Departing civilisation behind at Cairns Australia , we ventured along the Peninsula Developmental Road. This further deteriorated right into a deeply corrugated trail which wound along the route of the telegraph line, between giant rainforest trees and also across innumerable rivers approximately the little Aboriginal city of Bamaga on Cape York. "The beginning of HELL -- return if you can", proclaimed an amusing handwritten sign even as we headed off into the wilderness!

River crossings of almost all manner and form punctuated the journey -- with axle-deep sticky mud, decrepit wooden bridges (the odd log missing here and there to add to task), deep sand or fast flowing water to keep you entertained. It was a traditional four wheel drive journey. The ultimate challenge, however, was the crossing of the Jardine River.

Even in the drier times of year, the Jardine River, just 35 km south of Bamaga, was a wide, not too deep, fast-flowing river. In 1982, the luxury of a little punt had just become available to carry the vehicles owned by the less adventurous across this famous barrier for the princely sum of $15. Many heated battles then erupted by the banks of the Jardine as cautious wives and thrill-seeking partners debated the relative merits with the challenging river crossing and the tame punt ride. As newlyweds, we too had our own dispute here, but in our case it absolutely was the adventure-seeking wife whom desired the river adventure!

To drive across a river this way requires substantial preparation. A diesel motor such as ours requires a prolonged air snorkel to draw in air from well above any possible water level. Tyres must be deflated, waterproof covers packed round the engine and openings for example fuel tanks and doors should be securely waterproofed. We watched with concern as numerous vehicles attempted the crossing -- and lots of failed, becoming stranded mid-river with the murkys swirling across the driver's feet and camping gear floating at the back of the vehicle!

Finally the thrill-seeking wife prevailed. A group of fellow Patrol travellers came to our help and gave us a snorkel and also covers which fitted our own vehicle. So with our vehicle trussed up like a Christmas turkey, we drove down to the muddy waters of the Mighty Jardine.

Across the river we all drove, pushing a significant bow-wave before us. Dave said it felt so good he wanted to turn around and keep driving in the river! Then through a heart-stopping very deep hole close to the end and up the steep bank we drove, masters of the Jardine. I bet they do not have this much fun on the organised Cape York Tours.

Our dripping wet vehicle on the other hand seemed little the worse because of its adventure. However, it cost us more to change the differential oils which had become waterlogged compared to little punt ride could have cost. So sanity prevailed upon our return journey a month later and the Landcruiser required a sedate ride over the Jardine on the car punt!