Author: Mr A
Location: Mount Surprise to Cobbold Gorge Village
Tuesday: Some days just don’t got to plan – and this was one of them. It started well with a great drive across the dry scherophyll forest, or savannah lands, as they are commonly called. This region makes up for a fifth of the total land area of Australia, it’s huge. We turned off the main highway at a small settlement called Georgetown, and headed into the remote area we would be staying for the next 3 days, at a cattle station turned tourist destination called Cobbold Gorge.
The road was a little rough, unsealed and corrugated in places, but I was taking it very steady as usual, and had pumped up the air bags this morning so the van was sitting nice and high, tyres down to 25psi. However, we finally arrived at the property to see a pair of our shocks hanging down on one side. I then spent a very stressful afternoon trying to figure out with Zone and their suspension supplier (both who were super helpful) what had gone wrong and how we would get it fixed in this remote location.
The summary is, in case you are a Zoner, and you really want to avoid being in this situation, we had been told where to measure the ride height by the guys who supply the components, but Zone gave us a measure that would test the ride height in a different spot. A bit of miscommunication, combined with our lack of experience and know-how, and you have a shock that over-extended and came apart, shearing off the bracket that holds them as well, all because the ride height was too high. We had no idea that there was any risk in it being too high, and thought we had them set right for rough road travel, anyway.
Some parts are being sent from Brisbane, some from Cairns, arrival time anyone’s guess, certainly the freight companies won’t pin themselves down to a day. Looks like we might be getting to know this region really well.
Wednesday: We had booked on a tour of the property today, trying to get back on course to our plan for this stay. Cobbold Gorge has become a real magnet for tourism, hosting over 11,000 people last year, the big drawcard being a narrow, winding, deep gorge that was only recently discovered by settlers here in the 1960s.
We started the tour though with a short bushwalk, with a guide who talked us though the local flora and fauna, with a focus on the many different uses to which aborigines put the trees and shrubs. He explained how they used them to treat everything from bruises, rashes, diarrhoea and cuts, to avoiding pregnancies in lean years. For bush tucker there were grapes, plum type fruits, all sorts of berries with concentrations of vitamins we humans need.
We saw the striking bloodwood tree oozing its red sap, the soap tree that we had tested up in Cooktown and produced a beautifully scented wash, it was so fascinating.
Everywhere our untrained eyes looked we just saw shades of green and odd looking flowers or berries. Mick saw breakfast, lunch, dinner and a full medicine cabinet.We climbed up high on the walls of the gorge and admired the views from above, imaginations going wild with the shapes of the rocks. Can you spot the crocodile?We then climbed into the boats and set off along the gorge. Mick explained about the geology that had formed this narrow gorge, with the layers of sandstone washed down through the inland sea being cracked open, and we were in one of those cracks. If you are a geologist please excuse me, but that was my drift.
Over 9 metres deep under the water, and only a few metres wide, it was a quite something to drift though, I wish though we had been allowed to wander through on our own in the packrafts…they assured us the crocs are only of the freshwater variety!Tourism here has brought many economic and social benefits for the local communities that were really struggling through drought and depressed cattle prices. It’s great to see entrepreneurs doing this out here. Small shops, pubs, caravan parks, and servos (petrol stations) all benefiting. Mick even said “people are taking more care of their yards now”. A returning sense of pride…awesome.
INTERJECTION FROM MRS A
As Mark suggested the other day, there is always the chance of our plans being waylaid, and this evening we got some very sad news from the UK which has done just that. Mark’s mum, Jill, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Monday night.
Our plans to continue west will have to be put on hold, as Mr A will need to catch a flight to London for the funeral. Plans for that will depend on the delivery of the new shocks for our caravan to Georgetown, in the middle of the Savannah…we hope that might be Friday, but in reality, who knows…it looks like the east coast of Australia might see us again sooner than we thought…