The beginning of the real 4WD experience – The Old Telegraph Line

Early the next morning we shove off at 8am. It was going to be a long, slow day full of the unknown and sometimes exciting challenges ahead of us. Basically the Old Telegraph Line (OTL) commences near here at the Bramwell Roadhouse (Camps 6: 929).

The first crossing is a bugger of one. Palm Creek. It is very steep and rocky descent to the shallow creek and has a slippery clay steep exit. After walking the track and assessing the approach with debates back & forth, 4 cars out of our team, 3 of them with trailers, go across. We watch Dave, Ian, Allan and Wes plus Glen a new friend who assisted us and joined us with his family as far as Jardine River. These guys managed to get through with a little assistance mainly a snatch rope and tow with the exit and then continued on.
We decided that Palm Creek was too difficult for us to do and so along with John, Nick & Terry, we decided to take the chicken run and bypass this crossing and the next few and rejoin them at Dulhunty Crossing for lunch.
It wasn’t too long before we were back on the OTL heading a little way south for our rendezvous. Rather than repeat almost the same words , here I quote a fellow team member, Brenda, from her blog ‘greatadventuresinoz’ “Actually it was a nice sandy drive through low heathland with wattle and orange grevilleas in flower and saw pitcher plants. (like Venus Fly Traps) All safely crossed Bertie Creek negotiating the deep holes in the rock ledge. Met up with the others at Delhunty for lunch and to hear of their adventures crossing Ducie with Allen and Darinka partially rolling over on an uneven creek exit. After a look at the creek and the small falls we continued on to our next challenge with another family joining our group. Glynis, Glen and their two chilldren where in the vehicle that we saw tackle Palm Creek and had helped in the recovery of Allen and Darinka.”

Dave and Glen working on the Palm Creek crossing

After hearing of some of the mishaps especially Allan rolling onto his side, we are glad we didn’t risk doing the earlier crossings. There we decided we would continue with the team and do the rest of the OTL. It was an opportunity that we probably never get again and we would have plenty of helpers if we got into a tight spot. So we said a prayer ourselves and started on the rest of the journey with the rest of the team. Several more smaller but still rough crossings were to be had before we arrived at the infamous ‘Gunshot’ . I like Brenda’s description of some of the tracks looking like quarries - a pretty apt description. The worst approach is almost vertical and is a challenge only for the brave (or is it foolhardy?). Again I quote from Brenda’s blog. “There was two main possibilities for us, one of which had very smelly mud which would not have been to pleasant to get stuck in. Our choice was a steepish track about 12 metres down then through a creek and up a slippery clay exit with deep wheel ruts. To cut a long story short with all made it through but a couple of snatches necessary. Allan and Darinka did a repeat performance of a near roll over for those who missed it the first time.”

Attacking Palm Creek crossing
After all the drama and excitement of Gunshot, we eventually move on to Cockatoo Creek. It is a reasonably fast flowing creek with a rough, uneven rocky bottom with some hidden deep holes. We used some of the team members as ‘markers’ for the deep holes etc. And with their guidance all managed to cross to the northern side of the creek to set up camp. Surprisingly there is a big covered picnic shelter and toilets, which one of the members had been informed at an earlier creek crossing. We decided to make camp here. We made good use of the shelter for our happy hour, sharing the space with a guy cycling his way up to the tip. He was basically riding from New Zealand!!! The mozzies were bad especially first thing in the morning here, but it seems the others didn’t have as much problem with them.

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