils Marbles for the night and watched a spectacular electrical storm pass to the north of us. The Devils Marbles are a collection of enormous rounded granite boulders which are balanced on top of one another. The entire area is a conservation reserve and an interesting place, well worth a visit.

Compared to recent days, it was a fairly uneventful trip to Alice Springs.

We have quite a list of repairs to be made here so we expect to be here for a week or two.

Things to be done :

It is going to be a busy few weeks!



Look ma - no wheels! Alice Springs, NT - [Click for a Larger Image]
Look ma - no wheels! Alice Springs,

We have been up on blocks for almost a week now and it looks like most of the brake parts require reconditioning or replacement. We are currently waiting for various parts to arrive and we hope to be back on wheels again by next Wednesday. From here we will move to another yard to have the broken spring replaced and perhaps have airbag suspension fitted to the back axel. That may take another week by which time our bank account should be pretty much empty!

There is not much for us to do here while we wait for the work to be completed so we fill in the days doing little jobs on the motorhome - painting and small repairs that will help tidy the old girl up a little. The temperature here has been surprisingly pleasant with most days only reaching about 32 degrees - that is a welcome change from the sweltering 45's that drove us quickly from the northern parts of the country.


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