On the road early(ish). Trying to take Scottie’s advice we were all packed up and out by 8.45.
We’d been told it was a 2 hour drive to Nolan’s Crossing (the last one on the Old Tele Track), so we were prepared.
A couple of creek crossings and we’d be there. Well, five creeks and 3 fords to be exact. But who’s counting?
So off we go, bright and early. We’d taken Scotties advice and got ready nice and early – 8.45am. Vey early for us, but some – including a family with four kids – were out before us.
First creek crossing, no problems. Across with ease. This will be easy. How can the 20k to Nolan’s possibly take 2 hours?
The second crossing we started to understand. There was a traffic jam – four cars in front of us and lots of people walking and discussing various options. Honestly, I felt like I was back in Sydney in peak hour.
Even Doc started getting edgy, particularly when we all got through the other side and those in front drove slowly over the corrugations. It was only a few kilometres, but it felt like hours.
Fortunately they all turned off after a couple of crossings to take the by-pass road and we were back in isolation mode.
The log bridge at the fourth crossing was fun. And by logs I do mean logs. Most weren’t held in place, and had to be moved to the best position so that all vehicles could get a decent chance at getting all their wheels on.
More time taken up. We were well past our two hours by this stage, and still nowhere near Nolans. But at least all the creeks were done. How much worse could the fords be?
We were about to find out.
The unnamed third ford. Last before Nolans.
As we approached, a damsel in distress came running out of the bush.
“Help please, we’re very stuck.”
And they were. Bogged up to the undercarriage in thick mud.
So we did the only decent thing we could. Continued through and pretended we hadn’t heard anything.
No, of course we didn’t.
Doc and N were in their element. Out with the snatch straps, checking leverage, angles and whatever else it is that blokes do in these circumstances, and decided to snatch the car out backwards.
Once, twice, three times. That didn’t work. So next option is for Doc to cross the ford and snatch them out the other way.
This unnamed ford came with a warning “very deep crossing”. And it was. The tourists had got bogged because they tried taking the shallow route – through the softest, muddiest part of the crossing.
So Doc went the long way around, through the deep water. I held my breath as the bonnet of the cruiser went underwater. What seemed like hours later it surfaced again and he made it across.
A big cheer went up, before the blokes got down to work again.
The first attempt broke the tourists bull bar. But the second one got them out.
And that meant I could stop standing in the water filming, and keeping an eye out for crocs. Even though there was no croc warning sign on this waterway, the deep billabong surrounded by trees made me nervous. But not nervous to stop filming and taking photos. You have to get your priorities right!
The last person in our group was towing a campervan, and got stuck two thirds of the way across. His engine stalled and he had to be towed the rest of the way. A very quick operation, but enough time for his car to get waterlogged and his camper to start floating off downstream.
After drying out all vehicles (except the 60 series which made it across fine), we took off for Nolans, a short drive down the track.
And we arrived. Six hours after leaving our campsite.
Nolans Crossing is the last on the Old Tele Track, and has as big a reputation as Palm Creek at the other end. Not because of the difficult entry or exit, these were very easy, but because of the depth of the water and softness of the creek bed. Somewhere between 40-50 vehicles have been drowned this season.
But we’d come this far, we weren’t going to turn back.
The young tourists rescued at the previous crossing were already there, waiting for us to catch up.
And a couple were camped on the other bank. Offering advice and/or watching the entertainment.
The walking of this route could just as easily have been described as swimming. Water was chest deep and there was no easy way of avoiding it. No shallow part of the stream to cross, no bridge, no alternatives. It had to be done.
But it had to be discussed first. First one way through was tossed around, then another. Depths were measured, sand was felt for firmness, holes were stood in. And then it was all done again.
Suddenly, there was movement. Doc had decided on his route through.
A tarp was put across the front of the car, tyre pressure was let down, and he was off.
Once the decision was made, the action was very fast and I almost didn’t make it back in time to start filming. But I was there, and got the footage of the 60 series driving across Nolans in a very leisurely and confident manner. Water over the bonnet, but none in the car, and no slippage on the sandy bottom.
It looked almost elegant. Cheers went up. But it wasn’t time to celebrate yet as there were three more cars to get across (the young tourists had tagged onto the end of our convoy).
Snatch straps to the ready, first one, then the next, and finally the last came through. And we’d all made it to the top end of the Old Telegraph Track.
Time to set up camp, have a swim and sit back and relax. And watch anybody else coming through Nolans.
Tomorrow, there’s just a short drive up to the Jardine, where you can’t cross anymore, then off to the ferry for the rest of the trip to the Tip.