Week Eight . (Sunday 25 August to Sunday 01 September Continued)
We leave Katherine and head west for the next stretch. We sprint in XQU for the border. The weather is so dry and hot that XQU needs to be carefully monitored, as the engine oil temperature can easily climb beyond 130 degrees in a few minutes. After a long day of driving, we stay near the Pinkerton Range on the Victoria HWY. We setup camp, burn a fantastic fire, cook fresh mangrove jack and cool down with a few beers (and simulate cigarette smoking with some newly acquired "fads"). We are living the dream of being true outback Aussies now. Next morning, we photograph fo fo's collection of sticks, seeds, shells etc, as we fear the WA border quarantine will confiscate them. We eat everything in the Kombi for breakfast, cooking some eight onions and eating all the avocados. hmmm.
We approach the quarantine station, pass our checkpoint exam, show our stuff, lose our cheap honey, acquire an information sheet on the honey situation in WA. I morn someone elses loss of very very expensive NZ manuka honey and take a tribute photograph. It belonged to a person called Tom. We depart for Lake Argyle for a much needed swim and then call in to Kununurra for a 4 week National Park pass, some food, petrol etc (and another swim). XQU develops this habbit of suddenly stopping. It is erratic. Luckily our remote starter switch seems to be getting us out of trouble. I call some help on the phone and spend a few minutes poking about the engine looking for things like starter motors and solenoids, but to not much luck. (as it turns out, all these invisible things are located under the vehicle and out of sight).
We travel on through some spectacular scenery, with a some of Australias finest escarpment on offer. We are now in the Kimberley country. Keeping an eye on XQU's temperature all throughout our trip now. We stop every few hours for an engine cool down. XQU becomes a bit sluggish and i become suspect and envisage a breakdown any moment now. I can smell strange smells and i'm sure it is not the road side fires that pepper the HWY. As the evening draws to a close, XQU suddenly splutters to a stop and thats that. Oh no, not again! However this time, the engine keeps turning over even with the key out of the ignition. Confused and slightly panicked, we try everything to stop the motor. Not thinking clearly, we forget the obvious: stall the motor by dropping into gear. Fumes and smoke appear and we fear the worst. We ready the fire extinguisher and wonder is this really the end now? XQU finally stops, turning herself off and things go very quiet. Some Aboriginal people drive past and offer to get us some help from the nearest town, Turkey Creek. About a quarter of an hour later, the road workers who we passed earlier stop next to us. It was a huge spectactle with flashing lights and sunburnt men running about with screw drivers and spanners. We offer beer for their trouble. Some time later we figure out the problem as fuel pump related and get towed to Turkey Creek with a snag cable, travelling at the very brisk speed of 90km/hr. That had to be the most scary thing for me, travelling that fast, barely two metres behind a large vehicle on a dark country road with bright flashing lights to blind you.
We arrive at Turkey Creek, more annoyed than anything. Tired, fo fo cooks dinner as i crawl under the car looking for the problem. I discover that our main power cable is severed which would explain the igniton key failure and fuel pump not getting any power to run. The mechanic, Chook, actually went out looking for us. Eventually we caught up and i explained the problem and we booked ourselve in for more repairs.
Next morining, we get a gentler tow in daylight to an Aboriginal community and put XQU up on the hoist and repair the problem. Ah, simple, just rewire the kombi. Again we head off, this time with the intention of getting out of the outback before more problems develop. We need some ocean breezes and water to swim in. Everytime we stop now, XQU needs a push start. This amuses fo fo no end now. I am beginning to develop lower back muscles with my dark tan. I Haven't shaved for seven days and i feel slightly 'rugged'. We roll into Halls Creek, then Fitzroy Crossing. We decide to do a night drive to keep XQU cooler. We eventually stop the night next to a mammoth Boab tree and fall asunder. I remember having an orange, a carrot and an iced coffee whilst doing that drive. Next morning, and another push start, we make great speed for Broome.
We reward ourselves with a giant swim in the Indian Ocean, in Broome, at Cable Beach. The water is cool, acquamarine, the sky has a cloud front out to sea and the sand is white. Wow. After travelling in the outback for a few weeks, you forget such beautiful things like a surf beach. Yes, no coral reef to stop the waves. We spend the next few days in Broome recovering. We hop about town, push starting XQU every time we stop. We drive along cable beach, and cook fantastic dinners with fresh curry and kaffa lime leaves. I think i will live in Broome sometime. We are booked into a mechanic to fix our starter solenoid and head for the open air cinema to see spider-man. This is the life.
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