Sunday, August 3, 2008

Gone sight seeing to the mouth of McIvor - walkabouts 05

.. was the note my sister left on top of the computer when we started out. We were going to drive to the mouth of the McIvor river "where she found love". K. myself and three kids. In a generous gesture I offered that we should take my rental, a little RAV4 instead of her Toyota Hilux. Little did I know then... that the route would be so long and oh... so very sandy!

In good honest Australian: We got bogged.

After a long, winding and bumpy road, after stopping because of a loud scraping noise from under the car and noticing the hard plastic protective cover under the engine had torn, most likely after hitting a tree stump whilst crossing a creek...

After retracing our way and taking directions from someone local passing by, who told us a better path that would not ruin our car, and not to continue on too long over the beach or we'd be all the way at Cape Flattery when the tide came in and would need to spend the night... after laughing it off and saying we did not bring our camping gear and staying the night was not what we were planning to do... after having him shake a warning finger at us and seeing us off on the right path...

After meeting another car going in the other direction, after thanking them because they went into the bush to let us pass, after taking a right turn at a little sign that at one time must have said McIvor but now was too rusty to read, after tackling a series of creeks and puddles and each time miraculously resurfacing at the other side...

We went down a sandhill.

Going down was easy.

After the sandhill there was the beach. It was, as beaches in this part of Australia are, very flat, very pale yellow, with a very shallow tide, and actually, there wasn't much to see. My phone found no network there. The GPS worked, it was 2 km to the mouth of McIvor river, which we checked out. No crocs.



I shot some ocean creatures in the driftwood. A preview of things to come: this driftwood we later used to build a fire that helped us through the night, because yes, we did get to spend the night.



Two land creatures arrived shortly after us. (Look at those legs!) They were in the car that had chivalrously ducked into the bush to make way for us earlier. As it happens they were looking for a road out to the beach but were not from the area so they had wondered where we were going and if we knew our way around any better than they did and had followed us. This road we had led them is the only way out to Cape Flattery, about 18km more north over the beach. They went there to spend the night. The incoming tide was going to cut them off from the return route but they did not mind that. We were differently inclined and did return quickly after they had left. We had some sandwiches looking out over the shallow ocean sitting on the white trunks of cleared mangrove and driftwood. I was a little bit worried about scaling that sandhill in the up direction.

I was right. We got bogged. I hate to be right, sometimes. It wasn't a very difficult accomplishment. We obviously were not the only ones who ever got bogged there, the place was littered with tyres and long felt-like mats that were probably supposed to keep the track together. We ended up using some of that stuff to get us out again.

Long story short: we used the jack to lift the car, one wheel at a time, and put bits of wood and strips of palm leaves under. That way we got enough grip to roll the car off the low sandy track onto the higher firmer path. Spent four hours that afternoon untill it got dark. We were forced to wait untill sunrise. K. and I slept by the fire and the kids slept in the car. At sunrise I had not slept a lot because every time the fire cooled down I got cold and woke up out of my half-sleep to rake it up some more. The car with the three kids had steamed up windows, they'd obviously not suffered any cold! From dawn to around nine we were at it again and in two goes we moved the the car up on the higher path. It was a helluva lot of work.

We had the long felt mats laid out in front of the wheels right when the men camping at Cape Flattery made their return. The tide was out again, making their passage over the beach possible. From then on, getting the car out was easy. One of them helped us letting some air out of the tyres, then got behind the wheel and in one go just drove up that hill easy as sand cake. We thanked him gratefully and earnestly but I really think we deserve a bit of the credit for our own rescue by positioning the car for the expert to deal the final blow.

I didn't take photo's of the car, I was too busy. But K. got a few of the sunrise.



On the road back we met up with K's new beau and my ex who had been looking in all the wrong places we might have got stuck with no phone coverage, and who, while they were in the rescuing spirit that night had rescued a German couple out travelling in a new Toyota Hilux. Their Hilux had had a wheel fall off, because of a set of loose bolts. The guy had been lying in the dust under the car for hours, trying to get a bolt from another location and fix the wheel again. He almost begged our search party for help, which he duly received. These two people must have been very happy that we got bogged that night...

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