Mined out! 27/6-1/7/11

Posted: July 1, 2011 in Oz

And we finally come to the highlight of our entire trip, the reason we packed our jobs in for a year, said goodbye to family, friends and hardest of all, fish and chips. Why we drove for a whole year in a Land Rover, crossed eleven or so countries, spent nearly 30 grand and lived in a tent for around seven months, all so we could visit a small town called Weipa and take a tour around the largest Bauxite mine in the world. Totally worth it, they had some pretty big trucks.


I jest of course but it was actually quite interesting and well worth an hour or two of anyone’s time. It nearly didn’t happen though, we were nearly stuck in Cooktown: the night before we were meant to leave, the power steering started making some very strange noises and turning the steering wheel required muscles the size of Rambo’s. It obviously wasn’t a problem for me but I felt bad for Megan, so a couple of searches on the internet, a few distractions found on Ebay, and a greasy thumb through the workshop manual later, it all indicated to a slipping belt. Luckily we had a spare and when it was fitted the noises stopped and the steering went back to the normal level of heaviness. I think it’s actually slightly heavier than it was… but as we are in the middle of nowhere and the spare situation is non-existent I’ve decided not to think about it too much!

So yes, anyway, we left Cooktown and took the route north heading up to Cape York. After about ten miles the tarmac stopped and the dusty, bumpy and river crossing track began. We’ve been on it ever since. I miss tarmac, I know as an off road loving, Land Rover owning, red blooded male I shouldn’t admit to that but the dust gets everywhere you see, and the car’s getting well dirty! There are also no road markings, however it’s not too difficult to avoid cars coming the other way as a dust storm on the horizon signals any approaching vehicle miles in advance. Upon that sign windows get rolled up, vents closed and breath held until the car/truck/lorry has passed and normal driving can resume.

In actual fact the road hasn’t been that bad, in some places it’s safe and possible to do 90kph but in others there are ridges/corrugations in the road that rattle and shake the car, which at any point feels like it might fall apart. We both just sit waiting for the bang and the engine to stop or a wheel to fall off. So far (says he as he touches copious amounts of wood) old Harriet is doing a grand and sterling job, going places many a Toyota would look twice at.


There have been a few river crossings but none have been too big or too deep and as yet no crocs sighted. Megan’s very disappointed. Still on her list from the eye spy book of Australian animals is a crocodile and a koala. Apparently road kill doesn’t count, otherwise we’d be there. It is amazing up here though, so much wildlife, history and amazing views with little or no civilization. You do really feel completely on your own, in the wild, back to nature and etc etc etc……


We have stayed at some of the road houses that are dotted around the Cape. They allow you to camp in their grounds and have toilets and supposedly hot showers, however I’ve yet to have one. I’m able to blog today as we are at the mining town of Weipa. It’s a town that has been built almost entirely to supply the mine with accommodation for the workers, but best of all it has a phone signal! You see, five days without a decent internet connection and I start getting withdrawal symptoms, how else am I supposed to find out who won Britain’s Got Talent?? It also has a small supermarket so we can restock before the ‘big push’ to the top. Hopefully in three more days we’ll reach the tip of Cape York, get our photo taken at the inevitable sign post pointing to New York, London etc, and then head back down. The car gets shipped on the 1st of August so only a month till our journey finishes. Boo.


  1. kevin cardno says:

    Hi guys, so sad your trip is coming to and end so make the most of it and keep blogging looks fantastic country ship the wreck home,,something for you to do on the long winter nights,,,,ja,ja,ja,,,

  2. Pauline says:

    Glad to hear that your wheels are still turning.Don’t forget to call in on your way through to Brisbane if you have time. We could share another curry and “Graham”would like to say hello!!

    Pauline & John

  3. Grus says:

    Please don’t judge all of us Queenslanders on North Queensland…

  4. Paul and Cathy says:

    So the LR, where is it getting shipped to … straight to the US and Alaska for the next intrepid trip!

    1 Month to go, nearly the end of an era! .. booooooooooo for all of us readers!, so what am I going to do now on my bus trip (the Number 40!) to work!!

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