Trip 8, day 1 – Red Dirt and Feral Cats

There’s something about heading north and hitting the red dirt. It’s red, it’s dirt, it stains and it’s bloody awesome! It’s been so long since we’ve seen the glorious stuff that is, “red dirt”. So after waiting patiently for this time to arrive, Tones and I packed the van, loaded the beer and headed north to meet up with our mates, Rod and Jeff who had been camping for a week already.
4am and we were on the road, making the obligatory stop at a 24hr Maccas for brekky and away we went. I was looking forward to watching sunrise on the road but with an overcast sky and rain, it wasn’t to be, although the lightning show that lay ahead of us was pretty spectacular. A cheesy sausage and loo break at the 440 just north of Gero (Geraldton), and we were hankering to arrive at our destination…….Francois Peron National Park…….or affectionately known as “Franks.”

Whilst refueling at the Overlander Roadhouse we ran into our other friends, Paul (Putter) and Paul (Palla) who were on their way home from Franks and they told us that the track up through the park was really good and we wouldn’t have a problem towing the van in.  This was reassuring as this was our vans first experience at 4WD tracks and we were towing 200ltrs of water so it was reasonably heavy. We headed on up the road to Denham to reach the turn off to Franks where it was time to let the tyre pressures down. Continuing north up the track there were corrugations galore and a few soft sand boggy patches but it wasn’t too bad. Things were going well and we were making good progress. Along the way we saw the first of a few feral cats feasting on carrion. These cats seemed a bit different to the normal ferals we’ve seen as they had very stumpy legs.

Getting close to camp now and I had spent the last few hundred metres listening to Tones tell me that he knew there was a “soft spot” coming up and that before we hit it he’d have to change to low range 4WD. Too late, driving off the 2nd salt flat, we turned the corner and saw the turn off to CattleWells.  Oops, we were already on “that soft spot” and the car started to slow down as the tyres lost grip, finally coming to a full stop as Tones stopped the car to change down to low range. We needed the Max Trax to get started again however the Max Trax’s did the job no probs.  Whilst sorting out our car we also had to help another car and rescue them with our Max Trax.  Mission accomplished, we reached our destination, hot, sweaty, covered in red dirt and gagging for a cold beer! We made it! In no time the van was set up, our chairs were out and that cold beer was in our hands as we caught up with news of Rod and Jeff’s fishing exploits while watching our first beautiful sunset at “Franks”. The only injury to be had was Tony slicing his knee open with the axe while hammering in pegs for our washing line… A great feature of our little Goldy is the onboard shower so Tones and I had a quick hot shower and as night fell, began the usual nighttime camping ritual of satellite spotting, of which Tones found 13 in no time at all, drawing much aggro from me. And like that, our first day was done.


Tones and Rod playing around with his new camera and doing some ‘light painting’ for the intro scene to Rods trip video he’ll be putting together.

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