Day 23 (by the new count)

tim

Maria Lagoon to…
There doesn’t seem to be many days that we get to where we intend to, or get there at the time we expect. Today was no different, but it was rewarding in its own way.

After our normal 2 hour pack-up we hit the road. The roads were variable, and none of them were particularly interesting or quick, particularly for the bikes. The landscape was less interesting than it has been, too. We stopped for lunch, and managed to start a grass fire, though I’ve been asked to leave the details out by the persons involved. Ask me about it, though… it’s a good story.

We pressed on after lunch, but realised we weren’t going to make Adele’s Grove at any reasonable hour, so we started looking for alternatives. Kingfisher Camp (signposted in red and white as “KFC”) was closer, so we started heading for that.

Shortly before dusk we came across two young German tourists who had a flat tyre. They’d purchased their second hand Land Rover Discovery in Brisbane (from a Dutch used car salesman, who clearly saw them coming), and two days later the left rear wheel fell off. Naturally they’d lost the wheel nuts, and they’d also managed to damage the alloy wheel, which in turn flattened the tyre. The spare wheel was held on to the back door of the car with random nuts, which didn’t match the rest for size, and weren’t even wheel nuts at all. They’d somehow fitted the spare and had continued on their way.

When we found them, the spare had blown out, and they had no other spare and no way of getting the wheel off. Andy, mobile mechanic and good samaritan that he is, got the tyre off the original wheel and repaired the damaged rim, then added a tube and inflated it. He had a shifter large enough to get the odd nuts off, so he got the tourists to remove the wheel, and take one nut each from the other wheels to use on that corner instead.

By the time all that was done, it was all but dark. We made camp on the side of the road, and invited the tourists (Manual and Philip) to join us. Marco chatted to them in German for a while, and one of them picked up Andy’s guitar.

After tea, we talked about the plans for tomorrow. We still have some distance to cover to Adele’s Grove, and the roads today have shown us that we can’t rely on an average speed much over 65km/h. We’ve decided we’ll get up at first light and break camp, and try to make it to Adele’s Grove (well, Lawn Hill, technically) as early as we can. If the roads are bad and we’re making poor time, one car will skip the canoe trip up the gorge and press on to Mt Isa. If the roads are good, we can decide on the spot whether we all stay and paddle.

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