Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Bloody Frenchman's Track

I'm a horrible driver at the best of times.  My first car was a Morris 1500 and I remember having it for about a week before someone reversed into me.  It would get a flat tyre and I once stopped on the side of the road, got out and knocked on a strangers door and got them to change it for me.  When it comes to cars I'm completely useless.....until living in Cape York.  Now don't get me wrong, I am still absolutely notorious for banging into large unwavering objects, wedging myself between two trees (where I had to call hubby to find my tracks and then get me off before driving back home), and hitting the water metre across from our house numerous times when hubby has made me practise reversing the trailer into the driveway. Don't even get me started on my reversing skills in the boat.  Ridiculously bad.

Anyway, I had the map out on the back table and my good friend was plotting me some good spots to go and find and explore on our latest adventure. I wanted to go someone off track and somewhere where there were not too many tourists. I'd just come back from a week up at the falls and had been home for less than 48hrs before I needed to go again.   We decided I'd try The Frenchman's Track.

Well, we were on our way through Bataivia when someone in a hurry zoomed past me and flicked up a boulder cracking my windscreen.  Bloody nora it gave me a fright!  What an ass!

It was a stinking hot day and I'd cracked the first beer as we entered the Frenchman's Track just off Batavia Downs.  I met my mate on the end of the airstrip and she'd brought her babes out too for the night.  We entered the turnoff and it was deceiving to say the least. The first hundred metres wasn't too bad.  Low gear and slow.  I had the trailer on the back with the quads on so we could explore right up to the East Coast through the Pascoe River.  Beautiful country.  There was nobody on the track and it looked like no one had been on it for sometime.    Sometimes you just have to follow tracks to see where they go. Sometimes it leads you to gold......

I got to a bog hole and decided to go around it which meant I had to go up on the side at a horrible angle, wedge between some trees and manoeuvre the trailer around at awkward angles to make it.  After another courage can, I was ready to give it a go.   I went up and through the bush but couldn't find an entry point back onto the track.  The track was already overgrown and hard to see and now it was impossible. At one stage I had to get out and climb up to see where it was.  I kept going further and further trying to cut back in but no go.  I then had to reverse my labyrinth with the trailer on all the way back.  Bloody Nora - what a mission that was!!!

Rookie Error 1:  Do not lose the track you are travelling on.
Rookie Error 2:   Try not to go over sharp, burnt logs as they wedge under your car and can pierce a tyre.  

I could hear the hissing sound and I knew my driver's tyre was a goner.  I got the pump out and tried to savour as much as I could. There was no possible way I could get all the gear off here. I had to persevere a little long.  I stopped every hundred metres or so (when I could hear grinding....) and pumped it up again until I finally got to a spot that was shady and I could make camp.  We went for a swim first and I tried to remember everything hubby had shown me about what I had to do.   There were a few blokes in the creek a bit further up and I did contemplate going and getting them to help me when I thought nah, I'll give it a crack.

About an hour later I finally got the rattle-gun hard nuts off. (I accidentally lost one somewhere...... don't tell hubby) Then came the drama of where do I put the jack.  I didn't bring my kangaroo jack which I know how to use on this trip cause it annoyed me taking up too much room so I only had the small one.  After several attempts, my friend and I were almost ready to give up when we got down and saw the little groove thing it's supposed to go in and Wahla! Presto!  It was on like Donkey Kong.

We celebrated with red wine and waffle cones filled with marshmallow and chocolate and baked them on the fire.  They were amazing.   The kids ate so much of them that they were sick.... literally lol.

The next morning my mate left with her kids and it was just us again.  We spent the day flicking lures in the creeks and lagoons catching Sooties and Togas.  There were fresh pig tracks EVERYWHERE and you could smell pigs a mile away but the quads scares them off before we get too close. There were a few slide marks on the banks too but I'm guessing they were more likely freshies however I didn't let the kids swim anywhere except in the crossing where I could see what was coming.  

That night we retired next to the fire and a car crossed going down south and were trying to get through to the East Coast.  A random chick in the front seat wound down her window and yelled out at me "Hey, you're the chick that camps with her kids with a lounge!  How are ya!"  I nearly fell of my lounge laughing (yes, I like to bring the lounge on the back of the trailer with quad so I can read my book by the fire in comfort lol.)    They'd driven past my camp on the old tele track last week when I was up near the falls for the week. What a small world.

That night a pack of dingos circled our camp at the reach of the fire light and I got the kids to bring their swags into the tent with me and slept with one eye open as they were giving me the creeps. I threw a rock at one but I don't think it was deterred one bit.  In the morning I figured it was the third strike in this trip so I packed us up and we moved on.

Lesson learned:  Bring the big Jack...... and the rifle.

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