Damaged Vehicles at Cape York

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 03, 2014 at 20:41
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My mate that I did Cape York with in 2011 is there again now, he rang me about 20 minutes ago from Weipa, just to keep in touch.
One thing he mentioned that I thought I should pass on to anyone going to Cape York that is contemplating traveling the old telegraph track, (OTT) , that the tally for " written off " vehicles at Barmaga that have been retrieved from the northern sections of the OTT so far this season is 39.

Just Saying,

Scrubby
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Reply By: Batt's - Sunday, Aug 03, 2014 at 23:24

Sunday, Aug 03, 2014 at 23:24
Any idea what the main reason is for the written off vehicles eg stupidity not giving way to each other when passing, drowning in creek crossings, ill prepared, lack of experience, people being impatient etc.
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Reply By: Member - Sanantone - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 06:03

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 06:03
G'day Scrubby,

I am going up top next year, so I am always interested in any info, so cheers for that.

I thought I had it covered in my planning, that I would NOT be going on the OTT, but after your thread I had a look & I notice that the OTT seems to be the only road up, can you advise that your info is typical of the whole road or just a particular section, are there alternative routes available.

While I have a 4WD, I'm not interested in testing the vehicle to it's limits in some of the footage I have seen:)

Thanks
Tony
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Follow Up By: Member - Sanantone - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 06:40

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 06:40
Scrubby,

Just looked at it again, I think I've got it covered, you take the OTT then turn on to the southern by-pass then the northern by-pass roads, to avoid the very challenging areas. Is this correct?

Cheers
Tony
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 14:14

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 14:14
Yes Sanantone, you can view the bypass route in the Trek Notes section on this site. Just use the blue menu tab at the top of the site to go to Treks to find all the point by point driving notes.
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Follow Up By: Chris_K - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 16:14

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 16:14
It's also very well sign posted. You can't really miss the bypass road!

:)
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Reply By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 07:17

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 07:17
I believe most of the issues or ride-offs would be people trying their luck crossing some of the deep creek crossings like Nolan's Ck. We have just come back from cape doing the OTT track. We visited Nolan's twice. Once to check it out and the 2nd time to attempt it, which we did successfully, but not w/o some vehicle prep 1st and then walking the crossing to know exactly where to place yours wheels..... I must admit, I was concerned myself as I have one of these modern diesels that have all those electronics that don't mix well with water. I was nervous at the time but I'm glad we did do it.
Cheers..... RobM
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Reply By: Jackolux - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 08:54

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 08:54
We have just returned from a trip to the Cape , we did the OTL but you don't have to , turn right at Bramwell Junction for the development road .

Its Nolans Brook on the Northern Section of the OTL that claims most vehicles

Regards Jacko
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Reply By: Bludge - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 10:36

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 10:36
Thanks Scrubby, by September 2013 it was 87...

It is a 1000 kms from Cairns to the Top.

The OTT is just 104 kms in 2 sections. So don't be put off, the OTT it is a minor part of the adventure.

Sanantone, most people do the track on the way up, so it may seen to be a one way system. The track is equally enjoyable southbound I have been both ways on more than one occasion, just more traffic coming at you.

From Bramwell Junction the Southern section is 72kms. the Development Road or by-pass is 110kms for the southern section.

Then 9kms on the Development Road.

The northern section which includes Bridge/Nolans Creek is 32kms.(plus 35km of track and Development Road) The by-pass if 62km for the northern section.

The current 39 at Barmaga is only for those taken into the RACQ depot/mechanics, there are quite a few tow in to camo site and dried out to varying degrees. Much of the damage is water from all creeks and I know of a number that have computer/wiring issues that have arrived back in Cairns at the various dealers that will/are written off here.
These vehicles had been bogged and sat in water that flooded the interior, although not getting to the ECU, the electrical shorts cause all sorts of problems, including damage to the ECU's. Many petrol engine vehicle have O2 sensor issues, Toyota in Cairns have none in stock at the moment.

The track is wetter than 2013 so there is fair bit of minor body damage compared to 2013 due to slipping and sliding. Side Steps, moved bull bars, side panels and rear bumpers, (Patrol rear lights).

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Reply By: rumpig - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 13:20

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 13:20
I'd hazard a guess the majority of vehicles written off will be people getting bogged in a creek crossing and water filling the cabin enough to destroy computer and other electrics. Repair centres need to guarantee repairs when work is done, so most insurance companies would write a vehicle off once that's happened rather then wonder how long before terminals that got wet start rusting out. Once water hits that stuff it plays havoc with the computers and dashboards start lighting up warning icons etc, had a mates car written off that way a few years back even though the vehicle still seemed to run fine afterwards and water ingress was only to drivers footwell area as vehicle slide into a hole on that side in a creek crossing.
After that or even possibly the same number maybe would be hydraulic the engines from sucking water in the air intake I reckon...those 2 would be the majority of reasons I'd be guessing?
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Reply By: CSeaJay - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 17:23

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 17:23
It would be really helpful to find out what kind of damage the vehicles have. Having been up there three times, and having done the OTL all three occasions at least in one direction, I have seen many breakdowns on the Development (bypass) roads. If fact more than on the OTL .
Broken axles, several suspension related dramas, bull bars falling off (!) and crashes. There have been several road deaths around Coen (the year before last from memory, would not be surprised if this is an annual tragic thing)
Whereas on the OTL one can of course do damage at Gunshot and Nolans for two different reasons, and I have seen a couple of drowned vehicles. But I reckon the "normal" road takes as many tolls.
CJ
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Follow Up By: Derek Jones - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 19:13

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 19:13
Ditto for us.

Been to the top and back only once (& it was 17 years ago) with Patrol and Camper Trailer. As we were heading up we also heard the many horror stories of drowned and broken vehicles.

Initial plans was to go up via OTL and back by the bypass.

We found the OTL much easier on the car and occupants as you had to go much slower so ended up using the OTL both ways.

Please note we did not attempt Nolan's or the Jardine as we were travelling alone and 'got off' just after Mistaken Creek (? - I think)
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Reply By: Member - Scrubby (VIC) - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 20:15

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 20:15
G`day fellow travelers,
My mate Geoff who rang, didn`t say what the causes were, he just said that that there were 39 vehicles at Barmaga that were undrivable and were "write offs" after coming to grief on the OTT, now you can interpret that as you like, I just thought it was worth warning anyone thinking about doing the OTT, maybe people with little or no experience, of the possible outcomes.
I personally have not traveled the OTT for the simple reason I cannot find any logical reason to do so,and heaps of reasons not to, even though it is possible to bypass the bad crossings.
Another reason was that I was towing a Caravan right to the Tip.

When I was at Seisia I saw a woman with all doors, bonnet and boot open on her vehicle, She said that they had came up the old telegraph track and the got through with no damage at all.
I said that the interior of the car looked wet.
" Oh yeah, a bit of water got in at Nolan`s that`s all ,no damage though".
I asked how much was in the car. ".. just to the seat, I was just sitting in water, but it will dry out".

No damage Though

Nuff said.

Duuuh ! LOL

Scrubby.





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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 22:33

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 22:33
Scrubby you said "I personally have not traveled the OTT for the simple reason I cannot find any logical reason to do so,and heaps of reasons not to, even though it is possible to bypass the bad crossings."
Well, each to their own, I would personally never go up,and not do the OTL. It is pure magic and beautiful. It has the best tranquil camping spots, pure bush camping, and a lovely adventure. As someone else said above, it was easier on the vehicle. You obviously went up to reach the tip with your caravan, so you did not have much choice. But mate don't bag those who take the scenic road, and you do not know what you have missed. ;-).
I cannot understand why people go all the way up, miss the most beautiful creeks and camping spots, choose to sit on endless corrugations on the boring bypass road, just to sit at a crowded caravan park at the tip. Probably fishermen, thats understandable. Not having a go, just demonstrating a totally different view to yours
Aint life great
CJ
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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 05:04

Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 05:04
CSeaJay, I would have to agree with u except for the "best tranquil camping spots, pure bush camping"....
U may have travelled up there outside the silly season, but we had no choice and have recently only come back from 5wks up there. It's the 1st time back since '87 and even though its a beautiful place and beautiful creek crossings, but the sheer number of people travelling up the OTT and sheer number of Filthy people who don't bother digging a hole when going to the toilet and at one spot coming across used baby nappies just lying on the ground, put a bit of a dampener on it for me this time. I couldn't believe people could be so filthy/lazy. Just about every campsite at most of the creek crossings were in poor condition from previous campers..... I don't know whether the yearly rainy season washes it all clean or not, but if people continue to ruin the camps like that, it won't be long b4 the powers to be will close it for everyone....
Also, a lot of the campsites were a bit too crowded for my liking.....passing Canal Creek, we couldn't the number of people camped there..... They were packed in like Sardines.....

Just my own opinion though.... :)
Cheers..... RobM
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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 09:09

Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 09:09
RobM
Sadly and unfortunately, you are correct.
Canal creek is an 'overflow' camp area of people coming off the PDR into Elliot Falls camping too late only to find it is full, so they scramble and camp where they can. It is a bit of a halfway point and one of a few spots for PDR travellers to pop into the OTL (only to turn around back to the PDR the next morning to continue on the PDR) Such a pity because Canal Creek is beautiful when it is not crowded.
Yes we took our kids out of school and left before the Qld School hols, and came back inside the hols, so we know both.
We could still manage good camping though, often alone next to a creek.
I do not understand why people think that they can leave a place in a mess. When we leave we pull away 10 metres, get out and do a final chicken run.
Still would not miss the OTL in favour of the PDR though, it is a big part of the adventure, scenery and beuty of CY.
CJ
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Follow Up By: Member - Scrubby (VIC) - Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 13:11

Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 13:11
G`day Cseajay,
I am sorry if you thought I was bagging you or anyone else as that was not my intention.
Being a pensioner driving a 60 series L/cruiser I need to avoid the cost of any damage if possible.
Maybe I wasn`t getting my line of thought across, I was thinking about "any logical reason" to do the difficult/damaging creek crossings. Not the actual OTT track itself.
Just my inability to put my thoughts into writing. LOL

And yes it was a fishing trip and not really for sight seeing although we spent 13 weeks doing it.

Scrubby
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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 14:56

Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 14:56
Scrubby
The problem with email/forums/texts are that you cannot see the body language behind the messenger. I am sure you posted it without the bagging intent, and I wasn't having a go either,
other than to put a different opinion across. All with good intent.
Sounds like you had a fabulous trip, 13 weeks I am jealous
CJ
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Follow Up By: Member - Cruiser Pete - Friday, Aug 08, 2014 at 17:22

Friday, Aug 08, 2014 at 17:22
CSeaJay
I to was disappointed when travelling the OTT 4 weeks ago and finding the mess of toilet paper and the like scattered around the place. I really can’t understand why people think it’s ok to leave a mess. This is a beautiful country. We need to leave it the best way we can.

As for the damaged and drowned vehicles. I really can’t comprehend why every driver (or the person responsible for the vehicle) doesn’t get out and walk the creek crossings. Or at least watch a person walking the crossing and ask questions. Most people travel in convoys of two or more vehicles. If there isn’t a vehicle on the other side, then the vehicle with a winch should go first. The recovery gear should be out and ready. Not just in a bag ready. This includes the winch rope. Once the first vehicle is through, the second vehicle with a long enough snatch strap attached (and attached so someone doesn’t have to fumble under the water trying to fasten it while the car fills with water) ready. I was the last vehicle through Nolans the day we went through. The following day I heard 6 vehicles were in some way damaged. In my opinion due to people being ill prepared for the crossing. We carry recovery gear for a purpose. Why not have it ready? Complacency perhaps?
I watched a recent clip on youtube where the vehicle crossing Nolans had a snatch strap attached. But they put it through the door and then closed the door on it. When it stopped in the creek they couldn’t get the strap out due to the pressure of water against the door. Seriously, what were they thinking? The vehicle ended up being in the water for at least 90 seconds longer than it should have been. Crossings are a lot easier when you walk them and think about wheel placement.

Just my two cents worth.
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Follow Up By: Member - OnYaBike - Friday, Aug 08, 2014 at 22:56

Friday, Aug 08, 2014 at 22:56
CSeaJay has a point about the crowds. Now is in the middle of peak tourist time. Convoys of camper trailers, dust, and full house at every camping spot.
A couple of years ago we went up in late October. The difference was amazing. I caught up with one trailer on the way up, very few oncoming vehicles, plenty of room to camp. Seisia was almost deserted, Loyalty had one camper, Punsand Bay was closed and so was the Croc Tent at Lockerbie. You could fish off the Seisia jetty and have room to swing a cat, or a handline. The weather was a little warmer but not uncomfortable.
I asked around and was told that as soon as the last school holidays end, everything dies in the a*se. So why aren't more travelling later? Perhaps the fear of early rain or storms closing the roads. Why did I go up in July this year? Well, I've got grandkids, haven't I, so you have to stick with the school holidays.
But I'm going up again in October, no kids, adults only.
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Reply By: Jackolux - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 21:14

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 21:14
I was talking to a Bloke at the Bamaga Bakery just a couple of weeks ago , he was with his wife a 2 kids waiting for a flight out to Cairns then home to Canberra

He had written off his Nissan Patrol in Nolan's Brook , said the insurance company was going to cover everything . I hope they do but is the OTL a Gazetted Road some say yes other no . I wouldn't like to have to test it with my Insurance company .

Regards Jacko
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 23:16

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 23:16
You can get specialized 4wd insurance that covers you off road as well. It's pricey though, around double the premium last time I checked.
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Follow Up By: andoland - Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 13:12

Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 13:12
I don't get the bit about insurance being restricted to gazetted roads. Whenever I have asked my insurance company (various different ones over the years) about whether I'm covered when offroad, the response has always been that you are covered anywhere you drive as long as you are not doing anything illegal, e.g. don't have permission to be there, drunk, etc. I've even specifically asked what happens if I get stuck in a deep creek and drown my vehicle and get the same response - yes you are covered. This has always been with a 'standard' comprehensive insurance policy with the majors such as Allianz, Suncorp, etc., not any specialised, extra cost policy.
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 13:28

Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 13:28
Mate, thanks for the info. Makes you wonder how many people have simply not checked and copped it on the chin. I do know of a friend who nose dived off a dune, wrote the car off and the normal insurance paid out. If I need a new car, I'll just find a deep creek crossing... :-)
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Reply By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 11:37

Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 11:37
My insurance covers offroad but the excess doubles for a stuff-up there.
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Reply By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 11:40

Tuesday, Aug 05, 2014 at 11:40
Re salvages on Fraser Island: a 4by rental crowd up there told me that this year the average was one per week. Mainly drivers getting stuck on the beach.
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