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Our Cape York Adventure!

So it begins! Our Cape York adventure! We had arranged to meet our friends Dan & Em in Cairns so we could both set off to tackle the Cape together. Safety in numbers right! Our first stop was the Daintree for our first nights campsite. The main Daintree town was surprising quite small with only 8 shops in the main Street. The boys had a fish by the river in the afternoon, while Em and myself checked out the shops. Next day we headed to Cape Tribulation for a look. The weather was quite poor and unfortunately didn’t make it look very appealing. We did stop and get some locally made ice-cream at the Daintree Ice-creamery which was delicious! We had both talked about tackling the infamous Bloomfield track and with the weather being ordinary in Cape Trib, a snap decision was made to start it! We had been advised that caravans shouldn’t really attempt the track due to the steep inclines and declines, but after speaking to a few people who had recently done it, they assured us we should be fine with our car & caravan.

The first water crossing we crossed on the track, was the deepest – it only reached up to the side steps, so not really that deep at all. We had Dan & Em in front to let us know if any traffic was coming and they also gave us sit-reps on the grade / length of the hills. The first major incline (not concreted) was the biggest test. If we couldn’t make it up this, than we knew we would have to turn around. Kurt had to put the Navara into 4-low – first gear to get up, but we got up! The second biggest incline was concreted for maximum traction. Again the Navara crawled up it with no problems. We did stop at the top to let our engine cool down, because to be honest it was a steep tough climb. Looking back I think we both agree the concreted incline (the second one) was the worst on the track – heading northbound. There were a few more decent inclines throughout the track, but not as hairy as the first two mentioned. Descending down the hills was a breeze for us as we have confidence in our electronic brakes -realistically a break on every tyre of our car and caravan. We completed the Bloomfield track over 2 days, with an overnight stop at a camp, on a secluded creek about two thirds of the way in on the track.

I should mention that we emptied our water tanks completely prior to commencing the track. We knew it would be a challenge with the Navara being 2.9tonne and our Coromal at 2.2 tonne. Plus knowing we could refill our tanks at the Lion’s Den, it was a no brainer for us. If asked whether we would do the track again with our Navara and Coromal, we probably wouldn’t. There is no hiding the fact the inclines are quite steep and as we were travelling with another couple we knew we had support if worst case scenario. We were happy to accomplish it, but serious thought and planning should be taken to whether you and your car can handle it. [the weeks after we read that there had been a death on the track, where someone’s brakes failed]

So we arrived at the iconic Lion’s Den hotel to spend the night. We refilled our water tanks, had a shower and drink at the pub. I thought the overnight fee was a little steep for what it was but hey, we did stay and pay it. Next day we headed for Cooktown via Archer point. We had been told that Archer point was a nice spot but can be very windy. It is a little off the beaten path but the track was very do-able for us towing when we did it. Of course, with our luck of the weather at late, it was extremely windy when we arrived. Our friends stopped to get some photos at one of the points, while Kurt and myself set off in search of the lighthouse. There was one decent wash out on the track up to it and it had a fair bit of incline on the track up to the lighthouse, but once again, the Navara handled it fine and made it to the top – caravan and all! Dan and Em later joined us up atop at the lighthouse, telling us that had spoken to someone on the ground who told them to tell their friends aka ‘us’ that we wouldn’t make it to the top of lighthouse with a caravan. Well we all had a little chuckle as we infact did! We contemplated camping at the free camp below, but both parties agreed it was far too windy and to continue into Cooktown!

We arrived into Cooktown on a Friday, only planning to stay a night but we quickly learnt we had stumbled into the only event Cooktown has each year – the Cooktown festival, celebrating Captain Cook. We make the snap decision to stay and scored a spot right in town at a van park (last 2 spots! one for both parties). There were plenty of activities to keep us entertained and all within a 15 minute walk from our van park! After a few nights of celebrating and getting into the festive spirit we headed off – towards the ‘Battlecamp road’. The track was relative easy with minor corrugations and just lowered tyre pressure our only aid. The track ended at Old Laura, where we stopped to explore an old rundown cattle station. We tracked up through the Lakefield National Park eventually popping out at the Musgrave roadhouse for a night. A nice hot shower, top up of fuel and some TLC to the vehicles was a night well spent. Us girls had decided we wanted to see as much as we could heading up – so we decided to do the track Rinyirru to Port Stewart via Running creek as opposed to the PDR from Musgrave to Coen. We did a little research whilst at Musgrave and the track seemed do-able. We were told, that there was a fair few gates we would have to open & close as it ran through a few private properties.

Well although the detour was nice scenery, I wouldn’t recommend it a ‘must do’. Port Stewart was rather disappointing with not much there really. Nothing to see or do unless you had a tinny. It reminded us of a similar town to the gem-fields with long term caravan set ups and small dongas pitched everywhere. We decided not to camp there and also decided to give Silver Plains a miss, as we felt it would probably lead to similar disappointments. Instead we hit the track again with our eyes set on Coen for the night. I will say, the last 20km of the Rinyirru track heading to Coen was a little extreme. Lots of ruts, small crossings, small inclines and narrow corners. We did joke it was a mini Teletrack – putting the boys driving skills to the test.