The road from El Questro back to the Gibb is a 16km dirt road, with a few river crossings thrown in to keep it interesting. You hit the Gibb, turn left on the bitumen and 50metres down the road, the gravel begins.
I pulled in to check the tyres. With the amount of rocks on these roads, and all the punctures I’ve been hearing about I dropped them down even lower than usual. So I’m now sitting at 28psi on the front two, 30 for the back, and 28 on trailer. Fingers crossed.
We’re aiming for a cattle station called Ellen Brae which is only 130k’s or so, but it’s difficult to predict how long it will take us until we see how the road is. At this end of the Gibb, the distances are a little greater between stops. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes…
60kms an hour seems to be the speed that we’ve settled on. Quick enough to skim over the corrugations, but slow enough to see the particularly sharp rocks, and avoid them. An hour or so into it we arrive at the Pentecost River. Without a doubt the longest river crossing we’ve faced. But it doesn’t look too bad, shallow enough, and a good solid bed of rocks to trundle over. Off we go.
I stopped the car at the other side to let the water drain, jumped out and had a look back. The end of the Cockburn ranges towered in the background, and despite the moans from Katie “Oh Dad…not another picture” I just have to take a few shots.
Another hour and a half or so, and we arrived at Ellen Brae. Hurrah! No flat tyres. No disasters, thank goodness. I stepped out the car and wandered round to do a check.
- Missing bolt from the shackle that holds the trailer chains onto the car
- Missing 7 pin plug from the trailer, and the wire all frayed
- Missing dust cap from the trailer, again
- Other dust cap on the trailer, about to fall off
- Missing protective cover from the front left headlight on the car
- Other protective cover, a bit broken
Apart from that, all fine!
Ellen Brae was an oasis of green in a land of ochre. Sprinklers chirped in the background as we sauntered across the lawn to the reception area. Artwork of the Kimberley lined the corrugated iron walls on the way in, and a smiling face greeted us in reception.
“We’d like to camp for a night, and we’ll have a couple of those scones we’ve been hearing about too please.”
“No problem, have a seat in the garden and we’ll bring it out to you.”
“Oh, can I borrow a hammer please? My dust cap is about to fall off.”
I hammered the remaining dust cap back on, we ate our scones and then jumped in the car for a couple of minutes to the camp site. Hmmm… not as nice as the homestead. It was a bit of a dustbowl.
Anyway we set up, had a bite to eat and then headed off to the swimming hole. A 10minute drive down a sandy track, then a 10minute walk down a sandy trail. A quick swim, home, a cold night and then the next morning, we were up and off pronto.
Before we left however, I secured the last spare dust cap to the trailer wheel, and thumped the shit out of the one that hadn’t fallen off yet, just as a precaution. The last thing I wanted along the Gibb was for the bearings to overheat.
That would bring us to a standstill pretty quickly. I rewired a spare 7 pin plug, purchased a new shackle for the chains, glued the remaining headlight cover back together, and we hit the road.
It started off pretty easily, and we were rewarded with an amazing view after an hour or so. The road climbed up a slight rise in the land, curved a little bit, and then turned around to allow you a glimpse over the massive plain you’d just been travelling across. We jumped out for another photo. The kids stayed in the car. Oh well.
I was afraid to get my hopes up that the road wasn’t as dreadful as we had heard about, then it got dreadful. After about 15 minutes of shocking corrugations I pulled in to have a look, and the bloody dust cap was missing again. Shit. And I’ve run out of spares now. I hammered the other one on, just to make sure it wasn’t even thinking about going fucking anywhere, and then I returned to have a look at the exposed bearing full of grease.
Fortunately, it didn’t look like there was much dust in there. I had packed them both with so much grease as a precaution, and I reckon I must have caught it pretty soon after the cover disappeared.
Anyway, scoop out a wee bit of dust, cram in a bit more grease, and then consider what to do….
Hmmm… I opened up the kitchen box, grabbed a plastic cup that might fit over the bearing, and it fitted perfectly. Brilliant! I grabbed a bag of zip ties and 15 minutes later, had secured the cup surprisingly firmly to the wheel.
I must admit was pleased with the result. We had a bite to eat, and then hit the road again. 10 minutes later I stopped to have a look. The cup was rock solid. Fucking brilliant! Onwards. Manning Gorge here we come.