When the Daintree track wasn't a highway:))

Submitted: Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:29
ThreadID: 44938 Views:2876 Replies:8 FollowUps:8
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Somewhere back in the mists of time.....

For years we had zoomed up and down the east coast, rarely stopping to draw breath until we had arrived at our destination. This time it was going to be different, we had designated it a "tourist holiday."

We had a lot of fun, stopping at the Gold Coast tourist parks etc with the kids. I was towing a box trailer full of camping gear and two spare jerry cans of diesel. Finally we pulled into a caravan park in Cairns and settled down for a few days.

Now SWMBO should have known better, but she expressed a desire to see Cooktown. For years I had wondered what all the fuss was about building the road through the rainforest, and looked forward to seeing what the protesters had been on about. I neglected to mention that there was another way to Cooktown.

I also neglected to check and see how much rain they'd had on the track. "I'll just go and take a peek and if it looks hairy I'll turn around" I thought. I didn't realize that with the trailer, once you were on it you were committed. Just after Daintree we were flagged down by a Nissan with 4 guys in it who advised us to turn back. "Our inclinometer went off the dial" advised one of them. I smiled on the inside. "Tourists" I said to myself and carried on. Yes there was a bit of water around but so what ? The HJ60 could handle it. Until I stopped on the first hill with a view and slowly started to slide. Nowhere to turn around, we were committed.

Apart from traction problems in a creek which I solved with some boulders under the wheels, we were doing well. Splashing, bashing and crashing through mud holes were continued until we reached the Daintree River. The tide was on the rise but we could see vehicles on the other side so it must be Ok right ? Wrong ! Into the river, 2nd high in 4wd. About half way across the engine stalled.

Now you never restart a diesel engine in a water crossing, chances are you'll destroy it. Especially without a snorkel. But I looked at the rising tide, and the sign next to me that said saltwater crocodiles, and turned the key. I think that the moment the engine fired I knew just how lucky we were.

With water streaming out of the crevices of the vehicle, we carefully stopped on dry land. To stop my knees knocking I walked across to the guys with a camera on a tripod and asked them what they were doing.

"Oh, we're filming idiots like you" said the bloke with a grin.

My knees were still knocking when we reached Cooktown , only to find that our track had been closed to traffic for several days ! I've always wondered why that sign was on the wrong end of that track.

To make matters worse, the Jerries had leaked diesel all over everything in the trailer. Just to reinforce how silly I'd been, on the inland road out of Cooktown the trailer spare wheel came unstuck and rolled past me into the bush. Do you think I could find it ?

For all I know it's still there somewhere.

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Reply By: Bros 1 - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:44

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:44
In relation to the trailer tyre going past.
In the mid 70's i was stationed between Richmond and Julia Creek. I used to take all the kids to school at Maxwelton on the train when the time and working was right.
When they did not match up i took them to school in my car of that time, a HR station wagon. One day we were tooling down the highway and the next minute the wagon collapsed on the passenger side rear and the tyre and rim went sailing past. After stopping and checking pants we located the rim and put it back on with a nut from the other wheels. Pretty scary at the time with a car load of kids.
Work is the curse of the down and out bludger.

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AnswerID: 236940

Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:49

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:49
A load of kids can be scary at any time, but I'm glad it was you and not me :))
I saw a vehicle lose a wheel on a bend on the way to Darwin once. Scary stuff.
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Reply By: Member - Banjo (WA) - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:48

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:48
Good story.

I like it when someone can have a go at themself.

Banjo (WA)
AnswerID: 236945

Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:52

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:52
It's called experience :))
Besides, if we can't laugh at ourselves, then we have no business laughing at others I rekkon.
FollowupID: 497981

Follow Up By: Gramps (NSW) - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:33

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:33
LOL agree 100% Footy :))))
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:59

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 19:59
Hey Footy,

Good story mate but you lost me. Which track were you on?

If you were heading north towards Cooktown you would have crossed the Daintree River (By Ferry) at the beginning of your trek.

The Bloomfield River crossing is the one with the concrete causeway which does get "submerged" with the incoming tide.

Naughty, naughty Footy. What have you learned from this:-)))

If the track was closed, I would have expected a sign at Cape Tribulation which is the beginning of the Bloomfield track.

Now tell me you weren't on the Creb Track!

I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

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AnswerID: 236949

Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:07

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:07
No sign at Daintree. Yes, the Daintree to Cooktown track not the CREB, and yes it was the Bloomfield. It used to get seriously deep there, I've seen several ends of vehicles poking out of the water at high tide. There were also holes on either side of the crossing.
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Reply By: Alcoz - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:01

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:01
I"ve had the same kind of holidays but look how much you learned!
never boring!
Cheers! Al
AnswerID: 236952

Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:09

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:09
Al, judging by the mistakes I've made in my time, I must of learned a lot :)))
FollowupID: 497991

Reply By: V8Diesel - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:51

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 20:51
All's well that ends well Footie - these are the trips you remember! If it was all straight forward you may as well fly there.

Had few hairy experiences up that way myself (and I'm not talking about the hippie chicks living in treehouses around Newell Beach either!)

AnswerID: 236969

Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 08:38

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 08:38
"you may as well fly there."...my wife has said that before :)))
FollowupID: 498084

Reply By: Trevor R (QLD) - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 21:32

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 21:32
When my wife and I were younger and I was still trying to impress her, I offered to drive her LX Torana up to Cape tribulation for a romantic dirty weekend (in my 2 man tent LOL!!). The road was very much dirt from the Daintree ferry and still a 4wd track in the wet. Weather forecast clear and sunny???? I hear you ask. Hmmmmmm I dunno what the forecast was I was 19 or something it's all good at that age. We got up there with fabulous weather, but that night after a couple of jugs of Queensland's finest, it PI$$ED down like only the tropical north can. Here we were in my 2 man tent, water raging through it like I had camped in the Daintree river itself, when I started to realise that if this didn't ease up I was in big trouble trying to drive out. It rained all night, we (I mean, I) packed up in the rain while my better half was fertilising every shrub she walked passed due to the "Queensland's finest" that reacted with the bully beef in a tin I had laid on for her dinner. I then had to drive in the rain in a two wheel drive back sth to the Daintree ferry (a feat in itself) but the missus thought she would add to the equation by asking me to STOP!!!! about every 2kms to relieve even more of that "Queensland's finest". Here I am trying my best to keep it smooth and straight, while the road was doing it's best to send me sideways over every run-off drain it could find and all my wife (future wife at that time) could say was "look at my Torana, it's filthy". I did manage to get it back in one piece but the photo of her Torana on the ferry is a cracker, mud all over it, including the roof. It was a hell of a weekend in my mind.

Cheers footy, I am sure you have a story or two to trump this, but this is one trip I won't forget in a hurry.
Regards, Trevor.
AnswerID: 236989

Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 08:35

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 08:35
Trev, no I couldn't trump that one. I got an early morning laugh, thanks for sharing.
FollowupID: 498083

Reply By: Cram - Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 12:20

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 12:20
Great story, how long ago did this occur?
AnswerID: 237086

Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 12:30

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 12:30
Cram, believe it or not that's a hard question to answer. It would only be a couple of years after the track went in, so the late 80's ? Sorry I can't be precise. Too many trips, failing memory etc etc :)))
FollowupID: 498113

Reply By: Footloose - Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 12:33

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 at 12:33
For "Daintree River" read " Bloomfield River"...typo
AnswerID: 237087

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