Cape York

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 06:23
ThreadID: 122550 Views:8464 Replies:7 FollowUps:4
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We are planning a visit to Cape York in May/June 2006. Has anyone towed a 19ft Bushtracker to the top of Cape York and if so did you have any problems. Would appreciate some tips.
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Reply By: Bushtracker - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 19:10

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 19:10
Our Fing, doing our fing, good! Don’t know who you are, what is your tow vehicle? Do you have a van on Order or going with second hand? How old? Depending on these answers, I might be able to help with a few tips. I get to be the hub of the thousand in information, triple that of what is here in the Bog

As to Boggers: Be patient, I know of about a half dozen here on the BOG between 18' and 20' that have done that trip... But some may not be monitoring the Bog, out doing it, etc…

About a dozen in all that I can think of Bushtrackers have gone.... But many more.. I have gone up the west side of the Cape exploring, fossicking and hunting, about half way up and over to the gold fields area and then down to the Mitchell River and on down to Chillagoe in a 20’. Nothing further north interested me, just to say I had done it. Was more interested in the Gulf, Crocs, Barra, and pigs (of which I did Patriotic Duty on my part to reduce the numbers)…. Ha!

Anyway, get back with vehicle / van details, and might have some ideas for you…
Regards, da Ranger
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Follow Up By: Ourfing - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 07:51

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 07:51
We have had our 19 ft bushtracker for 3 years (purchased new) and are towing it with a landcruiser 100 petrol V8. We have done a lot of travelling through Queensland (not the Cape) and NSW. We would like to travel from Cairns to Cooktown via the Daintree and Cape Ttribulation if possible. Then onto Weipa and right to the top. We are used to rough dirt roads as I grew up in central western Qld and are experienced towers.
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Reply By: Luvntravln - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 17:41

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 17:41

Go for it all the way!!

Look into the archives of the old BOG web site and there are lots of postings regarding our (Luvntravnl, TassiTracker5, and Gadget) trip to the Cape.

We went Cairns to Cooktown via the Bloomfield Track (Gadget drove a LC towing an 18'), then from Cooktown to the top primarily along the Development Road.

Definitely go to Captain Billy's Landing.

Under no circumstances fail to go to Punsand Bay Camping Resort. Absolutely positively the best place at the top. Fishing, swimming pool, hikes, and the greatest seafood buffet on Fridays.

After you read the old posts if you have any Qs, email me or post on the site.



PS: We left May 21 just after the rains and before the roads were destroyed. Very different ride up then a couple of months later for Gadget coming down.
AnswerID: 568206

Reply By: Bushtracker - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 19:15

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 19:15
Hello again "Our Fing" and fellow Boggers. My comments are more for everyone reading this, as you sound experienced, but this relates to you as well.. Two things will make or break the trip:

The major issue in the trip will be timing. It is important to be watching the weather, and when the tracks are graded... A few calls to the Locals might be in order, as the washed out, rutted up, rotten track after a dozen storms, is nothing like the track after it has dried out and a grader run through... This is true everywhere, and you probably already know this, but it accounts for the different reports like one saying "Horrible, diff locks engaged, 15 km per hour, all day going 100 km" and the next person saying: "I don't know what all the fuss is about, it was a beautiful track, no worries"... Ha!

Second Important Issue: Interestingly on the damage front as you have asked about, there is an anomaly of occurence of minor damage... Now this is not necessarily a scientific indicator, and the statistical base is not large enough, but it appears those going to the Cape with Fords have done more minor damage to their vans or personal cargo, than those with Landcruisers... This is primarily the fault of the driver, in using too much available power which in the Fords off-road can be excessive speed on the vans, where the Cruisers barely had enough power to do it in rough going so they tend to travel at a slower pace... The Fords just breeze through rough tracks with long wheelbase comfort and heaps of grunt. Also, some of the Fords are a bit overloaded with boats and motors and freezers and such, and have added air-bags on the back. This tends to stiffen up the rear of the suspension too much and make the ride a bit hard on the van… What people really need to do is manage the available power to suit the ride on the van, not just use all available power in a big hurry all the time, and this goes for all tow vehicles- Even your V-8 Cruiser. With Fords, they need to relax, and not use all the power available and just slow down a bit. The longer wheelbase of the Ford allows them to travel over rough tracks with more comfort than the shorter wheelbase of the Cruisers, so people in a Ford just tend to travel faster, hence more potential for shaken up goods. (Da Ranger knows from personal experience: Owns and towed with both for many many moons).

Further proof? I have had Landcruiser people mention in traveling with the Ford towed vans: "They always ran ahead and were there already waiting up for us"... Or words to that effect.

The key to minimizing damage, to the van or the contents and personal gear and goods chafing the fridge and such; is really Driver self control. Now that is really simplistic, but it is the root of almost all damage done, and you need to take it easy; not as fast and hard as the tow vehicle is capable of doing. Rather, "take it easy", and the ride on van and cargo will be a breeze. Most of the damage done to van or personal goods is self-inflicted by people getting in too much of a rush. They need to slow down and leave the "Big City Push" attitude behind, slow down and enjoy the process and not be so "Goal Oriented"... The purpose of a trip to the Cape, should not be the "getting there" as there is nothing up there. The purpose should be enjoying the trip along the way.

My biggest regrets in travel have been to breeze through a magical spot, in too much of a hurry to get to an imaginary agenda, and then in hind sight thinking: "Gee I wish I had just stopped there and wandered around that area for a little while"...

Anyways if you follow these guidelines, you should have no problems...
Regards, a few words for all from da Ranger
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Reply By: Luvntravln - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 20:53

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 20:53
As a Ford driver that followed a Ford driver and watched a Cruiser through my rear view camera - Steve's words are true and informational.

Lower the tire pressure and slow down. Our trip back to Cairns from the top was alone and slower and much more comfortable.

AnswerID: 568208

Reply By: Agnes Lifestyle - Friday, Mar 17, 2006 at 09:29

Friday, Mar 17, 2006 at 09:29
Hello Ourfing,

Yes you can take your BT if you want comfort.
Yes you can take your BT if you just want to say I took my van to the Cape.
Yes you can take your BT if you want to limit your trip.
Yes as Jay says there are still some nice places you can take the BT
BUT, if you want a REAL ADVENTURE give the BT a rest and take the tent instead.
2003 we spent 3 months on the Cape. We left the BT with friends at Port Douglas.We slept in the car and took all the mod cons.Took the tinny on top and lived on fish.
We went up the Bloomfield Track up to Cooktown.We would like to spend some time in the BT at Cape Kimberley. Turn off not long after the ferry.
We consider it the best trip we have ever done. We went into almost every nook and cranny.
But like everything else it is not everyone's cup of tea.
False Pera Head,Vrilya Point,Jannie Creek,Somerset,Princess Charlotte Bay,Cape Melville and so many other places you wont be taking the van.Once you get to some of these places you just want to stay a week like we did.
We did the full length of the Telegraph Track and the Frenchman's Track.The Development a necessary EVIL to get to some of the places.
I liked Captain Billy's Landing too Jay.We camped in the shed. Chilli Beach is another nice spot for the BT.
Of course we went to Weipa and Seisia and did the Thursday Island and Horn Island trip.Punsand Bay was nice too.I agree it would would be a nice place to stay with your BT.We managed to fit in the Seafood Buffet but stayed at Somerset for a week instead.
Unfortunately we missed Pennefather as Ron had cut his finger and had to go to the Aboriginal Clinic at Marpoon and then Weipa.We were very impressed with the clinics such that Ron is always going to them. Seriously though they are very good.
We also missed Usher Point (were told that it wasn't worth the distance). You have to leave some salt on the table.
Can't wait to get back there!

Dianne and Ron.

Yes Steve, David and Margaret slept in their car for 3 months too.(we drive Nissans)
It was nice to get back to the BT.

AnswerID: 568209

Reply By: Luvntravln - Saturday, Mar 18, 2006 at 16:33

Saturday, Mar 18, 2006 at 16:33

As a former "tenter" I can agree with everything said;


the three of us made the decision to travel in BT style - why own a BT that will go there and sleep on the ground - and we aren't one bit sorry! Gadget spent over a months at Punsand Bay fishing and enjoying the lifestyle - BT style.

I know, if you go in your BT there are places you will miss. Absolutely! However, there is so much to see in the world, and so much you are going to miss no matter how you travel, that I would rather travel at the BT minimal standard and nothing less.

Different strokes for different folks!


You will have a great time up on the Cape no matter how you get there or what you sleep in.

AnswerID: 568210

Reply By: Mike & Carol - Saturday, Mar 25, 2006 at 20:32

Saturday, Mar 25, 2006 at 20:32
We were three BT that went to the tip of Cape York in July - September 2005.

One 22ft, one 19ft and one 20ft BT. A fourth BT worried about damaging their van and left it at Bramwell Station. There was nothing to worry about as our vans handled the trip extremely well.

The vans and the journey were just fantastic. Our 20 foot Bushtracker had air suspension and we did have problems with air bag shock absorbers - the shocks tore out of their housing, once on the way to Weipa and once at Fruit Bat Falls about 120km from the tip. Bushtracker recommended we get rid of the air bag system and revert to their standard heavy duty simplicity spring suspension system. We did this and have not had a problem since.

The folk at Bushtracker were just fantastic and their honest commitment to supporting BT owners is something they can claim enormous pride in. We know because we required their assistance and they gave it promptly and professionally.

Despite the air bag suspension issues the trip was a joy, the Bushtracker vans lived up to their reputation of being simply the best and you can view our trip record and photos on our blog site

On the right hand side you will see Archives, start at the oldest and work your way through.

All of our vans managed the trip without any problems, meaning the contents stayed where they were meant to. All of the components of the van remained perfectly in tact and totally functional throughout the whole trip even though there were many sections that were extremely rough. It was a pleasure to own a Bushtracker despite my air suspension issues.

My only suggestion to you is to not do the trip solo. Do it with someone else, be it another Bushtracker or even with other 4WD in convoy with your Bushtracker.

Enjoy. Feel free to contact us if you need more info.
AnswerID: 568211

Follow Up By: Turist - Saturday, Mar 25, 2006 at 22:00

Saturday, Mar 25, 2006 at 22:00
Would you tell us what tow vehicles were used and a general report of how they finished the trip, any significant problems etc.

"Do It While You Can"
Nobody is getting any younger.

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FollowupID: 845638

Follow Up By: Ourfing - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 17:13

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 17:13
Thanks to everyone who responded. Your comments etc were appreciated and we are looking forward to our trip
FollowupID: 845639

Follow Up By: Mike & Carol - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 17:22

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 17:22
One Lexus LX470, One Toyota Prado, One F250 and one 100 Series Toyota Landcruiser. All vehicles were less than three years old.

We had absolutely no problems with any of the vehicles themselves.

We serviced them in Weipa on the way up just to check for bolt tightness on all underbody parts, wheel bearings etc. Then serviced them again in Cairns after the trip. There were no issues at all with the vehicles.
FollowupID: 845640

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