Sunday, August 10, 2014


5 July 2014

40 km South of Dunbar – 140 km south west of Musgrove (115km)

I don’t know how best to descrive today – challenging, dramatic, stressful, traumatic, or just plain interesting.  As Min said later in the day – the major challenge was to get the Skoda to Cape York.

The day started well  - lovely warm morning with a lovely breeze.  There was evidence of some dew.  The air felt so fresh.  We didn’t leave till 9:00am. 

Just after Dunbar station we came across the road works depot and Min and I drove it to see if we could find someone to ask about road conditions.  He told us that the road to Artemis would be okay and that they couldn’t understand why the road closure sign was still up at this end as the road was open from the other end.  He indicated that it was definitely okay to go along it.

So we conitnued on.  Hardly any vehicles on the road today – it is Saturday.  We flagged down people travelling from the opposite direction to check what they thought of the road conditions.  One guy gave us some really useful information.  It all sounded promising. 

It wasn’t long before we were at the Mitchell River crossing.  Some doubts set in whether we could all make it across.  It was a very long crossing but very fast flowing with a strong current and was not deep  except for the funny angle of the entry.  Min went across and thought it was doable but we were still concerned.  So we decided to have the Skoda attached by chain to the Oka just in case it got into trouble.  We all got across okay and felt we could handle them in future. 

Everything had gone well during the crossing except for the Skoda loosing its front number plate.  

We continued on till Min came to the bog hole that he had been warned about so we backtracked to the alternative track and got around it.  We went through 6 closed gates that required me to get out and open them and for Žydre to close them.  Scenery was interesting as we drove past termite mounds and thick scrub.  We crossed many dry creek beds.We came to a rather challenging dry creek crossing and everyone made it even the Skoda on three wheels as one was in the air for a bit during the crossing.  

Then there was another more challenging creek crossing that was sandy and rutted on the long entry to the creek.  Min got through in the Oka but the Skoda got through the hard part and then got stuck at the top just before the entry into the creek as two opposite wheels started to spin and not have grip.  So after Žydre and I checked the water depths in the creek the Skoda was towed across.  Bob went across well except for scraping on exit from the water and slightly denting one of the camper struts.

Instead of corrugations we had ‘cowragations’ (corrugations created by cows).  They were worse that corrugations.  We came across one lot very unexpectedly and the Skoda having bounced over a few decided enough was enough and after Flora braked it stopped – just wouldn’t budge.  Ignition worked but that was it.  Min and Bob decided it was a fuse and Min thought the problem was also somehow connected to the fuel.  It was very hot so Min decided to tow the Skoda till we got to some shade.  Having stopped in shade they looked and looked couldn’t find the problem.  All fuses in the engine bay were checked and then rechecked.  We had lunch and a decision was made to tow the Skoda till we made camp and then go over it with a fine toothcomb. 

The upside was that Flora saved 20km on fuel.  The down side was that it was hot in the car as the zircon was not on and it was hard work being towed in dust.  Because there was so much dust we couldn’t keep the windows open.  Everyone was thinking of what do we do.  Then we heard there was a car coming up from behind us.  We all had the same thought – what is the likelihood of a mechanic being in the car.  BiNGO – there was.  They stopped and three men emerged.  The younger one was the chief mechanic at a large car place in Sydney.  In minutes he had the problem sorted, a new fuse in place and we were on our way.  Apparently there were also fuses in the dashboard that were not just for lights etc.  It was the fuse for the fuel pump.  What a miracle was that – a mechanic on the same road as us. 

Thank goodness that the Skoda could make her own way over the following washouts as it would have been hard to tow it through them.  After a short drive we pulled up to camp for the night near a waterhole.  We were all so relieved, grateful and tired from the tensions of the day.

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