Has anyone just done the Old Telegraph Track

Submitted: Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 08:16
ThreadID: 102994 Views:3255 Replies:7 FollowUps:8
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We're leaving Cairns tomorrow to do the OTL and have had mixed reports on Palm Creek in particular. Just wondering has anyone just got back and could give me a detailed report on the conditions up there.
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 08:53

Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 08:53
Hi Frances

We drove through there on our way up north to the Cape in 2011.

When we stopped at the Bramwell Station roadhouse we were told by the staff there that Palm Creek was very bad and not advisable to go that way. But luckily we went and had a look. Sure it was steep and full of logs and muck but the two 100 series and one Patrol traversed it slowly, carefully and easily.

My advice is to listen to what they say and no matter what they say unless it is closed, go and have a look yourself. It's only a short drive north from the roadhouse to the crossing. Of course it's a long way down the track to "check it out " if you are travelling south.

However that was two years ago.


AnswerID: 513910

Reply By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 09:15

Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 09:15
Just be sure to remove all the logs from the mud and burn them.

It is so stupid that people use logs in mud. Take a crow bar and shovels and do some road work. Don't place wood in mud- it breaks cars.
AnswerID: 513912

Follow Up By: member - mazcan - Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 11:42

Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 11:42
hi all
when the front tyres drive along a short length of log and get to it's end the log will cock up under your vehicle and do extensive damage driving length ways over short logs is a no brainer
logs that are place across a track side by side corduroy fashion are good to get you over a boggy section but as soon as floods come the logs shift to all angles and then become a big hazard as I have mentioned above
so if I was to come across a situation as shown in the photo
I would shift them out of the way or lay them as suggested to avoid risk of damage
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Follow Up By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 11:47

Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 11:47
Yes and there is simply no need for them in Palm Creek or anywhere on the tele. A crow bar and a few shovels does a way better job in a few minutes. Last year I took all the logs out and attempted to burn them , but they were too wet to burn.

FollowupID: 792739

Reply By: Been-Everywhereman - Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 13:29

Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 13:29
Mate, we have travelled the OTL plenty of times and if I have only learnt one thing it is to do what they other guy said,,,, go and have a look yourself...
We hear stories of the terrible conditions every year and then when we get there it is nowhere near as bad as they say,,,, and if it is,,, just go around and come in further up... Easy peasy....
The Cape is easy to navigate....
AnswerID: 513930

Follow Up By: Member - Russler - Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 18:39

Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 18:39

Local advice is great, but do have a look for yourself, even if you just end up having a look. At worst, it'd be a pity to bypass a crossing without even a pic, even if you decide to go around.
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Follow Up By: Member - Russler - Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 18:39

Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 18:39
Besides, no harm in looking. I keep telling the missus the same thing too LOL
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:42

Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:42
Spot on Russ

We got to Daintree Village and they said that the CREB was still closed. But we went to the sign and got a photo regardless.

The only crossing that we did not negotiate was Gunshot. Just didn't want to do it and prove anything. Besides we went around and met a couple of the locals and a had a cuppa with them on the bypass. Great stories to boot. Nolans was at bonnet height but still a good easy cross.


PS To Olsen and his mate we didn't put the logs in Palm Creek and did not have any trouble with them "kicking up as well. Maybe you aren't driving on them properly!!

FollowupID: 792803

Reply By: aboutfivebucks (Pilbara) - Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 19:21

Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 19:21
Just a heads up.
It's prolly the busiest weekend on the PDR this weekend.
School Holidays and the Laura Races/Rodeo - people heading in both directions.
Safe travels.

AnswerID: 513947

Reply By: Big Woody - Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 22:10

Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 22:10
Hi Frances,
We got back last Friday from a 3 week trip to the Cape up the OTL.
I have done the trip before and I must say this year the track is trickier in a few spots than previous trips but I am only putting it down to the late seasonal rains that fell up there.

This just means that the entries and exits to a few of the creeks such as Palm Ck and Cockatoo Ck were a bit steeper and sloppier than I have experienced before.

When we went through it would be unlikely you would be able to get out of Palm Ck without a winch.

However every week that goes by means it should dry out more and with the extra traffic hitting it right now in the school holidays it won't be long before the sloppy sections dry out and flatten out and it will be back to a reasonably easy track for unmodified 4by's to get through.

As others have said, make the drive up from Bramwell to Palm Ck and check it out for yourself to assess the current condition.
If you think you can get through there then the rest of the track will be fine.

AnswerID: 513955

Reply By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 07:23

Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 07:23
In my experience, having done the trip over 20 times since the 70s, the OTL was in worse condition than ever and it had little to do with rain. In my view there is simply too much traffic on it, and most of that traffic treats the track with a great deal of disrespect, attempting impossible tasks until they dig the biggest holes. The reason entry and exits are so steep is simple- wheel spin and dragging water upslope.

I know the audience on this site is unlikely to be the culprits. But my advice- do some track work with your shovel- don't attempt the impossible- nobody is impressed by it.

AnswerID: 513962

Follow Up By: Big Woody - Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:03

Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:03
Whilst I agree with your comments comparing the overall condition of the track in the 70's to the condition today and the gradual degradation being caused by traffic and use, the original post was asking for first hand opinions on the current condition from people who have just returned.

I too have driven the OTT since the early 80's on many occasions. I can say that for the last 3 years in the first 3 weeks of June it has been possible for fairly standard and unmodified 4x4's to drive the track from end to end without assistance.
In 2009 we drove the track the first week of April and it was still drier and easier than this year.
This year in the same time period it was not possible to do so without a winch due to the extent of sloppy mud and how far it reached up the entries and exits to a few of the creeks. This mud was there before the first car traversed the track this year and no amount of shovel/crow bar work would make any difference as it just needs more time to dry out at these crossings. The rest of the track was normal.

It was particularly quiet up there for us with no more traffic than the last 3 years so pinning the current condition on traffic this year is a long shot. We always try to beat the pre-school holiday rush and were again succesful in our plans with being able to camp in the majority of popular spots on our own.

All across the top the locals were talking of a particularly dry season, but the wet they did get was very late. In fact it was still raining almost every day we were up there. Locals involved in tourism were almost apologetic for the rain saying it was most unseasonal.

I should also add that I don't think it really matters that the OTT has degraded over the years due to the volume of traffic it now gets and the methods people use to cross the creeks. For those not wanting the challenge there is the easy option via the PDR.

I don't agree with people destroying the environment and cutting down trees to put logs in the mud and totally agree with your frustrations about what people do with their toilet paper etc......absolutely disgusting and worse than I have previously seen. It is very disappointing to see what some people do with their toilet paper and general rubbish throughout the entire top end. We picked up and removed volumes of rubbish that we found along the way. In fact we made comment when we were having lunch on the beach right at the tip that the term "Tip" unfortunately has another, and almost more relevant, meaning when describing Cape York Peninsula.

I think vehicles should be appropriately equipped, prepared and modified to traverse the track without damage to the environment and carry all of their rubbish out with them.

Might see you up there one day.
FollowupID: 792797

Follow Up By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:12

Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:12
I guess it could be argued I hijacked the thread- but for a good cause. I agree with all you have said. My point is there was a massive, perhaps thousand fold increase in the damage in a single year between 2011 and 2012 and a million fold increase in toilet paper and rubbish. Anyway I think I made my point. Thanks
FollowupID: 792799

Follow Up By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:18

Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:18
Oh and by the way I am a local :-) so I experienced the rain- out was two parts of nothing.
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:49

Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 08:49

I think the underlying advice through the above posts is that you should have a look at each crossing and judge for yourself. You know your own skills and the performance that you get from you own car. We don't. And leave the macho back home. Doing Gunshot is no big deal so if you don't need to or don't even want to then don't "do it". Drive around.

May I add that if you have the chance use the Starckie Track north of Cooktown and visit Cape Melville. But that not the topic here.


AnswerID: 513967

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