Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More 4wd tracks and river crossings 14.08.11

This morning (14.08.11) we packed up and left Eliot Falls.  It was very tempting to stay on for a few days longer but our timing to get back to Port Douglas really means that we need to keep moving.  We chose to continue on the Old Telegraph Track and complete the second half, having completed the first half from Bramwell Junction to Eliot Falls.  We had met a group of farmer friends from South Australia and one of them, Keith and his partner Emma, approached us about tagging along with us on the second half of the OTT as the rest of his group didn’t want too.  We were happy to do so and in fact it provides a level of comfort to have the support of someone else to both of us.
Original Telegraph hut Canal Creek
The first ten minutes set the pattern for the day!  Our 4wd book said “Canal Creek, southern and northern sides of creek can be rough, so choose best entry/exit point”.  To say it was rough was an understatement.  Peter and Keith walked the creek/river first to check the depth and chose the direction we were to take and then we set off.  We made it up the other side okay but Keith had to take a completely different exit as he couldn’t get traction.  Having felt we achieved that one okay we only had 4 kms to drive to Sam Creek which again was recorded as bumpy and challenging.  This was our pattern for the day.  Interestingly the next crossing was Mistake Creek and then Cannibal Crossing and we can only guess the reason for these names. 
We had been told quite a bit about a famous log bridge crossing Cypress Creek and again this was a photo opportunity.  It was a matter of lining up the wheels on to the logs – as one log collapses another is pushed into the gap in its place.  I was certainly happy to be the photographer and I was happy to see that the drop to the creek wasn’t too far.  Fortunately neither car had a mishap so on we continued.
The last crossing on this section of the OTT was the most challenging.  It was called Nolan Brook and was very deep.  By this stage we were following reasonably close behind two other vehicles and caught up to them at the crossing.  The first vehicle was guided through by another person who was bush camping beside the creek (enjoying the entertainment from the vehicles attempting to cross the creek) and then the second attempted.  This was a Prado towing a Cub Camper.  The crossing was like a big waterhole.  The entrance went steeply down into the creek then crawled its way around the left hand embankment at about bonnet depth on the car.  Once upstream slightly you then did a sharp right and straight across.  Unfortunately for the Prado the current caught the camper floating it down stream dragging the Prado sideways and causing it to get stuck (lots of water makes a Prado and camper very heavy).  His mate unfortunately had driven up the track a little rather than wait at the edge and had to be called back to snatch him out.  Meanwhile the Prado dug himself a hole to about window level but the good news was the motor was still going.  A snatch pulled him out with water draining from everywhere (we later met them at the washing machines in the camp ground washing nearly everything from inside the camper and the car!)
Next was our turn.  The scene was already set – we were going to get stuck as the holes had already been dug.  Not ones to be phased by a little water however, we attached the snatch strap first which I held through the passenger window ready.  We went into the water, along the bank, got through the deepest section and fell into his holes on the exit.  Subsequently the snatch was attached and out we went a little wetter on the inside than we had been but no major damage.  It has taken a few days to dry out the carpets.
Keith, who was travelling with us, decided if he was going to get stuck it was going to be in a big way.  He put the car into second and put his foot down and drove through the creek, the water level splashed up and over the top of his windscreen causing a wake that knocked over the lady standing in the creek directing, however he was happy with himself as he bounced out the other side with little water inside.  Fortunately the lady was in her bathers and was happy to take a dip in the warm water.
This crossing was the final stage of the Old Telegraph Track and the road leads back to the Southern Bypass.  We decided that we would take another side trip to the old ford into the Jardine River.  This took us through a few more creeks and some swamp land with huge sections of water where Peter, being a little boy at heart, had to drive through fast to see how big a splash he could make.  At least the muddy water helped to clean some of the red dust off the car.  At the Jardine River it was obvious that we couldn’t cross the ford.  We had been told that the locals had dug the entry out to cause a very deep access so that the river cannot be crossed and vehicles are required to use the river ferry and pay the cost of the trip.  Whether this is true or not, we don’t know.
We made our way to the Jardine River ferry and paid the return fee ($88 for a vehicle but $70 for seniors so we were happy to show Peter’s senior card to get the discount).  The ferry really is only a barge and took the two vehicles immediately and we soon crossed the river.  From here it was a short trip to Bamaga where we had hoped to do some shopping.  It was Saturday and the supermarket was closed and the only bottle store north of the Jardine was closed because there was no security.  We continued on to Seisia (only a further six kilometres) and went to the supermarket, which is the only shop, there.  Seisia has a port where the boat from Cairns berths and the local ferry goes to Thursday Island in the Torres Strait.  There is a camping ground at the port and that is basically all there is in Seisia.
We continued on the corrugated road a further 25 kms to Punsand Bay Resort where we are camping for the next few days.  Resort is really too grand a word for the camping ground which is really quite basic but in a beautiful setting.  Our campsite is a waterfront site and we have an open view to the beach and can see the tip of Cape York to the right. A few days of R and R are in order after being on the dusty roads for so long. 
 Peter walking Canal Creek
Through Canal Creek now the exit
Sam's Creek is deep
Onward we go
On our way
Then the exit from Sam's creek
 Hopefully not this way

We are up
Yet another part of the road
Gill walked this one!
Making the way up
 Back on a reasonable track for a while
 Variations in the track
The log bridge
Close up of the bridge
The drop down
Lining up on the log bridge
Certainly in the middle
Nearly there
One of the old telegraph poles
Time for a break
 Telegraph pole with stablising post - apparently the little
metal disc on the side used to be bolted to the post one
north south and another east west this helped to stabilize
the post in the sand base, we could no see why this one
had been set up like a cross beside the post so assumed
that maybe someone had died here - well it seemed like
the only logical assumption to us!
Ruts from the passenger window
 Track continues

Prado's Campers and Patrols don't Float!
Following Prado and camper Nolan Brook Creek
The Prado going through
 Prado & Cub Camper as the camper started to float
Continuing through Nolan Creek
 Camper floating

Our Turn!
Our turn Nolan Brook Crossing
The swim suited one is giving directions we are to go through
where she is standing.  Notice the confidence with the snatch
through Gills window!
Opps LH wheel strikes a bit of a hole
Found the holes dug by the Parado - not going any further
Amazing really water only comes in  slowly if you don't open the doors
Attach the damn snatch and stop talking will you!

 Momentum and out of the hole
Water mark to bonnet level - doors open letting water out!
Never mind not too much water and the car still goes.
 Swamp on way to Jardine River
Who can make the biggest splash
You judge
and again
Old vehicle ford Jardine River End of the OTT
To cross or not to cross - Peter, Keith and Emma
With that sign no walking thtrough the river to check the depth
Checked out another possibility but no go - Jardine River
1072  Jardine ferry - $88 return! Less Peters seniors discount
making it $70
On board the Jardine ferry
 The road to the tip
Punsand Camp site
Punsand from the beach

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