Day 26 Hell’s Gate to King Ash Bay
I don’t feel I did Hell’s Gate justice in my previous post, the place really is an oasis and the owners are implementing improvements as they can. My day started with a nice hot shower. For us it was great being able to choose our spot, there was plenty of space for everyone. I also liked the quirky signs etc around the place, it adds a bit of fun.
We knew we would be travelling on mostly dirt road today and after listening to the current “Most Spectacular Beard Owner” we thought we’d camp at one of the riverside areas he mentioned only about 170kms from Hell’s Gate. That didn’t work out. By the time we’d travelled 90 kms I felt I needed to keep my jaw clamped shut so my fillings didn’t shake out. We passed two graders working on the road but even as we were able to drive on a section they’d passed it was still terrible. Later we came across another grader and when Alex asked on the UHF if we could come through he said just come on the left. I didn’t think he gave us much room but the road did seem a bit better where he’d been.
The corrugations were the worst we’ve ever driven over for such a long stretch and we hoped we could take a break and camp at the Calvert River. Although there was a little creek tinkling past the camping spots there was no view and no river access. Another couple with a caravan pulled in, they’d come from the opposite direction and were hoping the worst of the road was behind them. We know now it wasn’t! They told us about the King Ash Bay Campground which is owned by an Angling Club, 22kms beyond Borroloola which is where we thought we’d stop.
After that short interlude we continued on. You could almost tell the type of road surface coming up by the change in vegetation, some trees seemed to grow where there was white rocky ground. Different grasses and trees were where the dirt was red and the corrugations particularly bad.
When the second suggested camp area appeared near the Robinson River it wasn’t appealing at all. One person had squeezed his rig off the road into a spot right beside the river but the other possibilities were all high above the river which couldn’t even be seen. We juddered on.
We were surprised by the hills, I don’t recall ever seeing hills marked on a map of the area and we’ve never been on the Savannah Way this far north west. I’d hoped that when we crossed into NT the road might improve but it didn’t. At one stage we heard a conversation between two lots of caravanners, a plaintive voice asking, “Do you think this road’s been graded, Reg?” Maybe he was hoping to come across a grader and from then on have a smooth ride.
When we reached Borroloola there wasn’t anything that made us want to stay so we followed the recommendation we’d been given and came along to King Ash Bay. Now we’re in recovery mode! Even Fergus took a while to perk up after his seven hour marathon on the back seat and all the vibrations caused two unopened cans of Ginger Beer to leak in the fridge. Thank goodness that’s the end of rough roads for a while!