Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
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4 July 2013

Goanna Creek to Borroloola - Carpentaria Highway
location map
The night was relatively warm compared with previous nights. We were soon on our way out of Goanna Creek rest area back onto the highway turning left for Cape Crawford initially then Borroloola. The road remained the single lane of bitumen we had become used to running through red soil country covered in tropical woodland.

Goanna Creek rest area had been at an elevation of 258 metres near the edge of an escarpment onto a coastal plain; sunset the previous evening had been worth watching partly because we were seeing it across this lower coastal plain. The height of the escarpment was bought home to us when the road suddenly went down a straight, steep incline from 258 metres at the top of the escarpment down to 198 metres on the coastal plain below. There were some warning signs beside the road but the sight of the road suddenly dropping away was breath-taking.

The road surface for the descent was a bit rough but thereafter the surface was good for a long, generally steady, downward slope to Cape Crawford at 90 metres elevation. This was single lane except for a 6.6 kilometre section of two-lane bitumen. The vegetation remained woodland but with species more commonly seen north of Katherine (such as Kapok and Turkey Bush) now along the road. We passed three Australian Bustards on the side of the road; these unusual birds walk around with their heads held so high it is hard to understand how they can see where they are going. There were also considerably more cattle grazing along this road than on the higher land we had driven through yesterday; we speculated this was because these coastal plains carried more feed than higher ground.

In Cape Crawford we stopped at the Heartbreak Hotel which is also the caravan park, service station, and the only building in the place. Despite the name, Cape Crawford is nowhere near the sea but was called a Cape because it is near an outcrop of the higher land to the south. Located at the intersection of the Carpentaria Highway (running from Daly Waters to Borroloola then onto Burketown in Queensland) and the Tableland Highway, (running from Cape Crawford to the Barkly Roadhouse) the Heartbreak Hotel at Cape Crawford is well-positioned to provide fuel and service to travellers. We bought some diesel there before continuing on to Borroloola a little more than one hundred kilometres further on.

Single bitumen lane The Carpentaria Highway between Cape Crawford and the McArthur River Mine. The single bitumen lane is reasonable if drive at about 75 kilometres; pulling off onto the verges to pass oncoming vehicles is not a problem provided speed is reduced.
The road to Borroloola continued as a single lane of bitumen with gravel verges at least a metre wide. There were several vehicles going in the opposite direction, including one group of six 4WDs, and one large road train with three trailers so I got practice at pulling over. At the McArthur River Mine the road became two lanes of bitumen which continued for 52 kilometres until we reached the turn-off to Borroloola; oncoming traffic on the two-lane road was not an issue and we watched a four trailer ore road-train go past us in the opposite direction without concern. This road had been built by the mine to carry ore from the mine to the port north of Borroloola to the delight of locals since it meant that half of the distance between Borroloola and Cape Crawford was a two-lane bitumen road.

3 July - page 2
At Borroloola we checked in at the caravan park and selected a large site with good shade where we set up. After lunch we went for a look around the town.

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