Published: July 28th 2010July 27th 2010
After a cooked breakfast at Bramwell Homestead, we headed off, hoping to cover the distance to Darwin in quick time, but also wary of our repaired camper trailer. We stopped for lunch on the banks of the Archer River with Annelies and Thomas also having a swim in the shallow waters by the bridge. We spent the night at Hann River Roadhouse and luckily decided to put up the awning as it looked quite overcast. This proved to be a wise decision as it rained overnight.
The following day we drove through Laura and then stopped to have a look at the Quinkan Country Split Rock art site nearby. When we hopped back in the car, we noticed that a large crack had appeared in the windscreen originating from a site where a rock had hit it some days earlier. The crack soon grew to about 10 inches long, so we thought we'd see if we could get a new windscreen in Mareeba. However, it was their Friday Show Day public holiday (same day as Cairns), so we pushed onto Atherton. Here we were advised that although the crack would no doubt grow in length, it wouldn't be a problem
to wait until we got back to Darwin to get it replaced, so we pushed on. It was only about 16 degrees C and very misty with a light drizzle falling as we drove through the tablelands and we needed our lights on even though it was mid-afternoon. However, we drove west and stayed at Mount Garnet, which was far enough west of the ranges for it to be a bit warmer and clear.
We were tossing up whether or not to travel via Normanton and across the Gulf Country or travel back down to the Barkly Highway. In the end, we'd had enough of dirt roads and we figured that if we had any problems with the camper trailer again, it would be safer on the main sealed highway. However, we did take a short cut on the Kennedy Development Road via The Lynd Junction, which involved about 200kms of dirt, quite rough in parts, but it also was about 250kms shorter to Hughenden from here than the journey on the tar seal via Charters Towers. We stopped in Richmond for the night, staying at Lakeview Caravan Park, overlooking the very picturesque Lake Fred Tritton. There was also
a playground and small water play area, which Thomas enjoyed despite the cool weather.
We headed west along the Flinders/Barkly Highway, stopping in Mt Isa for lunch again at the Family Fun Park there. We passed through Camooweal and crossed the border into the NT where we 'gained' 30 minutes of time. It felt good being back in the NT with the big 130 km/hr speed limit sign (not that we travelled quite that fast)! We rolled into the Barkly Homestead around 6pm, just as the sun was setting on the horizon.
We got up fairly early (for us) the next day and managed to get away just after 7:30am ready for a long drive home. As we drove out of the camp ground we noticed that another large crack had magically appeared overnight on the diagonally opposite side of the windscreen, and it didn't even appear to be associated with a hit from a rock. Weird, although that crack and the original crack did provide a bit of light entertainment as we all marked in our estimated locations on the windscreen where we thought the crack would end when we arrived in Darwin - it doesn't take
much to amuse us! We weren't sure if we would make it to Darwin, but we only had a couple of brief stops along the way and just kept driving. We had dinner at Hungry Jacks in Palmerston around 7:30pm (a highlight for Annelies as we hardly ever have junk food for dinner) and then arrived home a bit after 8pm. If you were wondering about the cracks, Thomas' guess was closest to where the original crack ended, while Mark picked up the prize for the crack that had appeared that morning at the Barkly Homestead.
Including our trip over to Townsville and a week at Magnetic Island, we had spent just over 5 weeks on the road. Maggie Island was a highlight, but so too was standing at the northernmost tip of mainland Australia and travelling on the track of the old Overland Telegraph Line with all its challenging creek crossings. Although we could have done without the ordeal of the broken wheel bearing on the camper trailer, it did mean we got to stay at Bramwell Homestead and meet some more lovely and helpful people along the way. Where to next????
There are more photos below