Day Thirteen of The Great Rattler Run - Red Dirt Day
Goodbye black top, hello dirt, dust, rocks, corrigates, dust holes etc etc. Need I say more. If we could see through the dust, I'm sure the sign would say 'Welcome to Cape York'! We should have seen it coming as the tell tale signs were everywhere in Cairns, with plenty of 4WD's covered in a film of fine red powder! But it's nothing compared to the real thing!
We have a total of 375 kms to travel today, aiming for our dongas at the Archer River Roadhouse. But we haven't arrived there yet, and are uploading this from Coen which is the last telephone/internet coverage we will get until ... not sure about that actually!
We rolled out of the Lakeland Hotel/Motel at 6.30 this morning, after repairing a flat tyre on the Vito van, which has been expertly driven in recent days by our professional driver Kevin from Kangaroo Island. Good old Kev to the rescue ;-) Kevin is responsible for ensuring that the camera crew are where they need to be, when they need to be there, so he's constantly on the move stopping, waiting for The Rattler to zoom past then chasing and repeating it all again.
As they pass by, they kick up quite a bit of dust for The Rattler crew to swallow, but nothing like the dust cloud of a road train coming the other way! When they roar past, even with The Rattler doing 80 kmph, it takes several seconds before visibility is restored. 80 clicks an hour you ask with your eyebrow raised ... experience in this old girl has taught us that you either cruise at 80 or 10 kmph, so you can stay on top of the corrugated surface and keep better control of the car. She seems to like it that way.
Don is doing a mighty fine job of driving today after drawing the short straw. Mark got the other short straw and is navigating after we pryed his hands off the steering wheel of the Landcruiser.
So we are signing off for now, as we aren't stopping for long and need to get back on the move!
Day Twelve of The Great Rattler Run - Cairns to Lakeland via Cape Tribulation
What a day! I decided to let the crew have their one and only sleep in, as we were to be joined by our latest crew member Simon who flew in to Cairns at 9 am. We pulled up to the free parking station in the 2 minute zone at the airport to some very polite traffic controllers who only stopped chatting when they had to move other lingering vehicles on! They are so friendly up this way!
Then we took off up towards Port Douglas for lunch. Soon we were on the road to the Daintree Ferry, heading towards Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield Track, most inappropriately signposted as for '4WD's only'!
On the Track, I experienced the steepest ascents and descents I have ever travelled on a public road, even more so than the Alpine passes from the Peking to Paris Rallies. The Track was so steep that the 87 y.o. mechanical brakes in The Rattler, overheated and became ineffective, and even with the engine in first gear and under maximum revs it was time to look for a run off half way down the slope! Boy oh boy, was I lucky that there was one. When I had a casual glance down the side of the hill, I saw an old wreckage of someone who wasn't so lucky. We did a brake adjustment and reduced the air pressure in the rear mud fats, and set off to descend the other half of the hill!
After leaving the Track, we were back on the black top and headed for Lakeland. There was a distinctly sharp contrast between the lush tropical coastline and rainforests and the dry Aussie bush further inland.
Upon arriving in Lakeland, we all carried out maintenance and repairs to the fleet. The Rattler needed new fuel filters and the trailer had two new wheel hubs fitted to it, purchased in Cairns just in case the hubs failed, which they did! All in all, everything is going really well so far and we aren't planning on that changing any time soon!!
Tomorrow we head off, straight up the centre of the Cape, bound for Archer River.