Here’s the video that has me doing Gunshot Creek in a Mankini and shows all the major driving challenges on the Old Telegraph Track including Palm Creek and Nolan’s Brook.
Simply put… The Old Telegraph Track is why we came to Cape York!!!
The Old Telegraph Track is one of the mecca’s of 4wding in Australia. It is a 110km track that runs in a straight line from Bramwell Station to the Jardine River and obviously it is named from the Telegraph Tracks that were once in use up at the Cape.
You can get to the tip of Cape York even in a 2wd on the Peninsular Development Rd that curves around and cuts across the Telegraph Track, but the Old Telegraph Track also known as the OTT is something that is so enjoyable that if you own a 4×4 you really need to experience it once.
Along the OTT are the amazingly beautiful waterholes and scenery that you would miss by driving along the main PDR road.
The 4wd experience and the creek crossings are both formidable and challenging and it is the reason that we came to the Cape. It can be done in a non-modified 4×4 as there are chicken tracks around anything too difficult. However, if you want a challenge in a modified vehicle then there is plenty of obstacles to play with.
The most famous challenges on The Old Telegraph Track are Palm Creek, Gunshot Creek which is the photo in the header, and Nolan’s Brook. Read on and watch the video for how we managed them.
Day 10 – 10 Sept 2017 The Old Telegraph Track – Moreton Telegraph Station to Eliot Falls
130km 4hrs 39min Driving time
The OTT starts at Bramwell Station which is your place to fuel up. Across the road are large termite mounds that are from Cathedral Termites since they are massive.
Once you drive into the OTT within only 5kms you come across Palm Creek. In the dry season it is a dry river bed, but the entrance into and out of Palm Creek is very steep and the chicken track is not obvious. Dropping into it is a trial by fire but if I didn’t do this descent, I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to do Gunshot.
Getting out of Palm Creek was the only time that both our Jeeps needed to use diff lockers to climb out. Many people need winches so we were happy that we managed with just the lockers. You will need to watch the video to appreciate the difficulty.
The OTT is known for its many creek crossings and just past Palm Creek is then Dulhunty and Bertie Creeks. Both of which are shallow and easy to cross.
But then comes Gunshot Creek. Holy Cow! Now there are multiple drops into the creek but there is only one true original drop which is straight down a narrow cutout. Any other videos and pics that you see are the chicken tracks.
When I first started thinking about the Cape, I started watching youTube videos on how people did it and it scared the shit out of me thinking about it. The embankment is a straight drop and so narrow that many vehicles scrape the sides.
I also imagined that if you ploughed in nose first that you could tip right over. Now after doing at it, I don’t think you can but I didn’t know that at the time. My biggest fear was tipping, having my cabin submerged and then ending up drowning because of not being able to get out the doors. Again I don’t think this is possible now that I’ve done it.
Luckily Jeeps have a really stubby nose so I suspected that we would do it easily. People set up at the base for the whole day just to watch 4x4s come through Gunshot so there is always an audience and this day there were about 20 people watching. Now you all know me as an extrovert show pony so to get some infamy up I couldn’t just do Gunshot in my Jeep… I needed some sort of special something else to make my mark… so I spontaneously decided to do it in a MANKINI!!! Yep that’s fucking right. The Mankini rides again! You should always keep one handy! Again you will need to watch the video to appreciate it.
Saying that, I was still very very nervous, but once you drop over the edge, there is no skill… It’s just gravity. The only skill comes from lining up the vehicle to not scrape your sides. I did have a moments pause at the top thinking what the heck am I doing? But how I got through was me saying to myself… “I haven’t seen anyone flip over on youTube, so it must be safe and if people did flip it would have been posted all over place.” Crazy reasoning but it worked for me!
But I did it easily and so did Greg. We are FUCKING LEGENDS! I personally was so chuffed as this was a personal fear barrier that I overcame with logical arguments in my head. I was proud of myself!
BTW there are chicken tracks around and even a bypass road for the less adventurous.
After Gunshot was Cockatoo Creek but then we came across Scrubby Creek. This creek is not mentioned in a lot of the maps and rarely talked about but it is very deep and long and muddy. Now theoretically you are meant to walk a creek before you drive it but we were all scared of crocs. Luckily some of the guys from the Brisbane 4wd club walked it and the base is nice and firm so it was a breeze.
We opted not to use a water bra as we felt that we could get a good bow wave going to keep water out of the fan and engine. Greg has a automatic so it was just maintaining a constant speed that gets you through. I have a manual and I did it in low range 2nd gear as I felt 1st gear would be too slow.
Despite all this, we all got water into the cabin and there would be no way to avoid it. Scrubby Creek stunk our carpets out and is the reason that we got a cabin a Seisia so we could wash our carpets. In future I would remove my carpets at home.
From Scrubby Creek we then pulled into Eliot Falls campground. This needs to be booked so we were lucky that we had a satellite phone with us. We initially thought that we would camp at Canal Creek, but there was used toilet paper everywhere and it was simply disgusting.
Day 11 – 11 Sept 2017 The Old Telegraph Track – Eliot Falls to Seisia
120km 3hrs 34min Driving time
Eliot Falls was stunningly beautiful and we loved it here. We regret that we didn’t slow down and plan a full day around here. If I went back I would definitely do that. The entire falls is made of several swim spots 50-100m apart.
Once leaving Eliot Falls to tackle the northern part of the OTT we crossed Canal Creek, Mistake Creek, and then Greg’s favourite creek crossing Cannibal Creek. This has a nice right hand turn in the middle of the creek with a steep drop into it.
Then there are some scary logs crossing Cypress Creek before getting to Logan’s Creek. This is also very deep and probably only second to Nolan’s Brook as being the most worrying place to get stuck.
Which then brings us to Nolan’s Brook. Youtube is filled with vehicles drowned here not just because it is deep but because it has a very sandy base which once a vehicle gets stuck, then makes it deeper. All I can say is that we just didn’t have a problem at all but the 2 vehicles after us got stuck.
We had a swim up the creek a bit but when we got home we saw an article saying that there are crocs up the creek. We won’t be doing that again!
Nolan’s Brook is the last obstacle because after that the next stop is the Jardine Ferry at the Jardine River. It’s the ferry that takes you across to Bamaga and then onto the port of Seisia.
The Old Telegraph Track was the highlight of our Cape trip and doing Gunshot and Nolan’s Brook were the absolute stand out achievements that made us really appreciate that our Jeep Wranglers are superior to many 4wd’s for the hardcore wheeling. And it also made us appreciate the skills that we both learnt belonging to a 4wd club like the Brisbane Jeep Club.
There are more photos at this link but you really should watch the video to appreciate the OTT!