8th September 2017
Lawn Hill to Camooweal 285kms
This head cold is really starting to piss me off! Both of us were coughing, snoring and blowing our noses, all night long. The guys who parked right on top of us are up early, wonder why? We’re up and rolled up and off for cooked brekkie just after 7am, and we’ll need to eat well. It’s all we’ve got until Camooweal. It was a pretty good breakfast, a nice coffee, and we topped up our water bottles with filtered water. Back to load up, and we head off about 9am. It was humid, but a bit cooler. Just a couple of kays towards Lawn Hill Gorge, and we turn left onto the Riversleigh Road, which goes past the fossil fields. From all accounts, it is better than the one we came in on, but with patches of bull dust.
Straight away, it seemed better, and we cruised along at around 60kms/hr, finding the wheel ruts reasonable, with the stones all pushed to the middle. Very soon, we slowed for a very large emu, that just stood and stared at us, until the last minute, when it did the bolt into the scrub, swiftly followed by it’s mate, who’d been invisible on the other side in the bush. There’s always two, these birds mate for life. Next thing you know, Will drops down into a dip, a floodway, and stops. “It’s a water crossing.” He says, just as a wallaby bounds right across a meter in front of him. Close one. “Water crossing? There’s no water though, right?” “Yeah, there is, and it’s deep!” What the hell is this rubbish? Not one person I asked about this road, mentioned water crossings, not one. Hhmmph, so Will heads through, hits a few big rocks, bounces around a bit too much for my liking, and once through says to me, “You coming then?” I looked, I considered, then I called in my stunt double. Luckily this time he could walk around in the scrub without getting his boots wet, which meant I could do the same.
That little Honda is a ripper. It has not faulted, not like Me…..he he he he.
Bloody hell, as if 150kms of rough gravel and bull dust, wasn’t going to test me enough, you have to chuck in a water crossing too? A few deep calming breaths, and a hug for my stunt double, who did a great job, yet again, and off we go. It was rugged, and you really could imagine ancient animals roaming around out here. Just as I’m thinking deeply about that, I hear Will again, “There’s another one!” ” What, a Wallaby?” “Another water crossing, a big one…” Just as I arrive to see the Gregory River flowing rather quickly across a long concrete causeway! Gee-Zuzz! Whoah, it was not too deep on our side, but a few meters from the other side, it was fairly flowing through, swirling and rushing over the edge. As we waited and assessed, (Will walked around a bit to discover it was also, slimey and slippery) a 4WD with a Trayon camper rolled up. We watched him go through to see the depth on the far side, and reckoned it was only about 50-60cm. So Will just hopped on the Blue Mule, and did it!
Step one, watch someone else, two walk it, three plan it, four just bloody keep it straight. Oh and don’t forget forget to breathe.
Good Ol’ Mrs Chickenshit here, she’s phoned a friend, recalled the stunt double, racked up yet another IOU, and hallelujah, Will waded back to take Becky and the Bubbie through the scary water. My punishment, as always, is to walk through and get my boots and pants wet. The whole time, thinking that, because I’m such a baby, I’ll go arse up in the fast water, and get soaked. Luckily, it didn’t happen, and my stunt double did an awesome job of making it look easy. Thanks so much Willsie, saved me again!
For sure that was it, as we are out here in the middle of nowhere, how many rivers can there be, it’s as dry as hell out here! Well fuck me, there was yet another one, just like the last one, but not as deep or flowing as strong. There is no way I have any more life lines left, the stunt double has gone home for the day, and my IOU account was overdrawn. To his credit, Will went first (if only to make sure he gets the money shot) and described the feel and the way he did it. So a few calming deep breathes, and off I go. Feet down just in case things move the wrong way, just keep it straight and smooth. I make it like a boss, and feel pretty bloody good about it too. Now Will tells me he knew about the water crossings, as the Dad and Dave team in Normanton (in an old ex-army Landrover Series 3, with no windows) had told him we wouldn’t get through on our bikes. In Will’s mind, “Challenge Accepted!” Probably best I didn’t know.
How much water is really out here? And “Yeah, like a Boss!” Wet, soon to be muddy, boots.
The rest of the gravel journey was a lot of hard work. It got pretty scenic, as we wound through a small range, and the road had a few really nice sections, but once we reached the intersection with the Gregory Downs Camooweal road, it just went to shit. Rough as guts! Rocks, bull dust, corrugations, and very few easy sections. It was slow, tiresome work. A couple of vehicles heading north, and that was all we saw. After 3hrs, and 150 kays, we finally reached the bitumen. Oh, we could carry on the gravel, straight to Camooweal (130kms), but we are happy to do the extra 40kms, and take the sealed road. As we turned towards Mt Isa, a shiny car and big caravan, were heading the way we’d just come. Oh dear, that is going to be a long, long afternoon.
The price you pay as a follower, is eating dust. The wind was not friendly for me today. The ant hills are getting bigger.
We rode for about 20kms, just to make sure we were definitely not hitting any more dirt, then stopped to inflate our tyres, with the little volt cycle compressor. What a little ripper! 30 seconds, 10 Psi. Just brilliant. The rest of the ride, was very straight forward, and we arrived into Camooweal around 2ish, got fuel and went to the pub. Of course. We had a beer, a packet of chips, and checked into the little camp ground at the back. I smashed up the tent, Will wandered off to get some groceries and beers, and we just chilled out in the shade. What a day!
So nice to be on the bitumen, have a cold beer, a chicken snitty and a shower. The simple things, hey?