Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Our Cape York Trip – Part 2

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 29, 2011

PDR to Bramwell Junction

Wenlock River for lunch

The licence plate tree

Bramwell Junction Roadhouse

Hi Everyone,

We left Weipa and took the track to the PDR via Batavia Downs Station. The road wasn’t too bad, a few washouts but not too corrugated. We stopped for lunch on the northern side of the Wenlock River, just over the concrete bridge. You could camp here but sites are not too big. We passed the Moreton Bay Telegraph Station but didn’t stop as we pushed on to Bramwell Junction RoadHouse. We grabbed an ice-cream and had a great chat to the Managers. They were extremely helpful with recent information about the OTL (Old Telegraph Line) track and a few great suggestions for camping along the way too!  We met a few couples here who were on their way back down the and who had done the OTL track. They also had some excellent advice about some of the crossing. There is a tree at the roadhouse that has a

Start of the OTL track

Palm Ck entry

Palm Ck no 2

Palm Ck exit

number of licence plates nailed to it from casualties of the numerous crossings. The Bramwell Junction Roadhouse is where the southern part of the OTL track begins!

We set off on the OTL track and actually found a lot of the old telegraph poles alongside the track.  Unfortunately most of them have been bent over and the cross bars and insulators removed. We did see a few poles still intact and standing too! We came to Palm Creek, where we met Brett and Joanne. They had

Telegraph line alongside track

Dulcie Ck Crossing

Dulhunty Ck and Falls

come to have a look and watch others go through but wasn’t going himself. We’d been told that this is probably the hardest crossing this year. It sure looked a doozy! It has a big drop into sand and mud and we could see where people before us had placed logs and large rocks for traction. “What the he’ll, let’s  give it a crack” we all decided! Wade was in charge of the video and I was on the camera and radio, talking Joel down the track. It seemed to last forever but he only lost a bit of ground when a log split/cracked under his left rear tyre and he slid a bit to the left and caught the left running board on the edge of a wheel rut. The rest of it was pretty cruisy after that and after crossing the water we noticed one of the wheel

Wade making toast on the fire

hub covers was missing and the running board looked like a banana! The water wasn’t too deep, which was lucky and Joel found the centre hubcap in there.  With all the adrenaline pumping now, we continued up the OTL track for another 3kms to Dulcie Creek. The entry wasn’t as steep and the water not too deep, (about mid-thigh) but we still walked it to check the bottom for holes and make sure there were no surprises. It has a bit of a turn to the right in the water but Joel picked his line and away we went with video and cameras rolling! Nice and easy-out we

Dulhunty Camp

came. The track does have a lot of washouts but there are numerous cheat tracks, read as “only-way-to-get-through” tracks. Couple of kms later we crossed through the Sth Alice Creek, which was quite shallow with easy entry and exit. 8kms later was North Alice Creek which looked quite innocuous. There was an easier track to the left of us which Daniel and Wade both pointed out to Joel, but he was adamant he wanted to use the main track so we walked it across. It wasn’t too deep but there were some big rocks and a few decent drops on entry. Joel thought it would be fine so he

Dulhunty Wagon Camp

and Daniel were in the car, Wade on video with me on camera and radio on the other side of the creek. He made it easily down until the last big rock before entering the water and was a little too far to the right. I stopped clicking the camera and Wade just froze, luckily still filming! The front right hand wheel and rear left wheel were both off the ground and she looked like she was going to tip over but Joel gave it some gas and pushed into the water (lucky it wasn’t deep!) and out they

Riverside drinks

came, nice and easy! OMG! Wade and I raced up the bank to show Joel and Daniel the video footage. It didn’t look quite as scary on the playback but you can definitely see the tip over, then correction! Wow! That’s the closest I want to come to watching it tip over! We pushed on for another 10kms to the Dulhunty River as this was a camp suggestion from the managers at Bramwell junction. The landscape is mostly bush with gums and other low trees and red dirt track with evidence of some serious rainfall, marked by some huge washouts of the track and some

Tarzan swing over the water

massive wheel ruts. It was also about 3pm and we’d had enough excitement for today. We pulled up on the eastern banks of the river to have a look at the camping area and I said to Joel that one of the vehicles looked familiar. Sure enough it was the ‘mob’  from Archer River Roadhouse who  invited us to join their wagon-train camp on the western side. It was a fairly big area so we set up the tent, grabbed a few beers and towels and went down to the river and small falls for a swim.

Wooden propeller got everyone

These guys are fantastically friendly people, either farmers or engineers from Maree and the Eyre Peninsula. We spent hours at the river’s edge chatting, swimming and swapping stories. They are certainly a great bunch of characters, I tell ya! 🙂 Daniel and Wade built a Tarzan swing with their rope and a good stick and swung off the rocks and into the water, just below the falls.  They had a ball and played with it for hours. Apparently when I went to start dinner, one of the knots on the swing loosened and Daniel almost hit the rocks instead of the water! I got Joel to re-check their

Snake in the water

knots the next day just to be sure! We all headed back to camp, made a big, communal fire and dodged the dribs and drabs of rain. We set up our big tarp in the centre of the ‘wagon-train’ creating a shelter-our solace from the wet! We all sat around the fire, under the tarp, after dinner and these guys have a topic each night to discuss; tonight’s was 5 places you want to visit in Oz and everyone has to contribute, even the kids!!  Lots of nice places were talked about and we’ve even been to

Swing in action

some of them already:)
Next day after brekky, Eldon, Dean, Rod and Shane got out their slingshots. Daniel and Wade collected a few of the cans from the previous evening and stacked them like an arcade game target with a tarp behind, then used quandong nuts in the sling shots to shoot them down! I don’t know which kids were enjoying themselves more, the big ones or the little ones! Dean whittled away with some wood and made a propeller with ridges down the shaft.  When you rubbed it with a stick, the propeller spun around one way, then he would make it stop and turn the opposite way. Pretty tricky but kept the kids and adults amused for ages. The kids were quite fascinated with it and Dean let Wade keep it-he was pretty stoked!  The boys went with Joel and Dean to collect some more firewood and they were in awe of his battery-powered, mini chainsaw with a 6″ blade. After weeks of sawing and axing wood I think it was a real winner with the boys and Joel! Looks like we’ll be looking out for that special toy next time we’re at Bunnings. The rest of the morning passed with more shenanigans and quite an education for Dan and Wade-they smiled all day! We spent the arvo near the river again, the kids on their swing

Entry to Bertie Ck

Dan on point guard at Bertie Ck

with “watch me, watch me” and us with a few beers and conversation flowing freely.  Dean was fishing with some bread and managed to hook am few fish but they were definitely catch-and-release material!  Towards the end of the arvo, Ann saw a snake in the water. It looked like a black-headed python but wee were all out of the water like a shot! Luckily it was a little further downstream from where we were swimming and it really wasn’t too big either. I headed up to camp to get the meat and veggies ready for dinner as we are having a roast tonight. Leanne had some pictures on her iPod of her paintings-OMG, she is so talented! The paintings were absolutely fantastic and we can’t wait to meet up with her again in SA and see all the rest of her work! It’s awesome! Her sister, Vicki, had made a diary of their travels last year.  It was full of textiles, drawings, pictures, etc and so imaginative with maps and different information and tidbits interwoven throughout the stories and pictures-it was truly a work of art!  The guys got a ripper of

Farewells to SA mob

Pitcher Plant

a fire started, which was lucky as we were all using coals to cook meals tonight. After dinner, tonight’s topic was “places you would ike to re-visit”. Again a lot of interesting places were discussed.  When the discussion was finished, Ann and Eldon got the kids to play a new game. They tied two sticks together(can use pencils)at each and each had a long piece of string at the end. They laid the sticks on a box, wound a string up over each ear and put a fruit choc or malteser on the sticks. The idea is to bend over, with the strings over your ears, the choc on the stick and slowly pull the string down  and bring the sticks and hence the choc, to your mouth. Hilarious fun! especially after a few drinks (not the kids, of course). It was a great as everyone tried it. Lots of jokes(some of which the kids got:)) and laughs and great company.  I could see Dan’s eyes lighting up, thinking who can we play this game with and on!  There were spots of annoying rain while we were packing up and yet it was still a bunch of fun and games with these guys helping us-at least I think that’s

Cholmondeley Ck

Cholmondeley Ck exit

what Dean was doing:)) we will miss these guys a lot.
We followed the “wagon train” through Bertie Creek crossing. It has some lovely pools, to sit in and cool off in, but also requires you to turn a hard right before the creek and cross further upstream so as to miss the huge holes. It has a rocky bottom but was a relatively easy crossing, especially as Ann stood next to the big hole in the middle so no-one would drive into it. Thanks Ann! We kept on the OTL track until the gunshot bypass, where we bid fond farewells to our new friends with promises to definitely visit them in SA in months to come! The convoy headed east back to the PDR and we gulped and headed off to the next crossing, Cholmondeley Creek. It was a fairly easy, sandy creek crossing. The water in these creeks is crystal clear and this is where we first spot the famous pitcher plants. They are quite an unusual but pretty little carnivorous plant, which tends to grow more like a vine.  10 kms later we reaches the famous “Gunshot Creek!”  It has a reputation for devouring

Gunshot Ck entry

Gunshot Ck no2

vehicles and we’ve seen some perla shots of vehicles rolled over and stuck in this particular crossing.  We have been told though, that it’s not too bad this year and that Palm Creek (the first one we did) is worse. We figured we came through that one with just a bit of a bend in the running board let’s give this one a crack! It’s not the actual water crossing that presents the problem as it’s a nice, sandy, relatively shallow crossing. It’s more the steep declines into and out of the creek that are full of huge washouts, holes and some with slippery mud that cause the most angst! We pulled up at the top of Gunshot Creek and took a long walk down . There are several entrances to choose from and just as we were deciding a fella called ‘Gary’ came and had a chat to Joel. He’d just driven through with his mate and had stopped on the other side for a cuppa. They decided on the entrance farthest to the left side and Gary spotted for Joel and radioed him on his decent while I took photos and the boys videoed it! I tell ya it’s heart-in-the-mouth kinda stuff sometimes! Joel did a fantastic job as

Gunshot Ck water crossing easy

Gunshot Ck exit

young guys harder Gunshot entry

did Gary because the car is still intact and driveable. It’s really nice to have absolute strangers offering to spot and guide other people through these crossings, especially for us as we are traveling on our own. It’s good to be able to talk through the crossings with someone else, even if only to reassure yourself at you’ve picked the correct line of attack! After making it to the other side and stopping for a chat we watched 2 other vehicles (young guys) come though the more steep entrance on the far right of the creek.  It was about a 70 degree decline straight

Young guys almost there

Young guys made it

Gunshot Ck casualty no1

into the mud and water which was very exciting to watch.  We videoed/took photos and both the blue 80series and white Nissan Navara did it fairly easily. You get pretty pumped after you’ve made it through relatively unscathed! After a bit more chatting we pressed on along the track. We are still seeing lots of the old telegraph poles along the track in the bush. The OTL track is very corrugated between Gunshot Creek and Cockatoo Creek. About 3 kms later we stopped at a grave a few kms after Gunshot Ck. It belongs to one W.J.Brown who was a linesman on

Gunshot Ck casualty no2

Cockatoo Ck 4WD bus crossing

Cockatoo Ck entry

the OTL track who dies in 1945. The young guns we saw at Gunshot Ck passed us here while we were stopped, as did a couple of  other vehicles. It’s sort of reassuring to see so many vehicles on the OTL! Another 6kms of corrugations and we hit Cockatoo Creek. We got out to walk down and watched in awe as one of the 4WD tour buses was about to cross the creek. Awesome job, the driver made it look so easy. We met up with the young guns again and all of us were in the water walking across, checking out the creek bottom. It was very clear water so the big

Cockatoo Ck half way

Cockatoo Ck almost out

Sailor Ck

holes were easy to spot, but when you are in the car, you can’t always see down into the water over the bonnet. One of the young guys went through first while his mate spotted for him, then he returned and stood in the water next to a huge hole so the next lot of people to cross wouldn’t veer to far right and drive into it. We watched one old codger who hadn’t bothered to walk the crossing, who clearly wanted to be across this creek already, and he almost hit the poor young guy as he stood in the water trying to help him. He jumped out-of-the-way

Scrubby Ck entry

Scrubby Ck no 2

just in time and the old guy just kept on going, no thanks, no nothing! Joel made it through with Wade nice and easy with photos and video aplenty! We kept on up the track passing the same bus which had stopped at Sheldon’s lagoon to watch the bird life. The next crossing was Sailor’s Creek, a low, wooden bridge and the creek didn’t have much water in it either. As we exited the bridge and crossing, there was a corrugated lean-to and old water tank up on the hill on the left-hand-side.  It looked like a good place to make camp but we were early enough to try to make Eliot Falls campground, so we pushed on. We came to the end of the southern OTL Track, which then joined the bypass road for the next 9kms, then we took the turn-off to Eliot and Fruit Bat Falls. We passed the turn off to Fruit Bat Falls, thinking we’d come back later after we’d set up camp. A few kms down the track we came to another creek, Scrubby Creek. We did as we have been doing and got out to walk it through, meeting up with the young guns again. It was a sandy bottom but no big

Licence plate starting to lift

Scrubby Ck exit

holes and about mid-thigh depth so through we went, after the young guys. They were continuing on and going to have a look at Nolan’s Brook but we were stopping just up the road at Eliot Falls campground. We wished them luck as the stories are plentiful about the number of vehicles waiting to return to Cairns on the ferry as they have drowned in Nolan’s Brook! The number plate on the front of the car has started to lift and we were told that it’s the water in the deeper crossings that will lift it forward and break it off.  When we get to the campsite we will use some cable ties to hold down the  bottom of the licence plate so we don’t lose it.

Till the next exciting episode



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