Big Bloody Bogs!

Ron and Viv Moon — 18 June 2020
Ron recalls the deepest, deadliest bogs he’s ever landed a vehicle in and gives away his secrets about how he got out of trouble.

We’ve had some interesting and monumental vehicle boggings over the years. Certainly the longest as far as time was concerned was the occasion we spent three days getting out of one such predicament.

I was on a trip with the legendary (and late) Taffy Abbot. At that time Taffy was driving for AAT Kings and I was along for the ride as photographer with a group of travellers heading for the Kimberley in a Unimog that, fully loaded, would have weighed in at 12 tonne plus. Anyway, Taffy had heard about this place called the Bungle Bungles (this was way before it became a national park) and he gladly threw away the planned trip itinerary and we headed into this incredible place. 

Along the way we were trundling along a station track (well north of the present-day access) when a low branch on a tree had us diverting off the track; that was when the underground spring became obvious. The heavy truck broke through the crust of dry earth and sank — up to the top of the wheels, but luckily just on one side. Still, the Unimog looked a bit like the Titanic did just before it turned turtle and sank from sight. We hoped our truck and ride back to civilisation wouldn’t do the same!

It was a sad sight as everybody disembarked and Taffy and I rigged up a winch with a double line pull. After some strenuous effort the winch burnt out, the battery went flat and the cable broke… but not necessarily in that order. By this stage Viv and the cook were organising the travellers to set up camp and prepare dinner.

Next day we started jacking and placing logs and rocks under the wheels. In all, we chopped down five trees, cut them into short lengths and dumped them, along with hundreds of bucket-loads of rocks, into the quagmire of mud and water that oozed from the spring. Slowly, over the next two full days, we got the vehicle upright and level and to a point that it wasn’t sinking back into the mud. 

The last morning, knowing we really only had one go at getting out of our predicament, we cut down another tree or two and built a corduroy road for the truck to get back to terra firma. Needless to say, we did get back, but what was interesting is how different people had reacted to the situation. Some were on the verge of panic, some didn’t lift a finger (well, they were paying clients?), some toiled away like slaves — an eye surgeon for one, his hands blistered and sore after all the work. But he loved it! 

An hour later we met the only vehicle we saw on this escapade — the unforgettable Malcolm Douglas, who had also just heard of this Bungle Bungle place and had come to film it.  

Another bogging that springs to mind was up on Cape York, well off the beaten track after we had crossed a small creek. When we returned later that afternoon the creek was swollen — the incoming tide had pushed water far up the river and into our ‘small’ creek, making it way too deep and wide to cross.

We set up camp and waited. 

Next morning the tide had retreated, leaving the creek just half a metre or so deep and a few metres wide, but with a wide, sloppy, muddy entry and exit point. To say we gave the ol’ Troopy heaps as we hurtled into the mire is an understatement, but it did us no good, at all. Out came the winch but with the biggest tree within a hundred metres being 50–70mm in diameter, we went looking for something a bit bigger. Then we had to rig up a long line of rope, winch extension straps, a winch cable from a Tirfor (would you believe) and even a couple of tree protectors straps to reach a suitable tree. Once we had that set up we winched out, but it had still taken us four hours or so to extricate ourselves, not counting the night spent camped waiting for the tide to drop. 

We named the stream ‘Boggy Creek’ and my brother carved a piece of wood with the name; two years later the name appeared on the latest map of Cape York.

There’s been others... Too many to count in fact! How many times have you been caught out? And for how long? 


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