With another whole peninsular stretching out from where we were camped, we decided to leave camp set up again and head off out the Useless Loop Road. The road quickly degrades into rough corrugated dirt but we pushed on. We made it out to False Entrance Blowholes which were not spraying water but made the most eerie, deep, hissing or howling noise as the air from the swell was forced up through. One of Cammy’s paper planes was sacrificed down the blowhole to see the force of the air – some would call it littering but we saw it as important scientific research. It was fun to see the paper blown up out of the hole.
We wound our way down onto False Entrance beach which is pretty spectacular. We parked on the beach, the boys hit the sandcastle building Josh had a fish and Aim went wandering, beach-combing and even picked up some litter. Very nice place to spend a few hours.
Josh was keen to attempt the track to Steep Point which is the most westerly point of the Australian mainland. Reluctantly the rest of the family agreed and we headed off. The road was terrible and we let air out of the tyres to try and soften the ride. After seeing only three cars all day, we got to an intersection where a traffic jam had formed – one ute and two Prados each towing pop-top campers. A lady from one of the Prados informed us that their friends – in another Prado with a camper trailer – had got bogged and another car behind them was stuck up the first sand dune. We asked if we could assist but over the radio the bogged people stubbornly declined any help. Another car arrived behind us and they found out that the track was blocked with no idea of when the stuck people would become unstuck.
To cut a long story short, it was over 90 minutes that we waited before the bogged Prado made it back to “base camp”. By that stage all the waiting people knew each others life stories, where each had come from, where each were going, lollies were shared between vehicles and people were weighing up whether they were going to continue with their attempt to Steep Point or abandon the operation. We flipped and flopped uncertain of whether it was getting too late in the day. The three Prados gave up – not just abandoning Steep Point but also their camping bookings for Dirk Hartog Island which they were planning to access by barge. The first ute was almost turned around headed for home when they made a snap decision to give it a go. Three cars came out of the track and the quiet little intersection in the middle of nowhere was a hustling, bustling little place. The road condition reports from the people varied widely and when one person said it was the worst he’d seen the track in 40 years of coming here…..we said our farewells and turned for the “walk of shame” back to camp….failed. As we started driving away, we felt about 60 eyes staring at us, we could hear people questioning “are they giving up?!?” there was even heckling from the back row and finally under intense pressure from the crowd we – yet again – turned the car around and pointed the bonnet westward. The heckling turned to encouragement and comments like “you’ll do it easily in your rig” gave us slight confidence. That confidence got us through the first 300 metres of the first big, steep sand dune until we caught up with Matt who was the car that had arrived behind us. We’d let them go through as they had a campsite booked so there was no turning back for them. That however, didn’t mean they weren’t going to get stuck. So we lost any momentum and stopped a fair way back while they let more air out of their tyres. The deep corrugations – like real deep, mini-sand dune type corrugations – bounced the cars up in the air making the concept of four-wheel drive irrelevant as there was only one or two wheels in contact with the ground at any point in time! Sensing we might be battling this track together Josh went up the hill and selected a UHF channel with Matt so we could keep in touch – the big benefit being we could get news on what lay ahead. Matt got going and called up saying they were through the first sand dune and going ok. We got going up the hill but the same corrugations got us and we were stopped with no traction and wheels digging deeper into the sand. No option but to reverse and try again. Eventually we got the much needed momentum and got over the dune. After that section we got through the rest slowly, carefully but successfully. It was getting late in the day though and we had the challenge of getting out to Steep Point and then doing a massive return trip to our camp. The camping areas out at Shelter Bay are beautiful – right on the calm, turquoise water – full up today being school holidays – three camps were vacant being the three Prados that were finding alternative accommodation.
Finally we made it out to Steep Point. A bit of an adventure is an understatement – not an essential destination when travelling Aus but we’d have been disappointed if we hadn’t have reached the end. We switched drivers and turned for the return drive. It was going to be a late night but we were confident that we could get out. We made it back to the quiet, isolated intersection passing three cars which we weren’t confident were going to make it far in being twilight already and one car had it’s bonnet up. We stopped, checked they were ok, told them it was going to be rough but then drove on wondering if they were going to get anywhere.
Back at camp we cooked up some tucker, slugged a few celebratory beverages and crashed big time. Not a star was gazed at.