Cape York advice

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 09:50
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I am planning a foray to the Cape and will be towing a camper trailer(Jayco Eagle Outback) behind a newish Mazda BT50.

On the way back down I am considering heading east through Rinyirru NP (Lakefield NP) out to Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville. I've got the Cape bit covered but Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville is a bit of a mystery to me. I have had a 4WD for many years and have done formal training in 4WDing many years ago and rate myself as competent, but that doesn't mean I'm all that confident or adventurous. Based on those fact, I have a couple of questions:

Question 1:
Although I will be travelling in a well equipped vehicle, I will be travelling as a solo vehicle. I understand that weather conditions are critical in these areas but given I wouldn't venture there if it was wet or even damp, is this a suitable trip for a competent but very nervous and wary driver?

Question 2:
I am trying to work out if the Starcke Track is a viable option for the return to Cooktown or do I go back via Kalpowar Crossing.

Thanks
WBS
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Reply By: vk1dx - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 12:21

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 12:21
Just a small word onm the Starkie Track. We drove it a few years bak and it's and easy alternatingf to the corrugated PDR. Slower but gentler on the bones. No "shake, rattle and roll" as the song goes.

Melvile was easy but I can't talk about Bathurst Bay.

Three cars (2x 100 series and a Patrol) with two having minimal bush experience. No hassles at all.

As we do most of our travels these days solo, I wouldn't hesitate to go that way again.

If you are a veteran check out the Pandanus Retreat near Kalpower. We had a couple of great days there with fellow vets.

We went north from Cooktown to Elim (1 night) and then up the Starkie to Cape Melville (2 nights) across to Pandanus (Kalpower - 2 nights) and then west to Musgrave and up to the Cape via the Tele track.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Member - WBS - Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 08:56

Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 08:56
Thanks for your input. I would be going to Cape Melville on the way back down so would be heading South-ish on the Stracke Track. I just want to see as much as I can while I'm there rather than going back via Kalpowar Crossing.
I'm not a veteran although I did serve, so I don't consider myself in the same league.

WBS
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Reply By: The Rambler( W.A.) - Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 20:57

Tuesday, Mar 08, 2016 at 20:57
I have been upto the Cape 3 times and twice into Cape Melville( a lovely spot) and both times to Cape Melville I experienced a section of very boggy sand before getting to the beach.That was a few years back so they might have improved the track since then.With your set up Iwould be wary of the old telegraph track.Another nice spot is Varylia point on the west side going up.
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Follow Up By: Member - WBS - Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 09:04

Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 09:04
Thanks for the advice.
Have no fear, I won't be doing the OTT with that setup. It is strictly the Bypasses for me although I might park the camper trailer somewhere like Eliot Falls and just have a look at bits of it. Its the Tip and its surrounds that I'm wanting to look at, not the challenge of the OTT. I will be heading out to Captain Billy Landing and going up to Portland Roads,not on the Frenchmans Track.

WBS
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Reply By: Tony F8 - Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 17:32

Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 17:32
You would be better off towing the rig to Bramwell Station, do the southern OTT, then drive to the Jardine Roadhouse and do the nothern section. Vrylia Point has been closed since last year and is not looking at being opened up in the near future. The OTT is a big part of the history of Cape York and maybe you should do a bit of research, some good reads on the Cape are Linda Rowes "Paradise Found" and Rodney Liddel's "The Savage Frontier". To me the Cape is not about the the tip, but aboutbthe journey there. My first trip was in 1987 when I was 25 and there was no bypass roads back then, I had a pov pack troopy with banjo diffs and a tirfor, and I think is still one of the best trips I have done. The track out to Cape Melville will depend on the wet, and now does not often open till late july-august, and can vary between boggy runs and bulldust. Be prepared to do a bit of work getting your rig through at times and would recommend taking a sat phone. If your wondering about my experience up the Cape, my next trip will be my 47th, I do love the place.
Stay safe and happy travels."
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Follow Up By: Member - WBS - Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 18:20

Wednesday, Mar 09, 2016 at 18:20
Thanks for all your advice. It is appreciated. I think your experience of 47 trips beats my 10 years of dreaming and research by quite a bit. Research is all well and good but doesn't come close to hands on experience.
I set out to do the Cape in 2006 in an 80 Series but could only get as far as Cooktown. All roads heading north were closed. The signs at Lakeland made it pretty clear. We couldn't even get into Lakefield NP thanks to Cyclone Larry. This is the first chance I've had since then to actually give it another shot.
It sounds like a good idea to do the OTT in two stages how you suggest but to be honest I'm not sure I'm brave enough to tackle it. I 'm confident I've got the driving ability but not the courage. I certainly would not try Gunshot or Nolans Brook. Cypress Creek and other notorious creek crossings worry me greatly too. The "Chicken Runs" seem very appealing to me but I doubt all the obstacles would have them, nor would they be easy either.
A Sat Phone and a SPOT Gen 3 personal tracker are definitely on my shopping list, as are the MaxTraxs, recovery gear, winch, shovel etc, but I would prefer not to use any of them if I don't have to.
Thanks again for all your info
WBS
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Reply By: Tony F8 - Thursday, Mar 10, 2016 at 18:16

Thursday, Mar 10, 2016 at 18:16
The OTT is not as bad as some people make out, there are chicken tracks for Palm and Gunshot which are easily doable, Logans Brook which is the one prior to Nolans is not a problem. Nolans Brook is where a lot of people come to greif and in my opinion a little shyness will help, if that makes sense, many who come to grief there are fairly gung ho and hit the crossing far to hard, go in easy and then accelerate to get the bow wave happening, with lowered tyre pressures, in saying that I did it running 36 psi, my bad forgot to drop them but did it easy. Mistake and Cypress are just a concentration exercise, but still not overly challenging. The whole secret to the Cape is take it easy, personally if I were you I would give it a go, there is a fulfilling feeling facing ones fears, and believe me there will be plenty of people to help you and they serioulsy want to do it. Fom my earlier expiriences up the Cape, I then did tag tours for some years, so I know what people go through when challenged, and my greatest reward was to see the joy on their faces when they did it.
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Follow Up By: dad1340 - Friday, Mar 11, 2016 at 16:35

Friday, Mar 11, 2016 at 16:35
Agreed Tony, speed and high pressures can lead to a sad ending. We saw 3 rollovers last time up.

The guy at the Servo at Bamaga said about accessories and Trailers, "if its genuine Toyota it doesn't break, aftermarket stuff ends up like this" he pointed to the paddock full of discarded Trailer and the like. Apologies to owners of other makes but this was his statement. Back then.

I heard a full size caravan made it through, photos and all.

Cheers

dad
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Reply By: Member - Will 76 Series - Friday, Mar 11, 2016 at 00:18

Friday, Mar 11, 2016 at 00:18
Tony, that is interesting about Vrilya Point I read recently that it was planned to be opened again by Jul 16? Is the issue still the access to the beach and bridge crossing?
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Follow Up By: Tony F8 - Saturday, Mar 12, 2016 at 07:37

Saturday, Mar 12, 2016 at 07:37
There is nothing coming out of the NPARC at this stage to confirm access, just a lot of speculation from people hoping it will, on the other hand, if it does you would be advised not to go as it would be standing room only, and yes it is the bridge over Crystal Creek that has been deemed unsafe. I have been to Vrilya many times, and it was an absolute beauty of a spot, but in the last 5 years or so I have seen it deteriorate to resemble a smelly rubbish dump by the people who have camped there. This is a great disappointment that people can be so disgusting and disrespectful.
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Reply By: dad1340 - Friday, Mar 11, 2016 at 16:23

Friday, Mar 11, 2016 at 16:23
My first trip had no ferry on the Jardine, just a bloke with a bunch of 44gal drums strapped together and called it a ferry...... and the magic isolation.

My last trip to the Cape saw Bridges and phones on the Wenlock, with the track as busy as Pitt Street. The latest is a proposal to build a bridge over the Jardine. Progress; but for me; that was that.

Some historical stuff you may find interesting, after we went in to Cape Melville (had Roberts Lockers, Link Pipe and Thomas PTO's) we returned to Cooktown and was told of a disease that resides somewhere between Melville and Stark. The indigenous people know about it along with some Cooktown local's and they won't go there. (NB this is not near Cape Melville but between Melville and Stark)
Some scientists went in there in back in the late '80's and 3 contracted it with 1 dying.
It sounds like an Indiana Jones story but it is well documented.
Besides I'm told Melville a popular place now.

Secondly, We went up the beach from Chilli Beach to Sadd point then followed the Jardine back to Bamaga - give that one a miss.

I've got a photo of kids swinging off a rope and old tyre and dropping into the creek - having fun.
The photo also showed the Croc warning Sign next to the tree. Locals not tourists get eaten.

Cheers

dad
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Follow Up By: Stephen F2 - Saturday, Mar 12, 2016 at 23:22

Saturday, Mar 12, 2016 at 23:22
Hiya dad I hope Kimberleys are not ruined too much but heard Jacks Waterhole closed and now official camp ground at Mitchell Falls .I was there in 1997 only maybe 6 people and annoying Helicopter spoiling the tranquility.Wondering what is fascination of Cape York. I went as far as Cooktown.But had to come back to work in Adelaide.cheers
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Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Mar 21, 2016 at 21:29

Monday, Mar 21, 2016 at 21:29
You don't mention when you are travelling but as you mentioned travelling when dry will make it a lot easier. Also some roads are closed when wet.

We have done the Cape a few times and loved our Cape Melville visit see my blog Cape Melville for info.

Our camper probably is not as large as your Jayco but I think you'll be OK. Some of the track was tight but just take your time.

Kind regards
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