Day 18 started off with mixed results but ended in disaster. We packed up and started along the beach thinking that would be a better drive, than the narrow track we had driven in on.
Within 20 metres we were stuck and had to air down - while Ivan had been fine on 30psi the night before, with a full load, it was going nowhere - we dropped down to 18psi, and cruised out without any further problems - we saw a dolphin at very close quarters which the boys loved.
Steve and Sandy had opted not to come on the beach (once Ian advised that we shouldn't have been there, and that fines could be incurred - we hadn't seen that sign, so weren't aware).
Rutman and Ivan continued on to the Jardine Ferry where we had morning tea, before being met by Steve and Ian - Ian was bypassing the Old Telegraph Track and going via the Development Road to Sam Creek, but Steve, Ivan and Rutman were dead keen to do it all again.
We heard Craig on the radio, who was doing the same as Ian and meeting us at Sam Creek - they had stayed at Punsand Bay last night after their fishing charter.
We started off by looking at the old Jardine Crossing - still useable, but very dangerous - the problem being that it is far too wide to see the bottom all the way, and far too dangerous to walk it.
If you had a boat to check the route, it might be doable - but certainly not a part of our plans.
We turned back and found Nolan Brook - quite a deep crossing which we needed to put blinds on for. This was our second time across, as we had done it on the way up the OTL as well.
Steve and Rutman made it across without issue, as did Ivan, until he tried to get over the ledge which was forming on the exit point. The vehicle got most of the way up, but just couldn't pull the heavy back up onto the top - he tried three times, and on the third time, the front wheels lost traction, spun and then gained it again - with a clunk.
This turned out to be the 'front diff', which far too many 100 series owners have experienced. We tried to get Richie from Hume Offroad on the line, which we did from time to time - but when we got to the point where we really needed advice, the skies clouded in, and heavy rains followed. We also thought we had a transfer case problem, as even with the Centre Diff Lock engaged, there was still only forward movement in Low Range - nothing in High.. We decided that Steve and Rene needed to continue on to let Ian and Craig know that all was well (figuratively speaking). Ivan's options were to continue south with only low range and an unknown transfer case problem (in addition to the known front diff failure), or retreat back to Bamaga where there was a quality repair facility. We opted for Bamaga, and Steve and Sandy to tow Ivan back to the Jardine Ferry, where he could ring for help the next morning.
(It turns out that we were the third vehicle to be towed from Nolan Brook that week - and when speaking to the NRMA and told her it was the front diff, she said "don't tell me - 100 Series Land Cruiser"....)
We put the front shaft back in the car to drive over the river - Steve on the other side, ready with a strap if it was required. Once the other side, both tail shafts were removed and strapped to the roof - absolutely filthy from the rain, dirt and sand, a scrub in the river was required before getting into the car again!
Steve did a great job towing Ivan back along the access track to the Development Road, and then the 24 km back to the Jardine River ferry. Here we set up our tent under a shelter and lit a fire using wood left from our last visit to dry all of our mattresses, wet on the outside from the driving rain as we made our way back to camp.
Steve and Sandy had a shower, and headed back to Eliot Falls just as Ian came into radio range (he had come up the road to see if he could help).
The repair timeline for the diff repair is here..
Craig's version of events - Day 18
Meanwhile, Craig & Jo had stayed up at Punsand Bay an extra day to do the fishing trip and left today, they travelled via the Northern approach to the old Jardine River crossing and went via the bypass road into Sam Creek.
The Everett's and Bennett's arrived at Sam Creek early and set up camp and waited for the rest of the crew to arrive. Jordan and Tim had a great time spending a couple of hours in Sam Creek. Later on we all went over to Eliot Falls so the adults could cool off some, it was on the way back from here that Craig & Jo were contacted by Steve Rutter by UHF and told them the bad news about Ivan. The Bennett's left straight from Eliot Falls and head up the main road to see if they could assist, the Rutter's had met the Everett's at Sam Creek and decided to go as well leaving the Everett's to hold the fort alone.
Ian and Helen arrived back to the camp some hours later with S&S and the Rutter's deciding to camp up at Eliot Falls instead of Sam Creek.
Ian's version of events - Day 18
The morning saw me casting a fly at disturbances in the water and this morning was the best I had experienced thus far. I did manage to land a 20cm trevally and as is my luck when it comes to fishing, no one was there to see it. More crucially for me, no one to take a photo to prove the catch so this tale is destined for fishing folklore. A number of hook ups and even more strikes saw me fishing way later than normal. By the time I had had enough and returned to our camp site, Helen had packed up leaving me to load the roof rack; always said I was a slow learner!!
We left Seisa at 1000hr and after checking out the northern crossing of the Jardine river, we headed down the Bamaga Rd leaving the Sanders, Gundersons and Rutter/Robertson to do the OTL again. Destination was a site on Canal Creek (not Sam creek as previously reported), a nice spot just north of Elliot Falls on the OTL track we found on the way up. It had ample room for six tents plus a frame covered in corrugated iron, perfect for escaping the inclement weather.
We arrived at the camp site around 1230hr and it was raining. The plan was to pitch the tent (thus reserving the camp site), have lunch and then escape to Twin Falls to whittle away the hours whilst waiting for the OTL crew.
We were going to erect the tent close to the corro cover but given the weather, decided to pitch "uphill" and use the cover as a common area.
In between showers, we pitched our tent and had lunch under the cover of the corro frame. Not long after, the Everett clan arrived and pitched their tents near ours. Off to Twin Falls for an afternoon of relaxation, although the water seemed a lot colder this time around!!!
Around 1700hr, the Everetts headed back to camp whilst we elected to hang around and use the toilets as a change room given it was raining again. About 1730hr, we left the falls and radioed the Everetts to let them know we were on the way. Rutman answered to advise that he was less a 100 Series. He said Ivan had done a transfer case (stuck in low range) and thinking they would have headed back to the main road to head south and as we were closer to Bamaga Rd, Helen and I decided to head back up the Bamaga Rd to see if they needed a hand. Rutman advised he would go back up the OTL to Sam Creek in case Ivan decided to head there. The other good news was that whilst we were at the falls, another group decided to move in on our site and over took our corro covered common area; how rude!!!
We travelled up the Bamaga Rd looking for the Sanders and the Gundersons, anticipating they would be heading south VERY slowly (in low range, continually calling on the radio at regular intervals. When we reached the OTL entry around 1830hr and hadn't come across them, nasty thoughts started to cross our minds. Whilst waiting at the intersection to decide our next move, Ivan responded to our calls.
He advised that he had blown his front diff and the Gundersons had towed him back to Jardine River, where they would spend the night and ring the NRMA from there tomorrow. At least they would be comfortable with hot showers. The Gundersons were going to head south to rejoin the group.
We said we would continue to head north until we found the Gundersons so they would have company for the trip back to Elliot Falls. We found them around 1845hr about 12Kms from Jardine River. We came across Steve and Rene at the second entry to the OTL and all headed for Elliot Falls.
Given our uninvited guests at the camp site, the Steves, Sandy and Rene decided to stay in the Elliots Falls camp ground which would also allow them to do the falls swim the next morning. We parted company around 2000hr and returned to our camp site where Jo had some soup ready for us; very welcome given we hadn't had dinner yet!!
The day ended with a few drinks under the Everett's awning, sheltering from the rain.
A nice shot of a bird in flight!
Our morning camp overlooking the Jardine River
"Camp Gunderson" - Muttee Head
"Camp Everett" - Punsand Bay
Airing down - what we did fine
yesterday, needing lower pressures with a full load today..
Steve and Sandy on the way over the Jardine Ferry - Ivan and Rutman already there
Steve in some sand checking out
the south approach to the old river crossing
This is the old crossing - not terribly deep (probably a metre) - but you wouldn't know where there was a hole - until you were in it... And you definitely wouldn't be walking this one first!
A zoom in of the exit point - see the lilies - gotta be croc country!
Steve G took a wrong turn and ended up stuck - Rutman to the rescue!
Steve G doing Nolan Brook, North to South
Ivan on his way through - the last water crossing for a while...
This is a message we didn't need to be true..
Lea and boys ponder where they
might or might not get to tonight
Ivan on the satellite phone to
Richie - or at least trying to talk to him!
The end result..