My aim on day 11 is to make camp at Tobermorey station tonight and continue onto Boulia the next day. I left Alice at 6:30am, had a straight forward drive on the bitumen to the Plenty.
Highway turn off. The speed limit was 130 km/hr but I only drive at 110 km/hr because it saves on fuel big time. Turned easterly at the junction of the two highways and headed for Atitjere to see Kyle as I promised.
I followed the Utnalanama Range up to the Gemtree turn off then passed Mount Riddoch and followed the Hart Range until I reached Atitjere. It was 8:35am and I was hoping I was in time to see Kyle before he started work. I parked outside his house opposite the General Store. Then I heard from a distance, “Hey Ken!”. I looked up, there was Kyle in his work clothes at the Community Centre Office and heading towards me. That smile, only a Kyle smile. I gave him the gifts for his kids. He said, wow this is fabulous, his girls love drawing stuff. We exchanged addresses, I intend to always keep in touch with this wonderful indigenous man and his family.
I fuelled the Ute ready for the 340 kilometres of dirt madness. I can’t remember the Gibb River Road being this bad when I rode Darwin to Broome. The fuel costs here are terrible if you compare to back home. It was $2.15 per litre, and I remembered the people in Ballina complaining about it being $1.50. I will say it again, these guys have to drive 220kms to go to town and then the same coming home. That comes out of their pockets before they spend anything.
I waved to Kyle and his fellow workers as I head out of their community ready for some slow dirt driving. Even though the speed limit is 110 km/hr I will probably do around 75 to 85 km/hr, much safer for me. The further east I headed the mountain ranges disappear and the flat lands started. I was now on the top end of the Simpson Desert. Much dryer than previously but still some life in the flora after this year the ‘non rain’ floods. All the creek beds were now dry and full of sand.
Then I spotted the caravan, totally burnt to the ground. It was the van owned by the older couple I saw at Gemtree the other night with the back of their ute melted. They were so lucky they didn’t lose their ute from what I could see. Devastating, just horrible for them.
Getting closer to Tobermorey, about 20kms to go and I found ‘Bulldust Heaven’, what messy stuff to drive through, it was half a wheel height in depth and covered nearly all across the road. Arrived at Tobermorey just on 2:00pm, even going at the slow safer speed (for me anyway) I still got here quite early. Grabbed a site and fuelled the Ute. WOW……only $2.30 per litre. Stop your whinging city folk. If these people want to go to town it’s a long drive to Mt Isa.
John and Bill Speed and their families have done exceedingly well to get their place back to some form of workable business let alone the camping grounds and 2 cabins. This entire place was under water in March of this year. On the 28th Mar 2019 the headline in the paper read, ‘Tobermorey Station under water as ex cyclone Trevor deluge continues’. There is a new ablution block with an open attached kitchen. The men attend to the farm (1.5 million acres) and the ladies to camping and fuel side of things.
I was the only person staying here up until close to dark when two guys from WA arrived, they were travelling the entire track called, ‘The Outback Way’. It’s from Laverton in WA to Winton in QLD. This track has a nickname, ‘Australia’s Longest Shortcut’. They just cruise alone and enjoy every moment. I enjoy the same, we laughed. I said, is it us oldies or something in the water’……ha ha.
Sunset was a little plain tonight but watching the moon (nearly a full moon) was striking. Made my dinner for the night, Country Beef Stew and some two minute noodles with a cup of tea and honey, what more could a man ask for. I rugged up expecting a cold windy morning and lucky I did, it was.