Over the August to September 2000 period I accompanied a group from the Toyota LandCruiser Club on a trip to Cape York, the northern most tip of mainland Australia. I did not take my Toyota Prado as another friend (see below) was taking his vehicle and was travelling alone.
The trip was led by Les and Elly Caterson who are our friends from the St George Scuba Club. They had their Toyota LandCruiser 80 series petrol. I was travelling with Daryl Gibbs, another diver buddy (also not a member of the LandCruiser Club), in his 1999 LandRover Discovery. The Discovery is a 2.5 litre 5 cylinder turbo diesel, with automatic transmission. It has traction control but no locking centre diff. We had an Engel fridge, a canvas pyramid type tent. We carried an extra wheel as well as one Jerry can of fuel. We had all normal safety and repair gear and between us and the group we had everything covered.
Also on the trip was:
All the others have left Sydney a few days or even a week before we do. We plan to meet them in Cairns in Far North Queensland.
Note that the photos in these articles are not the best as they are from film and when developed, came out very poorly despite having a very good camera and good film.
SYDNEY TO CAIRNS
Thursday 10 August 2000
We leave Sydney at 7:15 am and head north along the F3 towards Newcastle. At the end of the freeway we headed over to the New England Highway and went up towards Scone. At the intersection with the Golden Highway we stop for morning tea. It was 9:40 am. At 9:55 am we are back underway. Just out of Willow Tree we take the Kamilaroi Highway to Quirindi and just before the town it veers to Gunnedah. We arrive there at 12:30 pm and stop in the very nice park in the middle of the town for lunch.
At 12:56 pm we are back on the road and we pass through Boggabri and Narrabri and arrive at Moree at 3:05 pm. We have afternoon tea here and at 3:15 pm we were off again on the Newell Highway. We arrive at Goondiwindi at 4:30 pm. This is just over the border in Queensland. We refuel here, requiring 80.5 litres at a cost of $70. We have travelled 748 kilometres at a consumption rate of 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Pretty good considering how loaded up we are and the speed that we have been travelling at an average speed of about 90 km/h.
After refuelling, we head north along the Leichhardt Highway and in the next 15 kilometres we see over 21 dead kangaroos on the side of the road. I have never seen so many dead roos anywhere.
We had planned to stop at Moonie but when we arrive in the town we discover that there is no hotel or motel, so we have to continue. It is now dark and there are lots of live kangaroos on the side of the road. We slow up to about 80 km/h.
A few kilometres out of the town at 6 pm we hit a kangaroo. I am driving and the roo has jumped out from the side of the road and I hit it almost square on. It bounds off as I pull over. The kangaroo has hit the nudge bar (not a full bull bar) and pushed it back a few inches. We cannot pull it back straight but there is no real problem so we are back on the road 15 minutes later.
We drive much slower as there are even more kangaroos on the side of the road. We arrive at Miles at 7:35 pm, having travelled the 224 kilometres from Goondiwindi in just under three hours at the relatively slow speed (for this flat, good road) of 79 kilometres an hour. This was, of course, due to the many kangaroos in the second half of the trip.
We stay at the Miles Starline Motor Inn after trying two that are full. We have dinner at the adjacent Miles and District Memorial Club ($63 twin). We travelled 972 kilometres today at an average speed of about 86 km/h.
Distance: 972 kilometres, Fuel: 10.7 l/100 km to Goondawindi
Friday 11 August 2000
We get up early as we need to repair the nudge bar. We drive out of town and near the outskirts we see a park. We find a large tree and using a tow rope, we tie the bar to the tree. We loosen the bolts that hold the bar to the chassis and using low range and reverse, we pull the bar back into shape and place. We rebolt it in place and head off at 8:38 am.
We are still heading north and stop at Taroom at 9:55 am for morning tea. We are back underway at 10:10 am and head via Banana and then take the Dawson Highway to Wowan where we arrive at 12:33 pm. We have lunch here in a nice picnic area next to the old railway station (we have travelled 351 kilometres at an average speed of just over 95 km/h). We leave at 1:05 pm and travel through Mount Morgan to Rockhampton. We arrive at 2 pm. We refuel and need 62.5 litres at $53. We have travelled 656 kilometres since our last refuel at 9.5 litres per 100 kilometres.
We leave Rocky at 2:45 pm and follow the Bruce Highway north. At 6:15 pm we arrive at Mackay. We have travelled 768 kilometres at an average of 95 km/h for the day. We book into the Miners Lodge for $73 for a twin. We have dinner at a local Chinese restaurant.
Distance: 768 kilometres, Fuel: 9.5 l/100 km to Rockhampton
Saturday 12 August 2000
We leave Mackay at 7:30 am and still follow the Bruce Highway (as we will all the way to Cairns) and pass through Prosperpine at 8:51 am and arrive at Bowen at 9:30 am. We stop for morning tea and refuel. We take 54.7 litres at $47.50 and an average of 10.3 litres/100 km for the 532 kilometres since Rockhampton.
We continue north at 9:50 am and at 1:03 pm stop for lunch near Ingham. We are back on the road at 1:20 pm. At 3:02 pm we pass through Innisfail and at 4:08 pm we arrive at Cairns.
We meet up with the others at the caravan park which is a little out of the main section of town.
We have travelled 2,493 kilometres from Sydney in just under three days of driving (25 hours and 36 minutes of driving at an average of 97 km/h).
Daryl and I go to the marina area and we have dinner and a couple of drinks here. I had been to Cairns in about 1985 and it has changed a lot and I have since been back to Cairns and this whole area is now totally different again (much improved).
Distance: 728 kilometres, Fuel: 10.3 l/100 km to Bowen
Sunday 13 August 2000
Today we are going on a trip to Kuranda. We get picked up at the caravan park and are driven in a bus to the Sky Rail. This is a gondola that travels over the top of the trees to the town on the top of the nearby mountains. Half way up there is a gondola station and you can get off. Here you can go for a walk around the forest and there are guides who explain things to you. At your own time you get back on and travel the last bit to Kuranda.
Kuranda is a cute little town that has some nice pubs, a lot of arty shops and plenty of souvenir shops. We spend the time walking around before having some lunch and a few beers.
Late in the afternoon we walk to the train station and have another beer before climbing aboard the train. This is a fantastic trip, going down the very steep incline and on the track that is built into the side of the valley. The train arrives in Cairns at the main station and we are picked up and driven back to the camping area.
We do some final shopping and refuel taking 62 litres at a cost of $53.27. We also put 20.9 litres in a Jerry can. We have averaged 8.2 litres litres/100 km for the 753 kilometres since Bowen.
For the next part of this trip, click here.