Whilst we were sitting comfortably in Palmerston, we had time to become quite concerned about the drive to Maningrida, having been told that there were many river crossings involved, and what we were waiting for is the rivers to drop to a passable level. There are many stories and legends about the East Alligator River at Cahills Crossing, so this was the biggest worry.
We packed up camp on Monday and slept in the Uniting Church on Monday night, in preparation for leaving at 3am Tuesday morning. We left at this early hour in order to reach Cahills crossing at 6:55am, right on low tide. Although we never saw it, we have been told that the tide can still reach 6-7 metres at this crossing. Our timing was perfect, and there was only a small amount of water, although it was flowing very fast. There is an overturned vehicle off to the left side of the causeway, which has only been there for about 2 weeks. This could be the result of poor planning, poor decision making, or over-confidence. These are conditions we are not suffering from.
Once we were safely across, we stopped for breakfast on the side of the road. Having done the worst part easily, now we were all excited about continuing this journey. Upon consulting the map, there appeared to be about 10 rivers to cross on the top road to Maningrida. Nobody remembered to count, but there was at least that many large puddles, creeks and ‘duckponds’ as they came to be called along the way. The drive took about 9 1/2 hours in the end as we reached Maningrida at 12:30pm. Just in time to make lunch and assess what the next few weeks have in store for us.
Just before we arrived in Maningrida we had to make two special river crossings. The first was the Liverpool river. There was a hole about 1m deep as we entered the crossing. The top of the headlights disappeared as we went through. This was another one of the crossings we were very concerned about. But it was all over so fast, it was almost an anti-climax. We didn’t even put the pre-prepared tarp on the bullbar. We just drove through. Daniel had done some repairs to the troopy specially for this trip, including applying silicone to the holes left in the floor when we relocated the rear seats. What he didn’t do, was check the door seals, particularly the passenger side – so Karens’ feet got a little wet. There is video footage of this event, but it gets a little shaky and becomes very obscure once the feet get wet. She may also have been protesting a little loudly!
The second river was the Mann river. This was not as deep, but it was a lot wider and had some very large rocks in it. We sent Karen across in the lead vehicle so she could capture some video footage of the troopy coming through. We had to go fairly slowly, because the lead vehicle almost rolled his trailer as he went through.
Everything went really well, as you will see from this footage:
The Mann River also had some peculiarities about it. About 100m upstream of the road crossing, there was a wheelbarrow parked on the edge of a lagoon, apparently abandoned. We have managed to have a bit of fun proposing the source of this wheelbarrow. Could be a fisherman brought it to carry all his fish home, and never returned himself. Anything is possible….. (Later on we found out that there are no crocs in this part of the river and it is safe for swimming)(There was NO WAY we are swimming here!).
So now we are in Manigrida with Jeff and Bronwyn Bauer (from Mt Tambourine) and Darrel House (MMM NT Manager). We have set up camp about 50m from the beach, right beside the house we are here to renovate. It is a big job that will take about 1 month to complete. Life is a bit tough here, but we will manage to struggle through it ok…..
Shower with a view!