I stir every-so-slightly to the slip of a short-lived, unhindered, playful laugh, closely followed by a muffled Shhhhh! It is pitch black outside and Brendan, Shana and Tayla are departing for a long weekend away. They’re leaving us in charge of their house for a few days; a true testament to their hospitality and trusting nature considering they’ve known Rah and I for less than 48 hours, and haven’t seen Brogan since he was a young whipper-snapper! It doesn’t take long, though I nod off to sleep again until the blinding light shining through our window wakes me.
We treat ourselves to another cooked breakfast (when in Rome Weipa) – this time it’s pancakes – and then I get settled into a day of work; first on my last-ever assignment for university, and then on the blog to make the most of what I assume will be the last internet connection for a long time.
I take a quick break from work after finishing the assignment, and ride into the shops to stock up on supplies in preparation to head north tomorrow. A quick look at Google Maps sheds some light on the trip ahead. We’ve got around 465 kilometres to cover before reaching The Tip, and Google estimates a journey of just over 16 hours. We have a few shortcuts planned, though comparing the distance to the time is indicative of the challenging roads we’re to face over the coming days.
I get home and submit my assignment online. I’ve completely forgotten to take into account the time different between NSW and QLD, and as such 15% of my assignment marks get stripped away instantly. So much for finishing on a high note. We continue to plan our route for the coming days. Tomorrow’s ride will take us back out along the Peninsular Development Road, across Batavia Downs, and then north along Telegraph Road until we hit Bramwell Junction. From there we’ll fuel up and find somewhere to camp on the southern entrance to the Old Telegraph Track; a detour that is famous for claiming the lives of many serious off-road machines, and defeating those who dare attempt to pilot them through it.
My reluctance to attempt this notorious 4x4 hotspot, that has been a heated topic of conversation on and off over the week or so, stems from the unnerving stories that everyone seems to have from their visit to the place. “Unrelenting, sandy and challenging” everyone says, “but you can bypass all the hard parts!” My brain freezes at ‘sandy’ as distorted, nightmare-inducing memories come flooding in of our recent attempt to ride Fraser Island; axle-deep in sand with the engines overheating and begging us to stop!
We’re on the fence, unsure whether to trust these horror stories, or to trust the words of each local we speak to who all seem to say something along the lines of “You’ll be right, mate! There’s only a couple of metres of sand!” The only reason we’re even considering this track is because we predict it is going to be dry due to our late-season entry.
Rah and I get some much needed washing done whilst Brogs cooks up a huge batch of beef nachos for dinner. We all spend the evening in silence – presumably anxious about what lies ahead – and then hit the hay early in an attempt to get some quality rest in before our early start.