Best route from Cairns coastal region to inland with van

Submitted: Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 14:27
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Seeking suggestions for the easiest road to haul the van up into the Atherton tableland region please?

We visited Kuranda by rail back in 1980 whilst based at Cairns and the track up there looked pretty daunting for just the vehicle at the time and these days we have the 2.5 tonne van hooked onto the Pajero, which I admit has a bit more muscle than the old Holden did, but I'm thinking it will still be fairly challenging.

I just scoped the altitudes along the trail on Google Earth and it jumps from 10 metres to over 300 in a very short run.

If anyone knows a easier run I'd be glad to hear it thanks.

Feel free to call me a sook if you wish:O))

Regards Phil
Phil 'n Jill (WA)

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Reply By: Big Woody - Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 16:15

Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 16:15
Hi Phil,

As you mentioned modern vehicles tend to handle the hills much better than the cars of old, especially when towing heavy loads. You don't see many modern vehicles where the driver has to keep rowing backward and forwards through the gears like we used to when climbing the mountain ranges. I think roads have improved somewhat too.

We have property on the Tablelands in the vicinity of Millaa Millaa and you have a couple of options.

The run up the range to Kuranda is where you gain approximately 300m of elevation in about 15 minutes. The road is much improved if 1980 was the last time you were up there and I'm sure you will find that a few minutes hard work for your Pajero and you will be on the top of the range. This is still the shortest route onto the Tablelands but obviously from there you have a gradual climb of at least another 500m as you make your way to the Southern end. (Our property is at 1000-1300m)

Your alternatives are to run up the Palmerston Highway which is the route that B-doubles and the transport industry use. The gradient for the most part is a bit flatter but you are leaving from Innisfail and climbing to about 800m elevation over 45 minutes. This is a good quality highway with many overtaking lanes and for the most part you will be able to average over 80km/h. We did last year anyway with a similar sized van behind our Prado.

Don't be tempted to try the climb from Gordonvale up the Gillies Range Rd with a caravan. It is quite steep, twisty and narrow at times and not recommended for towing anything heavy.

A final alternative is to run up the Captain Cook Highway past Port Douglas and run up the Mossman-Mt Molloy Rd. This route is not too bad with a van but it is taking you a long way to the North and is probably similar to climbing the range near Kuranda.

Overall it really depends where you plan on exploring the Tablelands because it is quite a distance from Mt Molloy to Millaa Millaa. I think your Pajero will handle any of the crossings no problem.

Cheers,
Brett

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Follow Up By: Member - Phil 'n Jill (WA) - Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 16:48

Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 16:48
BINGO! That is pure gold Big Woody. Thanks for that.

Can't beat local knowledge...

You must get nosebleeds up where you are??

Cheers Phil
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Follow Up By: Member - TonyV - Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 17:12

Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 17:12
Brett's correct and many local people with vans use the Palmerston Hwy.

Some local spend the extra 45 minutes or so just to avoid the Gillies Hwy which has been known to induce car sickness in people who are normally ok.
TonyV

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Follow Up By: Rob J8 - Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 20:00

Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 20:00
I will never travel the Gillies again in my lifetime. I get motion sickness when I'm not driving but never before when I was driving.
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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 20:28

Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017 at 20:28
Like me, you are Flatlanders from WA and anything steeper than the Grt eastern Hwy in Greenmount is daunting.

It took 3 trips to Cairns before I was brave enough to tow my van up the range to Kuranda. But now it is my preferred route. There are a couple of twisty bits but the run is so short that it's over very quickly.

Parts of the northern route are almost as bad so there's no advantage.

The Gillies Hwy? I drove down it once, unhitched, from Yungaburra. It was so bad we chose to keep going through Cairns and up to Mareeba and south again to get back to Yungaburra.

Depends on the way you want to go after the Tablelands, but we've driven down the Palmerston to Innisfail a couple of times and it was fine.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil 'n Jill (WA) - Wednesday, Jun 21, 2017 at 09:04

Wednesday, Jun 21, 2017 at 09:04
You got that right Gone Bush, we don't get a lot of practice in the west. The Five Rivers lookout on the Bastion at Wyndham springs to mind but I never took the van up that.

Tassies Hobart to Queenstown was a challenge but you only had the one option.

Thanks for the feedback.

Regards Phil
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Reply By: mynance - Monday, Jun 26, 2017 at 20:46

Monday, Jun 26, 2017 at 20:46
Went up Kuranda last year no problem.
Pajero will pull up 2.5 up any track with enough traction in Qld.

Myles
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil 'n Jill (WA) - Monday, Jun 26, 2017 at 22:10

Monday, Jun 26, 2017 at 22:10
Thanks Myles, we have been reassured so will head for Cairns and the Karunda challenge. Cheers all.
Regards Phil
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Reply By: Member - Phil 'n Jill (WA) - Thursday, Jun 29, 2017 at 14:50

Thursday, Jun 29, 2017 at 14:50
Just a followup on this one... after wide consultation and great feedback here and along the way it has become a non issue.

Woke up this morning to the news that a truck had jacknifed on the Kuranda road and was closed for the best part of the day. Not surprising with the current spate of RAIN.

Upshot is we took a leisurely run down to Innisfail then up the Palmerston through the misty mountains in the continuing rain.

As nominated it was a no stress run even though I heard a couple of trucks heading downhill commenting on the resulting extra traffic.

Thanks again.

Phil
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