I never get tired of looking at the Mitchell falls. It's like the perfect combo of big falls, pools and steps. All perfectly arranged to show off each aspect. If there's one reason to go back to Oz, other than the points, they are it for me.
The story of the Datson is one I been wanting to write for a few years now. But its such a long incident packed story it's daunting. On the Gibb alone our car had so many issues...
The battery fell onto the fan gouging a massive hole in it that emptied one of it's cells. The alternator seized and snapped the fan belt. So no more charging of the holey battery. We made a belt from shoelace to keep the fan running so we didn't overheat.
Every time we went through one of the fords/rivers we would get water under the distributor cap. Which meant the car cut out a few seconds after clearing the crossing. After about the 4th time we figured it out somehow and could dry it quicker. The times before we just waited and hoped the car would start again (like it had magically done a few times already between Margs and Derby, just N of the Gibb).
Then there was the time one of the hoses in the cab rotted through pissing hot water from the engine over my mates feet while he was driving, who promptly jumped out the moving car. Luckily a motorbiker (who was not loving the corrugated road) stopped and had a tool set so we managed to re-plum the engine to bypass the internal cab heater. But that meant we couldn't cool the engine by having the heater blowing in the cab while driving though the desert in scorching heat.
Some time after we had refuelled at the only petrol station, half way along the Gibb River Road, our exhaust broke at the midsection. Somehow it managed to u-bend its way around the rear axle and, in doing so preventing us from driving either forwards or backwards. In order to get it free I had to try and lift the car while my mate managed to unbend it enough to wriggle it off. By the time we managed that it was dark so we camped up by the side of the road.
The sound of those road trains coming towards you in the dark as you lay in your tent is something I won't forget easily. When they're passing ten meters from your head it's a proper mind fuck.
The next day we used twine to tie up the dragging remaining section of the exhaust. But every few minutes it would burn through. By the 3rd re-twine we were passed by some aboriginals going the other way. About 7 in the car and 4 sitting on top and on the bonnet. They gave us a wire coat hanger and we were rocking again.
But the big problem was the Pentecost River. Everyone told us we wouldn't be able to cross it in the Datsun.
Due to how much fuel we could carry we figured that if the river wasn't passable we wouldn't have enough to make it back to the petrol station. Added to that we now had the exhaust under the car. Which, being an automatic was prone to popping out of gear if hit from underneath by sand/mud banks. If it did pop out of gear we would more than likely stall, consequently flooding and wrecking the engine and leaving us stranded in the middle of a river.
The gear actually popped out doing the crossing but thankfully my mate kept the gas floored and crunched it back in. At that point the car was stationary in the middle of the river. Which is the next pic from the one above. I thought we were a cropper watching from the bank. My mate and I both danced a jig on either side of the river when he'd made it over. All the doubts about being able to make the crossing were released in an instant.
After that we parked up at the Emma Gorge and shared a bottle of wine listening to Wales spank England at rugby by 40 odd points. After which we snuck into one of the $135pn swanky tents and slept in a bed for the 1st time in months. I don't think I slept at all I was so used to sleeping feral by then.
It certainly was an adventure and the Datsun sure made it so much more of one. A $300 car which the previous owner told us not to try and drive to Perth from Margs where we bought it.