7/07/2015 Fifty-eight days after leaving home on our current travel leg, we left Queensland and entered Northern Territory, our fifth State/Territory since starting our travels in June last year.
Things are different in the Territory. The temperature leaving Camooweal was 13ºC; thirteen kilometres west at the border, it was 23°C! Maximum road speed on the Queensland side was 100kph; here it was 130kph! We were soon overtaken by some numb-nut doing that speed while towing a large Jayco caravan! On the QLD side, we were of a “Certain Age”. Across the NT border, we were half an hour younger. How many times could we jump from one side to the other and back before it starts to really make a difference.
We overnighted in the campground behind the Barkly Homestead Roadhouse, next to a nice couple, Peter and Maureen, who were on their way home to Toowoomba. The four of us ended up at the bar for a great conversation, more than a few drinks, and then a meal together.
Next morning, we were up with the sparrows and heading north on the sealed single-lane Tablelands Highway to Cape Crawford. The 355kms took us six hours, including a cuppa break and lunch stop, both short and quick.
This stretch took so long because the road was unfenced all the way and we regularly came across cattle grazing by the roadside or crossing from one side to the other, requiring us to slow right down or even to stop while the beasties moved on. Also, lots of sections had a very undulating road surface that caused the rig to pig-root up and down if you hit them at anything over 60kph. I could visualise the van tearing the tow bar off the back of the Land Rover if the bucking got too bad. So, by the time we got into Cape Crawford, we were both well and truly ready to put our feet up.
By the way, despite its name Cape Crawford is 100kms inland. Apparently, it was on the coast 100,000 years ago which I guess justifies its name in a Northern Territory kind of way.
On the way in, the car’s dash lit up with some fault lights, accompanied by the dreaded “Bong”. I really hate that sound! They had had previously come up in Camooweal two days earlier.
I did a couple of workarounds the following day that should have fixed it, but the fault lights persisted and halfway to Borroloola, the Disco again went into Crawl Home Mode. Not good when you are towing a full size caravan and the car has no oomph at all. The good news was that the fault codes could be cleared manually; the bad news was that it was only a temporarily fix each time. So we turned around and overnighted back at Cape Crawford. Our camp was again behind the Heartbreak Hotel – how appropriate was that!
Plans to go north through Borroloola and off the beaten track and onto the narrow gravel road running through Limmen National Park would have been too much of a gamble with the current car problem. So, instead we are heading straight to Darwin sooner than planned and should be there in two or three days. Just another bump in the road, I guess.
“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” — Fitzhugh Mullan