Plan B (it’s amazing how much damage a worn shock absorber can do).

Just before leaving Mornington we noticed that the chassis cracks that had been re-welded earlier had started to reopen.   Getting under the caravan with a torch, I found that one of the suspension bolts showed signs of having shifted position.   When I investigated I found that it was quite loose and after removing the nut, saw that the bolt has been jiggling around and badly eroded into the upper side of the slot in the hanger.    It appears to me that because of the resultant misalignment from this eroded hole, when the suspension arm moves up and down it now puts quite a high twisting force on the axle bar and this is probably causing it to crack where it attaches to the chassis.

higher view

Given this situation we were rather wary about driving any further than necessary until we could get replacement suspension bolts and bushes and get the hanger and chassis fixed properly – especially on the corrugated Gibb River Road.   So while we had planned to back track a bit to see Manning Gorge, Galvans Gorge and another Australian Wildlife Conservancy property at Charnley River, we now decided to just drive slowly and carefully directly towards Derby, a town of about 3000, which has a specialist welding company that could do the necessary repairs and arrange for the necessary spares to be sent there.   We called Kedron, who agreed to send us the spares, and advised us that if we just tightened up the loose bolt, it was very unlikely to cause more damage and that we need not alter our original plans.   However, while their reassurance made us confident that we could limp all the way to Derby (still about 400km away, 300km on unsealed roads), we did not want to push our luck and do an additional 300km that our original plan would have required.   Getting a broken down caravan put on a truck and taken to Derby would cost about $4000 and since our insurance would cover only the first $1000, we didn’t want to take this risk.

So plan B had us make our way to Imintji, a small Aboriginal community on the Gibb River Road where we spent two nights and left the caravan to do a day trip to Bell Gorge.  From there we moved on to Winjana Gorge (just 20km off the Gibb River Road) and again left the caravan there while doing a side trip to Tunnel Creek.    We then drove on to Derby and upon getting there noticed that the tyre on the wheel which had had the worn shock absorber had started to crack badly where it meets the rim and needed to be replaced.

cracked tyre

gibb river road plan b
Our Plan B route with side trips to Bell Gorge and Tunnel Creek done without Keddie.

OK, to change the tone of the blog entry from doom and gloom, here are some photos of Bell Gorge and around Imintji.

bell gorge jumper
Lower Bell Gorge:  school holidays have kicked off so we shared the serenity with about 100 others!    In this photo some younger folk can be seen jumping off a cliff.     Unfortunately, my nose is not designed for doing this and I usually end up with half the pool in my sinuses.  So, while it looks fun, I tend to steer away from such activity myself – S
bell gorge swim
By incredible chance and skill I managed to get this shot of Maddy alone in the pool below the main falls at Bell Gorge.   About 20 people lie obscured behind the rock ridge on the left and about 6 or 8 swimmers are just out of the frame on the right.   However, all we had to do was walk about 200m upstream (away from the gorge) and we could enjoy some peace and quiet next to a serene section of Bell Creek on our own. 
steve at bell gorge
Dying to get into my swimmers.
roadside black cockatoo
A permanent spring feeds a creek that crosses the Gibb River Road on the eastern edge of Imintji. I went there to look for birds each evening.   On both occasions, this red tailed black cockatoo came to drink from a small muddy pool formed by cars splashing up water at the crossing rather than drinking the nice clean water just metres away.   It obviously likes the taste of mud, rubber, oil and brake shoe dust.
leaden flycatcher male
A male leaden flycatcher at the crossing
imintji sign
Our campsite at Imintji was immaculate and managed by the community.
imintji campsite with the king leopold ranges
Our spot at Imintji with the beautiful backdrop of the King Leopold Ranges.    The open hatch behind the caravan’s wheel houses the fridge compressor.    The little fan on the door of this hatch has started to give out, so we leave it open when camped – it seems like we are discovering a new problem every day. 
health education at an aboriginal community
Diabetes is a major problem in the aboriginal community so this sign tries to raise awareness of the risks of processed drinks.
Victoria head Napier Range
From Imintji, we continued on to Winjana Gorge, which cuts though a 300 million year old limestone reef that runs for several hundred kilometers in the western Kimberley.   This feature, called Queen Victoria’s Head, lies at the point where the Gibb River Road passes through this reef about 20 km north of Winjana Gorge – the subject of the next post 

6 thoughts on “Plan B (it’s amazing how much damage a worn shock absorber can do).

    1. Yes Lynn, There are dozens of beautiful places to swim on the Gibb River rd. There are a few too many people to share them with on school holidays though. We and the gray nomads out here cant wait for them to go back. I love working with kids but don’t want them on my holiday! M


  1. The joys of travelling – Did Kedron get your spares to Derby on time? Is this normal wear & tear? I understand the tyre, but is the rest Kedron’s problem? Main falls at Bell Gorge looks lovely. Happy travels, love Glenda.


    1. Still waiting for the spares Glenda. All very good questions you ask! Lots more fun to be had. Just wait until you see what we have planned for this weekend. M


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