Test Run - Day Two

Today I took the advice from the person I met in the pub in Lakes Entrance. I took a look of the bush north of Orbost.

I first went down a track that was marked on the map. There were cattle gates that needed to be opened and closed, but as it seemed like a public road I went through anyway.

I drove along there for half an hour or so keeping a good look at nearby rivers on my GPS. I found a really nice spot where I could get my car hidden off the road, there was a river about 500 meters away and it seemed that very little traffic went down this way. It wasn’t a state forest or a national park as far as I could tell so the rules there are very lenient.

I drove in and tested the hiding spot. I knocked down a few shrubs to get in but apart from being very tight and steep, getting in wasn’t much trouble.

I jumped out of the car and hid my keys under a plant. I didn’t want to loose them in the bush because I would never find them again and I really didn’t feel like walking out. Then I started to head towards where the creek was marked on the map. I could hear it but the bush was very thick. I was shoulder deep in ferns most of the way but when I got close, the terrain went very steep down hill and it didn’t look like the creek would be accessible. I gave up and turned around to go back to my car.

This was where my troubles began. I took notice of landmarks down as best I could but everything looks very much the same. I walked up the hill and towards the sun as that was the way out, but I soon got lost. I knew that I walked in the right direction I would run into the road, I also had my GPS that showed me where I was in relation to the road and the direction I was going. I didn’t realise how difficult it is to walk through dense undergrowth up a hill. You tend to inadvertently spiral around the hill. I’m walked a long way out of the way to get back to the road, but I got there. Next time, I will take some red ribbons that I can tie to trees so I can follow my track back.

After all that climbing through the bush I was tired, thirsty, hungry and dirty. I found a waterhole next to the road but my first priority was to find my way back to the car and have a drink. Besides, it wasn’t very far away and I could come back easy enough.

After eating and drinking, I went back to the water hole. It wasn’t too great. It was almost dried up already, the water was very murky and dead still. I decided then that this wasn’t much of a spot after all. The creek is too hard to get to and the only other waterhole I found would be dry in a matter of a month.

Then I had the trouble of turning the car around. It was tight to get in, but now I was facing the wrong way. Backing it out was asking for a stick to be poked right through the canopy. After a fifteen point turn and a close inspection before moving in any direction, I got out. It took about half an hour but I didn’t break anything which was the main thing.

My petrol gauge was playing up again. It said that I’d burned through half my tank in only 30KM. This was trouble. I’d been driving for a while in second gear of 4H (High range with 4x4) which I’d not used before. I expected to use a little bit more petrol but not half a tank in 30KM. I decided to head out of the bush and get back to the highway.

Everything went fine on the way back and my petrol gauge said that I had a full tank again. This is when I realised that I must have an earth problem with the gauge. I’ll fix that when I get home in a couple of days.

I ran across a picnic area and made a fire to to make a cup of tea and cook up a lunch. Some snags and fruit. I’ve been eating lots of fruit the last couple of days. It keeps well, doesn’t need to be cold, tastes good and is cheap. I bought the sausages in the morning because I didn’t have anything except muselie bars and fruit yesterday and though a bit of meat would be good for me.

After that, I decided to take a look somewhere else. I went back into town to make sure that everything was fine with the petrol situation. When I got there I was comfortable to head off into the bush again. This time I went due north from Orbost. Again, looking at the tracks and creeks marked, I decided on a road to look at. It was an old logging trail that hadn’t been used for a while by the look of it. The condition wasn’t too bad. A bit rocky but all-in-all, it was good.

That was until I came across my first tree that had fallen across the track. It wasn’t thick, maybe about that of my arm and it was sitting pretty low. I checked the hight and my car would clearance and with a bit of a run up, I could just drive over it, so I did.

Then it just got worse. I was still a long way from where the creek intercepted the road so I wanted to continue. There was another fallen tree. This one was about as thick as my thigh and too high for the car to pass over it. I walked ahead to make sure there wasn’t another bigger fallen tree, but as far as I could see, it looked clear. I got out the bow saw and started cutting. It was hard work and the saw wasn’t getting far. The wood was too hard and weathered. I got out the axe and started chopping. That was hard work too. It was getting through but sweat was poring from me. I had enough chopping but all the jumping I could muster wasn’t enough to break the last part off. I figured that if I drove the front wheels onto the log, the car would be heavy enough to break it and then there would be enough clearance to drive over it. I tried and it worked as I expected.

I continued along but the road started to deteriorate. I was the first car to drive along here for quite a while by the look of the age of the log I had cleared. There were ruts and the dirt had a lot of clay in it. I wouldn’t want to have to drive along this road in winter time.

Further along I found another fallen tree. This once was big. It was laying flat along the ground and would have stood about 80cm high. It was too big to drive over. I got out of the car and had a closer look. This tree had been there for a long time. It was eaten out to not much more than a husk. The bleeding blisters on my hands didn’t want to do any more chopping or sawing. I thought that I may be able to drag out the tree with my winch. The end was so rotten that it must have been quite light and if I broke out part of the husk at a time, I might be able to clear it. It took a couple of goes but it worked. Each piece broke off and left me with enough room to get through. I even had a couple of extra centimetres on each side.

So on I continued up the hill. It was getting steeper and even more weathered. The next obstacle was another thinner tree, again about as thick as my thigh that had fallen diagonally across the track. At the highest point it was only just too low to get under it. I decided to give up. This road would be no good in winter even if I could get through it now.

I turned around and headed back into town. Along the way I really wanted to find a deserted creek that I could strip off and wash myself in. About twenty minutes down the road I was in luck. There was a little creek that was mostly hidden from the road. It looked that it may even be a nice spot to build a hut.

I took a walk through the scrub to find he creek. It was nice. The water was shallow but clear and was flowing quite quickly. I stripped off to have a wash. There was a slight hint of the smell of cow shit so I don’t think it would be safe to drink. I got dressed again. Took some photos and went back to my car to cook up some dinner.

I lit a small fire on the side of the road and boiled the billy for some tea. Then chopped up some veggies and boiled them and fried up the last of the sausages. After spending the entire day in the car, they looked a bit green. I made sure to cook them really well. I’m not feeling sick and I ate them a few hours ago, I hope I stay good.

I’ve come back into town to sleep the night. I’m not sure, but I think I prefer to sleep in town. Perhaps living in the bush isn’t what I want after-all. I’ll perceiver longer to make sure. I guess I’ll see soon enough.