Posts Tagged ‘Cape York’

We made to the tip, the top of Australia and the furthest north you can go on this mighty continent. It was an achievement for us, the last couple of days before the tip were spent doing running repairs to the Land Rover and to finally reach our goal was a very proud moment for us. It was also tinged with disappointment as this also signaled the end of the trip and the next few weeks was all about getting ready to pack the car up and send it home. As we took those final footsteps to the sign marking our destination I willed it to be further away as any steps taken after that sign would be south and would have an air of ‘homeward bound’ about them. Cape York was never our original goal, our goal was to get to Australia overland, but that changed pretty early on when it was clear we couldn’t get through Pakistan and the car caught fire in Turkey….’Megan, Megan, do you remember when the car caught fire in Turkey and smoke started pouring out from between your legs?…ahhhhh…good times!’. So that plan changed to getting the car shipped to India which fell flat on its face when the costs involved became clear, and many a plan after that changed due to various changes in our mood, the level in the bank account and the amount of sunshine on offer. We didn’t so much trek to Oz as ship to Oz, but you can’t really plan what’s going to happen on trips like these, can you?

Look at me getting all nostalgic, and we still have just under a month to go and a short break in Malaysia on the way home. Well, after this trip we both felt like a holiday before returning to the world of work, ten mile queues on the M25 and Saturdays in Waitrows (it’s actually Aldi, but I’m trying to impress you all). In actual fact it’s worked out cheaper for us to fly via Kuala Lumpur, go on a diving holiday for a week and then fly home via Air Asia, than it would be to fly direct to London from Brisbane with a major Airline. Ah Air Asia, for enabling us lower middle class to travel the world uncomfortably but cheaply we thank you.

Anyway, I’m sure you are not interested in our travel plans and the six flights it’s going to take us to get home (our carbon foot print is going to be massive, I’ll plant a small coppice when I get back to the mother land). So yes, the top of Cape York, like much of the rest of it was deserted, quiet and simply stunning. It was rather windy when we reached the furthest north you can go in Australia which all added to the sense of occasion, and looking north out to sea past the islands I really wanted to keep going, but the road quite literally didn’t go any further!

 

The beaches were probably some of the best we’ve seen on this trip, but unfortunately we couldn’t swim in any of them due to the number of animals that would kill you if you put so much as a toe in the water. Never mind though, we still had an amazing time sitting on these deserted stretches of sand and wondering how one country can have so many different and stunning landscapes. This country really is pretty awesome, if only it had a quality, high brow Sunday tabloid that hacked celebs’ phones like we do back home, then we would stay for ever….oh wait…

Reach the top of Australia – Tick

Drove off road – Tick

Forded deep rivers – Tick

Camped on beaches – Tick

Swam in Creeks – Tick

Three days without a shower -Tick

As you can see from the above list we covered all the main aspects of outback bush living and ‘roughing it’, so we began the long trip south and back to a decent latté, Mcflurry, and paved roads. It’s just so difficult to get a half decent hot beverage when you’re in the middle of nowhere: I ordered an earl grey tea the other day and I was asked if I wanted milk in it! Savages. It was at that point that I told Megan we needed to get back to civilization, stat. The roads back down south seemed to have got worse since we drove north and the corrugations had definitely got bigger. Corrugations are ridges in the road that cause a car to shake and bounce all over the place. The best way I can describe them is it’s like driving over a really big cattle grid, but the grids are spaced far apart and they last for 20kms at a time. To try and make it as smooth as possible you have to drive fairly fast so you skim over the top of them, which is fine if you are driving in a straight line but the problem comes with the corners: as the wheels are not really fully in contact with the road surface turning the steering wheel has little effect! For the second time this trip I managed to power slide a 3.5 tonne Land Rover. Jeremy Clarkson would be proud. Megan, rightly so, wasn’t and my pleas to do it again and to video it fell on deaf ears. We slowed down for the corners after that. Boo.

The list of car issues grew daily. First the handbrake light came on for no reason and now it won’t go off, the rear roof rack snapped in half, the bonnet kept popping open, but worst of all a turbo hose came off. When this happened the noise it caused was horrendous and I thought my world had come to an end. Luckily with a bit of handiwork with a hose clip it was reattached and we continued south, both on edge and waiting for the next thing to go wrong. Thankfully noting else did and after three days of driving we made it back to the tarmac. Happy days.

We loved Cape York, we finally made good use of the car and its capabilities and really enjoyed the camaraderie of the fellow travelers. Plus I met loads of Land Rover owners!

 

Currently we are back in Cairns, having a bit of time to clean the car and fix some of the bigger problems. It’s nice to be back here again as we both like Cairns and think we will spend a week up here just being lazy and chilling (is that what the kids say?) before the long drive back to Brisbane and the cold weather that awaits us…

Oh I nearly forgot, I managed to get published in a great magazine in Dubai called Outdoor UAE.  Check the link out below, its on page 30. I’m feeling pretty chuffed about it to be honest, it’s the first step towards a book, the TV show and finally the film deal!

http://www.outdooruae.com/onlineMAG/2011_Jul.html

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Megan’s penchant for swearing like a sailor is back, I don’t know why really, but the other day the list of profanities that came forth in the space of a two minute rant was simply shocking. Maybe it’s the heat, or perhaps the tuna pasta has finally got the better of her, or maybe it’s the fact that the other day we went through a very deep river crossing with the vent flaps open and we both ended up with a lapful of freezing cold water. Actually, now I come to think of it the swearing started just after this episode… so yes, yes it was the fact that we nearly drowned the car and ended up very wet and in a mild state of shock that brought about this latest vulgar and shocking decimation of the English language.

 

It’s been going well, apart from the potty mouth. Well, maybe ‘going well’ is a bit of an exaggeration… The road has started getting a little worse and the shaking and rattling is beginning to take its toll. So far:

We have a chip in the windscreen.

The dashboard has come loose.

The air-filter cover has been rubbing against the bonnet and has almost worn through.

The fuel filter bracket has cracked.

One of the bonnet mounting brackets has broken.

One of the ventilation control levers has fallen off.

The off side headlight is full of water.

Needless to say there has been a lot of gaffer tape, random bits of rubber and cable ties called into action to hold the car together. We’re not at the top yet, still another 40kms and then the long trip home. I’m hoping that all the problems and weak links have now been fixed, so fingers crossed the route south will be mechanically uneventful.

 

From Weipa we headed north towards a place called Elliot Falls. Elliot Falls was awesome. Despite being surprised by a deeper than average ford we had a great time there. It is one of the few places you can actually swim on the Cape; although the sea and creeks look inviting there is a real risk of crocs, jelly fish and stone fish so you can’t really take a dip. Here however there is a fresh water swimming hole just below the small and ever so pretty falls, which we took full advantage of.

 

We also met a couple of fellow Land Rover enthusiasts and swapped stories and lists of all our current problems and issues. I particularly liked the stickers on the back of this Discovery!

Most of the time on the drive to the tip we have stuck to the major development road, which although dusty and a tad bumpy has not been too bad. However, from Elliot Falls northwards we decided to tackle a bit of an off road route called the Old Telegraph Track, which is one of the things Cape York is famous for. This is proper off roading, proper river crossings that you have to get out and walk across first to make sure you don’t get washed away, proper muddy banks to climb and the need for diff locks and low range all the time. So, so many man points. We ended up following a friendly couple of Toyotas, which was lucky as we didn’t have a bloody clue what we were doing! It was damn cool, I loved it, loved every moment of it and judging by her smile Megan loved it even more than me! It took us an hour to cover just 15kms but there was a real sense of achievement once we broke clear of the bush and got back on the main road. I had two beers that night, manly.

 

Currently we are camping at a place called Seisia, gaffer taping everything up and plugging up all the holes to try and stop the dust from coming in. The more observant of you will have noticed the two towels sandwiched between the back doors. Not only does this add a bit of much needed colour to the rear of the car but is also quite effective in the battle against the dust.