Borroloola saw the end of our dream to conquer the Savannah Way through the gulf country to Queensland. Continuing was not possible due to heavy rainfall. Nathan River Road was exciting for its mud sliding and near boggings but further east around the Queensland border the creeks were too deep and fast flowing to pass. It was expected – we knew that tackling Savannah Way at the start of the wet season was always going to be touch and go. A week earlier and we would have made it.
Don’t worry, the wrath of the rain gods was offset by the generosity of the barra gods. I landed myself a record breaking 76cm barramundi in the McArthur River at Borroloola. Caught him on a soft plastic lure late in the afternoon. I’m super satisfied at this stroke of luck. Unable to complete the Savannah Way meant after Borroloola we had to head south towards central Queensland to catch the bitumen, leaving barra country and any chance of catching more barra. So it was my last chance which made landing the barra all the more sweeter.
On the way to Borroloola we stopped off at Cape Crawford and the Heartbreak Hotel. This is some pretty remote country so the hotel is a welcome stop. We got there around lunch time and the hotel was closed until evening. We would have loved to grab a beer at Heartbreak Hotel but didn’t want to wait around 6 hours. Instead we hit up a steak sandwich at the restaurant. We also caught a glimpse of a frilled neck lizard. He didn’t want to display his frill for the camera but we still got a couple of shots.
We checked out the fishing village at King Ash Bay, a few km from Borroloola. We were impressed – usually these fishing camps are strewn with debris, abandoned cars, sheet metal, etc. King Ash Bay was clean, neat and well maintained. It was here we discovered the second corrugation failure on this trip – the bonnet latch. It’s held by 3 bolts. One bolt was missing. I believe the missing bolt vibrated loose from corrugations. With only two bolts, the corrugations caused the latch to swing back and forth fatiguing the metal. A few million corrugations later and it sheered off the bolt mounts. The way we noticed the problem was very lucky. A chap had stopped on the side of the road and needed a jump start. We stopped to help. I pulled the hood lever but it didn’t pop. A bit of prodding and poking at the latch and we managed to free the bonnet. This was lucky – the bonnet becoming free at speed is a costly and dangerous situation. The solution to get us back onto the road – a bit of rope holding down the bonnet. Nothing like a dodgy bush mechanic fix on our fancy new hilux.