It can be lonely being a tour guide. Decisions that you know won’t be received happily are sometimes required. To the uninitiated, there’s no justification for those decisions – especially when it has meant that the decision has taken the traveller out of harm’s way. If you’ve been from Cordillo to Innamincka you’ll know that there’s a spot of low country that becomes soft, then soggy, and then impassable after rain. Actually, it’s more than a spot – it goes for some distance. There was a time when they’d go out with a 6WD grader to free bogged vehicles, but those days are gone. We were heading southward, and had planned to camp along the track overnight as part of the ‘bush experience’.
I’d been watching a front build up to the east, and as we drove it took on a menacing look. I felt very ambivalent: we couldn’t get to Innamincka in daylight, but if it rained we wouldn’t get there for days. When I announced over the UHF that we were not going to stop and camp, that we absolutely must make all haste to Innamincka, there was that awful silence except for one person who said: "I would rather experience rain in the desert" to which I probably replied something like that’s your choice. With somewhat inexperienced caravanners we pushed on through the dark, then set up on the Common beside the Cooper. About 1am the sky opened, I put chains on the Effie’s wheels and hauled a host of rigs that couldn’t move themselves to high ground. For a few days we explored local sights and watched the "Road Closed" sign, waiting for it to change. Despite strong warnings from the locals, a cluster of camper-trailer folk headed out the track we had come down. They returned days later having spent several days totally bogged, every clothing item muddy and short of food and water.
- Caravan World columnist Lloyd Junor owns Aussie Outback Publishing, which produces outback-themed titles including his own, comprehensive The Australian RV and Caravanner's Guide.