Mataranka and De Ja Vu!

Well we left Barkly Homestead around 9:30 am, stopping to refuel for the run through to Three-ways. Ouch the prices out here hurt! Cost me $130 for 63 litres of diesel!!! Just to add fuel to the fire (pardon the pun) they didn’t take fleet card either 🙁

The Homestead itself was nice though, an oasis in what is otherwise a barren land, but we had kilometres to travel and so had to hit the road. Jess was most impressed by the big bull that was wandering the park munching on the grass!

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As we left the roadhouse on our final stretch West, we slowly opened the throttle enjoying the great roads they have in the Northern Territory and the 130kph speed limit 🙂 Not sure if you can see in the picture below, but my car speedo is about 10kph out at this speed!

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Now I know that Mum will be having kittens by now given her comments of  “I don’t like you doing 110kph with the van…” on the phone the other night, but don’t worry Mum, we were perfectly fine. Besides, out here there are big open roads with little to no traffic and if you did run off the road, very few trees to hit!

I love the NT roads after the disgrace Queensland laid out for us.

Anyway, finally pulled into Three-ways to top up the tank again. There was a big sign on the pumps saying you must leave ID in the roadhouse before the pumps would work. As I approached the counter, the girl announced “Cash Only… machines broken”. No way I was paying another $130 for fuel myself this morning, so Mark and I judged where the next fuel was and if we could make it. Mark with his 180 litre Prado wouldn’t have an issue, but me with my 80L Pathfinder might struggle a little, so I added an extra 20L of diesel from the jerry can on the roof and we hit the road again.

The next roadhouse I think was called Jenna Springs but the place is so small I can’t even find it on the map to confirm! Topped up the fuel, and while it was at least a little cheaper (Only $125 for 62L), they didn’t take fleet card either, so once again I had to pick up the bill 🙁

We weren’t finding many nice shady parks in the outback for lunch, so we made some quick sandwiches in the 38 degree heat and hit the road North once more.

Unfortunately, our good run heading west didn’t continue as we turned North. A slight head wind meant there was no way I could even wind the Pathfinder and 2.5 tonne caravan up to 130kph. Mark and I winced as we watched the speed go down and the fuel consuption sky rocket! At Outback prices, we settled around 110-120kph because that was simply all we could do!

We pushed on for Mataranka, making good time and on schedule to arrive sometime between 4 and 5pm… or at least we were making good time until I got the call over the CB…

“It’s happening again…” said Mark.

“Umm… what’s happening again?” I replied.

“No power” came the response.

We pulled over the side of the road about 88kms from Mataranka in total dismay. Unbelievable, how could this be happening again??? Especially when we had driven well over 1000kms in the last two days!! With no other option, we added the 20L jerry can of clean fuel Mark had on the caravan and pushed on.

Managed to get another 30kms further up the road before it happened again. Mark went to open the fuel tank, but the pressure was incredible, spewing fuel from the cap. That shouldn’t be happening… we could hear the fuel bubbling away in the tank. Was a long slow process, but we finally managed to release the pressure, and Mark drove sedately up the highway before the car finally conked out, 21kms from Mataranka.

This was seeming like de ja vu! Taking Marks now empty Jerry can, I continued on to Mataranka for some more fuel. Booked into the Mataranka hot springs Caravan park, once again dumped Fiona, the kids and my van before heading back out on the highway.

Wow doesn’t the car fly when you don’t have a van!!! Straight up to 130kph and it wasn’t long before I had the Waldron’s in sight again. We fuelled up the Prado again with clean fuel, put their van on my car to reduce the load on the Prado and Kate and the kids jumped in my car to head into town.

I said to Kate “Really got to stop dumping my wife and family in a caravan park to pick you up on the side of the road you know… people will start talking!!!”

With clean fuel in the Prado, Mark limped into town as we headed for the caravan park. At least this place is a little more interesting than Cloncurray but don’t really want to be stuck here. There is a mechanic in town, although we might be better off trying the last 100 odd kms into Katherine where there is a Toyota Dealership. My bet, it is Vapour lock in the heat!

Anyway, for now I wouldn’t mind staying here another night. This place is fantastic!

As we were driving down the road to the caravan park, there were lots of what looked like baby kangaroos on the side of the road. Had to drive carefully as they tended to shoot across the road without warning! I almost squished one heading back in with the Waldron’s van!

As I was backing my van in to place, there were two of these baby kangaroos in my spot, and a magnificent peacock! The kids went wild trying to get photos on their iPods.

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Being on the edge of the National Park, this place is just teeming with wildlife. Mark and I took the kid for a spotlight nature walk and we inspected the hot springs. They look awesome and I can’t wait to take a dip later today. Might stick to the safe pool rather than the waterhole… we are in Croc country now after all!

As we were sitting around the van last night while the kids were in bed, two kangaroos kept coming right up to us… they were almost at arms reach but staying just far enough away you can’t pat them.

Anyway, looks like we might be stuck again. At least this time we broke down in an interesting place!!!

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5 Responses to Mataranka and De Ja Vu!

  1. jenny Macfarlane says:

    O no not again but Craig like your mum I worry about the speed you are driving at ?? Stay safe your all so precious to us Ian says stop and savor the historical markers and enjoy so glad your there to look after Mark? Lots of love Jenny and Ian xxxx

  2. Vicki. says:

    Wow what is going on! Obviously the beer currency wasn’t, enough. Hope you enjoy the thermal springs as last time I was there so were thousands of fruit bats so the place stunk. I hope Mark can get his vehicle fixed and back on the road soon without too much expense.at least the kids have some tame wild life to keep them amused. Lots of love Vicki.

  3. Maz and Mike says:

    Hi guys, this Mum worries about the speeds too with a van in tow and all our babies on board, big and little! By the time you get this, I hope your car is all sorted out without costing a fortune and bribery money. At least Mataranka looks a whole lot better than Cloncurry.
    Lots of love Maz and Mike xxxxxxx

  4. Jill says:

    Don’t forget to smell the “roses”along the way! I thought this was meant to be a relaxing holiday, not a race to see how many kms you can cover! Very sorry to hear about Mark’s car again. Maybe you should skip going north in favor of a more leisurely drive to the centre in view of the current situation and leave Darwin out. Please take it more gently! We need you back here safe and sound! Love Mum

  5. Mary says:

    Hi all sorry things are not going to plan. Hope mark gets his car on the road and compleatly fixed this time.Guess what on the menu at hotel newsome tomorrow nite.fresh dew fish caught today . Will be thinking of zac when we eat .love Mary & Rayxxxx

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