We were touring Litchfield National Park. Which is a National Park in the Northern Territory which is about 1,500 square km in distance. We had rented 4WD which was spotless when we got it with only 6km on the clock. Part of the fine print stated that the vehicle wouldn’t be insured if it were taken off road. Which I cheekily did to visit the Lost city, and amazing rock formation at Litchfield.
We saw the most impressive waterfalls throughout the park, and when we stopped at the Wangi Falls the skies opened up. The Wangi Falls have an impressive 50 metre waterfall. When we saw a walking track to the top even though it was raining couldn’t help ourselves.
Serena brought her umbrella and I just got soaked.
Of the hikes I’ve done, this is probably the one that I regret most. The first half went well, but as we neared the top the rain hit monsoon type rain. It was a warm day so there was no dramas about being cold. But I had never been so saturated and my clothes were weighing me down. We got to the top and there was no view which was a bit of a letdown. The rain got worse and as we hit the descent the path was all wet & muddy. I had no problems negotiating the track, but my poor wife is a little more delicate than me.
Paranoid about slipping and was going at a snails pace which meant that the idiot with no umbrella was getting drowned.
Normally I’d be happy to wait around to make sure that she was safe, but she had the umbrella and I was standing around for long minutes. Stopping every 50 metres or so to stop to help her descend a tricky section of track. I was drowned, tired, hungry and wishing I had never ever attempted this walk.
It was a major relief to get back to the car to get a change of clothes. We probably ruined the interior being as soaked as we were. It had been raining for an hour at that stage, and we had two options to get back. 200 km’s to backtrack down the road we came. Or there was a dirt road that was only 130 km’s.
For the second time that day I made a decision that I wished I hadn’t.
The 4WD was not insured when we hit the dirt road and it was raining quite heavily. Thankfull I’m really good at driving in the wet. Visibility was poor and I could barely see in front of the 4WD but I had no dramas. The road started to fill with potholes from the crazy rain we were driving in. I had to start dodging and weaving these holes and parts of the road were under water. About 25 km there was a river in the middle of the road.
It was about 5 metres wide and not overly deep, and I did have a 4WD after all. But the funny thing was this was the first time that I had ever driven a 4WD so had no idea what the hell they could do. I had two options to drive back what now would have to be 225 km or I could ford the river and keep going.
How I wish I could go back in time & tell my idiotic self to turn that 4WD around.
We got across the river ok, but the rain crazily enough picked up worse than before. More & more of the road was underwater. I was getting alarm bells when I noticed signs to the side of the road to measure flood levels with most of the signs going to 3 metres in height.
I couldn’t avoid several deep potholes and the 4WD would suddenly crash a foot or so and I hoped not to bog the car in. There was no option to turn back now and we were screwed. I realised that we were in the middle of a flood, and also in Crocodile territory. Silently I was crapping myself and I didn’t want to worry Serena. Casually mentioning that maybe she should write in our diary which she did. It took her eyes off the road, and thankfully couldn’t see the dangers. It was incredibly dark outside and I could barely see anything over the front of the bonnet.
Since I could barely see, in the conditions I should have been driving at 20 km/h, but had to get out of this hell and was pushing 60.
Water and mud were flying everywhere and this brand new 4WD was not so new anymore.
I was wondering how I was going to come up with the money to pay for the damages that I was surely doing to this 4WD. I forded two more rivers, and on either side of the road was seeing a river appear. We were f@#d if we couldn’t get out of here. If we got trapped we could be stuck here for quite awhile (with Crocodiles around). I knew that a number of drivers die up here in floods every year.
I had been driving ¾ hour into this hell when we came to a small metal bridge. The water was probably 10 cm from the base of the bridge and the river was about to burst its banks. I had a vision of flood waters washing us over as we tried to cross, and really just sucked it up. If we had come to this bridge minutes later I would have haphazard that it would have been underwater.
We would have been trapped on the wrong side.
It was a relief to get over the bridge, and as suddenly as the storm started the storm stopped. We kept driving for awhile till we were out of the danger zone, and notice that the road dried up pretty quickly. We got out of the 4WD and I was freaked to see it covered from head to toe in mud. Worse was that we had to drop it off overnight so couldn’t do a change-over. Clearly we had taken it off road and wouldn’t know if the company was going to penalise me. We found a Safeway car wash on the way back and sprayed off the car as best as we could. Which calmed me down a little, but it still had a layer of dirt on it. I had a really restless night that night.
I was really expecting to get a call over the next couple of days.
The day could have gotten worse as when I went to fill up the 4WD without thinking I put Unleaded into it. Thankfully Serena yelled out “it takes Diesel doesn’t it?”. Luckily only about half a litre went in. I’ve done some classic things with rental cars but this took the cake. I’ve had my sense of adventures over the years, and we did some amazing things today, but I’ve never been so thankful that nothing went wrong.