How corrugated are Cape York roads as of Sept 2015?

Submitted: Friday, Sep 04, 2015 at 14:20
ThreadID: 130185 Views:4123 Replies:9 FollowUps:7
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Hi fellow adventurers,

I am considering going to Cape York Sept 14 and as I have an injured spine (herniated and bulging disk which gives me major pain if sit too long or endure jarring) I need to know how badly corrugated are the roads up there as of very recently (August/September)?? Would like replies from ppl who have been up there RECENTLY please. As the conditions seem to vary year to year as I understand it. Obviously given my condition it would be necessary for me to exit the vechicle regularly for a break from sitting.

I would love to go but am very hesitant as don't want the trip to be ruined with pain nor do I want to make my back even worse. I cannot find any RECENT info on **HOW corrugated the roads are***. IE: Bone-jarring? For how many kms? Is it a bit bumpy? Very bumpy? Bearable or horrible? For how long??? Especially interested in hearing from anyone else with chronic pain/back problems.
Even the govt road reports do not mention corrugations, only if the roads are open or closed, & if they have ruts/bogs.

I have read many old posts but they are so vague...only 1 did say "bone-jarring" corrugations from a trip they took in June or July...but I don't know for how many kms it is that bad and wouldn't the roads be worse now than in June/July as many hundreds more vechicles have travelled on the roads since then? My definition of a good road is one that is NOT corrugated!

I need to make up my mind by the 8th or 9th at the latest so please someone advise me asap, thank you! :)

*Also how busy is it now/last week or two? / How busy are campsites before school holidays coming up, ie are they all crowded or can one still find out of the way peaceful places to camp?
During school holidays is it correct to assume peace and quiet at any campsites will be just about impossible to find? We both definitely want to try and avoid crowds & camp in as secluded areas as possible if possible!

Also due to several reasons I would have to bring my dog although I realise how restrictive it is ... naturally we would want to see Fruit Bat Falls & Elliot? Falls but I think they are located in a Ntl Park ? so if that's the case where can we leave her? Surely ppl who bring a dog aren't expected to miss the most recommended places in all CY view is you should be able to bring your dog to the falls and tie them up nearby while you have a swim. (Yes I can hear it already...some dog owners would ruin it for everyone/cause the ban in the first place by not picking up after their dog if he/she did a crap... I certainly would and always do pick up after my dog as I appreciate the few areas I can take her...but not everybody is responsible unfortunately).

Last question- if I decide to chance trip and find the pain too bad part way up is there anywhere dog friendly I could stay until my friend gets to the top and back to pick me up? It wont be ideal but I'm thinking I should at least have a Plan B.

Hope to hear from some of you as soon as possible.

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Reply By: Life Member TourBoy, Bundaberg - Friday, Sep 04, 2015 at 16:16

Friday, Sep 04, 2015 at 16:16
Hi, some info on your vehicle will help give some informed answers, some ride much better than others.
2010 Isuzu FTS800 Expedition camper
2015 Fortuner
Had 72 cruisers in my time

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Reply By: Member Andys Adventures - Friday, Sep 04, 2015 at 16:23

Friday, Sep 04, 2015 at 16:23
To answer one question, (naturally we would want to see Fruit Bat Falls & Elliot? Falls but I think they are located in a Ntl Park ? so if that's the case where can we leave her? Surely ppl who bring a dog aren't expected to miss the most recommended places in all CY).
Yep you will miss a lot as they are in a NP and no dogs allowed in the park. That means not in car as well.
As for the rough roads that will depend a lot on what type of set up your car has. EG: Drove a new Mitsubishi over bad road and did not notice how bad it was until I drove the same road in a Hilux and it felt like sitting on a shaker bin in a coal washing plant.
At that time of year I would expect the road to be rough all the way.
Camping with a dog will restrict your camping to roadhouses and towns.

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Follow Up By: Member - Tony F8 - Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 08:38

Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 08:38
Andy, you can have a dog in your vehicle in a national parksk as long as it at all times remains in your vehicle, you can traverse national parks with a dog in your vehicle, I have travelled the Cape 46 times since 1987 and have always had my mate with us, often called into the ranger station at Heathlands to have a chat, with the dog in the vehicle.
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Follow Up By: Member Andys Adventures - Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 14:40

Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 14:40
Tony, you said it yourself, "you can traverse national parks with a dog in your vehicle." That means you are using the road to get to a destination outside the NP, and not allowing your dog a pit stop on the side of the road.
Camping with a dog in a NP is not allowed even if it is in the car.

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Follow Up By: Steve - Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 20:09

Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 20:09
Andy, you did actually say "no dogs allowed in the park. That means not in the car". That is incorrect and misleading. You are telling the OP what you want to tell him and not what he needs to know. Tony has it right. You can travel through but not camp or let the dog out. There are plenty of other options outside national parks.
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Follow Up By: Member Andys Adventures - Sunday, Sep 06, 2015 at 12:37

Sunday, Sep 06, 2015 at 12:37
You missed my point. I was referring to the OP saying he wanted to go to Fruit bat Falls, tie his dog up and go for a swim.

You are allowed to transverse the NP, (not stop at falls) once you stop or leave the main road you become a visitor. And once your a visitor, pets are not allowed in the park, even in cars.
you might have to copy and paste the whole link

scroll down to pets
sorry for the confusion

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Reply By: Martyn J - Friday, Sep 04, 2015 at 18:23

Friday, Sep 04, 2015 at 18:23
I went in the last 2-3 weeks and depending on the route you take and detours it might not be as bad as mentioned where you have read.

Obviously as people have said it depends how your car reacts to them but a general note on the state of the roads when i went:

- On the way back down the road was in the process of being graded. The vast majority of the peninsula development road has now been done and a fair amount of Telegraph Road. Was smooth as anything compared to the way up.

- Once you get over the Jardine all the unsealed roads were a little worse for wear (but distances are less of an issue), although around the main towns (bamaga, seisia, injinoo etc they are all sealed).

- If you detour (such as towards chilli beach) the roads are worse and i wouldn't recommend it but this is also restricted based on if you definitely take your dog.

- The worst section of the PDR when i was there was a bit after Coen (heading south) as grading hadn't been done all the way down. The road here gets quite bumpy at times and is interspersed with sealed road around every 20-30kms. Sealed road sections vary in length.

- The Bamaga bypass road was good in parts and bad in parts but as i say they are grading around there.

- If you can last, you are looking at 70kms between most fuel stops other than during the bamaga bypass, so as there will be worse and easier bits you could take more 'major' rest stops if needed at the roadhouses.

Upon starting, if you found you could take from around Laura to Musgrave you should be fine as these were the worst bits we found coming back down except closer to the tip.

In terms of being busy, when we were there we had Eliot falls and Fruit Bat Falls to ourselves and it was generally quiet (with enough people to feel safe if anything went wrong) but I'm not sure about over the next month.

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Reply By: aboutfivebucks (Pilbara) - Friday, Sep 04, 2015 at 18:46

Friday, Sep 04, 2015 at 18:46

I took this pic last week on the PDR just north of Archer. It was abandoned (when I passed it at 3am).
Independent suspension had torn from chassis.

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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 08:12

Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 08:12
I'm not sure what that shows.

Not built for the bush? Overloaded? Driven too fast? A blow-out led to a loss of control?

Yes, maybe it demonstrates a crap road surface but who knows.
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Follow Up By: Member - Leigh (Vic) - Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 10:12

Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 10:12
I see corrugations!
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Reply By: Dingojim - Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 11:48

Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 11:48
Hi Bushtrekker and all, I am currently in Lakeland and was yesterday talking to a truckie there who was on his way back south with a load of cattle from just south of Weipa. He reckons the road is as bad as he's ever seen it and it took him 5 1/2 hours to cover one 50 km stretch. It seems as though the post wet season heavy rain onThe Cape is responsible. For my money Mate I would be leaving it for another time.
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Follow Up By: Bushtrekker7 - Wednesday, Sep 16, 2015 at 17:13

Wednesday, Sep 16, 2015 at 17:13
Hi DingoJim, I posted a general reply, saw all the posts just now bit late I know...thanks to you and everyone else for advice.. I decided not to risk it.
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Reply By: Iza B - Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 14:27

Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 14:27
Recently traveled? What good is someone's opinion about some vague concept of badness? Depth and frequency of corrugations vary each day as a function of number of vehicles on the road and the moisture content of the specific stretch of road. Speed of the vehicle and the suspension on the specific vehicle will also have an effect of the perceived or experienced effect of the corrugations. I do have a mate who professionally describes corrugations in "g" deviations and resonate frequency in 10 metre increments but don't know how to turn those measurements in perceptions of bearable or not.

A more practical approach might be to take the mindset that really, really slow travel in a coil suspension vehicle would get you there in minimum and bearable pain. Ever heard the expression "doin' the Plenty at 20"? I know several people who have traveled the Plenty Highway at very slow speed in inappropriate vehicles and had no problems. I know I am talking vehicles there but people usually fare better than the mechanical bit underneath getting fogged into pieces.

Dog? I suggest you make a one or the other decision before you attempt the trip. An assistance person is always better than an assistance dog for a specific purpose or trip. Do you want to go or not?

Bottom line - mug if you don't go because it is a magic trip. Just be prepared to go real slow and make it easy on yourself.

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Reply By: Member - tommo05 - Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 15:42

Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 15:42
Seems there are varying reports from people who have been there recently, all I can tell you is that I went in early October last year and I wouldn't want to do it with an injured spine. Although as Iza B says, if you are prepared to take it slow then maybe.

Everyone has varying opinions of how bad corrugations are, seemingly dependent on overall experience on corrugated roads. As such, I tend to take it with a grain of salt when people say corrugations are 'bad', because I have been on some pretty awful roads. About an hour north of Laura I said to my missus, "Pffft I don't know what everyone is talking about, these corrugations are nothing." Famous last words. When I got to the tip, having had all the fillings shaken out of my teeth, I decided to put the car on the Sea Swift and take the easy way home rather than go over those corrugations again!

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Reply By: Martyn J - Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 16:53

Saturday, Sep 05, 2015 at 16:53
Whilst i agree with other posts regrding the amount of variables that affect someones perceptions of corrugations i just want to add some clarity to my previous post.

I travelled back from the tip from around the 27th to 30th Aug (last week) and from the Jardine ferry to Fruit Bat Falls i don't remember much in the way of corrugations as the grading was underway. From Fruit Bat Falls to about Coen (i think it was this far) it felt pretty much like sealed road as it had literally just been done.

After this it got steadily worse up to the point mentioned in my previous post. But between roughly those points i would say what i personally felt was nothing.

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Reply By: Bushtrekker7 - Wednesday, Sep 16, 2015 at 17:10

Wednesday, Sep 16, 2015 at 17:10
THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone that replied, sorry I didn't reply til now, I didn't realise how long it must've been since I last logged on here... I gave up on the idea of CY last week, as I called a few rangers up there and one finally got back to me and said the Peninsula Development Road was VERY corrugated/very rough so that made up my mind not to go, as well as didn't find a live in pet/house sitter either in time and would be so restricted with my dog... guess it wasn't meant to be.

Pretty stupid you cant even stop for a pit stop with your dog in a NP, what if dog needs to go to the toilet? Hopefully new govt (thank god) will introduce some in several other countries Ntl Parks are dog friendly...but that's another topic!

Meanwhile buddy is up there now on his own and reports my back wouldn't have handled the rough bits.

Vehicle is a 2008 Nissan Navara STX, automatic, 4 cylinder. I don't find it the most comfortable vechicle, have to use a cushion while in it, seats are less than desirable. I find the Landcruiser (hired it) so much more comfortable, V8 kicks ass over 4 cyl much more fun :) & huge difference in going over bumpy ground from the Navara... the Navara bumps like mad but the Landcruiser glides over it...but boy does it burn the juice! Trade off I guess. Interesting how different 4wd vehicles handle rough stuff.

Cheerio :)
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