Road Cairns to Cooktown.

Submitted: Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 21:41
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Would like to know best route to take from Cairns to Cooktown. Will be towing caravan so coast road out of the question.
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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 22:01

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 22:01
I've towed my 20ft Bushtracker up the coast road from Cairns to Wonga Beach, then up to Mt Molloy and then north to Cooktown.

No problems.
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Reply By: Notso - Monday, May 02, 2016 at 08:36

Monday, May 02, 2016 at 08:36
The main inland road is sealed all the way now.
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Reply By: Member - Cuppa - Monday, May 02, 2016 at 09:15

Monday, May 02, 2016 at 09:15
Only two options - the bitumen or the Bloomfield Track.

The Bloomfield track (? Coast Road?) is unsuitable for the majority of caravans. Includes creek crossings & steep tight sections but is an interesting drive through the rain forest & is a much shorter route. (about 70kms I think).

The bitumen route is, from memory, about 400kms, & afford some fantastic panoramic views along the way.

We did the Bloomfield on off road motorcycles - dry going up, returned a few days later after rain - creeks were a fair bit deeper & water flowing over the Bloomfield River causeway. Took the bus & trailer up on the bitumen. Be prepared to pull over to appreciate some of the views going up.

There are some nice spots to camp both north & south of Cooktown within a few kilometres, easily accessible with a caravan, as well as what’s in town. My favourite was at Rossville, south of town. Called ‘Home Rule’. A hidden gem. Don’t be put off by the name. Google will find it for you. A beautiful grassy area in the middle of the Daintree. 45 minute walk along a path through ‘real’ rainforest (i.e. no boardwalks/signs) takes you to a stunning waterfall & swimming hole. To get to Rossville take the Bloomfield track road passing the Lions Den Hotel (camping there too). All good graded gravel road which a caravan would have zero problem on (the Bloomfield track proper starts south of Rossville).


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Reply By: Member - lyndon NT - Monday, May 02, 2016 at 10:05

Monday, May 02, 2016 at 10:05
Only two ways that I'm aware of. One bloomfield track. Very steep but no longer the track it was a few years ago, went there last xmas. Lots of new bridges etc.
Lovely drive but wouldn't tow a van up there. VERY STEEP.
Other road is via Mount Molloy. Very windy and steep in places. Will be fine, just take you time. May need low range depending what you driving.
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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Monday, May 02, 2016 at 17:43

Monday, May 02, 2016 at 17:43
You've several choices to get up from the coast if taking the inland route through Mt Molloy. Shortest climb but busiest route would be Cairns(Smithfield)->Kuranda->Mareeba->Mt Molloy
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 14:02

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 14:02
I would prefer to tow on the option Gone Bush has given than up the range to Kuranda. Shortest climb but probably the steepest.

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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 16:47

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 16:47
I did a calculation of gradients based on the climb and distance which gives some indication of the relative steepness, they are as follows in degrees:
Rex 14 (10 km)
Kuranda 13 (10 km)
Gillies 11 (25 km)
Palmerston 5 (54 km).
Nowadays the Rex has trucks hauling sugar cane bins to/from the Mossman Mill during the harvesting/crushing season (July August I think). I still reckon the Kuranda is the pick, over the years because of the volume of traffic, commuters, light and heavy trucks it's now a wide road with dual carriageway and overtaking lanes in many places, lots of slow trucks so no one is going to get upset by a van. If you want a completely different trip, take the complete inland route and head north at Charters Towers, that way you only climb about 150 m at the Mingela Range.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 16:50

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 16:50
Is that average steepness over each road distance Warren?
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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 18:55

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 18:55
Yes, I chose a point from experience I considered the top and bottom of each range got distance and elevations. Tried to put it in a table but the forum formatting makes it too difficult.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 23:12

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 23:12
Put it into a word processor or spreadsheet file and attach the file using a link at the bottom of the panel you type into.
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Reply By: Member - Peter H1 (NSW) - Monday, May 02, 2016 at 12:46

Monday, May 02, 2016 at 12:46
Bloomfied track is 4x4 only.

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Reply By: Warren B - Monday, May 02, 2016 at 19:10

Monday, May 02, 2016 at 19:10
I will have a go at taking my van most places, its only a dirt road van but has seen a lot of " dirt " roads HOWEVER I would not attempt to drag it along the Bloomfield track. could probably get it through but there would be a lot of irate people on that track either behind or coming at you. Dump the van somewhere and do it vehicle only its worth it.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 14:05

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 14:05
You have highlighted the problem Warren.

" - - but there would be a lot of irate people on that track either behind or coming at you."

While I know of a number of people who have taken high clearance off road vans through the Bloomfield Track way, but those who meet you on narrow sections would be less than impressed.

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Follow Up By: Member - TonyV - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 14:03

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 14:03
With you there Warren,

There is also an advisory sign stating no trailer/caravans permitted on the Bloomfield.

Anyone who drives the Bloomfield will know its not built for large trucks or caravans. When the Council work on the roads there are flag men/women to work the road.

I know plenty ignore this, with excuses that they are bigger, better, tougher, more skilled and didn't drive 2000kms not to do the track..... etc (same with people driving the CREB when closed).

It takes only a small shower to get the vehicles stuck.
I have pulled a 4WD and small van up one section in 2015, no way to turn it around.
There are constant reports of campers and 4WD sliding down in the local facebook groups.
These often closes the Bloomfield for a few days until it dry's and the Council allow the Tow Trucks in to make a fortune in retrieving the 4WD's and Caravans, that is without any fines imposed by the council for damage and the closure....
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