Laura to Maytown on Old Coach Road - alone with a trailer???

Submitted: Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 11:43
ThreadID: 102566 Views:7058 Replies:2 FollowUps:12
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Hi all,

We (my wife and I plus two teenage kids) are heading up to Cairns and Cooktown in June/July with our GU Patrol and Trackabout Safari camper trailer. Looking for ways to come back, I'm very tempted to come down the Old Coach Road from Laura to Maytown. Any thoughts from those who've been there recently on whether you'd do that on your own?


2002 GU Patrol 4.8 Petrol/LPG - manual, 2" lift, winch, 33's, battle scars
2004 Trackabout Safari camper, nicely rockblasted underneath, 7 jerries for the GU!
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Reply By: equinox - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:17

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:17
Hi Tim,

I wouldn't take the trailer; could be done but would be risky. I drove on it six months ago and some parts were a challenge just for the ute let alone a trailer.

Here some pictures from November:


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Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:24

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:24
Thanks very much for that, Equinox - especially the nice pix! I see you were with a mate. Ignoring the trailer issue for the moment, would you be comfortable doing the trip with only one vehicle? How remote is it, and how likely would it be for you to be breaking out the winch?

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Follow Up By: equinox - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:45

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:45
I would do it on my own, albeit very carefully. If you take a roll you may not be found for a while. We managed OK without winches. A Pajero (from memory), single vehicle with 4 Europeans in their early twenties overtook us at one stage.

As for remoteness, Jowalbinna Bush Camp is not far away, and there is a mine with it own access tracks about halfway.

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Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:52

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:52
Thanks again. What about lockers - any call for those?
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Follow Up By: equinox - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:55

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 13:55
We didn't have lockers, might be helpful on a handful of stages (especially if you take the trailer)

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Follow Up By: gclan - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 14:48

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 14:48
We didn't have lockers either, and our traction control wasn't working, but as equinox said, lockers would have been handy at some points along the way.
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Reply By: gclan - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 14:37

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 14:37
Hi Tim

We're a family of four, and we towed an offroad camper trailer along the Old Coach Rd in mid July last year from Laura to Maytown. Another family with young kids travelled with us but they weren't towing.

It took us 9 1/2 hours from Jowalbinna to Dog Leg Crossing, with a stop for lunch at the RL Jack memorial cairn, and a quick walk around the old Folders Hotel site.

It was very technical, slow going in low range most of the way, but at no stage did we need a winch or recovery. If you like your paintwork, don't even think about it, though judging by 'nicely rockblasted underneath' you've been practising ;-) You'll also need to be able to manoeuvre the camper between tightly spaced trees too.

We did need to do a bit of road building at the big rock step/cutting which took a while to get through as you basically drag the camper down it, but if you've got a good guide, you'll be right.

Jessop's Hill was another slow spot, but once we changed lines (a bit hairy reversing back down, especially when your brakes aren't working properly), we made it up with no worries.

If you're an experienced 4wder and have someone to guide you, then I think you'd be fine with the track itself, it's just the fact that if you do break down out there, it's a looong way from help, and that's if you can find anyone willing to go out there to help you.

We passed one other car along the track, and that was a family with young kids travelling alone, heading in the opposite direction. They'd spent the night on the track. They'd taken the easier route without the big rock step etc...(the Eastern track - it splits to the left and is signposted to Maytown not far before the RL Jack memorial and re-joins just south of the Folder's Hotel site).

We spent a couple of hours looking around the goldfields and Maytown area the next day, and from there, it was a 3 hour drive back out to the Palmer River Roadhouse, admittedly on an amazingly well constructed road.

In hindsight, we would have made it on our own if we all pitched in to work together, but it would have taken a lot longer and been a lot harder (physically and mentally) on my husband, and I'd hate to think what would have happened had we broken down out there. I felt more comfortable having good travelling companions with us just in case anything went wrong.

The Old Coach Road is an absolutely fantastic, epic track with spectacular scenery and loads of history. It was a highlight of our Cape trip, but I personally wouldn't recommend going alone, especially when towing.

If you do, make sure you've got all the recovery gear and spares etc..(and know how to use them) and a satellite phone and/or spot tracker/epirb, and let people know that you're out there... maybe the Palmer River Roadhouse too(unless you're heading straight down to Cairns).

Maybe you could find someone else that would love to do it too and you could team up with them?

The CREB Track was also a highlight if you're after some 4wding fun and great scenery, but again, that's one best done with another vehicle. You'd definitely find someone at the Lions Den Hotel willing to do it with you though ;-D

Not sure if I'm allowed to point you towards my trip report which happens to be on another forum, but if you're a member on Myswag, I've got tons of photos of the track there. It's under gclan & the Misadventure Crew's Cape Escape: Cape York 2012 in the trips, tracks etc... section(you do have to be a member to access that section though).

It is an amazing track. Good luck with your decision :-)


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Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 14:58

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 14:58
Thanks very much for that Karen, that's really helpful. I'd be very interested to know how you found the CREB track with a trailer, too!
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Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 15:01

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 15:01
Oh, and I meant to ask - what were you driving?
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Follow Up By: gclan - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 15:42

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 15:42
We were in a Land Rover Defender 110 towing a Mountain Trail Camper.

We didn't take the camper along the CREB because of our traction control issues (a stick took out our brake line up at Bathurst Head). We left the trailer at the Lions Den and did a long day trip along the CREB and back up the bitumen past the Palmer River RH and back to the Den.

When they say the CREB is seriously steep, they're not wrong. Add to that the slippery surface, even though it hadn't rained for a few days, and the owner of the Lions Den advising us not to take the trailer, and we were glad we didn't take it.

We struggled going up at the very top of Little Red(I think that's what it was called...the almost vertical hill south of Big Red) without the traction control, and had to winch over the last lip. Our friends in their Triton with front and rear lockers, made it up fairly easily(still lifted a wheel here and there though). There's no way we'd have made it that day with our trailer. I think we would have with lockers though, even if we'd have had to winch the last bit to the top.

People do drive it with trailers, it all depends on the condition of the track. It really is like skating on ice with even a little bit of moisture. On several occasions going down Big Red, we just held on and slid where the ruts took us. It would be very doable when dry though.

It was a great track, and another highlight. Scary in parts as a passenger, but lots of fun, and once again, spectacular scenery and views for miles.

Here's a video of our CREB track trundle.

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Follow Up By: Member - Michael A (ACT) - Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 at 12:45

Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 at 12:45
The CREB is not Maytown or vice versa sometimes this site goes off track with helpful but not on course information!!

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Follow Up By: gclan - Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 at 14:29

Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 at 14:29
I understand that the title does say Laura to Maytown Old Coach Road, but Tim also mentioned in the original question that they were looking for ways to come back down from the Cape, so I just mentioned another option for them that I thought they may enjoy.

My sincere apologies Michael if this was against the rules. It was not my intention to throw the topic off course.

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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 at 16:15

Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 at 16:15
Thanks Karen for your detailed and informative post. I certainly enjoyed the description and video.

Thank you

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Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 at 18:00

Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 at 18:00
Thanks very much again for that Karen, much appreciated! I haven't gotten to your youtube of the CREB yet, but will soon. And Michael - I appreciate your concern for keeping things on topic, but if you read the followups closely you'll see that I did actually ask Karen to send me further info on the CREB once she mentioned it - so she definitely _was_ on topic, as far as I'm concerned :-)

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