Monday, May 17, 2010

I survived Wolf Creek!

Ladies and gentlemen, I survived Wolf Creek!! (But cheekily, I left it an extra day before telling you, just to see if you'd worry. Did you?)

In actual fact, there was plenty to worry about, too. I mean, not scary serial killers from the outback - though we did end up having to camp with 15-odd "naturalists" from Perth, which was certainly scary enough, especially when they made us join in with their sing-a-long - but there was plenty else.

For starters, it rained. Not sprinkled, as you might get the occasional bit of rain during the dry season. No, it poured. For 48 hours straight.

This is unusual. Apparently they've only had rain like that in May twice during the last 20 years (so said the local expert at the service station.). And of course it had to be the weekend I finally managed to get to Wolf Creek Crater, which I have wanted to see for years, and of course it had to be the weekend we planned to camp there, OUTSIDE, and of course it had to be the weekend we wanted to project the movie onto a big screen under the stars and scare ourselves silly. Of course!

So that put a ... dampener (ha ha, oh my aching sides) on the plans, you could say. And in the Wolf Creek movie, it is raining unexpectedly too, all the characters comment on how strange that is ... and how menacing .... Coincidence? I think not.

It started on Saturday, when the four of us piled into two four wheel drives in Halls Creek - Snatch and the Mother Hen in one vehicle, Dave and I in the other. The woman at the motel desk warned us the roads would be impassable, that the police would close them down, that we wouldn't be able to drive them.

Did we listen? NO! We were going to see the crater, dammit, and this was our only opportunity!

So we headed off down the Tanami Track, which is technically called a "road" but in practical terms is more of a "disaster". I don't know if you've ever driven the roads in the top end, but generally they aren't sealed, and they're heavily corrugated, so driving over them is a bit like being jounced up and down on an incredibly uncomfortable, bumpy bit of concrete scattered with fist-sized rocks and brick-deep troughs. Go too fast and you'll burst a tyre. Go too slow and you'll judder yourself to death. Fun!

We got to the Wolf Creek crater turnoff after about an hour and a half of fun, and it started raining harder.

On investigating the large, tin abandoned station at Carranya, we discovered 15 naturalists from Perth who were also taking cover from the rain (and were much excited by a flock of woodswallows flying in).

They assured us we couldn't get to the crater in this weather, so after much consultation we decided to go on to Billiluna, the Mindibungu community about 40km south, to get a weather report about the condition of the creeks and roads, as there are a few water crossings to contend with, and in wet weather they can get pretty nasty pretty quickly, especially when novice drivers are concerned.

The Tanami had turned into foot-deep mud by this time, which meant our cars were sliding all over the road, and it would be fair to say that my knuckles turned white on occasion. Conversation kept flowing however, and Dave and I enjoyed poking a bit of light-hearted fun at the Gen-Ys in the car ahead (we are both Gen-X, you see) and the determination to stick to plan.

Down at Billiluna the town seemed deserted. Only 220 people live in it, and most of them were occupied that day with sorry business, due to recent deaths in Mulan down the road. After a brief stop (where I confess I locked all the doors in the car, just to be safe, because it seemed freakishly quiet) we continued on down the Canning Stock Route to Lake Stretch.

Slidey goat track adventure! We're having an adventure, we're having an adventure - that was the mantra for Dave and I as we mushed about through the water and foot-deep mud. Worried? Not us, no.

We headed back to the abandoned station after a quick bite to eat at Lake Stretch (where we saw a spoonbill, which was pretty cool) and it took us over an hour to drive the 40 kilometres as we slid left, right and centre over the mud swamp formerly known as the Tanami. Now I understand why some communities get totally cut off during the wet season.

Here is a picture from inside the vehicle as we plowed through the rain and mud. That's the windscreen wiper trying to clear it off.

Back at the station we wedged ourselves in beside the naturalists and enjoyed a quick, hot dinner. Yum!

It was freezing though, and I one point I had on every single piece of clothing I had with me - which included my harem pants underneath my shorts, for extra warmth. I thought longingly of the khakis and snuggly jacket hanging securely in my cupboard in Kununurra, which of course I didn't pack, because of course I wouldn't need them in Wolf Creek, where it never rains and is rarely cold. Sigh.

Then Wolf Creek on dvd in the car - not as much fun or as scary as the big screen, but then, wet and cold beggars can't be choosers - and then it was time for bed in the swag. Wearing all my clothes, including a pair of Dave's socks, because I hadn't brought any with me, because of course it doesn't rain at Wolf Creek and is rarely cold .... etc ....

It was a pretty thunderous night - between the apocalyptic snoring of the senior naturalists, and the rain drumming heavily on the metal roof, I managed to snatch only a few hours of sleep.

And before we knew it, it was morning. The rain eased off a bit. Would this be our opportunity to see the crater after all?

(to be continued ....)


Dave said...

Great blog...very funny - it made me laugh almost as much as you did in the massage chair!
I like it ending at D-Day: Will we make it to Wolfe Creek Crater after the torrential rain or would we fail our primary mission after getting oh so close (but having driven much further!)? And what repercussions would there be if we failed...!!!

Screamstress said...

Sounds like psycho killers on the loose may have been preferable ha ha!

CurlyPops said...

Thank goodness you made it back ALIVE!

Margaret @ Konstant Kaos said...

I've sent on this post to my inlaws who regularly trek to wolf creek to look for meteorites! Glad to hear that it was an adventure and that you are safe and sound.