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Kalumburu

17/5/2016

Well we have just left our home on wheels behind. We were meant to leave yesterday from Drysdale Station, expecting the council to finally open the final stretch of road to Kalumburu Catholic Mission only to find that they said it may take up to three weeks. Mmmm what to do?

After many phone calls from the fridge (public phone is in the fridge) and managing to secure a council road permit in one day instead of three. We decided to leave our caravan behind and set off, packed up in the ute for up to three weeks.

We finished packing just as the camping chairs and beer starting breaking out at happy hour in the camp grounds. The sun was about an hour from setting and we were all set to go first thing in the morning when Richard noticed a distinct lean on the back of the ute.

After investigations it was clear that the airbags on the right side of the vehicle had no air in them and at $400 a pop we had only brought one spare. After littering the glovebox contents through the car, Richard managed to scrounge up a mobile phone number of the mechanic who had done the conversion on our car. Richard headed back to the fridge to make some more public phone calls, fervently hoping that with the two hour time difference Phill might answer his phone after work.

Phill, our saviour of the day knew just what the problem was and within half an hour Richard had the ute nice and level and all airbags in good order.

The road report is different from everyone we talk to. Apparently after a downpour of rain a truck got well and truly stuck and made a mess of the road. The council promptly closed the road preventing more damage. Tourists are sneaking through though, risking a $1000 a tyre, per vehicle fine but chewing up the road further preventing the fully loaded supply trucks from Derby to get supplies through.

So now we are 45kms out from Drysdale and leaving our forlorn looking Bushtracker van behind. We set off hoping that we will get through to what will be our home for three months.

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9:21am

Just spent a lovely morning tea with one of the neighbours and we have been very generously offered a place to store our van much closer to our destination. So it’s off back to pick up our home!!

11:50am

A mustering contractor and great guy we know, pulls out of the bush in front of us in the middle of no where. This keeps happening mind you. Last time we saw him it like this was at a lookout on the road to Gove in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

We pulled over and had lunch together. Richard had one of his pickle and home made corned beef sandwiches.

The glass toilet door we discover has become a casualty. The pin has sheared off on the corrugations. Luckily the glass is still in one piece but the frame has two big worn gashes from rubbing on the stove. The question is where put a loose glass door now. For the moment we’ve put it under the mattress. Will keep checking as we go to see if it vibrates out from underneath.

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2:36pm

Only 62kms to go but the road becomes a track after Theda Station. Hoping that at the speed we are going that we will make the river crossing 5kms outside Kalumburu before sundown. Not really keen on backtracking at this stage of the day. Oh and we have decided to keep on with the van just in case we can get through. Will have to back track though if need to.

4:43pm

Track is very slow going with sharp rocks and bog patches to deviate around. Sun is heading for the horizon and we still have at least 10kms to go before the big river crossing 5kms before the Mission. Not sure if we can cross the river yet and there’s no way we are going back. Would love to have a coffee right now.

The oven glass door is loose, hoping that it will make it and Richard can sort that out when and if we get there.

4:55pm

Richard moving small boulders from under van to go round wet patch of road. Lots of wild Bulls up here and wild horses. Sun is almost setting. Looks like we won’t make the river by sundown.

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5:10pm

Suns going down. Turns out we have already done the big crossing about 5kms back but there is one more creek crossing just as you come in to town and its badly eroded with big washouts and a small high curving track to the side.

Well I’ve got out to film and as Richard is on the last turn …the caravans tyres are so close to the edge of a big drop off that I go to call out for Richard to stop when the wheels drop off the edge and start sliding down the bank. I forget all about filming as I watch my home about to tip right over.

If the wheels went all the way to the bottom of the drop, the van would have gone right over but because Richard was rolling slowly forward it somehow gripped the bank and we got to the end.

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So heart in mouth we roll up into Kalumburu just on dusk. The kids are all out playing basketball and the music is thumping all around the community.

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We roll into the Mission gates and hop out to green grass, tropical gardens, lovely old stone buildings and the warm heady smell of frangipani flowers.

6:35pm

After finding a place to park our rig for our stay here, in the dark we are late for dinner at the Mission.

Walking after sundown through the heady air and gardens and hearing the beat of music within the community is nice, feels like a party after a huge day.

We walk through the security gates, say hello to the resident mission dogs Boof, Kirra and Shadow and through into an enclave where the whole team of staff and volunteers are having dinner. The smell of curry and rice and roti is so yummy, it is all very civilised and we feel so dirty and tired.

So now it’s 8:19pm and after an awesome meal for which we were both pathetically grateful, it’s off to fall into bed ready for our new adventure in the morning.

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