Well, we knocked the bastard off, as Sir Ed was wont to say.
OK, it wasn’t exactly a 12,000 metre mountain, but Cape York was our Everest.
Standing by the somehow strangely nondescript sign informing us that we were at mainland Australia’s most northerly point, it was almost an anti-climax after six weeks and over 5000 km of driving on everything from tarmac to bulldust, sand to rocky river beds.
But it felt pretty good all the same.
The last few days have been spent traversing the OTL, which stands for the Overland Telegraph Line, or as the locals call it, The Track.
It isn’t for the faint hearted.
For the uninitiated, the Telegraph Track is a very rough single lane route taken by the original telegraph cable that ran all the way to the tip of Australia until it was replaced by a microwave link in the 1980s, and now by Telstra fibre optic cable.
The original track was mostly navigated on horseback and later by 4WD, and the 120km or so of it that still remains is not maintained, except by the drivers who use it.
It ranges from pretty reasonable to downright hair-raising, with steep drops down river banks into gullies, stream crossings that go over the bonnet, and sandy, corrugated tracks.
I’m not making this up. You could have sold tickets.
Those who made it received a round of applause. Those who got stuck got an even bigger round of applause. Those who knocked bits off their vehicles got whistles and cheers.
We weren’t sure if our humble little truck would make it, so we decided to camp by the river and sleep on it. Surely it would look better in the morning, we reasoned.
But a nice bloke called Tom and his lovely girlfriend Bella offered to winch us out, if we got stuck. That was enough of an insurance policy for me, and I inched Chuckie down into the creek.
On the Telegraph Track
What was it Sir Ed said about mountaineering? Getting to the top is easy. It’s getting back down that’s the hard bit.
Cape York, at the most northerly point in mainland Australia