After our visit to Kroombit Tops and the crash site of Beautiful Betsy, we faced a two hour drive on the highway back to our campsite at Cania Gorge. According to the caravan park owner the quickest route via Clonmel Road was not an option as it had been washed out by floods. We studied the map he gave us and saw that there was another shorter route from near the entrance of the National park, on Diglum, Clifton and Cedarvale Roads, which would take us directly to Ubobo, and on to the Gladstone-Monto Road. It looked simple enough: a dirt road straight to the highway.
The sun was setting as we left Kroombit Tops but we weren’t concerned because we had taken note of the turn-off on our way in. Off we went, certain that our return trip wouldn’t be as long as the morning drive had been. How wrong we were!
The map showed one long road which changed name three times, but it neglected to show the dozens of unmarked farm roads which veered off in all directions. Not one was signed – which road were we supposed to take? There was also no moon so the bushland was dark and unwelcoming. I kept having visions of those news reports about people who had become lost in the bush or on a mountain and were the subject of a full scale rescue. I’ve always thought how embarrassing that would be, and now I could see us being the next big news story. I consoled myself with the knowledge that at least we wouldn’t perish from starvation. We still had half a packet of chocolate chip biscuits, 4 mandarines and a full bottle of water.
Eventually we found ourselves at a dead end – in the backyard of someone’s farm! Mr ET bravely got out of the car and went to ask these strangers for directions, while I stayed in the car ready to take off instantly if it turned out they were axe murderers who didn’t like people appearing unannounced in the dark. Luckily my over-active imagination was proved wrong and they were only too happy to help. “Go back to the T-road and then turn left” was the instruction. This we did, but we soon found ourselves on another farm. At least there was a sign this time, crudely painted on a piece of wood, pointing the way to Monto. After much discussion we decided this must be the road we needed, even though it seemed a little odd to be driving through someone’s cattle yards. We crossed a creek and suddenly the track petered out to nothing more than a goat track through the paddock. At this point Mr ET commented that all his years of army training were telling him we should not be on this track on our own at night, and my slightly hysterical reply was, “Go back NOW”. So back we went, across the creek, through the paddock and the gate, and down the hill. It was then we saw, painted on the other side of the wooden sign, the word “Ubobo”, with an arrow pointing in the opposite direction to the way we had just been.
Finally we were on the right track and it wasn’t long before we came to the tiny township of Ubobo. The feeling of relief was immense. At long last there was a sign pointing the way to Monto.
And now that we didn’t need a sign anymore it seemed there were road signs galore. We saw signs to show curves in the road, road works signs, speed signs, hazard signs, stop signs, signs warning about animals on the roads and signs that detailed distances. But the sign we saw most often was this one: the chevron alignment marker.
Someone must have had a sale on chevron alignment markers because on this 82 km stretch of road there were dozens of them – so many that I began counting them. The record for the most chevrons on a curve was 29.
We couldn’t have taken a wrong turn, even if we wanted to!