Nuddy’s Cape York Recce 2010.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 00:00

Member - Paul N (NSW)

Nuddy’s Cape York Recce 2010.

Trip Log 0000 km 08.30 Weds 26th May
Single handed, leaving Wangi with both tanks full. Main Tank = L/Ranger 140 litres useable. Sub Tank = OEM Nissan 35 lirtes useable.
TL 980 km 20.00 Weds 26th May - Matilda Gympie – 132.49 litres.
TL 1118 km 22.50 Nth of Marybrough – stop till 07.00 Thurs.
TL 1473 km 11.50 Thurs 27th May – Shell Rockhampton 66.84 litres.
TL 2177 km 23.00 Thurs 27th May – BP Townsville 139.48 litres.
TL 2371 km 01.30 Fri 28th May Nth of Ayr – stop till 07.00 Fri.
TL 2548 km 11.00 Fri 28th May Arrive Cairns.
Barb flying Darwin to Cairns Sat morning.
2 days in Cairns to prepare for The Recce.

TL 2593 km 12.30 Mon 31st May Shell Cairns 53.14 litres.
Drove North to Mossman, South to Mt Molloy and North on the PDR to Lakeland.
Continuing on the PDR towards Laura, we stopped for a bush camp 6 km south of Laura for the night. Our first bush camp for the trip. Barb started a campfire with no paper and just 2 matches.
TL 2910 km 16.30 Mon 31st May Bush Camp 6 km Sth of Laura S15o36’ E144o28’

1st June - Day 2, and this is where the story REALLY starts.
Proceeding along the PDR from Laura heading for Coen. Barb was reading “Cape York – An Adventurers Guide” by Ron and Viv Moon. She noticed that there was a short section of the OTL track south of Coen - ‘a more challenging route to Coen’. So following the guide, we took a right turn 28 km South of Coen onto the Port Stewart road. We crossed the Stewart River, an easy crossing – not too deep. 14 km along the Port Stewart road we turn left onto the Coen – Port Stewart road (according to the OzTopo map on our Garmin GPS). The track started out quite well defined until we came to a gate into private property. Just before the gate we found a less defined track which we assumed was the Coen – Port Stewart road confirmed by the GPS. After about 1 km of travel the track became quite overgrown and it was obvious that it had not been used this season. We were alone and the track was getting more ‘interesting’. We thought about turning around, which would have been the wise thing to do but the track was narrow and no convenient turn around spot appeared. Foolishly we pressed on. After 2 km a creek crossing appeared. Fairly shallow with a very coarse sandy bottom but a bit of a steep exit. I didn’t walk it but if I had I would have proceeded anyway. Again we should have turned back but no – pressed on – in 2L. ¾ across we stopped – engine stalled. Into 1L and on for 1 metre and stopped – bogged. Reverse – forward – reverse – forward, no go. We were stuck – fortunately the water was below door level. Out with the winch gear. Hadn’t done a pre-departure check on the winch so fingers crossed that it will work – it did. Used a tree on the exit bank and winched/drove up to the exit, then needed to re-set the winch on a further tree to get up the exit. Found a suitable tree and ran the cable out to find that it had jammed between the winds, giving us about 8 metres of useable cable. We had to use everything we had to make up winch extensions to get to the tree. Winched/drove the front wheels up the exit and stuck again. Lots of digging and 2:1 on the cable with the snatch block and suddenly I realised the tyres were at 32 psi. Dropped to 12 psi while Barb kept digging, then try again and got the front wheels up and the back wheels up against the exit but ran out of winch cable. Re-jigged the winch to another more distant tree and finally got out of the creek. The granite sandbank had little frogs everywhere, which made the digging more interesting.
It was getting close to dark so we pitched the tent just above the river bank and stopped for the night.

2nd June – Day 3 TL 3163.1 km
After a good night’s sleep and a leisurely pack up we went up the road a little to a gentle slope where we were able to un-jam the winch cable and roll it out, then wind it in again neatly under load. We thought about turning back but didn’t like the idea of trying to get back though the creek so pressed on again.
Just over 1 km west of the creek the track deteriorated badly. It was obvious that we were the first through this season. There was a deep washaway and it looked like just enough room on the left to get past. There wasn’t! We went down hard. The right side of the Patrol was hard up against the bank – up to the bottom of the windows, car at about 40 degrees. I had to climb out of the driver’s window. Both diffs were fully grounded and both right tyres were just clear of the ground. Barb did a lot of good work with the shovel while I set up the winch and snatch block. We would need the 2:1 and a lot of digging to get out of this one. Little by little we winched and dug and winched and dug and finally got traction and got through. Nasty panel damage to the right rear. Fortunately the driver’s door was undamaged. Once clear we packed up the winch gear then walked a little further down the track and found a very overgrown track joining in. We walked back along the overgrown track which turned out to be the ‘chicken track’ around our disastrous washaway. The entry to the chicken track was quite early and very hard to see. We should have stopped before the washaway and walked back to search for a by-pass. You learn these things the hard way.
The rest of the track to Coen had many more obstacles but we found chicken tracks around all of the difficult ones and had no further trouble. A lot of lessons learnt in a short time…
TL 3177 km Passed “Charlies Place” “Gold Mine 4U2C”
TL 3181 km Coen – stopped for lunch and to pump up the tyres.
TL 3247 km Archer River Roadhouse. 109.89 litres.
TL 3255 km Bush Camp beside the Archer River.

3rd June – Day 4 TL 3255 km Leaving Archer River.
TL 3313 km turn right onto Telegraph Road – straight on goes to Weipa – PDR.
TL 3386 km Moreton Telegraph Station.
TL 3420 km Bramwell Junction Roadhouse – excellent ‘Junction Burgers’.
Keeping right onto the southern section of the OTL track.
TL 3424 km Palm Ck crossing (mud ++).
TL 3431 km Ducie River crossing.
TL 3436 km South Alice Creek crossing.
TL 3444 km North Alice Creek crossing.
TL 3451 km Dulhunty River Bush Camp – overnight stop. Our first swimming spot- little waterfalls, deep holes to sit in above the falls in the shallows. A joy after the heat.

4th June – Day 5 TL 3451 km continuing up the OTL track southern section.
Met up with Adrian, Fran and Cyril, driving a Disco II and towing a camper trailer.
Travelling together except Adrian will by-pass Gunshot via Heathlands and come back to meet us on the other side.
Dulhunty River – easy crossing.
TL 3453 km Bertie Creek – easy crossing.
TL 3455 km diversion to right to Heathlands R S - Adrian diverts.
TL 3456 km Cholmondelay Ck – easy crossing.
TL 3467 km Gunshot Ck – steep drop to muddy hole – nowhere near as bad as rumoured and not as bad as it looks. Plunged front of the Patrol into thick clay mud.
Then into the easy crossing – stopped in the creek to clean the clay out of the winch and bull bar. Took some time to dig it out and wash it clean.
TL 3477 km Cockatoo Ck – long fast running crossing. Lunch, walk through the crossing and a swim. Crossing quite deep – soft sandy bottom but no problem.
TL 3490 km Sailor Ck – bridge.
TL 3494 km end of southern section of OTL track.
TL 3501 km start of northern section of OTL track.
TL 3504 km Fruitbat Falls – lovely spot for a swim – no camping.
TL 3515 km Elliot Falls – not as nice as Fruitbat but regulated camping is allowed.
TL 3516 km Canal Ck – excellent unregulated camping spots on both sides of crossing. We camped for the night on the southern side. Glorious swimming. Crystal clear pools, white sandy bottom.

5th June – Day 6 TL 3516 km continuing up the northern section of the OTL track.
We crossed easily and Adrian followed in the Disco + Camper trailer, then Adrian discovered a fuel leak and we stopped for morning tea and lunch while he fixed it.
While we were waiting a bloke from Weipa arrived in his wife’s ‘shopping trolley’, a new D4D Prado. Carrying wife + 2 young kids and his mum from NZ, he drove straight into a familiar crossing spot. However the spot had changed a little since his last visit and ended in a deep hole and a rock step to climb on the way out. The Prado failed to proceed and reversing didn’t work either. The engine kept running for a while then stopped. We volunteered to winch the Prado out. The water was above the floor level but not above the seats. After we winched the Prado out he was able to open the doors and let the water out then tried to dry out the electricals and get the engine to start. There was a little water in the air filter box (no snorkel) but none had got into the intake itself. An hour later the Prado still would not start. He had sent the family back to Elliot Falls and was considering getting a lift back to Weipa to return with his ‘proper 4wd’ and tow the Prado home. Heaps of time for barb to swim, explore the creek, chat and check out the plant life. A lot of carnivorous pitcher plants, sundews, and other little bog plants. Adrian had fixed the fuel leak and we continued up the OTL track.
TL 3518 km Sam Ck - easy crossing.
TL 3520 km Mistake Ck – easy crossing.
TL 3522 km Cannibal Ck – easy crossing.
TL 3524 km Cypress Ck – precarious old bridge – needed guiding across.
TL 3531 km Logan Ck/swamp – very long crossing but no problem.
TL 3539 km Nolans Brook. Deep and fast flowing. Patrol crossed with no problem.
Adrian took the Disco and Camper trailer across with no problem.
Excellent spot for a swim and good campsites on both sides of the crossing. We chose the northern side for our next overnight stop.

6th June – Day 7 TL 3539 km continuing on the OTL track to Jardine River.
TL 3541 km – passing turnoff to the northern bypass road.
TL 3546 km – Jardine River – old ford and OTL crossing. Telstra cable now crosses here.
TL 3552 km – turning off to go to the northern bypass road.
TL 3589 km – Jardine River Ferry. Arrived just in time for his lunch break so we had lunch too. $88 to cross – covers return crossing and camping permits for bush camping Nth of the Jardine.
TL 3624 km Bamaga – supermarket closed (Sunday). BP open. 87.28 litres. Good phone and internet coverage.
Drove to ‘Punsand Bay Camping Resort’ and booked in for 2 nights.

7th June – Day 8 drove to Bamaga for shopping and then up to ‘The Tip’ late afternoon – had it to ourselves.

8th June – Day 9 booked in for another night at Punsand. Drove to Somerset and surrounding areas.

9th June – Day 10 Booked in for another night at Punsand. Drove to Seisia to catch the ferry to TI but too late. Arrived at 08.30 and ferry leaves at 08.00 booked for Thursday ferry to Thursday Island. Then went exploring around Muttee Heads. Booked in for another night at Punsand.

10th June – Day 11 Up early and drove to Seisia for 07.30 for ferry to TI.
08.00 leaving Seisia on tour ferry – 19 kts catamaran.
09.45 arriving at TI - straight onto bus for tour of TI including old fort/museum visit.
11.45 tour finished, explore TI – churches etc. cultural centre closed for the day – re-opening tomorrow – ‘sorry for any inconvenience’.
14.30 leaving TI on return ferry.
16.15 back at Seisia – checked out Sesia campground then Loyalty Beach and back to Punsand.

11th June – Day 12 Leisurely pack up and leave Punsand. Drove to Bamaga for final shopping and a pie and coffee at ‘The Bakehaus’ then off to the Jardine Ferry.
11.35 Jardine Ferry – before lunch break.
TL 4115 km Jardine River Ferry – south side – 99.62 litres.
Proceeding down Northern Bypass Road. Very good dirt road with some corrugations. 4WD not needed.
TL 4183 km end of Northern Bypass, Fruitbat Falls turnoff.
Proceeding down Southern Bypass Road. Very good dirt road with some corrugations. 4WD not needed.
TL 4300 km Bramwell Junction Roadhouse – more ‘Junction Burgers’.
TL 4365 km Batavia Downs HS – turning right to head to Weipa.
TL 4368 km bush camping just off roadside with approval from Batavia Downs.

12th June – Day 13 Quick pack up and off to Weipa.
TL 4397 km came across a 100 series (petrol engine) loading onto a tilt tray. Electronic problem, something to do with the ‘fly by wire’ throttle control and air flow sensor and engine management computer. They got nearly to Gunshot when the engine check light came on and then ‘limp mode’. Sometimes it would go, even up to 20 km/h and sometimes it would not even start. Tilt tray to Weipa but today is Saturday and Monday is a public holiday so it won’t be fixed before Wednesday.
TL 4404 km turning right onto PDR to Weipa.
11.30 arriving Weipa Campground – booked in for 1 night and for 14.30 bus tour of Weipa and Rio Tinto mine. – excellent tour – very interesting and educational. Bumped into Troopy friends we had met on the OTL and at Punsand Bay – decided to try Frenchmans Rd together to go out to Portland Roads.

13th June – Day 14
TL 4498 km – BP Weipa – 62.24 litres. Heading South on PDR.
Turned left towards Batavia Downs HS then left again at Telegraph Road.
TL 4612 km Turning right onto Frenchmans Road.
TL 4625 km Crossing Wenlock River – deep but with a fairly firm bottom. Sandy exit but no problem.
TL 4649 km Bear right towards Pascoe River.
TL 4655 Pascoe River Crossing:
13th June – Frenchmans Road
Crossing West to East. GU Patrol 2” lift and 75 series Troopy std height.
Just after the start we met a GU patrol and a 75 series Cab/chassis who had just come through East to West. They said we should get through but would probably have to winch up the exit from Pascoe River. Track good to Wenlock River.
2 km before the Wenlock River was a fork in the road. Left fork leading to nasty bog holes. We looked and went back to the fork and took the right track which by-passed the bog holes and lead to the Wenlock crossing.
Wenlock River just below bonnet height – easy entry and exit – no problem.
Track good from Wenlock to Pascoe. Approach to Pascoe crossing was steep, rutted and washed away. We both got down OK but would have had difficulty going the other way. Pascoe was deep – well over the bonnet. We both have snorkels and both ‘tarped up’ before crossing – no problems.
The exit from Pascoe was deep sloppy black mud, about a foot deep, then leading to a steep, rutted rocky and washed away climb. After a little ‘road building’ Both vehicles got through OK although the Troopy had to stop in the mud and had a little trouble getting moving again.
Track good from Pascoe to the main road.
Neither vehicle has lockers. Patrol has 32” MTR. Troopy has 31” BFG A/T.
Very low pressures the key – Patrol at 13 psi.

From the end of Frenchmans Road we turned left onto Portland Road. Heading for Lockhart River and Portland Roads. We stopped for the night at “Rainforest Campsite”.

14th June – Day 15
Enjoyed the morning at Rainforest Campsite then continued to Portland Roads and had fish & chips (+ a very nice salad) at the café. Then on to Chilli Beach for a walk on the sand and up to Cape Weymouth for a quick look, then into Lockhart River Community and out to their local Quintel Beach. Barb went for a walk on the beach and I spent an hour on the net while we had coverage. Then back to Lockhart River and back down Portland Rd, past the end of Frenchmans Rd TL 4828 km) and on to where the main road crosses the Pascoe River. We crossed the Pascoe just before dark and found a convenient campsite just above the southern bank, where we stayed the night.

15th June – Day 16
Continuing South on Portland Rd we stopped at the Wenlock river for a swim.
TL 4881 km Wenlock River Crossing.
TL 4898 km Turning left onto the PDR.
TL 4934 km Archer River RH – stopped for lunch’
TL 5000 km CoenCaltex – 90.74 litres.
TL 5003 km stopped under a tree for shade, just south of Coen, to check emails and post on CC4WDC and ExplorOz forums.
TL 5008 km “The Bend” campsite just North of Coen for the night.

16th June – Day 17
TL 5008 km Leaving “The Bend”. PDR to Musgrave. Good road, some corrugations, unremarkable.
TL 5119 km Musgrave Homestead – Old Telegraph Station. Interesting place – great steak burgers. Turning left onto Lilyvale Road, the main road into Lakefield NP.
TL 5160 km Turning right onto track to Sweetwater Lake.
TL 5164 km Sweetwater Lake Camp Sites.
TL 5168 km Turning right onto Marina Plains Road – soon to become Lakefield Road.
TL 5178 km Saltwater Creek Camp Sites.
TL 5179 km Turning right onto track to Low Lake.
TL 5182 km Low Lake – sacred area – day use only – good for wildlife observation.
TL 5185 km Turning right onto Lakefield Road.
TL 5201 km Morehead River crossing – shallow but rough at start.
TL 5209 km Deep crossing over ‘intermittent stream’.
TL 5214 km Hann River crossingrock platforms – fast flowing water.
Camp sites both sides.
TL 5232 km Red Lilly Lagoon. Gorgeous big Lotus Lillies.
TL 5234 km White Lily Lagoon.
TL 5257 km Kalpowar Camp Sites. Beside the Normanby River. Cold showers, flush toilets, water to each site.
Mosquitoes – plenty. Best sites # 6 – 10.
Overnight stay here.

17th June – Day 18
TL 5257 km Leaving Kalpower Camp. Heading for ‘New Laura’ and ‘Old Laura’.
TL 5279 km Catfish Waterhole. Nice lilies - camp site under trees.
TL 5283 km Kennedy River crossing – concrete causeway.
TL 5285 km Lex White Bridge – old sleepers.
TL 5296 km New Laura Ranger Station and turnoff for ‘12 Mile Waterhole’.
TL 5320 km Turning left from Lakefield Road onto Endeavour Battlecamp Road.
TL 5321 km Old Laura Homestead – partially restored – very interesting.
TL 5322 km Laura River crossing – wide crossing with a narrow stream of fast flowing water. Sandy gravel both banks.
TL 5344 km Horseshoe Lagoon. Big lagoon lots of room to camp. Pretty spot – wildlife, water lilies.
TL 5349 km Lake Emma Camp Site. Big lake. Camp site currently used by road construction crew.
TL 5373 km Normanby River crossing – shallow over retained concrete slabs – not smooth. Camp site on Eastern side. Stopped here for lunch.
TL 5384 km End of road works – major reconstruction.
TL 5396 km Isabella Falls. Very pretty. Camp site on Western side.
TL 5440 km Cooktown – stop overnight at Peninsula Camp Ground – excellent facilities.

18th June – Day 19
Most of the day in Cooktown – Botanic Gardens and bush/beach walk.
TL 5466 km late afternoon departure from Cooktown.
TL 5493 km turning left from Cooktown Developmental Road onto Bloomfield Road.
TL 5497 km Lions Den Hotel, Helenvale. Camp by the Annan River. Overnight here, great steak meals at the hotel.

19th June – Day 20 – Barb’s birthday.
TL 5497 km leaving the Lions Den, heading for Cape Tribulation.
TL 5541 km Bloomfield River crossing. Concrete causeway.
TL 5549 km ?? creek crossing – stony, shallow, room to stop on northern side.
TL 5552 km Mellelee Creek – narrow concrete bridge.
TL 5556 km Melissa Creek – puddle, stony, very steep downhill.
TL 5558 km Collins Creek – empty, very wide. Rough stones/rocks.
TL 5559 km beach access.
TL 5560 km Donovan Range – steep uphill.
TL 5562 km Donovan Creek – under road, very steep downhill approach.
TL 5563 km sea views.
TL 5564 km Tachabalga Creek – very pretty, stony bottom.
TL 5566 km Emmagen Creek – water, stony bottom, wide.
TL 5567 km view of Cape Tribulation.
TL 5573 km Cape Tribulation.
TL 5710 km CairnsShell 117.40 litres. Overnight stop here.

20th June - Day 21
TL 5710 km Leaving Cairns.
TL 5980 Lucinda - Nice spot.
TL 6531 Mackay - overnight stop.

21st June - Day 22
TL 6532 Mackay - Shell 121.73 litres. Heading South.
Stopped for lunch at Marlbrough. On rejoining the Bruce Highway I noticed a little clutch slip on the 1-2 change. Then at 100 km/h on cruise control, at 3000 rpm we came to a hill and the revs went up to 3500 with no speed increase. Cancelled the cruise control and with a very light foot on the throttle, limped into Rockhampton. Very lucky that the guys at Highway Auto were able to start on it this arvo. Should be finished sometime tomorrow and we will be on our way home again.

22nd June - Day 23
Still in Rocky will probably stay tonight - clutch may be fixed this afternoon.
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