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Blast from the Past - Pre-Kid Litchfield Trip

Updated: Apr 18, 2022


Surprise Falls - 02 SEP 2012

We join our intrepid adventurers on a dusty track through Litchfield. Greg “bush chauffeur” Morgan at the wheel and Vicky “Sensei” Doufa keeping a keen eye on the Prado’s health from the back seat. With Max “Power!” Barlow offering tips from the passenger side and Laura “watchoutforthatwallaby!!!!” Costelloe in charge of conservation it seems little can go wrong. “New boy” Will, The Litchfield virgin, holds on to his seatbelt for his life as he plunges into the dusty plains for (unbelievably!) the first time!

Tearing over the corrugations at speed is the easiest way to play them for sure and the prado makes short work of the dusty Cox Peninsula Road (road being the loosest of titles here!). Our heroes arrive at Litchfield with the only delays being Greg’s attempts at finding crocodiles to run over and a short re-fuel (beer, not fuel!). Having heard about “The Lost City” it seems like our group have renewed vigour as the day’s first mission nears. 20kms of higher intensity corrugations and a windy, bumpy, slow track have done nothing to The Chauffeur’s manic grin that was painted on the moment he grabbed the wheel. And as the team dismount at the now-found city there is an eerie calm around the strange landscape. Wandering around the amazing rock formations in the (once covered by sea) plane gives a very strange feeling of connection with the landscape and after a bit of a look around the girls tend to their own sureptitious side-mission with pride. Will’s code-cracking skills here are put to the test as he tries to decipher the meanings of the rock formations and sadly, fails. Walking back to the Prado among the piled-high rocks in the mid-day heat is hot work and luckily the supplies have survived the convoy intact.

With the sun at it’s peak it seems there is some urgency to get to Surprise Falls quickly so the gang (wearing manic grins where appropriate!) load up and lock in and set off back along the dirt from The Found City back into the park. The route to Surprise falls starts with a, presumably croc infested, river crossing. Flicking into Low Range gearbox and keeping a keen eye out for the aforementioned tooth-y aggressors seem to be everyone’s primary concerns and a smooth crossing was inevitable. After a couple more water crossings the track opens up amongst amazing, open flood plains filled with magnetic termite mounds towering over the vehicle, stretching into the distance like a giant, silent graveyard. The only noise comes from our team, tyres shredding at the track leaving dust hanging in the air, Engine screaming into the landscape, music written in the 80’s by a drunk Australian who comes from a land down under…..

And then the Reynolds River… they slowed to a halt and checked in with a fellow traveller who had already conquered the crossing. His advice of checking out the track and river were well heeded by the party, who walked out the route they would be taking. Vicky “Sensei” Doufa seemed on edge and almost faltered but trusted in her teachings to get the job done on a bumpy awkward slope and a long but comfortable river crossing. Manic grin getting bigger and bigger, the team tackled the tricky terrain and got through the Reynolds river in one piece. A few more miles of bumps, ditches and corrugations (and a quick lunch!) later saw the guys at Surprise Falls - And what a surprise!

The falls were small but stunning. A 7m drop from the last falls was a great place to jump in from, pools both below and above the falls were great cool swimming spots and the quiet, barely visited surroundings were peaceful (until the flamin cockatoos started fighting!) The gang enjoyed the chance to relax and have a swim. Max “Power” Barlow was the first to jump the falls, getting a score of 9.0 from all judges for his tidy landing and graceful half twist. Will overcame the odds and earned his stripes(!) on the crew of the Prada when he was second in line to test the water for crocs before The Douf-ster’s go - who plummeted in to the water from on high. Conservationist Costelloe had a stylish jump in from the sie of the pool. It took Old Greg a while to pluck up the courage, having been stood at the top since the gang arrived, but he finally took the plunge into the cold, gorgeous pool as the sun was threatening to set both figuratively and literally on a great day out.

The drive back was in a similar vein to the route in to the falls - a great drive, made even more stunning by the colour changing as the sun sets and the highlight was, once again, the Reynolds River. The crossing was eventless with concentration and gathering advice from the team about the subsequent, short but scary, hill climb the most important factor. And once at the foot of the hill, a quiet calm descended (for the shortest of moments!). Engine raging, Low range gearbox spinning, Wheels tearing at the damp track, suspension bouncing, and then calm again. Half way up the track, wheels balanced on a step in the mud, not moving. Half the team leave the vehicle, through helpfulness or fear - who knows? They help plot a route to the top around the muddy step that has stopped us so far. And with Max Power’s advice (made all the more important by his apt nickname!) The power of the car bounced the front wheels into the air and over the bump, before the wheel is pulled to the left and the car willingly pulls away from a tree and back onto the track. High fives all round and grateful for the advice and teaching’s The Chauffeur led a sleepy crew back home, where a hearty feast was waiting to reward the victorious adventurers.

Oh and the car broke… At the petrol station close to Darwin, the key broke in the ignition. This was literally the only time that it wouldn’t have been a catastrophic event. Every other stop during the day was over 30km from the nearest proper road! lucky buggers!

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