28 Oct The Old Telegraph Track – Day 14
Day Fourteen of The Great Rattler Run – The Old Telegraph Track
Here we are, eating brekkie at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse, the last stop before the Southern section of The Old Telegraph Track. After leaving Archer River early this morning I drove The Rattler for the first half hour to make sure everything was going alright after the diff change. She is running sweet as. Then Don drove for the next couple of hours with Kevin as navigator. We are now calling them Oompa and Loompa!
This is where the Vito leaves us and heads up the Cape on the Development Road, and we all head up The OTT.
So, it’s goodbye for now, but stay tuned because I’ll be seeing y’all on the other side!
UPDATE: We made it through The Old Telegraph Track!
The Southern Half of The Old Telegraph Track
Not having had any internet on The OTT means I have to try and catch up on our posts for the last few days. It ain’t easy when there are so many fabulous videos and photos but I’ll give it my best shot!
The moment arrived when we were finally sitting at the entrance to the OTT, but there was no moment of silence! We headed straight out of the car park of the Bramwell Junction Station, and onto the track. I don’t mean to underestimate how much of an adventure the whole journey has been so far, but for me, this was truly the start of the off road adventure and this is what I had been preparing for for the last 9 months.
The beginning of the Track is quite unassuming and just like riding through any paddock track, a small dirt track lined with Australian bush either side. That is, until you reach Palm Creek crossing, about 4 km in. It would be a magnificent sight with water weaving its way through the winding creek bed, but that would have to be left to our imagination as it was bone dry for us. Many of the crossings have multiple entry and exit points on the banks, so it’s a matter of deciding how game you are really! The entry to Palm Creek was uneventful, but we chose the most difficult exit in the first instance, a long, steep powdery track with big gutters, that proved even too difficult for The Rattler. We backed off and drove up another exit, making it through on the first go, lifting the front wheels off the ground as we passed over more ruts. As we made it to the top, the car was just chugging and slowly dying, but the engine with its high torque got us out of there! Without the diff change and Mitchell underdrive, there is no way we would have made it! But this was not to be our most difficult crossing by any stretch.
The next few crossings were mostly uneventful. Being the end of the dry season, we didn’t see much water on the southern part of The Track with all crossings having just enough water to wet the Creek beds, except the first two that were dry. The creeks up here are pristine, except for the vehicle access tracks, the only tell tale sign that others have driven there before you. But if you look up, you will often see mementos left behind and hanging from the trees. We even saw one of those big BF Goodrich mud fats hanging from a tree at Gunshot Creek!
Everywhere we went, we could imagine what it will look like in a month or so, maybe less. When the wet season hits the Cape, there aren’t many who would dare take on the bypass road, let alone The OTT. These peaceful crossings will become more like rivers, snaking their way through the landscape, carving up the tracks and this season’s entry/exit points as they go!
Before too long, we were at the infamous Gunshot Creek. There was so much anticipation amongst the crew as we pulled up, but none more than between Don and I! After all, we were the crazies taking this on in an 87 year old 2 wheel driver! Kevin was itching to ride shotgun with me, but sadly I can’t take everyone in The Rattler at once.
When we pulled up everyone jumped out of the vehicles for a look. There are options here for everyone, including one for a taxi! But most of them are just as challenging as the YouTube videos of those who were kind enough to give us a taste of adventure from our arm chairs. I’m not that great at estimating gradients, but if I had to give it a shot I would say the one we took was about 80 percent. After choosing the most challenging one that I thought The Rattler could handle, we commenced our 6 metre nose dive off the edge. I entered as close to the right hand bank as possible, giving us a little extra resistance. It wasn’t long before we had our nose in the puddle at the bottom, and wheels churning up the sandy clay as we drove the rattler out and through the crystal clear Creek and up on the northern bank. The thing I remember the most after that crossing was the smile on Don’s face. According to him, I saved his life! We didn’t have much time for a victory dance though as we had the Fuso and Landcruiser behind us. And, with another crossing under our belts we motored on to the next one.
At Sailor Creek, the boys walked across and it was obvious to all that this was one was going to require some careful manoeuvring to get around the deep holes. But even the most careful prep couldn’t raise the height of The Rattler, especially when the bow wave came up to the bottom of the windscreen! She stopped dead in her tracks half way across the Creek. After towing her out the other side, we tried to get her moving again for at least 30 minutes, but it wasn’t until we did a rolling start under tow that the water was ejected from the exhaust and she was on her way again.
After a quick swim at beautiful Fruit Bat Falls, we kept going and we camped for the night close to Elliot Falls. The boys cooked up a campfire dinner and after sitting round the fire over a few cups of tea, everyone crashed for the night.
Day one of The Old Telegraph Track was done and we were now one day closer to the tip and running one day ahead of schedule!
All in all, the Southern Half of the Track was not as challenging as I thought it would be. But then again, they just don’t make new 2 wheelers like they use to!