Rachel had scored Friday off, and by the time we had squared everything away, with beagles looking a little worried because they knew something was up, it was time for an early lunch and a bit over a 2 hour drive. Darwin was still under a cyclone watch, but we were confident we would be out of the windy zone, but not necessarily the rainy zone!
Lesson #1: When the road you wish to take has "road closed" signs blocking your way - heed the directions and don't say "Nah, she'll be right!" All was good for about 5km until we saw up ahead a very chopped up bit of road that had been seriously undermined. Paul hit the anchors and we skidded to a stop, creating a bow wave of gravel and bitumen. He checked it out a bit further and decided the verge was even worse, and did a 7 point turn to head back the way we came. Not really clever on both our parts, when the detour was only a few kilometres away!
We then came up against about a 500m stretch of road covered in floodwater. Paul did a recce, and determined that it wasn't too swiftly moving, and a pretty constant 0.4m depth. We ploughed on through with no issue to either the car or the trailer, and got some good video of the experience.
Arriving mid-afternoon, we discovered the park has well over 50 powered sites and numerous unpowered sites as well, and we were just the third set of visitors. Where we camped last year closer to the Douglas River would have easily been about 6 feet under water.
Lesson #2: When choosing a site to set up camp when rain is imminent, go for the sand and gravel site rather than lush grass. Sand and gravel is more likely to allow the all night rain to drain away, instead of requiring you to make breakfast in ankle deep slop.
We settled in to the sound of steady soaking rain with a couple of Heinies and Wild Turkey and coke, after grabbing a bag of ice from the park's pub. The camper's inaugural meal was a couple of good scotch fillet steaks cooked on the new camp cookware. Delish!
Lesson #3: When taking the boys for a walk to get a bag of ice, and you get chatting to the proprietor, take notice of what contraband Indy might be eating. It might mean that in the middle of the night he gets the urge to christen the camper in his own special way by chucking up his stomach contents. On the bed. Under the sheets. And on the floor matting in two places. Sigh.
With such a disrupted night's sleep, the stead soaking of rain ALL night, the niggling worry that the camper MIGHT leak (only a couple of dribbles along a seam or zip), and a very grey morning, we slept in until 9.30 on Saturday morning! The freshly made Aeropress coffee hit the spot, and we had bacon, egg and cheese wraps for brunch.
With a lull in the rain, we decided to head out for a drive down to Oolloo Crossing, finding quite a slushy road and some water crossings as well. Whilst enjoyable, and going down a road we hadn't previously been on, in the scheme of things it may not have been worth the two hour clean up of thick sticky red mud once we got home.
We got back to camp in time for beer o'clock, and preparations for a beef stroganoff and smashed taties. This was accompanied by a superb 2008 St Hallett Shiraz Cabernet - highly recommended for one's second night in your Aussie Swag camper.
Lesson #4: Don't drink and dry up. Or at least attempt to do it more carefully. There is the possibility someone might accidentally slice their thumb with the peeler. The upside is it doesn't hurt as much - then. The downside is it doesn't get you out of doing the rest of the drying up.
We had a good night's sleep with less rain, and awoke Sunday morning to - shock, horror - a bit of blue sky! After breakfast came the dreary task of packing up - the canvas was mostly dry, but certainly not fully dry. As we had all the awnings up, pack up time was about 1 hour 45 mins, also trying not to bring half of the park's mud with us. This time will come down with more practice.
We got away just before midday and headed home, stopping in at Adelaide River for lunch and a leg stretch and got home about 4pm to start unpacking, washing the car and trailer. The down sides to every trip, but this was a great shakedown to the next instalment just a couple of weeks away - all the way to Alice Springs and out to Finke National Park!