Raid Day 28, Friday 25th September

This was to be an easy day, sleep in if you want, take as long as you like for breakfast, and so on, Paul and I sorted out the gear I was to take home and he made plans with several other Raiders for the trip up to Cape York, it was strange not having to rush off to “do something.” During the day we had a lot of time to swim and look around the bush bordering our camp, later in the morning Ollie Scholz was organising an outing to the Barrier Reef for the next day, most people including Paul decided to go, I couldn’t as my flight left at 3.30, I was starting to realise the end of raid was very close for me, some other people I suspect also must have been feeling the same. We spent the day servicing the Dyane in readiness for its trip to Cape York, and generally lazing around the camp-site. After a last swim, Paul and I joined the other Raiders in the restaurant of the resort for a meal, 70 Raiders stretched their kitchen to the limit and some of the meals took a long time to come. After…

Raid Day 27, Thursday 24th September

Just before dawn some locals drove a herd of cattle down the road past our camp-site, oh well, we were going to get up and pack early, so after breakfast and the by now familiar chores, we had breakfast and went to see the TREZKINN Cave. This is a limestone cave, it is very fragile but it has wonderful mineral formations, the tour took a little over an hour, we then went to Balancing Rock, this is a large boulder standing on it’s end amongst a lot of other rock formations. We left Chillagoe about 10AM and drove out past the marble quarries on a very rough road heading for Mareeba, after we passed through Almarden, the road got better with only small patches of dirt, then at Petford about 60km from Mareeba we left the dirt behind and were on bitumen all the way to Mossman, the closer we got to Mareeba the greener the country became, after 3 weeks of looking at dry and dusty country it sure was good to see some rich green growth on the roadside, from Dimbulah to Mareeba we passed through a lot of avocado, mango and tobacco farms. Just outside Mareeba, we…

Raid Day 26, Wednesday 23rd September

The dawn was heralded by strange animal noises, Don Logan has a private zoo on his property, after breakfast we went to look at the zoo and see the various animals being fed. From Springfield Station you can see the western side of the Great Dividing Range, and Don said the coast was only 150 km away as the crow flies. After breaking camp and packing the car we left for Chillagoe about 8.30. Today was to be a short run of about 160 km over good dirt roads, where have I heard that before, Don had given Lance instructions on which road to take at the various “T” and “Y” junctions on the way, the road signs were a bit misleading and Paul and I managed to get lost out the back of a property near Bullock Creek. We lost over 2 hours getting back to the right road, and finally arrived in Chillagoe about 2PM, here we added 21 litres to the Dyane and had a hamburger and a cool drink for lunch, next we set up camp at the van park and went to look at the renowned caves, we missed the last tour of the day,…

Raid Day 25, Tuesday 22nd September

Paul said he felt much better after a night’s sleep so after breakfast and packing the car, we went to the Normanton General Store, this is like the emporiums of the 1920’s and stocked almost everything you could imagine, if it wasn’t in stock they could have it in a few days, here we bought some food for the last few days of raid. Next we went with the main party of Raid to the Normanton railway station to look at the “Gulflander” this is the name given to the light trains or motor rails used from Normanton to Croydon. Some Raiders went for a short excursion on the Gulflander, but Paul and I decided to make a start on the day’s run. As we went to leave the railway station the starter wouldn’t work, so we removed it and dismantled it, nothing seemed wrong it was just full of dust, we cleaned it up oiled the bearings and refitted it to the car, it worked OK, this was our only mechanical trouble. We added 14 litres to the Dyane and left for Croydon and Georgetown along the Gulf Developmental Road at about 9.30, this road was a mixture of…

Raid Day 24, Monday 21st September

The sun rose a bit later in the gorge, but by 7AM we had finished our breakfast, this was to be another fine hot day. After packing the car we were going for a swim when we saw Rene had the rear axle tube out of his 2cv, it appears the rough roads of the last few days had caused it to crack, this was causing the rear trailing arms to go out of alignment, so with the help of several other Raiders the axle tube was straightened and strengthened, after this we just had time for a quick swim before leaving at 10 AM for Gregory Downs and Normanton, via the Bourke and Wills Road-house. The road out of Lawn Hill was just as rough as the road in, and we took 2 hours to do the 100 km to Gregory Downs, here we stopped for a sandwich and stubbie at noon at the pub before setting off for the Bourke and Wills road-house, this road was much better, the country around here was similar to the areas around Borroloola, then after about 50 km we came to the bitumen, we then ate up the distance to the Bourke…

Raid Day 23, Sunday 20th September

Up at sunrise again to another fine clear day and after the usual routine of breakfast and packing the car we were ready to leave about 8AM. This road got steadily rougher, and where the trucks had been bogged in the last rains, large bulldust holes appeared, some were up to half a metre deep and up to 100 metres long, the bulldust covered everything with a 10 mm layer of dust as fine as talc. About 9AM Rolf and Jan caught us, they had stayed in Camooweal that night, and gave news of the French team who were going direct to Townsville to have some time on the coast before flying home, I was sorry to see them go without saying goodbye but I got a nice letter from Christian and Claudine. We drove on along this road until about 10 AM when we reached the Riversleigh turn-off, this is a short cut to Lawn Hill, if the river fords are passable, a chap in a Landcruiser had said it was OK so we decided to take the Riversleigh road. As we drove along this good dirt road Rolf said the country looked very like the Flinders Ranges in…

Raid Day 22, Saturday 19th September

Today was to be 500km of the same type of road from Borroloola to Escott, near Bourketown, via Woologorang and Hells Gate. Most Raiders were up before dawn to be ready to leave at first light, about 6am. We were in a group of about 8 cars to leave at 6.15, we headed east into a rising sun on a very dusty road, there was high light cloud and you could tell the day was going to be quite hot. After about half an hour of driving, the road was getting worse by the kilometre, a check of the speedo showed we had only done 15 km, at this rate it would be 9 or 10 o’clock tonight before we got to Escott even without problems. Paul and I decided to go back to Borroloola and go via the bitumen to meet the main party the next day at Lawn Hill, we called the other Raiders on the C.B. and told them of our decision. When we arrived back in town we found David Gries and Ruthard Wolf discussing the direction they would take, also they didn’t have any petrol, after a quick meeting we all decided to go via…

Raid Day 21, Friday 18th September

We rose at first light to see a brilliant dawn, then after our usual breakfast of tea and toast, we broke camp, packed the car and were on our way by 7.30AM. Today we were heading for Borroloola along a track marked “4wd vehicles only” it must be alright because it was surveyed by the organisers right!! We hoped so because there were no towns along the 365 km route. The country was harsh, with scrubby trees up to 3 metres tall and tussocks of grass along the road there were also lots of dry creek crossings from all the streams draining into the Gulf of Carpentaria. The road was very rough and corrugated, so much so that personal items on the dash shelf were constantly falling on the floor. About 10AM we came to a patch of newly graded road and within seconds had a flat tyre, the grader was turning up sharp rocks, one of which had split our rear tyre from tread to bead, a check of the speedo showed we had only travelled 80 km in the two and a half hours since leaving Roper Bar. After replacing the tyre we were called into Morealum Lagoon…

Raid Day 20, Thursday 17th September

This morning was grey and raining, we were up early to have breakfast and break camp, we were to be on the road by 8AM. By 7.30 we had added 16 litres to the Dyane and were heading for Pine Creek 150 km away on the dirt. The road was quite good with lots of little creek crossings, not much water in them but I was glad we left early, the later cars were to have some trouble with several creeks we heard afterwards, the road took us up to the top of the Arnhem Plateau, from here the views over the park are supposed to be excellent, today however they were obscured by mist and rain. From the Arnhem Plateau the road took us to the Mary River here we joined the bitumen for the run into Pine Creek, by now the rain had cleared to a fine hot morning with very high humidity we arrived at Pine Creek about 10.30, we stopped here for a drink and a quick look at the town before heading off to Katherine via the Stuart Hwy. When we were driving down the Stuart Hwy we heard some Raiders on the C.B. say…

Raid Day 19, Wednesday 16th September

After the previous evening’s storm the day was clear, we had breakfast and planned an easy day looking at the sights of Kakadu National Park, after adding 23 litres to the Dyane we went to visitors centre to see the audio/visual presentation on the features of the area, a good show. From here we went to Ubirr, this is about 45 km from Jabiru and is a major native art site. Here we met Malcom Douglass who makes nature and documentary type films, after talking with him for a while we went off to see the rock art. There are 3 areas of rock art at Ubirr and a guide to give talks to the tourists and look after the area, there is also a look-out where you can see the open woodland on one side and the grasslands of the East Alligator River on the other. While we were here we also met up with Steve Wedell and Barry Sargent who were taking photo’s and video’s to show later, after finishing at the art site we went via the East Alligator River at the Border Store, this was a slow moving stream about 50 metres wide, there were signs…

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