[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]Tackling the Tele’ in the wet… you’ve gotta’ be joking! [/blockquote]
Ya’ know, it’s probably most 4WDers dream to be able to just “pop” over to the Telegraph Track and go for a quick run, and let’s face it – if the prospect of getting to do the Tele track during the wet doesn’t get your heart rate up, you should probably go back to picking which sheep skin steering wheel cover you want for your Prius.
Now this year the wet has, well, been a bit of a wet blanket and barely shown up! So far it’s been a record dry wet for us up here in the Cape and with barely 200mm falling in January when we usually cop 500mm on average, and February being much the same we were faced with an unheard of concept, being able to drive the Tele Track in what is normally the bulk of the wet.
Now anyone who knows the Cape can tell you that big storms can roll up out of seemingly nowhere and turn those tranquil creeks into raging torrents that you’ll need a boat to negotiate. My good mate Chris’ favourite saying is “life’s all about choices”, and with the remnants of a cyclone still floating around the east coast we had a couple of careful life choices to make, as the potential to get stranded is pretty high this time of year. But after sitting down and wasting all our data on the BOM weather site and then ringing Bramwell Junction to get the low down on the weather over their way Chris and myself made the call to do a dash up the Telegraph Track.
As with most things, if it can go wrong it will, and our trips are definitely no exception. I had rang Kev at Bramwell Station and told him we would be at camp at 8pm. As it turned out we didn’t even leave Weipa until 8.30pm due to some work commitments getting in the way of us having a good time! Not to worry, it just adds to the adventure.
If there was ever a time I was glad to have decent lighting, this was the night, as the roads are proper destroyed from the small sporadic storms that we’ve had. Now I’m not talking your average potholes here, I’m talking potholes that will swallow a Sherman tank, and it’s a good thing we weren’t in a rush as in some places we were down to near walking pace!
As it turns out, Bramwell Junction now has Wi-Fi which gave us the perfect opportunity to do some last minute weather checking online just before setting off Saturday morning. With a general plan in place to do the whole track on Saturday and camp at Nolan’s Saturday arvo everyone was up early, grabbed a quick feed off Kev, let the tyres down and hit the track. It turned out that Bramwell had 40mm of rain on the Friday, which really showed. Before we even got to Palm Creek, the track was practically a river, and one of the small creeks that is normally a puddle was headlight deep!
With this getting the blood pumping we headed onto Palm. Now Palm Creek is one of the more notorious crossings of the track, with a very steep double step that is just itching to make your door sill the same shape as the Tasman Bridge and rock walls that will quite happily tear your mirrors off. Then it’s on into a sandy bottom creek, which seems innocent enough, until you look up the other side to the monster climb which is quiet gnarly once there’s a bit of water on the clay base.
Apparently I’m the group guinea pig, the vote being that Sid was to be sent first, and with the help of a spotter the drop into the creek was easy enough, and the side rails coming into play to fend off the rock walls. The climb out the other side proved to be a tad more challenging though. I’m not one to hit things like a bull at a gate, I like to get a feel for how the car is going to react before I go giving it a boot-full, so after a couple of practice runs crawling to see if I was going to collect any of the nasty walls, I gave Sid the beans and popped up out of there with the help of both lockers.
After paving the way we did the same with the rest of the vehicles with only the small utes having problems, with lack of articulation in the front seeing them not quiet scrabbling over the last crest. Not wanting to cause any damage the boys wisely cracked out their winches to get out.
After some high fives we headed on up the track which was showing just how odd the Cape can be, with some parts of the track being so dusty that it was windows up and AC on territory, and then other parts being quite wet from what seemed like strips of rain. The Dalhunty River was quite disappointing and barely a trickle, yet Bertie creek which is barely 2km away was flowing well and a proved to be a top spot for lunch. All very weird, but who are we to question Mother Nature, she supposedly knows what she’s up to.
Now I’m not one to be a pessimist, but I was a little dubious on how the smaller cars would go with Gunshot, as even the bypass tracks are now pretty off tap. But with a wealth of experience between us and plenty of recovery gear there was no way we were going to take the PDR bypass. With none of us in the group being actual panel beaters (putting dents in them doesn’t classify as being a panel beater apparently) we opted for the lesser of all evils and picked one of the mini gunshots which dropped into a winch-fest of a mud pit.
[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]Some of these potholes would swallow a Sherman Tank![/blockquote]
With Sid testing the grounds again, I nosed down into the mud gracefully (if you call sliding down the bank and ploughing nose first into the mud graceful) before stopping in the bottom in sidestep deep mud which gave the dominator yet another workout, having to winch Sid out almost 50m.
This trend continued for the next three 4WDs, with Alex by far making it sound the coolest with his VDJ, but still coming up short. As it turns out, once we winched the first four through, it cleared out a lot of silt and the rest of the guys drove it, even Westy in his Low-Lux!
With the sun well past its halfway point, this meant that beer o’clock was just around the corner, so it was time for us to cover some serious ground if we were to be at Nolan’s Brook before dark! So onto Cockatoo we headed. Cockatoo is usually a nice clear river and an easy crossing but with the water being a bit muddied up due to the rain it seemed a little deeper than usual, but after a careful depth check, it actually turned out to be shallower than usual!
[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]This is as nailbiting as the original Gunshot![/blockquote]
We hit the northern section of the track after passing through a couple of rain storms which had greased everything up and washed a bit of mud off the trucks. Canal was its usual tranquil self and there was no mistakes made at Mistake Creek with the drop into the beautiful crystal clear creek being uneventful but very picturesque.
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