The Peninsula Development Road was briefly re-opened after an extended wet season which has left the arterial road in tatters but as of March 28 remains closed north of Laura due to flooded rivers and deep water across the roadway.
The Main Roads Department has deployed several graders to make it passable but extensive re-sheeting works will be needed on the gravel sections before the tourist season starts in May. Recent rain has halted any more roadworks.
Sections of bitumen have also been washed out which will require major works in a number of locations.
Locals say this year’s wet season returned to those experienced during the 1970’s It also saw some pastoral properties receiving more than 2 metres of rain since November.
Many side roads and tracks remain impassable due to excess surface water and washed-out crossings.
The controversial track (below) running between Stones Crossing north of Weipa and the Jardine River Road near Bramwell roadhouse has been submerged for months and will remain impassable for a long time to come.
Two years ago Cook Shire Council authorized this track to be marked on the map bisecting Bertie Haugh station causing an uproar from pastoralists.
Soon after Weipa locals using GPS marked out a quad bike track between trees for some 20 klms through remote, dense scrub and forest which has been erroneously labeled a road by some media.
Former lessee of the Australia Zoo-owned Bertie Haugh station Mr John Witherspoon said the track had disrupted property management in particular fire control.
He said fences had been cut and wire gates put in place for tourists to travel the track from Weipa to Bramwell on a route the owners and lessee had not ever agreed upon with Cook Shire Council.
The track when dry can only be driven on with four wheel drives equipped with winches. Small box trailers may squeeze through however there are dozens of trees where mudguards had removed tree bark and replaced it with paint.
Stones Crossing on the tidal Wenlock River has been rated by Peninsula inhabitants as the most dangerous river crossing on Cape York because of unpredictable currents and a large number of crocodiles inhabiting that stretch of river.
This year, due to the substantial wet, creeks and gullies will hold water at least until September-October which in effect has made the track unusable.
Easy on, fellas, this is how it has been right across the North to the Kimberly. The reason is La Nina. The rain commenced on 21st December 2022 and has continued with only the occasional three-day dry patch for relief. We have had well over our usual 2 M of rain.
This was normal for much of the 1970s and this may herald an old-style dry season in which there is no rain from Gove to Broome, May to October. Nevertheless, those who live in the remote areas are now ensuring they can travel by boat as well as 4WD, if we don’t want to be entirely cut off from shops and fuel outlets for half the year.
This has to be taken seriously. I had just dropped off the last of my tools and exited the 27 K bush track at top speed on December 21, postponing lunch until reaching the dirt road. I got one mouthful down the hatch when the Wet Season came howling in and I hastily escaped. Had I dawdled, I could have been stuck there for six months, surviving on a fish line and crossbow (thanks to the NT Government who won’t let me have a rifle because I am white).
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Precisely what the UN wants!
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