In the morning we headed back out into the high country. Taking what appeared to be a fairly main road to get to McKillops Bridge, one of the heralded attractions of the area.
The road, McKillops Road, was challenging, but not in a good way. To be fair the wise old duck back at Orbost tourist information had warned me about it, say there was a section that will make your passenger nervous with the big drop and don’t meet anyone coming the other way as neither of you will want to back up. Well there is that section, it goes on for about 15km either side of the bridge...
Single lane, loose gravel surface, no barrier, totally blind corners and a drop of 20 to 200ft off the edge of the road. I considered taking a 4x4 track south from the bridge, as I could see on the map the road on the other side was just as bad if not worse. Unfortunately that was now a one way track, south to north only, due to a couple of very bad sections in the middle - despite being marked as a medium track on Hema’s highly detailed, but somewhat outdated high country map.
It’s not the road per-se that is the problem. People have obviously been travelling this road for many years. It’s the fact it is two way and the signage is not sufficient ‘tight and twisty turns ahead’ does not convey the gravity (boom!) of the situation. It should say ‘walking pace only or slower round all blind corners’ as there is no way to fit two vehicles past and a collision could easily result in the vehicle on the outside going over the edge.
Video (not mine) here.
Luckily the only other vehicle we passed while moving was an ADV biker, going like us, walking pace. We acknowledged each others caution as we passed. The two other vehicles that passed us, when thank the lord we were pulled over were tourists in road cars, probably doing 15-20km an hour round those blind bends, would have been curtains if 3 ton of Land Cruiser is coming the other way...
As the road eventually opened up, I noticed a warning light on the dashboard of the Land Cruiser. I pulled over, did a few basic checks, nothing smelt too hot or looked obviously wrong. I looked up the warning light in the owners manual ‘take me to Toyota’ is what it basically said. I was wracking my brain trying to think what it was. I had recently switched fuel tanks and though maybe I had some bad fuel. I switched back to the other fuel tank, just as we finished climbing and started to go downhill. The light went away.
We pulled over again and switched the car off for a bit. I had intended to head a little further north and do some more 4x4 tracks, but with a potential vehicle issue that didn’t seem such a good idea. We headed back to the bitumen, as we now drive south to the first town marked as having fuel, the weather changed somewhat.
I got a full $2 worth of fuel out of the pump before it ran out. Fuel truck was late apparently. We cut our losses and just headed for the nearest place to pitch a tent. We still had 60L in the other tank and I was pretty convinced by now the problem wasn’t fuel.
So we ended up staying on a little farm property. They had ducks!
I checked everything I could think of on the Cruiser and everything seemed tickety boo. I though we’d just stick to more main tracks, check out a couple of towns and see how it went.
We try not to waste anything food wise, so I used a chicken carcass and some leftover veggies to make stock that night.
Back roads to the little town of Swifts Creek the next day.
Where we could hear the sounds of the school Christmas production rehearsing and found our first bakery in days (what’s up with the lack of bakeries, Victoria?). After wolfing down some tasty pastry treats, we pushed on to historical gold mining town of Omeo.
The cuckoo clock shop housed another treasure. We talked for maybe forty minutes with it’s 84 year old owner, who was getting to grips with not just having recently sold the building, but also facing up that it was probably time to retire. We talked on a wide range of topics, this was one old dame still sharp as a tack. I’m glad we met her.