developement road Cook town to Weipa

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 13:52
ThreadID: 132805 Views:2367 Replies:4 FollowUps:5
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Good morning happy travellers,
to the adventurous people that do like to go to the more remote places of Australia towing caravans, I was just wondering would it be possible to tow a 24ft caravan up the development road to Weipa, or should we leave the van in Cooktown. We live in WA and do not know that part of Australia at all so the words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated
Our van was built to go down dirt roads but in saying that we are pretty conservative on what dirt roads we travel, and if any body has any advice to stop dust ingress into the van that would be appreciated too.
thank you in anticipation of your remarks

Broodie H3
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Reply By: Tony F8 - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 14:26

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 14:26
Why stop at weipa, you will easily tow your van to Bamaga/Seisia if you travel the PDR. You can leave the van at Bramwell and explore the southern OTT, then leave it at the ferry and exp, ore the northern OTT, then continue up to Seisia, drive to conditions and use your tyre preassures to your advantage. A lot of people are taking vans up there now.
Safe travels.
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Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 18:39

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 18:39
Hi Tony thank you very much for your input, it sounds like you have been up that way a couple of times so your answer is greatly appreciated.
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Reply By: Hoyks - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 17:30

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 17:30
I passed 2 x Ford Transit camper vans towing Suzuki Vitaras about 80 south of the Jardine river ferry. They were rolling along at 40km/h and running low tyre pressures as the bypass road up there was in a horrible state when I went through, probably the worst bit on the whole trip. I don't recommend being a rolling road block though.

It all depends on when the road crews have been through, what the wet has been like and how much traffic the road has seen.

I came in via Lakefield NP and most of that road was in great condition, but I wouldn't take a van in that way as some of the creeks can be a bit deep.

Most of the Developmental road was good too, but there were some sections that were a bit lumpy and would shake a van up a bit. Trucks and the locals belt along there too.
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Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 18:52

Sunday, Jun 19, 2016 at 18:52
Hi Hoyks,
In my experience limited as it may be I have found no matter where you are the locals always drive to the speeds that they are comfortable with. as for being a rolling road block with the van well I drive to the conditions that suit me at the time and if I am holding up traffic I generally pull over and have a cupper or wait until the dust settles before carrying on, not knowing the area I don't know where the lakefeild national park is thus my query was for the development road only.
Our plans are to go to Weipa leave the van there for a few days and take our tent and head further North to the tip we hope to be up there for around a month or two.
thank you for your comments and maybe we'll find the lakefeild national park.
thank you.
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Reply By: Malcom M - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 07:13

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 07:13
Plenty of caravans of all sizes up there however the corrugations can be appalling and both Weipa andSeisia caravan park always have campers waiting parts for their rigs.

The people who have been lucky enough to never have suffered a breakdown (yet) will tell you how safe it is up there but I've spent the best part of a month in Weipa waiting parts and seen exactly what sort of damage occurs daily to vehicles up there.

Make sure you carry spares such as wheel bearings etc and get some phone numbers for recovery services. Mobile coverage varies between crap to non existent so hire a sat phone if you haven't got one. Someone will drive along eventually but they can't repair a seized or torn off axle for you.
The top end is covered by Bamaga - Cape York Spares & Repairs.(RACQ),
lower parts by Weipa where there is also a RACQ guy.
Bamaga can fly in spare parts over night at a cost, Weipa will only truck them in.
Both Bamaga and Weipa have a barge service so you can get the vehicles back to Cairns if you are really stuck.
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Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 11:20

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 11:20
Good morning Malcom,
it is good to hear from a local as you will be aware of the road conditions all the time. We generally travel with the usual spares for remote travel anyway and a pretty comprehensive tool box including wheel pullers, welding stuff, etc, etc, and also a good deal of common sense, in the shape of my wife, lol.
In all the years that we have been traveling around Australia I have never had to use my gear on our gear or vehicle, but from time to time we have been able to help others out, who were in difficulties.
Malcom thank you very much for your in put it was great to hear from you, and our decisions will be made closer to the travel time that we are in the region, our plans for travel change on a daily basis.
thank you very much
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 12:50

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 12:50
Hi Broodie

No I'm not a local but I've been stuck in both Bamaga and Weipa long enough to count as an honorary local :)

Sounds like you are well equipped so you should be ok. Just check the wheel bearings for heat every time you stop, that was probably the most common failure we saw.
There's caravans all up and down the development road. Plenty of big rigs belting up and down delivering to the communities so you won't be alone.

You'd be staggered by the damage that occurs up there. Apart from engine & suspension issues, we saw a Coaster bus with its floorpan ripped out on a rock - writeoff. Camper that seized a wheel bearing and tore the entire axle with wheels off - flat deck recovery and new axle ex Cairns. Caravans that had started to simply fall apart requiring costly patch ups. Wheel bearings seized but axle still in place so the wheel had been ground away dragging it in to town. etc etc etc
I was staggered by the variety of damage around the camp sites.
A big problem for travelers (particularly in Weipa) is that the repair shops all have contracts with the mines and indigenous organisations so their vehicles come first and are bumped to the top of the schedule. Waited a week before I could gain a slot to have a steering rack fitted, kept getting bumped out.

Although the dev road is busy enough for help to arrive, if you take any of the side tracks you can be alone for months. There's a whole lot of nothing up there to explore.
I bought myself a sat phone when I eventually got home again :)
Good luck with your trip. Its a brilliant place to travel and I'd be back up there in an instant.

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Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 13:13

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 13:13
Hi Malcom, just to give you a general idea of the way we travel is to tow the van to an area, park it up, as a base camp, then I am allowed to go and explore side tracks, as long as I take extra fuel, and the tent then we can go a few days without coming back to the van. this has come about from when we lived in the kimberlies in the seventies, I got side tracked in my Cortina te station wagon on the gibb river road and only just had enough fuel to get us back to fifteen kilometres out of Whyndham, needles to say she wasn't happy as she had to stay with the boys while I walked into town, for fuel, lesson learnt very quickly, two months of silence was the result, lol, now.
thank you I am a quicker learner now days and listen to sound advice.
Thank you
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Reply By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Thursday, Jun 30, 2016 at 14:30

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016 at 14:30
I towed a 24' van to Weipa in 2010. The main problem we had was the dips in the road at creek crossings. Despite our best care, we still managed to flatten the rear step. Tyre pressures and care should see you through. I believe there has been a lot of work done on the road since then.
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