Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Apologies to those who made comments that I didn't publish - all fixed now.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Heres a YouTube Video of track conditions on the cape.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On the way home

We got away from Cairns at 9:30am on Jul 13. We waited a bit longer for the sun to rise over the hill to help dry some very wet canvas from the previous day's rain and the heavy morning dew. I must have wiped over a ltr of water off and then moved the canvas onto the roadway to dry. Time was against us so we needed to pack up still damp but no longer dripping.

Normanton was around 600ks away so getting going was important. The first 100ks through Atherton took nearly 2hrs due to the winding road and road works. The rest of the trip was at the speed limit. We arrived at Normanton just as the sun was setting.

We wanted to see the Gulf so we got an early start and did the 140k round trip to Karumba for breakfast.

Lunch was a Burke and Wills Hotdog at the Burke and Wills Road House. We arrived at Mt Isa at 3:30.

Today we do the above ground mine tour, so I've taken the opportunity to get the local Toyota dealer to do the 40k service. Hopefully they will be finished by 1:00pm when the tour is finished.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Trip Back From The Tip

Day 11 - Punsand Bay to Moreton Telegraph Station.
A pretty uneventful trip back the way we came (on this day anyway).

We stopped briefly at the Croc Tent souvenir shop which just had a lot of high priced usual stuff along with some interesting accessories made from Croc leather and shark skin.

The Croc is a Croc (Fake)

Did a bit of detective work with the GPS and found a couple of Plane Wrecks just out of Bamaga.

We also stopped in again at Fruit Bat Falls for another swim - even got Mrs Gazza in briefly.

Arrived at Moreton TS mid afternoon only to find the tyre that was "repaired" in Bamaga had gone flat again. It was mounted on the spare tyre carrier of my mates cruiser and he was pretty annoyed at the failure. So we pulled it off the rim using his gear only to find the guy had put the edge of the patch over the hole instead of the center of the patch. Grrrr. So he reamed the area again and put a new patch on in the right place; although this required putting it over half the patch the repair guy put on so it was a 50/50 bet it would work. Anyway after nearly a week its still holding pressure so looks like it worked OK. We should have done it ourselves in the first place.

Day 12 - Moreton Telegraph Station to Chili Beach.
The original plan was to go the Chili Beach via the Frenchmans track but we met some guys who had come through there and dinged up their trucks a bit - also suggested one river crossing might be a bit deep. Not wanting to take too much of a risk with our vehicles we took the main road in. That was an easy run and probably a lot quicker.

On arrival at Chili Beach all the camp spots were taken so we had heard of an old abandoned "hippie" camp that could be used to camp at, found it and set up camp there. As it turns out it isn't a hippie camp at all but an abandoned Aboriginal Camp - Some traditional owners turned up and set us straight - they were very obliging and said we could stay over night, even gave us hints as to where to drop a line in. This turned out to be good advice - mate caught 4, keeping one for supper.

We found a couple of coconuts lying on the ground and opened them with the tomahawk to reveal some fresh milk and flesh. Mate found one too but his was rank either with seawater or just past its "best by" date.

This is "Wilson"

There's a cafe at Portland Roads about 10k away where the word among the travelers is they serve a nice cheese cake and coffee. Turned out to be very true we went back the next day for seconds. Its kinda typical of the cape very remote areas and then an oasis of something. Beaches, waterfalls, rivers, rain forests, road houses, small towns and the odd cafe. Its great!

Day 13 - Chili Beach to Archer River Roadhouse.
After having seconds at the cafe we returned to the main road then headed south for Archer River RH. Found a nice camping spot and settled in for the night. ARRH is famous for their burgers but as with much on the cape some lowering of expectations is required. The burgers are probably the best on the cape but not the best on the country - you need to keep reminding yourself that supplies have a long and rough trip in so with that in consideration the burgers were pretty good.

Friday is the day after pension day so some of the locals from Lockhart River who are not allowed alcohol in town - turn up for a fortnightly all night "corroboree" - These "Facts" I got secondhand so I'm not sure what exactly took place - What I know is they were still going at dawn and they were not always in tune.

Day 14 - Archer River Roadhouse to Port Douglas.

So after a rough night's sleep we decided to leave early and skip the stop at Laura and drive to Port Douglas a day early instead.

We stopped for a nice coffee at the ???? Beast Cafe in Coen - Having refuelled at Bamaga I had enough diesel to get me to Port Douglas.

The road coming into Laura is the worst part of the main road north having a rocky base it is hard on your suspension. But it only lasts about 20ks. Given its the last bit of gravel, we wondered how we would have felt had we come up this way thinking we might have had nearly 800km of those conditions.

That said I'm sure the road conditions change frequently with traffic and weather so what might be good one time could be much worse the next. On the whole I think we struck excellent conditions, making great trip times most of the trip.

We also stopped in Lakefield at a Roadhouse for lunch. We parted company with mate and family here, they were going to Hopevale for the night to catch up with Eddie who takes visitors spear hunting in the traditional way.

Now back on the black top and up to 110kph again we finished the trip arriving in Port Douglas mid afternoon.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

OK - Time to update

OK we are rested, Truck & Trailer are clean and we are all setup for a few days stay at Port Douglas.

Time to update the missing days.

Day 7 - Cairns to Cooktown.

We stopped to look at the Daintree Discovery Centre which has some raised paths among a large range of natural fauna & flora. A good way to see a lot in a short period of time if you are prepared to pay for it.

Zipped past Cape tribulation but obviously didn't do my research properly because we didn't see anything noteworthy.

We took the Bloomfield Track which is pretty slow going (Avg 30-40kph) parts are steep even had the big Twin Turbo V8 in first gear. Also a bit rough. So rough in fact that the tailgate in the camper opened and we lost my recovery gear and socket set - very frustrating. We managed to replace the most critical gear in Cooktown at prices only marginally more expensive than home.

Stayed the night at the Big 4 - Very nice indeed.

Day 8 - Cooktown to Hann Crossing (Lakefield NP).
The Trip was pretty straight forward road conditions around 60-70kph average.
Hann Crossing has an honor registration system where you write on a white board which camp site you are staying in and leave money in a steel mail box.

We stayed at camp 11/12 right next to the river very nice - it also had a 1-2m bank making it harder for the crocs to come straight from the river to camp. We saw crocs by torch light that night (red eyes floating down the river).

Day 9 - Hann Crossing (Lakefield NP) - Moreton Telegraph Station.
The road gets progressively easier as you approach the main road north where you find short stretches of black top and surprisingly even smoother clay top.

Fuelled up (Diesel this time) at Coen - The BP is not a BP so that was a bit inconvenient but no real biggie.

The people at Moreton are very friendly and helpful.

Day 9 - Moreton Telegraph Station - Punsand Bay.
The family we were traveling with started the day with a flat tyre - changed it a got it fixed??? (read below) in Bamaga.

We stopped at Fruit Bat Falls for a swim - the best natural water body swim I've ever had - very nice.

Anyway stopped in Bamaga to get the tyre fixed and stock up supplies.

The road into Punsand was a bit rough but not as bad as the Bloomfield track.

The scenery at Punsand is fantastic! the Beach is great but no swimming - some people went for quick dips the bottom is sandy and the water clear if you're quick. The facilities at Punsand Bay Resort hardly qualify to be called "resort" but they are adequate and priced accordingly - Keep expectations low.

The sunsets were amazing.

Day 10 - The Tip!.
This was the big day - the whole reason for the 4,500km (so far) trip - And I wasn't disappointed.

We took the back road from Punsand to the tip which is very slow with a number of deeper water holes to navigate - nothing covering the tyres but almost - It was fun. A bit overgrown so I got some surface scratches on the 200 - about time - It was looking very Toorak.

The Tip was huge fun we got the obligatory photo at the official tip but then using the GPS found the real tip of the Main Land Continent of Australia about 10m to the west.

The walk from the car park is either via the beach or over the top - we went one way and came back the other.

Took this panorama on the way back...

More Later....

Saturday, July 4, 2009

In Port Douglas

A late post just to say we have been to the tip and back and are now in Port Douglas.

The trip was much easier than we expected although we have a few stories to tell involving:
Socket Sets
The Real Tip
Ant Hills
Grass Trees
Water Crossings
and more...
But it will have to wait for a few days.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Girls Arrive

The rest of the family arived safely leaving Melbourne @ 15deg arriving 3.5 hrs later @ 28deg. So they noticed the chang whereas we had time to adjust. Done the shopping to stock up for the next 9 days on the cape. The plan tonight is to go on the dinner cruise to see Cairns from the water.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All Fixed

Drained the fuel and filled up with diesel - all good the truck is running as smooth as usual no sign of any problems. A very expensive lapse of concentration.


Well today isn't going according to plan. (Not that we had one). Went to get fuel and thoughtlessly picjed up the wrong pump and put unleaded in. Fortunately I realised early enough before I started the engine but not before putting 160ltrs in. So after calling Big Red for help he came to tow me to a service mechanic nearby - much to Big Red's amusement as now he has a photo of his 100 towing my 200. Anyway we've emptied the Aux Tank but it will take a bit more fiddling to empty the main tank. So Little One and I have gone for a look around on foot.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


We made it! Long drive today. We chose to stay on the black top so that meant Longreach, Winton, Hughenden, Townsville, Cairns. About 1,100ks. The truck had its best day @ around 16.5l/100k.

Pizza for tea then an early night.

Charters Towers

The tropical weather has already got to the Little One. She nearly bounced off her chair with excitement at the sight of a big yellow M. Having lunch @ 2:20pm Still have 500ish ks to go.

Leaving longreach

7.15am leaving longreach

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day At Longreach

After pancake breakfast went to Qantas museum. Got to sit in the piolrt seat of a 747-200-B - Cool. Then went to see a well trained flock of sheep get rounded up by sheep dogs at the Stockmans Hall Of Fame. Finshed by getting some awesome sunset photos and typical country town chinese.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Road Fauna

Although uneventful from a safety point of view we did see some fauna. Surprisingly few kangaroos (alive - numerous ex-alive ones after loosing a confrontation with a road train), quite a number of emus, 1 tortise, 3 eagles next to the road and 1 echidna. Not to mention some very large road trains includin a double B-double.


Arrived in Longreach after an uneventful trip - apart from a stopp about 25kms out to take heaps of photos of a magnificent sunset.


12:30pm Lunch and inspection of rain making cannons from 1902
Leaving bourke 7.43am

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hilston 1.50pm.


On site at Bourke. Great trip up. Easy run. Road conditions excellent. Used 220ltrs of fuel. Paid 133cpl.

Swan Hill

Got away at 5:02am done 320ks. Little One is catching up with Bri. Looking for a bakery for a light brekkie snack.
5:02am rolling out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Special Mention

I have been reminded by she who shall remain nameless that although much of the actual trip planning has fallen to me, none of the plans would have any hope of being realised without the support and hard work of my wife of 22.5ish years. Mrs Gazza has done all the booking of campsites and side adventures, packing and preparing food etc.. Often an unrecognised and under appreciated role - so here I pay tribute to a wonderful person without whom we'd still be thinking about it.

Thanks Hon!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Nearly Ready

Respooled the winch today and decided to change the trailer wiring from 7pin round to 12 pin flat. The Kaymar Bar has a slot for a flat plug so I thought I'd use it - The 12 pins will also let me consolidate the Anderson Plug into the larger Aux pins. I've left the Anderson plug on for now - will tackle that after the trip.

Also put water in the trailer and filled 2 jerry cans of water too - We'll use that for drinking - nothing like Melbourne water for drinking.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Trip Planning - Maps

Thought I'd post a bit on how I do the trip planning.

I use a few online tools like.
Google Earth
Google Maps
BP has a good site for planning fuel stops. (Handy 'cause I have a BP fuel card)

I also use a spreadsheet I created in Google Docs - With this I calculate travel times and fuel usage (using kph and l/100k estimates based on known driving conditions and experience using the truck)

Then I plan the trip in more detail using OziExplorer setting up routes etc.. This can loaded on the Car PC and/or Windows Mobile Smart phones.

As an aside - Google Earth is great for creating maps in OziExplorer because GE has gps co-ordinates in the application.

Here is the Google map of the trip:

View Cape York Trip in a larger map

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tyres and Rims

Spent the day organising new rims for the Camper Trailer to match the Cruiser. Toyota have now brought out a Steel Rims to match the 200 series so I picked up 3 rims had the spare tyres fitted to them and put them on the Camper. Now I have 8 tyres and rims that are all interchangeable - also effectively giving me 2 spares for either the cruiser or camper.

Put the camper behind the Cruiser and adjusted the spotties for the extra weight weight in the tail which lifts the front end slightly. I actually measured the drop when I put the camper on and it was only 30mm so the 200kg constant load springs on the Cruiser are doing their job.

I've also fitted a Kaymar rear carrier and bar which allowed me to replace the Longranger 70ltr Aux fuel tank with a 155ltr unit. Now I'm carrying a fuel capacity of 245lts probably 225ltrs usable. That should give me a range fully loaded of 1400km (assuming 16ltrs /100k which is what I expect with a load on traveling at the speed limit)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Trip Planning - Update

A closer look at dates and timing etc. and we have firmed up some plans.

The trip up to Cairns is now as follows:
Leave early Day 1 - for Bourke. (1040k)
Day 2 - Bourke to Longreach (969k)
Day 3 - Day in Longreach (Stockmans Hall of fame and QANTAS Museum)
Day 4 - Longreach to Cairns. (919k)
--Break in Cairns.
Cape Trip.
Day 1 - Cairns to Cooktown (Via Cape Tribulation) (200k)
Day 2 - Cooktown to Lakefield NP (Possible camping at Hann River Crossing) (200k)
Day 3 - Lakefield NP to Moreton TS (380k)
Day 4 - Moreton TS to Punsand Bay (Taking easy route for most part incl Jardine River Ferry) (270k)
Day 5 - Trip to the tip. (Stay at Punsand Bay)
Day 6 - Back to Moreton TS (270k)
Day 7 - Moreton TS to Chili Beach - (Iron Range NP) Probably a slow trip (120k)
Day 8 - Chili Beach to Archer River RH (150k)
Day 9 - Archer River RH to Port Douglas (240k)
--Break in Port Douglas / Cairns. (8 Nights)
Trip Home
Day 1 - Leave midday for Hughenden (587k)
Day 2 - Hughenden to Mt Isa (521k) - Mine tour (That afternoon or possibly next morning)
Day 3 - Mt Isa to Longreach (647k) - Depending on time might revisit QANTAS museum to see bits missed last time.
Day 4 - Longreach to Charleville (515k) Visit Telescope.
Day 5 - Chareville to Peak Hill (839k)
Day 6 - Charleville to Home (784k) - Stop at Parkes Radio Telescope.

Total Ks 9058.