Cape York's Forgotten Track - Roothy
Added: 29 days ago
SOMETIMES you get a chance to try a track that nobody's driven in years. This was one of those times. It involved putting a lot of balls on the line but was it worth it? You bet!
Yep, this trek to the Old Lockart Mission ticked every possible box as far as hard core adventuring goes.
The first fifty or so kilometres were still regularly driven but even one of the local coppers – a four wheel drive nut – had told us that once you got to ‘that creek’, it was a total unknown beyond. Nobody had passed over ‘that creek’ for years. In fact nobody had accessed the old mission site via road for years. A few people used boats to run down the coast for fishing holidays apparently but we couldn’t even find anyone to talk about that!
I know why they didn’t cross that creek and so will you when you’ve seen the DVD. The creek itself wasn’t so bad but years of roaring wet season floods had carved a huge hole in the bank on the other side which was just a sump of rotten leaves and slush. From the New Lockhart side you could see a couple of big trees had dropped across the track too. And what you couldn’t see was what happened after that because the whole lot looked overgrown with bamboo anyway.
Add in the obvious signs of crocodiles and the fact that our locals had described this are of low lying creeks and wet season pools as ‘infested’ and we had ourselves a real doozy of a situation. No wonder nobody had bothered trying this!
It was hard enough just seeking permission to go through tribal lands. We found three people who were considered Traditional Owners. Two said yes, the third said no. But the third bloke talked himself around in circles by noting it was a gazetted road and he couldn’t stop us. He’d just rather we didn’t.
He was out voted two to one and both the other two and the local policeman suggested he might have ‘other reasons’ for not wanting people traversing that land.
OK, this is where another facet of real life in the northern part of Australia comes in to play. Lockhart is a dry zone, like Doomadgee and a whole lot of Aboriginal communities that have a history of being ripped apart by grog. But put a whole lot of frustrated people in one spot, take away the booze that was their only escape, and it’s only a matter of time before someone rolls a splif. More than once I’ve seen the signs of illicit crops and of course Aboriginal land where access is restricted is absolutely perfect. The other sign is the lack of interest in the faces of some of the people in these communities. Bob Marley is popular for a whole lot of reasons…
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