So if you are too impatient to read and want to watch the Part 1 video on youTube then here it.
So 2 years ago my Mate Peter and I hatched a plan to do a trip to Cape York that didn’t happen when we thought it would. In that time he joined the Brisbane 4wd Club and I joined the Brisbane Jeep Club and we both ended up arranging to go with people from our respective clubs but at the same time which was awesome.
Cape York is the northern most tip of Australia in the state of Queensland which is where we live but very few Queenslanders ever get there in their lifetime as it is known to be a difficult remote trip. It really isn’t that difficult or that remote but the mystique keeps the non-adventurous people out which is probably really good because in peak times there are probably too many idiots up there who treat the place terribly.
We didn’t see too much of the bad stuff but traffic jams, cramped camping, theft, drunken yobos, damaging the environment and using the campsites like an open toilet are all things seen in the peak school holiday times.
We went 2 weeks before the school holidays in September which was a great time to go. It was nowhere near as busy as we have seen it reported.
Now that we have been up there, I can honestly say that we live in the most beautiful amazing state of Queensland in the most ruggedly beautiful country in the world. After all the 67 countries that we have been too, this trip in our own back yard was one of the most enjoyable trips that we have ever done.
My Jeep The Ginger Ninja is a 2013 JKU Jeep Wrangler and we joined with Greg, Jackie and Amy in their Jeep Sylvester a 2015 JKU Jeep Wrangler. Both Jeeps had been previously modified with 2 inch lifts, winches and snorkels and we were both reasonably confident with 4wdriving from wheeling in the 4×4 parks around Brisbane with the Jeep Club.
Both Jeeps got new tyres just before the trip. Coopers STT Pro Max 285/70r/17 (33inch) at the suggestion of our favourite Jeep mechanic Dave at Dynamic Autocare at Dayboro. We were very happy with them. They were unbelievably silent for mud tyres on the tar and this was important since we easily did 5000kms on highway driving.
And their grip on the wet was fine and perfect for the Old Telegraph Track. You could get by with All Terrains but I definitely felt more confident on Mud Tyres for the difficult stuff. You’ll see I had to do a lot in 2wd due to a front drive problem and the Muddies helped me through.
At the end of Chapter 5 I’ll post a blog of what we consider are tips that we didn’t know before we went.
Day 1 – 1 Sept 2017 Brisbane to Tannum Sands
500km 7 hours drive with breaks
Oh man we were hoping to leave in the morning but packing the Jeep was an exercise in Tetris!
Day 2 – 2 Sept 2017 Tannum Sands to Bowen
655km Full day’s drive 9 hours
Had breaky at Say Cafe, Tannum Sands. Loved this place. Great food, great owner and great coffee. Highly recommended.
We’ve spent the last few months educating Kitson on not going near the water’s edge due to the risks of Croc! Bigarsed Crocs!
Have always hated driving the Marlborough stretch between Rockhamptom and Mackay. 5 hours with nothing and a crappy road. This sign says it all.
Day 3 – 3 Sept 2017 Bowen to Port Douglas
612km Full day’s drive about 9 hours
Repaired blocked my windscreen jets and then quick visit out to Horseshoe Bay which was lovely. Picked Peter up along and the way and ate lunch at Ayr. It was a big driving day today!
Day 4 – 4 Sept 2017 Port Douglas to Mossman Gorge and then to Cape Tribulation via Daintree
117km 2.5 hours driving time
Haven’t been here for over 25 years but 4 mile beach is still stunning.
Then headed out to Mossman Gorge. It’s a pain in the arse now because you need to get a bus there from the visitors centre. They suggested not swimming as many people have been injured or killed here when the water flows fast. I got in the water as it was pretty hot and ended up breaking my big toe after slipping off a rock. Aaaaargh!!! I’ve obviously angered the aboriginal spirits here! This place is still beautiful though.
We then headed off to the Daintree. Haven’t been here for 25 years too and I always find it overrated.
Eventually we pulled in to camp at Cape Tribulation campsite for our first night camping. Cape Trib is always stunning. Again 25 years later I still love it here.
Day 5 – 5 Sept 2017 Cape Tribulation to Cooktown via The Bloomfield Track
153km 3hr39min driving time
So the Bloomfield track is the dirt track that goes along the Bloomfield River via the aboriginal town of Wujal Wujal where there is a very nice waterfall and small art gallery. It was a worthwhile stop and the Bloomfield River is where we saw our first croc on the river bank.
The track itself is now graded with grip added so we did not find it a challenge at all. It is a little bit steep in 1 area but there were 2wd cars doing it. Saying that though when I stopped behind a slow moving car, I had to go into low range to get moving as the track was pretty darn steep.
The main attraction after the Bloomfield is The Lions Den Hotel which has been there since 1875. Kitson and Amy got to sign the wall for a gold coin donation to the Flying Doctors.
Just before Cooktown we dropped into Archer Point. Man this is place is free camping and beautiful. We’ll camp here sometime. It’s a little windy here with the trade winds that are consistent for the entire Cape this time of year.
Day 6 – 6 Sept 2017 Cooktown to Musgrave Station via Lakefield (Rinyirru) National Park and Laura
287.2km 4Hr 38min driving time
So Cooktown is all about Captain Cook who “discovered” Australia… if you don’t count the aboriginals and all the other explorers who probably stopped in over the years. The anchor for his ship the Endeavour is in a museum here.
Cooktown is actually really pretty on the foreshore as well. But for us it is a stepping stone to get to the real adventure!
Battlecamp Road took us over a beautiful range into Lakefield (Rinyirru) National Park.
Long dusty roads with endless fields of termite mounds were all around us. There’s a lot of billabongs up here with very large crocs but we didn’t pull into any of them. The main attraction is Old Laura an old homestead showing how rough life was up here.
We eventually pulled into Musgrave Station where we caught up with Peter’s mates. They had a croc feeding going on which was cool.
Day 7 – 7 Sept 2017 Musgrave to Chili Beach via Coen and Archer River
348.4km 5hrs 31min driving time
So heading up the PDR which is called the Peninsular Development Rd was full of us breathing in a lot of red dust every time a car passed. The PDR can be either full of massive potholes or smooth new bitumen.
Of note in Coen I took a photo of the fridge at Armbrust Shop. We definitely brought too much food from home when you can just buy it up here.
The place everyone gets a beer from is the Sexchange Hotel.
Mt Tozer is one of the viewpoints on the way out to Chili Beach.
Day 8 – 8 Sept 2017 Exploring Chili Beach and Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range National Park) and Lockhart River
99.3km 2hrs driving
We loved Chili Beach. It has vicious trade winds so it is very blowy with all the palm trees bent with the wind, but it has a real feeling of remoteness. At least when we were there.
We did a trip to Lockhart River to fuel up. I had been there with the Flying Doctors in 1993 so it was great to go back there. Alcohol is banned in Aboriginal Communities now which is a great idea. I remember from Flying Doctor days evacuating so many injuries due to alcohol violence in these communities. It pisses tourists off but it is a necessity up here.
The highlight was a trip out to Qunitel Beach and driving amongst the massive boulders that the beach is known for. There was obviously some impressive volcanic explosions in the long distant past of this part of the cape to throw so many massive boulders around.
We had some lovely police drop by to show the kids a fun time in the paddy wagon.
We also did a night walk and saw some massive scary animals and got scared off by a bush pig that grunted at us.
I will be back here one day!
But here is a link to the full album of pictures if you want to see more.
Up next The Frenchman’s Track!