Day 20: El Questro to Durak River – ‘The day of the puncture’

From: El Questro Station

To: Durack River Crossing

Distance: 135km

Author: Mr A

Forever to be known as “puncture Sunday” – yup – bound to happen to us – as it did to so many others we saw by the side of the road. More of that in a minute, first the positive things. Catherine spotted some Brolgas (large storks with red heads) and went to investiagate with camera, only to find a tree full of cockatiels as well! 
The bird life up here is stunning. Hardly any mammals though, which means limited road kill so we like that. 

After the first 50kms the alarm went off on the tyre pressure monitoring system (bought after the last puncture!) – this time it was a rear car tyre – our faithful Mickey Thomson’s had let us down – literally. 

The Gibb is a brutal road on tyres – full of corrugations and sharp stones – we had a massive rip in the tyre. So we set to work and got the spare off and the car jacked up and the dud tyre off. As I was trying to lift the new one on a couple of trucks pulled up and asked if we were OK. They helped lift on the new tyre and tried to repair the old one. Sadly it wouldn’t hold a bung – we tried 5. So we are going to try and get it repaired at a small cattle station tomorrow who have a specialist tyre repair guy. if we can’t…well lets face that when it comes. We now wish we had spent the extra money and got interchangeable tyres between the van and the car. Then we would have 3 spare tyres as we have 2 on the van. Never pays to scrimp in the tyre dept. 

So we pull up to camp and open the door of the van – its full of dust! Clouds of it everywhere. I then recall on the handover the guy from Zone RV saying something about vents that legally had to be put in for ventilation – but a lot of people block them off. Now I understand why. So we have taped them up now.  

After a clean up, a shower in the van, and a couple of beers the world seems a brighter place. 

We are seeing a few small issues in the van, like handles falling off and bedside lamps coming to bits, but it’s understandable given the punishment this road dishes out. We went round with a screwdriver and tightened all we could see. We both are sure we made the right decion to move up from a camper trailer though for this trip. We love the “pull up and pull open a beer” lifestyle that comes with minimum set up time. Then there’s more time for all the exploring type things. 

We are camped close to the Durack River, which looks so tempting to get the packrafts out and go for a paddle. However, reports say salties have been seen in the last few weeks, so we will give that a miss! It’s dark at 5.30, preceded by a beautiful sunset over the river (memory card not reinserted so use your imagination). 

Dinner tonight: a chicken madras with fresh veggies, accompied by a 2009 De Iuliis Shiraz from the Hunter. The wine cellar still looking strong despite concerted attempts at running it down. Will we make it last until the Margaret River? Such troubling questions haunt us…

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