Thelma and Louise

The sands of Bradenburg

Our mate Corolla has had a rough trot the last couple of days. She’s soldiering on (see picture below of her waiting patiently whilst Mum and I collect firewood).

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The country after Ilfracombe is bleak. Remember how I said that people were selling stock for cheap out here? Well we tuned into rural radio and, city slicker that I am, I had that all wrong. The price of cattle out here is through the roof, simply because no one has any left. Farmers have been de-stocking for years, and boy does it show. For hundreds and hundreds of kms we were driving through the flattest, most desolate and over grazed land I’ve ever seen. Occasionally we saw a mob of Brahmin or Herefords kicking up dust in the distance, but more often we saw them dead on the side of the road.

So Bradenburg National Park was practically an oasis in comparison. The park is just out of Winton, and is a continuation of the red barren-ness, except that it’s been a declared NP since 1993, so has had time to rejuvenate and grow some shrubbery. We sought out the designated camping area in the park, which was next to the only stretch of the Bradenburg river that had any water in it.

The nights had been getting colder, and there was no fire ban, so we decided to drive back outside the park and collect some wood for a fire (please note, not the same time as the photo above). The park is surrounded by farmland, and the boundary fence was only a few ks down the road.

So we cross Surprise Creek, which – surprise! – has no water in it, and drive out over the cattle grid to a patch of red dirt that has a bunch of dying trees. In fact, patches like this were abundant, so it was more like an eenie meenie mynie mo thing.

Classic Mum gets really into it – she’s kicking stumps out of the ground, dragging mammoth logs to old mate Corolla, who’s boot doesn’t close because she’s got half of Bradenburg NP’s river gums sticking out her backside. I’m helping a little bit, but mainly being annoying with the iPad, taking photos and commentating on Mum’s bush antics.

I’m not blaming this little hiccup on Mum, no sir. But, she spotted a particularly good looking dead tree off some side track and fanged old mate Corolla down there to get it.

I think she was having so much fun ferreting around in red dirt that she forgot we were in a 2WD hatchback that’s about a foot off the ground. So we get bogged in this soft, dry sand. It doesn’t look too bad; we haven’t sunk, we’re just not moving. Again, I’m just being annoying with the iPad – see below Mum’s “fuck, we’re bogged” face.

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We shove some sticks under the wheels, I give her a push, and away she goes! Problem is, the passenger side door is still open (as is the boot, remember), and I’m now outside the car, watching mum scream away in a cloud of dust. She’s too scared to stop or slow down, because she’s now completely off road, searching for the actual road (which wasn’t much of a road to begin with). So she’s driving, leaning out the window, screaming back at me to point to where the road is because she can’t see it. I’ve got no idea what the hell’s going on because I can’t really see or hear her through the dust. So she slows down. And gets bogged. Really bogged. Like, front wheels buried to the hub caps type of bogged.

I ditch the iPad, as this requires all hands on deck. Mum and I yell strong words at no one in particular. We try the stick method. We try moving the sand a bit around the wheel. Eventually we realise the front wheels are stymied, so the only way out is backwards. Mum puts old mate Corolla in reverse, and I push until I face plant onto the bonnet. But she moves! And reverses us out of there, back to the glorious hard river bed and our swags.

We were so stoked with the outcome of the afternoon we took a selfie on the riverbed at Surprise Creek:

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Mum made an inspired campfire dinner on top of our killer flames, borne from our hard-earned wood pile. We then followed it with some organic chai tea from the himalaya, sweetened with delicious Byron Bay honey. Such is life.

For such an incredibly harsh landscape, we saw as much wildlife in Bradenburg NP as we did in Carnarvon National Park. So many eagles, and hawks. And huge flocks of pink gallahs. I haven’t seen a Red Kangaroo in yonks and I was struck by how huge they are. Some of the bucks we saw would have easily been 5 ft 8/9 standing, and they were everywhere!

Poor Corolla doesn’t have much to say about red roos… Yesterday we accidentally drove over the top of a massive roadkill and had to hose old mate Corolla’s belly off, as she was wearing half of it.

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