Cooktown to Old Laura and Musgrave

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 at 22:06
ThreadID: 107340 Views:2613 Replies:5 FollowUps:11
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Happy Easter all.

I have done a few searches for info on the above and checked on the road closures but can't seem to get a lot of info.

We are planning a Cape trip early June this year and are looking to go up from Cooktown across the Battlecamp road to Old Laura, then up the Lakefield Rd through the Lakefield National Park to Musgrave on the Development road. Come back the easy way down the Development road and through Laura.

Can anyone give me recent info on the condition of the roads (especially after the cyclone) and degree of difficulty. We will be three 4WD's towing a camper trailer, and two off road caravans.

I'm the only 4WD with a snorkel and don't want to put the others at risk on deep crossings.

Any advice appreciated.
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Reply By: CSeaJay - Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 at 22:27

Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 at 22:27
Mate, dont hold your breath for proper replies, it is too early in the season and after the cyclone for anyone to give you 'recent info'
Cheers, CJ
AnswerID: 530770

Follow Up By: Member - mepvic - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 09:37

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 09:37
Thanks for that. Will be checking road conditions closer to June anyway but am particularly interested on the track in general. Even advice from travellers last year would be good. Are there any serious water crossings or difficult entry or exits from rivers.
FollowupID: 813752

Reply By: Tony F8 - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 07:35

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 07:35
Morning mepvic.
At this stage, Battlecamp is closed, the PDR is open to Musgrave, but is slushy and rough north of laura (Laura bridge is open) and around Hann River RH. By the time you get there in June most roads will be open, and you will not have problems with your rigs, on your loop there are no deep crossings
I have a question for you, why only travel to Musgrave.
Drive safe.
Tony F8
AnswerID: 530776

Follow Up By: Member - mepvic - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 09:51

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 09:51
Thanks Tony. Just the info I was after. Will be checking at Cooktown on conditions of course but knowing that there are no serious water crossings is good news.
Reading back over my initial thread I realise it wasn't all that clear on our destination. Once we get to Musgrave we are of course going to the top with side trips to all we can get to. Will be taking the Development road all the way but leaving the vans and trailers where the Development road crosses the Old Telegraph track around the Bramwell Roadhouse and at Fruitbat Falls so we can do some exploring. Packing tents as well in case we decide to stay a night somewhere.
Thanks again.
FollowupID: 813754

Follow Up By: Members Pa & Ma. - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 12:54

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 12:54
Hi Mepvic,
Happy Easter to you too.
We went up there last year, to the tip, towing an off road caravan.
We went up via the Development Road, which at the time was very corrugated. Shake your own teeth out of your head! Drive carefully& to conditions.
We stayed at Bramwell Station by recommendation & it was well worth it.
It was not recommended to stay at Musgrave by fellow travelers. We were kept awake for a few hours & very close to where the fight occurred. Friday & Saturday nights in particular.

We went up late Aug to Sept so River crossings were low as you know a dreadful drought year.
Morton Telegraph Station was lovely & peaceful to stay at.

On the way back we stopped in at the places to see leaving the van
at Bramwell to do the southern OTT.
We left the van in a little clearing into Fruit bat falls etc & when we returned, there were 3 or 4 other vans & campers parked there too.

There was a nameless deep crossing up over the bonnet but not to window. between Fruit Bat Falls & Twin Falls.

Time prevented us from doing the Northern section (work) but people we met said that things got trickier & the creeks got deeper.
Have a great trip, just remember we went in a very dry year.
We went to see the Cape but not to drown our vehicles.
Many had trouble at the first crossing South to North from Bramwell.
I'll try to send a pic but am not real good with computers in another
Take care, safe travels Ma.
FollowupID: 813768

Follow Up By: Member - mepvic - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 13:56

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 13:56
Thanks Ma. Got your email but no pic. Looking forward to the trip. Plan to be up and back before the school hols start. That way we are told roads have a better chance of being less corrugated but crossings could be deeper. We also do not plan to drown the vehicles so will be watching where we go. Other two don't have snorkels so nothing too difficult.
Thanks also for the tip on Musgrave.
FollowupID: 813770

Follow Up By: Tony F8 - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 17:06

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 17:06
Hi mepvic,
If your staying on the PDR, you will not have any water crossings except maybe Schramm Creek, but that isn't an obstacle, if going Battlecamp, you will have Isabella falls and the Normanby, neither will pose a problem.
On the OTT, the ones that will give you trouble are Palm Creek, winch out of the northern exit, Cockatoo, winch into the creek and Nolans Brook, just deep and claimed 3 vehicles in one day (unfortunately some people wont listen to people who have crossed it numerous times)when we where there middle of May last year. Cypress will test your gooly size and Logan's is no trouble. The pascoe on the Frenchmans Track was the one we had to really think about, water was about a foot above waist height.
I hope this helps you in planning your trip.
Drive safe.
Tony F8.
FollowupID: 813781

Follow Up By: Tony F8 - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 17:15

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 17:15
Musgrave, Bramwell Junction and Bramwell Station are all good places to stay at.
We have never had any troubles and have stayed at Musgrave more times than I can remember, and I'm sure John McDowell would soon put paid to any trouble.
Tony F8.
FollowupID: 813784

Follow Up By: Member - Michael John T (VIC) - Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 00:01

Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 00:01
Hi Ma,

I believe that crossing is known as Scrubby Creek. well it was last year.
FollowupID: 813823

Reply By: Erad - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 10:20

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 10:20
I have no idea of what the conditions are like now, but quite a few years back, I drove along that road. I imagine that you would need a snorkel on any car to get through the potholes on the road, let alone any creek crossings!

Seriously, that road was the worst road I have ever been on. The corrugations and potholes were horrendous, but obviously it all depends on when the grader went through. They would be very busy up that way now for the next few months I would say.
AnswerID: 530788

Follow Up By: Member - Michael John T (VIC) - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 23:59

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 23:59

The PDR is much better now, a wide maintained road but still subject to corrugations in places and the worst and most dangerous is the DUST and this combined with speed and traveling too close to the vehicle in front of you has caused real problems for some.
FollowupID: 813822

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 10:40

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 10:40
When you get closer to departure I would give the Cook Shire Council a call. It's their roads and area and I found that I got very accurate info before we left. I actually spoke to the Manager Engineering Services. He couldn't have been more helpful. I had the feeling that ho wanted to go but was hung up "working!!!".Well some people still have to.

We actually used the Starkie Track to get to Cape Melville via Cape Flattery and Wakooka. Then out through Lakefield with a couple of nights at the Pandanus Veterans Sanctuary near Kalpower and then west to Musgrave via Saltwater Creek. Didn't use Lakefield Road at all.

Nothing hard about any of it. Even the Kingswood would have handled the roads. The beaches were a different matter. Recommend that 4WD is needed there.

Enjoy the drive.

AnswerID: 530790

Reply By: brendan l4 - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 18:02

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 18:02
Hey i am from cairns and can tell you that battle camp road and all lakefield roads will open once water levels have drop below all causeways. This can happen any time usually after april/may, most years its june. After Ita defiently wont be till atleast june. RACQ road report or the national parks website will tell you this. If not best knowledge is a local one. So once your in cairns or especially cooktown seek local knowledge. Im heading up in june this year too. Most of the cape will be open but wont plan on going to lakefield till last minute.
AnswerID: 530815

Follow Up By: brendan l4 - Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 18:21

Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 18:21
Ill correct myself what i meant is lakefield will open once rivers stop flowing fast over causeways. Once it is open its a very easy drive. The ranger also wont open it till the road has dried out. To keep maintenance costs down. Once it does open, book as soon as you can cause every man and his dog will be trying to get in there. Sites will book out very fast.
FollowupID: 813792

Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 08:05

Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 08:05
We too, like many others are heading up in Mid-to-late June with our "original" plan of leaving Cairns and heading up to Cooktown via the CREB Track, then onto Cape Melville via Battlecamp Rd & Kalpower X-ing. Access to Cape Melville should still be OK ??

I'm now assuming that the CREB track is closed and may or may not be opened by the time we get up there at the end of June..... Can anyone verify that the CREB is closed ? What's the chances of it re-opening to + does anyone maintain the CREB?

Cheers..... RobM
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FollowupID: 813827

Follow Up By: brendan l4 - Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 10:03

Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 10:03
Yes the creb is closed. Douglas shire council website has info on it. Keep an eye it to find out when it has re-opened. It is not a maintained road. Ita gave all that area a good workin over so id say it'll be at least june before we see it open.
FollowupID: 813830

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