Cape York Aug 2008


New Member
Hi all

well we are back and what a trip.

Left to go north on 28 Jul 08 worked in Tville for a few days then off again

Have lots of pics of the trip, will get a selection on our site soon

A few dramas on the way but they were overcome and all contiued to the top

Our trip on Google Maps - Google Maps

A narrative written by Chris below


Mark and I departed Brisbane on 28 July 2006 at a leisurely 8.30 AM with the understanding that we would only be traveling to Rockhampton on the first day. We arrived in Rocky in the early afternoon without incident and spent the night in a fully serviced bungalow. The next day was another leisurely 750 Km drive to Townsville. We stayed at Rowe’s Bay Caravan Park for 2 days while Mark attended to some work duties at Lavarack Barracks, then due to Rowe’s Bay being booked out, we moved over to the Big Four Caravan Park just up the road from Lavarack. While in Townsville, we dined at the Seaview Hotel. In days gone by, it was known as a particularly rough pub, being the scene of many a Friday Night bloodbath. Fortunately, times have changed and it is a fairly classy establishment now, boasting the best steaks in NQ. It’s a bit of a rich claim but one which I must admit I would have difficulty disputing!!! We departed on Friday 1 August for Cairns and beyond.

We stayed at Wonga Beach just south of Daintree and spent the next day by putting the boat in to the Daintree River and spending the day trolling (unsuccessfully) and watching for crocs which are abundant. I got some great snaps of some really big crocs up to about 12 feet long as they basked on the banks. Once you get too close, they slide into the water and submerge out of sight. I was a bit nervous of perhaps hitting one with the propeller but that didn’t happen, fortunately. Mark Simpson and family, and Robbie McClure and his sister and son joined us later that evening, after a marathon effort of about 1800 kms in 2 days.

There was the opportunity to spend an extra night in Wonga Beach to allow the others to recover but this option wasn’t taken (everybody was keen to get stuck into the trip) and the next day, we visited the township of Daintree for a bacon and egg roll and a look around before crossing the Daintree River by ferry and tackling the famed Bloomfield Track through the Daintree Forest north to Cooktown. We had been warned that the Bloomfield track was at best difficult and should not be attempted if towing trailers. Mark and I had the boat behind, Simmo had his camper trailer and Robbie had his trailer loaded to the gunwales with gear.

The Bloomfield Track proved to be hugely disappointing as the steep inclines have all been concreted and tamed. It is almost possible to negotiate the entire track in 2 wheel drive! We never-the-less managed to lose a mudguard off the boat trailer and the axle slipped across so that the tyre began to rub against the chassis. Some quick repairs and bush mechanical work and we arrived at the Lion’s Den Hotel which is famed for its homely tucker and professes to be one of the top drinking holes in Australia. It was another disappointment yet again. It’s not bad, mind you, just not up to expectations. The pub definitely has character but it wasn’t as friendly an atmosphere as I expected. I think they’ve let themselves get snowed under by their own popularity. We drove on to Cooktown, stopping to take some photos of two unbelievable mountains which appear to be just great mounds of black rocks. They don’t look natural at all, rather that they’ve been put there by machine.

Cooktown was terrific. It has such historical significance and everywhere there is evidence of what it must have been like in 1770 when James Cook first landed there to make repairs to his boat. There are statues and memorials everywhere. The town also boasts the “Croc Shop”, which, when we went in was staffed by a woman called Linda Rowe who has written a book called Paradise Lost about her exploits in the far north in the ‘70s when it really was a hostile and inaccessible part of Australia. In it, she describes her frequent tussles with mammoth crocs, and the characters that made the far north such a unique place.

After 2 nights in Cooktown, we headed north up Battle Camp Creek road into the Lakefield National Park. That’s when we struck the first troubles. The corrugations were horrific to say the least! I have honestly never experienced anything so uncomfortable or destructive in my life. The irony is that each corrugation is made up of soft dust which can easily be flattened by a sweep of the foot; yet, vehicles were being rattled to destruction on them! The first casualty was the boat. The mudguard which we had lost on the Bloomfield Track and had been re-welded at Cooktown was ripped off, leaving a gaping hole in the chassis. Shortly after, about 60 kilometers up the track, the second came off in similar circumstances, the fish plates detached from the axle causing the whole axle to slip sideways again, and there was a nasty tear in the transom of the boat, rendering it useless. It was decided that we should return to Cooktown and leave the boat at the Cooktown Caravan Park. John, the proprietor is a true gentleman and was happy to take care of the boat until our return some weeks later. Undaunted, we attempted Battle Camp Creek road again. We arrived at the exact same spot that had realized the demise of the boat when we noticed that Robbie’s trailer wasn’t right. The spring capture on the driver’s side had been torn off the chassis and was flailing around uselessly, causing the wheel to roll back against the mudguard and rub badly. Simmo produced a drag chain and with some ingenious “bush mechanics” by Dayle, subsequently awarded the post nominal’s “MDS” (Master of Dodgy Shit). We continued, maintaining a close watch over Robbie’s axle, lest it happen again.
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New Member
Cape York Aug 2008 - Continued

After a long day (about 12 hours on the road collectively) we arrived at Lake Emma about 95 Kms north of Cooktown. It was well and truly dark when we arrived, and despite warnings everywhere about the local crocs, we set up camp with the hasty erection of a tarp and that’s about it. The ground was very rough and uneven and we noticed the next morning that we had set up over a series of boulders. Lake Emma is very picturesque but it looks like a real croc hotspot to me!!! We got back on the road without much ceremony as there was still a great deal of concern for Robbie’s trailer.

As we feared, the second capture on Robbie’s trailer gave up about 30 Kms north and at about 9.30 AM. No amount of jury rigging was going to get him back on the road so Robyn, Robbie’s sister went with Stoney to try and get phone reception and call RACQ. Once again irony reared its ugly head. It was only about 4 or 5 kilometers up the road that it flattened out completely and became comfortable. The RACQ tilt tray arrived 2 hours later and Robbie followed it back to Cooktown for repair. It was agreed that the rest of us would continue and Robbie would catch up later via the Development Road when his trailer was fixed.

We arrived at Musgrave Station at about 5PM hot, dusty and more than a little deflated. Musgrave Station is a most welcome oasis in the far north. It boasts a super friendly and hospitable staff and we enjoyed a welcome cup of coffee and a huge plate of fresh chips and sauce. The sites are unpowered but we were told that if we needed power, just discreetly roll out an extension cord to the laundry. I phoned Robbie in Cooktown to get an update. He advised me that he would have the trailer repaired tomorrow and be on the road again later in the AM. We agreed to meet at Archer River Roadhouse, some 170 Kms further up the road the next night. We slept well.

The next day was fine and warm and we wasted no time getting on the road after a cooked brekky. The day’s travel was only short so there was no need to hurry. We reached Coen to be greeted with a great deal of ceremony at the Civic Centre. Apparently Anna Bligh (the Premier) and Tony Abbott (the Minister for God knows what) were there with some Land Rights ceremony for the locals. We lunched at one of the local roadside cafes which boasted a burger called the “Gutbuster”. Dayle had to have a chop at one as he boasts an appetite to behold. Strangely, even though the burger was so tall that it had to be stabilized with a skewer and dismantled for consumption, he managed to best it. We arrived at Archer River around mid afternoon, set up a tarp for the night and settled into a few beers and to wait for Robbie’s arrival. Robbie arrived in the early evening with the news that the roads were good but he had managed to hit an eagle during the trip. They reckon one wing completely covered the windscreen. Fortunately, the eagle survived and there was minimal damage to Robbie’s car that was easily fixed with a couple of Zippy Ties.

The next day we made for Wiepa and a few days rest. It had been planned that we would stay for a few days and have a really good look around. Oddly, there appears not to be any civic centre in Wiepa. The entire area is owned by Rio Tinto, the Bauxite mining multinational, and it has no interest in providing anything except what is needed for its workers by way of infrastructure. All in all, had we known what Wiepa was like, we would have given it a big miss and saved about 160 kms of needless travel. One plus was that Robbie and I managed to catch up with Scotty Cuthbert who used to work with us at Woodford and is now one of the trainers at Rio Tinto, teaching people to drive the enormous mine trucks. Simmo and his family went on the mine tour and appeared to be well satisfied with it. Meanwhile, the rest of us spent the afternoon at the jetty fishing and watching the Navy’s HMAS Hawkesbury, a patrol boat, which was in town for a few days. I looked hard as I could and couldn’t catch a glimpse of Lisa McCune anywhere!!!

Wiepa didn’t hold our attention for long and we decided to head further north. The track to Bramwell Junction passes through Batavia Downs and starts about 40 kms out of Wiepa. We reached Bramwell for lunch and refueled. The fuel there was $2.38 per litre, compared with about $1.40 per litre in Brisbane. Bramwell Junction represents the start of the Overland Telegraph Track. Many people were saying that the Peninsular Development Road was so bad that one might as well take the OTT anyway, it being a bit of a challenge for the 4WDer. The first few crossings were fairly tame and the water was little more than calf deep. I walked every crossing first just in case there were some deep spots. Berty Creek was the first of the challenging ones. It required some careful negotiating to get through without becoming stuck in one of the rocky potholes. Stoney managed to find one despite best intentions and put a healthy dent in his gas tank. We camped in a lovely spot on the Berty Creek, nestled in the wilderness, enjoying a crackling camp fire beside gentle rapids under a starry night sky. We had done just 30 Kms of the OTT.


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Cape York Aug 2008 - Continued again

The next day, we struck out further north. We had all been looking forward to the challenge of Gunshot Creek, Mistake Creek, Cannibal Creek and Nolan’s Brook crossings. It was understood that most crossings were easily navigable with the exception of Nolan’s Brook which was really deep and the only crossing was apparently towards the right hand side only. Gunshot was easy, Cannibal likewise, the log crossing of Mistake Creek proved interesting and a bit of a challenge. It needed one person to guide each driver across, carefully avoiding the treacherous gaps in the timbers. It was about a 15 foot drop into the creek below for a driver who made a mistake. With each crossing, drivers became more and more confident but with the departure from Mistake Creek, Robbie’s rotten run of luck continued, this time losing 4 wheel drive and having to be winched out of the steep departure. It appeared that there was some sort of problem with the selectors or something that allowed him only to have 2 wheel high ratio. With Nolan’s Brook looming large, there were already some concerns about Robbie’s ability to negotiate it, having no snorkel. The bypass was 89 Kms long compared to 25 Kms through Nolan’s and on those roads that meant a huge difference in time. We decided to have a shot at Nolan’s Brook and simply tow Robbie through. This became even more necessary now he was down to two wheel drive.

Our arrival at Nolan’s Brook was interesting to say the least. At each difficult crossing, there is generally a crowd of spectators hoping to enjoy the carnage that the particular crossing will create. Nolan’s was definitely no exception. There were a band of bike riders there we had been traveling more or less at the same time as us. I walked the crossing to the right as recommended to find the water was about140cm deep and there was a slight current as well. To say that I was worried was a bit of an understatement. Stoney walked it too with the same concerns. The left hand side appeared to be a little shallower (about 110 cm) and with a modicum of discussion, Stoney decided to have a crack at it. He was towing Robbie’s trailer at this stage. He did a great job, staying hard to the left and riding up on a submerged log and got through without a worry. I think amid the elation of his achievement he was quietly very relieved. Next came Simmo, towing his trailer and Robbie at the same time. In hindsight, it would probably have been wise to negotiate the crossing and extend a strap across for Robbie and tow him across completely from dry land. As it was, Robbie hadn’t even entered the water and was not impeding Simmo at all. Simmo went right and lost momentum as he was climbing out the other side. Sitting in over a metre of water, we had to pull out his winch cable and he was forced to winch himself out, not before his cabin was completely awash. Robbie floated across behind, but still got his carpets wet.

Fortunately, that was the final crossing for the OTT as about 2 Kms further was the cross over to the development road. We pulled in to the Jardine River camp grounds after nightfall and spent several hours setting up a tarpaulin and spreading things out to dry. Hot showers were a most welcome reward for a tough day’s travel.

The next morning, we crossed the Jardine River by ferry. It is operated by the local Injinoo people and the fare of $88.00 covers return crossing and all bush camping fees north of the Jardine. The roads by this time had improved markedly and are easily negotiated at speeds of up to 80 KPH. We arrived in Injinoo mid morning and followed on through to Bamaga and finally to our destination at Loyalty Beach.

There is one thing patently obvious in the far north – everything from accommodation to groceries is extremely expensive. The average small bungalow unit in a Caravan Park at Seisia costs over $200 per night compared to between $50 and $60 elsewhere. A carton of 24 cans of coke will set you back $47.50 and a 24 can slab of XXXX Gold costs $50. Fuel is a staggering $2.20 per litre, only more expensive at Bramwell Junction. We enjoyed a magnificent campsite at Loyalty between ensuite type showers and toilets and a standing “camp kitchen”. Because of our numbers, we were not troubled by other campers in the area trying to use the same facilities. The area has a lush tropical canopy of palm trees and other shady trees over a sandy grass covered earth. During our stay, we treated ourselves to a roast dinner at the Loyalty Beach Fishing Lodge. Once again, it was very expensive costing about $55 per head for a basic roast pork dinner followed by fruit salad and ice-cream consumed at picnic tables in the garden and washed down with various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, we had missed a native dance show put on by a local Aboriginal dance troupe the night before but we enjoyed a conversation with one of the tribal organizers who was there taking down some of the accoutrements.

The next day, we ventured the last 34 or so kilometers to the tip. The last bit is a 15 minute walk/climb over the rocks to a sign placed on the bluff which states that you are standing at the northernmost point of mainland Australia. We all posed for the mandatory photo session for posterity and marveled at how this must have been for Captain James Cook when he first visited here over 200 years ago. Everywhere are stone cairns which have been built by visitors and added to by others as they visited here. There is a small memorial plaque to what I later found out to be a young lad who desperately wanted to visit this place but sadly died I think of leukemia before he could do so. Apparently his family obtained permission, presumably from the Local Aboriginal council, to erect the plaque. On the way back, we stopped at the Croc Tent and purchased the mandatory souvenirs and associated paraphernalia.

Stoney, Robyn, Matt and I booked a charter at $185 a piece and Simmo, Jill and Dayle opted for a tour of Thursday Island etc. The wind was blowing at about 30 knots and yet the seas in the area between the islands were surprisingly flat. There was very little chop and no swell at all. If it had been Moreton Bay, it would have been way too rough to go out. As it happened, the only area that was the least bit rough was well outside the lee of the islands. We had the good fortune to pass Possession Island where there stands a monument commemorating the place where Captain Cook officially took possession of the East Coast of Australia in the name of the King.

We trolled lures for a while with a modicum of success, catching several queenfish of good size in the process. At one stage, Mat hooked onto a good barracuda and as we were trying to untangle the lines and let him fight it out, a large shark attacked it and that was that. Later, we anchored up in a quieter area out of the wind for a bite to eat and a bit of bottom bouncing for reef fish. Nobody had much luck except one bloke who dragged reef fish of every possible description one after another into the boat while the rest of us struggled to get a bite. Later, some sharks arrived astern of the boat, attracted no doubt by the berley trail laid by a couple of queenfish frames towed behind. We wasted no time getting a fish frame bait out to them and a few seconds later, Matty was in the fight of his life with about a 2 metre shark which very quickly started to get a sizeable quantity of line off his reel. He battled manfully for better than a half hour and then in exhaustion, handed the rod to another bloke (for a breather) who promptly got snapped off!!! Meanwhile I had hooked up as well and struggled for about the same time taking the 65 pound braid out to breaking point until I managed to get the shark up beside the boat. Then the unspeakable, the rod tip broke, fortunately allowing me to continue the fight. Then a second piece broke leaving me with a stump of a rod battling an extremely angry 80 kilogram or so shark. The charter operator wasn’t keen for me to drag the shark on board at all so I opted to cut him off and let him have his freedom. Stoney did the honours, and the shark turned over and slowly swam back into the depths. I was exhausted, so much so that after we returned, I could only manage a soft drink and while others prepared tea, I had an early night!


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Cape York Aug 2008 - Continued again and again

The weather had been relatively kind to us for the entire trip, remaining mild with balmy though cloudy days and warm nights but the next day the clouds became more threatening. When it rains even a little up here, there is a very real danger of becoming trapped by the creeks which become raging torrents. With discretion being the better part of valor, we opted to depart, packing up in the morning and being on the road by about 8.30. About 20 Kms south of Bamaga, disaster struck. Robbie radioed us that he had hit a kangaroo so we doubled back to find him at the side of the road leaking radiator fluid copiously. Fortunately nobody in the car was hurt, but the roo was dead and the radiator had been pushed back on its mounts and ruptured the lower tank. Robyn and I drove back towards Bamaga in Stoney’s car trying to get phone reception. We finally got hold of the RACQ and arranged for a tow truck to recover Robbie back to Bamaga. About an hour later, we learned that the repairer in Bamaga would not attempt the repair and the vehicle would have to be shipped by barge all the way to Cairns. This meant for Robbie, Robyn and Matty, the trip was pretty much over. Robbie was gutted. They had to remain in Seisia for another couple of days before the vehicle could be loaded onto the barge to arrive almost a week later in Cairns. There was nothing more we could do so we left them there at their accommodation and headed south. I must admit, I had the most hollow, empty feeling and I felt so bad for Robbie.

The trip south was relatively uneventful. The Peninsula Development Road which was reported to be in bad shape had just been graded and it was possible to travel at 80 Km/H for the most part. Simmo and his family had left earlier but Stoney and I didn’t leave until about 1.30 after sorting Robbie out. We still managed to reach Musgrave Station by about 9.15 that night, where we found Simmo had booked into a cabin there. We knocked on his door but they were already asleep. It felt strange to be able to travel from Bamaga to Musgrave in a matter of hours when it had taken 2 days via the OTT! The following morning, we said a brief hullo to Simmo and clan and got on the road again. We had originally planned to return to Cooktown, repair the boat and get to Etty Bay (just south of Innisfail) for a few days fishing. With Robbie’s accident, the idea seemed somehow inappropriate and we were keen to get home. We decided that Etty Bay would be another trip.

Stoney and I stopped in Cairns briefly after a detour to Cooktown to get the boat where we arranged for the gas line in the Prado to be repaired. Cairns: It is chock-a-block with roundabouts. Also the Bruce Highway remains choked with traffic perpetually during daylight hours. One would have thought it wise to bypass Cairns with the main Australian highway!!!

We made Townsville by just after 9PM that night and opted to take a Bungalow in the Big 4 Caravan Park for convenience sake.

The next day, there was only 1350 odd kilometers to go so we took off early with the intention of attempting the entire distance in one hit. We arrived home at about 10PM that evening. Altogether, we had traveled almost 6,000 Kms in just short of 3 weeks.
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New Member
Post trip Update

Robbie has now returned to Brisbane and it appears he lost 4wd due to a trashed front Diff

Alls good and its in for repair


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A few pics Cape 08

Pics of our trip


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Well-Known Member
Great Report mate, glad to see that someone else doesn't get writers cramp with these sort of things , Is six weeks a long enough time to do the cape from Victoria, thats what we estimated, hope to do it in the next year or two, really depends on getting good staffing to handle the business whilst one is away , not all that easy - plenty of cowboys out there !:D:D:D


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More Pics

Pics of Nolans Brook


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I'm still going through the essay on it's entirety. An epic it is & deservedly so . As some of you know Grit & others, Im heading that way in less than 12 months . So all these tit bits are huge insights .I've enjoyed what Ive read so far i've I printed it off to read when I've got a spare moment . WELL DONE Mark .


New Member

I will have more pics of the whole trip on our site soon

Just getting all pics named and the repeort formatted by Simo for upload

May take a few days

Thanks to all who have commented

Anyone doing the OTT, try to spend a few nights on the track and camp at the crossings LIKE

Dulhunty River or even better Dulhunty River and Bertie Creek Junction will give GPS Coords when I have downloaded the track file and Nolans Brook

as the action of other trucks is very enjoyable



hey Extreme, I had no luck getting your details up on Google Maps (may just be the browser I'm using though) & am looking forward to the gps Co-ords & more pics. Kinda makes me wanna bring our trip forward. The timing works well for work and weather though, so it will stay July 09.

Enjoyed the read, great work!