Friday 3 June 2016

Alice Springs & Lawn Hill Trip - Day 2

Day 2 - 3/6/2016 - Springsure to Ilfracombe

A bit of rain over night made for a damp packup.  Luckily we didn’t have a lot to pack up and we just managed to get packed up and on the road before it started getting heavier.  We were on the road earlier than we had planned so we were hoping to get to Ilfracombe by mid afternoon.

We stopped for lunch in Jericho.  It was a nice little town that even had a drive-in theatre.  We ate lunch quickly as it was just starting to shower again and combined with the wind it was getting cold.

Jericho main street 
Drive in theatre 

As we were getting closer to Barcaldine the clouds and rain were getting heavier.  Even though it was only 1:30 in the afternoon it felt a lot later due to it getting darker and darker.

The really heavy showers eased up just as we arrived into Barcaldine which gave us a chance to have a quick walk around the “Tree of Knowledge” structure.  After the tree was poisoned a monument was erected.  

It is like a giant wind chime
We also had a bit of a chance to stretch the legs and have a bit of a walk around town.  It wouldn't be too often that you see the gutters full and having to jump over puddles in Barcaldine!

After we left Barcaldine the clouds started to get really dark and we were driving through some really heavy rain.

Heading into the storm
Just as the rain eased off we started to encounter water over the highway.  There had been a lot of water dumped in a short amount of time.  They were only shallow crossings but each one was getting a little bit deeper, which was starting to get a bit concerning.

Then at about 30km out of Ilfracombe we came across a line of stopped traffic.  As we were pulling up to the end of the line of traffic I noticed a road entrance on the right hand side so we decided to do a u turn and head back to a rest area that we had just passed about 1.5km back up the hill.  We decided to head back to the rest area and park up before going down to see what the situation was because if we were going to be stuck overnight, then it would be a lot more comfortable on flat ground and with a toilet near by.  If we hadn’t done the u turn at that point there would have been no way to do a u turn on the highway.

I was initially thinking of just parking up in the entrance so I took it a bit wider than I would have normally so that I was off the highway and not completely blocking the adjoining road.  What I didn’t take into account how soft the shoulders of the road were.  The passenger side wheels sank into the soft ground about 10cm!  Luckily I was able to keep it slowly moving and I was able to craw it out.

After getting out and parking up at the rest area, we walked back down to the crossing to see what was going on.

The water at the crossing was initially at about 500 to 600mm over the road with a pretty decent flow on it.  By the time we had walked down to the crossing it had started to recede and was down to about 450mm over.  Some people were crossing but a majority weren’t.  I wasn’t too keen on crossing with the water level still high because I had just had the wheel bearings replaced on the camper and because we still had a lot of kilometres to go on this trip I didn’t want to risk getting any water into them at this point.

The council roads inspector that was putting up the Road Closed signs also mentioned that there were still 3 more crossings to go before Ilfracombe and those crossings were still rising and they weren’t letting anyone through those crossings.  So there was no point being stuck between two crossings.  So we just had to wait it out.  It gave me a good chance to get some photos of the afternoon sunset.

It was close to 6:30pm before the water had receded enough on the other water crossings and before they let us all through.   We were stopped for about 3.5 hours all up.  Even though the water had gone down to about 200mm over the road for the other crossings, in the dark and also with traffic coming towards you it made if feel like it was a lot deeper than it was.  It was also still flowing fairly fast.

We eventually arrived at the Ilfracombe caravan park around 7:15pm.  We had a booking there but even though we had been ringing them and letting them know that we were held up, they had given the site away.  I imagine that they were inundated with people being stuck so it was understandable.  They did manage to squeeze us into a space but we felt like we were in the middle of the access road.

We also found out later that night that Jodies cousin, Louise, was stuck in Barcaldine for the night.  She was heading from Roma to Cloncurry.  Apparently the road was closed not long after we had left Barcaldine.  We gave her a call and were going to meet up with her tomorrow morning before we got on the road. 

The weather was not looking good for our initial part of the trip.  We were planning on heading out to Bouila the next day and taking the Donohue and Plenty highway across to Alice Springs.  But due to the recent rains it was closed so we decided plan B was to head to Alice Springs via Cloncurry, Mt Isa etc etc.  It was a bonus in disguise because it would allow us to catch up with all of Jodies cousins in Cloncurry.  If we had stuck to the original plan we would have missed Louise and William by one day on our return trip.

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