Cape York with a caravan on the PDR?

We are going up to the tip in early July and wondering if we can make it with our trusty non-outback expanda? We were thinking of just using the PDR both ways unhitching the van and then doing short trips with the car only (Santa Fe). e.g. to Eliot falls and Captain Billy Landing.
Do experienced folks think that is achievable?


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Reply By: Member - Carl- Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 10:48

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 10:48
Hi Dondon,

Well 84 people have view your post and not one has replied, so hear goes.

"Achieveable" Yes.

If you had asked would I do it. The answer would certainly be NO. Several reasons:

This is a 14 day trip (approx) from Cooktown in a vehicle (no disrespect to your Santa fe) that is not really a 4WD, towing a a caravan that even if it was a Expanda Outback, is not really an off road van.

Travelling up there are people doing 3 speeds Fast, suitable and slow. I think you would have to be in the slow group. Therefore you will be having people wanting to overtake you all the time. This makes a safety issue (dust) for you and a windscreen breaking issue as well.

You have the problems of the carry capacity of the vehicle.

Problems of Santa Fe spare parts if it breaks down. Not many people will carry parts for this kind of vehicle.

Potential of damage to the van and the cost of repairs when you return. It can all add up to being an expensive trip.

I love the idea of you heading off to explore the outback and think everyone should do it. I do not really have a great love of toyota but it still is toyota country. Good luck however and I hope you do get to go.

AnswerID: 482502

Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:19

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:19
You will get to Laura with no problems whatsoever - providing you have done the usualy maintenance on both vehicle and van. You would probably get further - perhaps on to Weipa but the road can deteriorate beyond Laura and the corrugations can be 'interesting' to say the least. IMHO the Santa Fe would do the trip all the way to The Tip - not the OTL but via the bypass roads....and do it easily.
Would I personally take a the Expanda and Santa Fe to the tip....No....but then again I'm not the over-adventurous type:-)

Why not set up at Laura (end of the bitumen now I believe) and do a little tenting or commercial stays......just a thought!
FollowupID: 757762

Follow Up By: dondon - Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 09:04

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 09:04
Thanks Carl, some good points I hadn't thought of being a mostly bitumen driver these days.

Most parts of Australia seem to be Toyota country now. A far cry from when I grew up taking on forestry roads on with a Morris Minor with an 850cc engine and winegum biscuits for wheels!

FollowupID: 757854

Reply By: i'machocoholic - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 15:14

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 15:14
When we were up there last year, we saw the odd van going up. We also saw the damage that the road had caused to one whilst staying at Weipa Campground and they were still on their way up!

As the road conditions vary from year to year, it's hard to say what they'll be like when you're there. We left our van in Cairns and hired a camper trailer for the three weeks. After having just spent 6 weeks in a tent on the Gibb River Road, the thought of sleeping "on the ground" again for another 3 weeks just didn't cut it.

Can't say I would advise you to take your Expanda - I guess you have ask yourself the question whether you have a plan B in case something goes wrong. Just remember you're a long way from anywhere if you need repairs. Good luck!
AnswerID: 482518

Reply By: Rangiephil - Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 09:50

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 09:50
When I spoke to him in July last year the RACQ agent in Coen who runs the servo, Sexchange Hotel and supermarket had recovered 22 offroad camper trailers south of Coen.
He commented on the fact that most were not really offroad.
I arrived just after someone had dumped 50litres of diesel down the gutter as the person had not realised his diesel tank had split.

The Woolworths supply semi to Weipa only does about 20Kmh along this part as it is so corrugated , in a big part caused by semis and tour buses. I actually drove up the graded gutter where I could as it was smoother than the track.

While say 70% of the PDR is a good dirt road the other 30% can be horrendous and will test every component.

Whether you can get to Eliot falls with the Santa Fe will depend on how deep the one creek crossing is at the time. The crossing is easy but the depth when we were there was about 50-60 CM. Have a look at your air intake and the manufacturer specs, which in soft roaders do not usually list wading depth. There is no problem going to Fruit Bat Falls as it is only a couple of hundred metres off the PDR.

In summary I wouldn't try it with an on road van and if you do be very aware of reducing tyre pressures and take spare components for the suspension, because it is a long way between welders or mechanics. Join the RACQ /NRMA premium service as it could be a long recovery. And take it very slow.
Regards Philip A

AnswerID: 482576

Follow Up By: dondon - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 15:15

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 15:15
Thanks Phil

I think I've been convinced to leave the Expanda at a storage site at Cooktown or the likes, and experience Cape York using tents.

I have no whims about minor river crossing with the Santa Fe (or fatty as we call it), we did several at the Bungle Bungles in 2009 and the air take is quite high up.

I guess its the spare parts that are really important, so will do some purchasing.


FollowupID: 757950

Reply By: marg s - Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 09:56

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 09:56
Don't do it mate, It's not the road that is the problem, for a short drive it is OK. It's the length of time that your van will be subjected to the vibrations. Will your suspension handle the drive, also your aircon, stove etc. The cost of recovery is also high. Willl your vehicle's weight be at it's maximum, weight is a killer up there. If you do go, Go slow. It's a great destination.

AnswerID: 482577

Reply By: xanana - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 21:21

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 21:21
Hi Don

I do the Cape trip on a very regular basis (work) and have met a few people who have come up from the south with Vans. Most leave them in Cooktown or Laura and a few will leave them at Archer river. They will then stay in the donga accommodation or take basic camping equipment in there vehicles.

I'm confident that your van would make it all the way, though I'm thinking that you could be an annoyance to other travellers and welding/recovery can be very expensive in that part of the world.

I know a couple of people in the NPA who make good $ over the tourist season welding up vehicles and 4X4 trailers.

AnswerID: 484844

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