Mossman Caravan Park, Mossman, QLD

Day 229 – 3rd October 2011
Mossman Caravan Park, Mossman, QLD

This morning we noticed a flat tyre! So far we'd been spared of any car issues but today was the day for it. After changing the tyre we set off – a bit later than planned – and after a while Andrew heard the same sound of revving as yesterday. So at Musgrave Roadhouse we pulled up for fuel and Andrew and a local guy had a look to see what could be the cause. Some investigation showed there was no oil left in the transfer case so they topped it up and the problem was fixed. A bit behind schedule we continued on our way home. Apart from another fuel stop at Laura and a final top up at Mossman, we drove all afternoon. We had planned to give the car a last clean which had to happen quickly before pulling up at Daintree Wild Zoo. We transferred all our stuff back in our van and returned the 4WD car. It was quite late when we finally left so we only travelled back to Mossman and stayed at the caravan park. It feels great to be back in our bed as we only had a very small bed in the rented campervan and our little home doesn’t even feel small compared to the 4WD campervan. We had a wonderful trip to the top and are glad to have been there and done that.

Tips for Cape York:  Be prepared to do a lot of driving. Whilst it is around 900km direct from Daintree to the tip we covered 3400km over 13 days, we couldn’t believe it. There are a lot of detours off the new developmental road (NDR) to get to the various destinations which takes time. The dirt section of the NDR starts at Laura and ranges from extremely good to extremely bad, there are snippets of bitumen along the way which act as passing opportunities. Be prepared to run your vehicle over some serious corrugations, however the conditions depend on when you go and what sections have been graded and what sections have been improved. Two weeks gives you time to see the majority of the cape but does not allow a lot of time to spend in one place, we never spent more than one night in the same place except on one occasion.  Ideally you would take 3 weeks to see the majority of Cape York on our itinerary giving you a few more nights in some of the destinations. We found it advantageous to have the second fuel tank allowing us a little more flexibility to wonder further off the NDR, however there is generally plenty of places to fill up along the way, however the prices are high.

Look out for drivers who think it’s safe to cruise along at 100km or more on a corrugated road, especially on the turns.  People see a wide dirt road and think they can drive it like a highway.  The thing is there are very good sections and very bad sections and the conditions change instantly from good to bad.  The other point to note is there are a number of winding sections along the NDR.  These sections can appear quite suddenly after a long straight section.  These sections aren’t designed like highways where you can maintain speed, you really need to slow down dramatically to maintain control, especially when they are corrugated.  Also look out for rocks in your windscreen from oncoming traffic (a stone guard is worth the money).  We would always slow down and stay as far left as practical, however this seemed to give some drivers the green light to go even quicker as I wasn’t throwing up the dust or any potential rocks.  Have a chat to the local guy in the croc tent near the tip, he has a number of methods he likes to use to slow these drivers down.

We considered leaving this trip for another time but considering the fuel bill from Adelaide to Cairns return, hiring a 4WD for 2 weeks came out almost line ball, a good option for those not wanting to put their vehicle through the rigours of the cape along with all the dust.  I do believe we had a good deal through the Daintree Wild Zoo at $135 p/day (unlimited km’s – very important) which was a troop carrier campervan.  The equivalent through Britz (approx $250 p/day  - troop carrier camper) or Sargent ($190 p/day – landcruiser – no camping facilities included, just the vehicle) – so a lot more expensive.  The common hire companies like Avis will not let you take their vehicles up the cape.  None of the companies will let you take their vehicles on the OTT or at least not attempt the majority of the crossings.

We have a flat tyre, Andrew getting nice and dirty
He had a swim in the creek after this.

Men at work - changing the flat

Back on the NDR

Musgrave - time to refill

Engine issues - Andrew and John (owner of Musgrave Roadhouse) inspecting the transfer case
Result - bone dry

Local resident - what a life

Fat Galah

Yeah - the end of the dirt section of the NDR, back on bitumen for the final 250km back to the Daintree

Scenery

Our home over the past 2 weeks

Yeah happy to be back in our van it will feel like a resort compared to the hire car

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