After fitting new rear brake pads and a fuel filter to the Cruiser at Seisia, we headed south, stopping briefly in Bamaga to send some postcards and pick up some fresh bread (and tasty treats) from the bakery there. From there it was on the ferry once again and then down the northern and southern bypass roads to arrive at Bramwell Homestead about lunch time. We unhitched the trailer, had a quick lunch then headed off to drive the southern section of the OTT that we had missed on the way up.
We arrived at Palm Creek and joined up with a couple of cars who were starting the steep and washed out descent down the entrance bank. After the two cars were over we started our entrance. Alex became official photographer again while Thomas and Annelies enjoyed the fun in the car. The Landcruiser descent didn't prove as much of a challenge as it looked and soon enough we were climbing up the muddy bank on the other side. A few kilometres later it was Ducie Creek, which had a deepish hole in the middle but we kept left and exited the steep bank with no problems.
Alice Creek was dry while North Alice was very shallow and uneventful. At the Dulhunty our adopted convoy decided to stay south of the crossing to camp the night - they had two wee bubs who'd had enough driving and it was now after 4pm. The spot was pretty with cascades just down river from the crossing. The Dulhunty crossing was a little rocky but easy.
The next crossing north was Bertie Creek. We had to hug the right hand bank of the creek for about 20 metres upstream, then crossed the creek avoiding small potholes. A couple of kms later was Cholmondeley, which was easy sticking to the left hand side.
Alex had felt really safe being in a convoy with the other two cars. However, we pressed on alone hoping there'd be others at Gunshot Creek so that Alex would let Mark do the crossing. So next it was north to the infamous Gunshot, although it was getting late. About 5 kms south of Gunshot we met someone coming the other way. We pulled over for a chat and he mentioned how he had only gone up to have a look at the crossing and had
decided to take the detour around the creek. He had seen a group of cars who were having difficulty doing the crossing and advised us against it. But because there was only a short distance to go and knowing that we'd already seen a few cars cross it without dramas a few days earlier when we had watched from the north, we decided to have a look anyway.
When we reached Gunshot, Mark and Thomas were relieved because they heard voices on the other side. We walked across the creek and saw that 3 cars had recently crossed and the 4 blokes were repairing 2 flat tyres on one of the vehicles. These tyres had been damaged when that vehicle had been used to snatch another one of their cars that had gotten hung up on some logs in the muddy creek bed of the 'chicken run'. They had decided to camp there the night so it was reassuring knowing there was help available if we struck a problem crossing the creek.
Mark walked back to the car with Annelies and Thomas while Alex got ready to film the crossing. The descent down the bank was steep and
muddy but we took it too slowly. There was a large hole at the bottom and our right hand front wheel disappeared into this hole with the bullbar resting on the other side of the hole and the rear wheels had no traction as all the weight of the vehicle was on the front end. We were stuck, with the front right and rear left wheels spinning freely - a diff lock would have been handy! This was about the moment that Alex came around the corner from where she'd been waiting for the car to appear, said @!*? and almost burst into tears.
In hindsight we should have dropped into the creek a little faster to get over the muddy hole.
Mark began unpacking the hand-winch and pulley with a view to winching the car back up the incline. This was pretty tricky as the steep angle of the car meant that anything loose fell towards the front of the car. It was also very hard accessing the equipment in the drawers in the back. In the mean time, one of the blokes had come for a look and suggested that rather than use the hand winch,
they reverse one of their cars through the chicken run and they snatch our car forward a little over the hole so that we could continue over the crossing. One of them dug under the front bullbar to find our anchor point buried in the mud, while another reversed his Toyota back around the run so we could attach a snatch strap.
Thomas and Annelies meanwhile had climbed out the right rear window to watch the action from out of the car on 'flat' ground. Mark climbed back into the car, started the motor and was successfully snatched out of the hole. Once unstuck we dropped down into the creek and continued out of the muddy hole onto some sturdier slush. They disconnected the snatch strap and then Mark drove the rest of the muddy run with no problems.
Feeling extremely relieved we drove up the north bank and pulled up for a drink with our 'saviours'. We had now completed the 'holy grail' - i.e. all the creek crossing of the Overland Telegraph Line, with just a little bit of assistance at Gunshot Creek.
We piled into the car again for the drive north along the
OTT to the southern bypass road via Heathlands Ranger Station. It was soon dark and had started raining during our drive along this road south to Bramwell Homestead. By the time we arrived back at Bramwell, Mark had driven this section of road 9 times, including 6 extra trips to rescue the camper trailer several days beforehand. We ended up having to set up the camper trailer in a light drizzle. After 2-minute noodles for dinner, we wandered over to the bar for a few drinks and catch up with the Bramwell mob.
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