Welcome to Unsealed 4X4

Are you hungry for the latest in 4X4 news, reviews and travel?

At Unsealed 4X4, we’ll give you up-to-date 4X4 news, reviews and how-to's to keep you in fine form.

If you’ve been planning this trip for the last six months, or just decided you’ve got four weeks leave you need to take, this guide will get you up and back safely, and with minimal issue.

My first trip to the Cape was in a petrol 80 Series LandCruiser, with a week’s worth of planning, not a huge amount of knowledge, more than a few fears about what it would actually be like and whether we’d make it home in one piece.

To save you becoming prematurely grey, and hopefully wax some of the fears away, we’ve thrown together this hard and fast guide on what you can expect, what to keep an eye out for, and how to survive the Cape!

WORDS BY WES WHITWORTH

your essential guide to

GUIDE

It’s that time of year again, here’s everything you need to know to survive  Cape York in your 4X4

So the fuelling side of things isn’t nearly as bad as you’d think – you’ll find it most places, however if you’re doing the Tele Track (and I mean really, why else are you here?!) then you’ll need to fuel up at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse, as the run up the Tele is slow, low-range, going – so you’ll eat up a fair bit of ‘go juice’ just doing that.

Bamaga also has a local IGA / Foodworks store that you can get bulk supplies from too, once you’re north of the Jardine – everything from vegies and meat, to tofu and bait, you’re covered. If you’re in a pinch, you’ll get most staples from the roadhouses too, including meat and vegies so you’ll not go hungry.

Where to get fuel in the Cape
Despite what we thought, fuel was quite plentiful north of Cairns, albeit bloody expensive! Being in a petrol 80 sucking down 30L/100km, we had four jerry cans across the roof cage, and were having serious second thoughts about how often we could get fuel. Turns out, you’ll find fuel about every 300km at the longest stretch. Yep, you’ll pay for it, as the further north you go, the more expensive it gets, but it is around. Rule of thumb here, if you see a fuel stop, look at putting fuel in. Also don’t rely on getting any fuel better than 91 octane – if you happen to own a supercharged, LSA-powered 4X4, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Easy fuel stops:

  • Cairns to Musgrave Roadhouse: 448km – Fuelled up here (can fuel up in Laura or Lakeland if you’ll not make it ~450km).
  • Musgrave Roadhouse to Archer River Roadhouse: 174km – Stopped for lunch (Archer burgers are to die for!) and fuelled up here too.
  • Archer River to Bramwell Junction Roadhouse: 166km – Fuelled up and pulled up stumps for the night.
  • Bramwell to the Jardine Ferry: 170km – We didn’t fuel up here, but they have fuel.
  • Jardine Ferry to Bamaga: 42km – We fuelled up here.
GETTING THERE – Fuel, ferries and fines

The ferries in the Cape
Okay, so there really is only the one ferry that crosses the mighty Jardine River. You will need to pay to cross on the ferry, however there have been some of the more adventurous that have gone a ways up stream and crossed it in their 4X4. Personally, we opted for the nice, dry, ferry that you can’t get bogged on, and have to wade through chin-deep, croc-infested waters to get recovered from. It’s going to set you back 100 dollarydoos to get a return ticket for a single vehicle (a touch more for towing a trailer or van), but this also covers your camping fees north of the Jardine River – so you can stay and camp north in bushland campsites as long as you want (maintained campsites include Punsand Bay, Alau Beach, Loyalty Beach or Seisia at an extra cost per night).

Fines for alcohol in the Cape
As you’ve probably heard, there are limits on the amount of grog you can take into and have with you in the Cape. For the way up, you’re pretty well right until you hit the Jardine Ferry. Once you’ve crossed and you’re in the ‘Northern Peninsula Area’, there are some limits you need to be aware of.

The maximum amount of alcohol you can have in any one vehicle is:
2 Litres of wine (unfortified – so no port, etc.) AND 11.25L (30 x 375ml cans) of any strength beer;
OR
2 Litres of wine (unfortified) AND 9L (24 x 375ml cans) of premix spirits up to 5.5% alcohol/volume.

If you’re planning on heading out to any of the specific communities off the beaten track, it’s best to check you’re not doing the wrong thing, as some of these are completely dry communities, and there’s no grog allowed.

Just on the off chance you happen to get caught with more than the allowed limits, you’re looking at a fine of up to $47,306 (375 penalty units)!

GETTING THERE – Fuel, ferries and fines

*Entry is open to Australian residents aged 18 years and older. Competition closes 30/09/19 00:00 (AEST). Prize drawn on 14/10/19 15:00 (AEST). Permits: ACT: TP19/03385; NSW: LTPS/19/34846; SA: T19/817. Full terms and conditions at dometic.com/winaraptor

ADVERTISEMENT

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

That sign…
Photographic proof you’ve made it to the Tip is a requirement of anyone heading up to the Cape. I mean, if you don’t put a photo of the sign on Facebook and Instagram, did you even go? Something a lot of folks don’t know, is it’s about a 500m walk to the Tip from the carpark. The walk is over pretty rocky terrain up and over a hill, or at low tide you can walk most of the way out around the sand flat – just be mindful of the crocs!

The Tele Track
A bit of history first: the Cape York Telegraph Line was completed in 1887 and ran from Laura all the way through to Thursday Island. It was used for over 100 years, when in 1987 the line was removed, and replaced with microwave radio transmission towers. The part we’re interested in however, runs from Bramwell Junction Roadhouse in the south, crossing the Peninsula Development Road once, and ends at the Jardine River in the north.

There’s the two main sections, north and south, with a metric truck tonne of crossings, falls, creeks, swimming holes, and campsites along it. It’s not as challenging 4X4 wise as you might think and to be honest, we were a little disappointed with how easy the vast majority of it was. There is, however, plenty to see and do along the track, with a couple of harder sections that may well require the running of the winch line, however most of these parts (think Gunshot Creek) can be bypassed and have the obligatory ‘chicken track’ to get you through if you don’t want to drive the mental parts.

Most of the crossings you’ll find have a solid bottom, and so long as you keep momentum, and don’t just ‘give it the jandal’, you’ll get across them all pretty easily. Our tyre pressures were down to 18psi while on the Tele, and that got us through everything with ease.

Where the southern section has the gnarlier bits of four-wheel driving, the northern section is where it gets really speccy. Pristine creeks, stunning falls and epic water crossings. If we could suggest one bit of the Cape you need to see aside from the sign, it’d be the northern half of the Tele Track.

The Old Telegraph Track and ‘The Sign’

Let’s not beat around the bush. That’s why you’re up here, right? To conquer the mighty OTT and get a photo in front of ‘that sign’.

The Old Telegraph Track and ‘The Sign’

“The difference between adversity and adventure is just the way you’re looking at it!”

Snorkel
This is arguably the only real non-negotiable. Unless you head up in November, and there’s no water, or you’re not going to attempt the Tele, you’ll need a snorkel. Make sure it’s an actual snorkel – not a ‘raised air intake’. We had a Patrol along with us that was leaking water into the airbox from behind the Nissan badge riveted into the side of his factory ‘raised air intake’. Best bet – block the snorkel head and make sure it stalls the engine before you leave home.

What mods do I need to do the OTT?

Actually, not that much. We did it with the absolute bare minimum – you could too, however, having extra stuff certainly bloody helps. That said, if you’re just going to the Tip, and don’t want to tackle the OTT, you can (and people have) take a Corolla up there, no sweat, just enjoy the corrugations!

As we said above, we tackled the Cape in a petrol-powered 80 Series, and we didn’t die. The old darlin’ had a two-inch lift, 33s, snorkel, temperamental winch, bull bar, and a rear bar that fell off halfway up the PDR. So long as you’ve got that, you’ll get through it … anything above, well that’s just going to make it that much easier.

What mods do I need to do the OTT?

Swag and Esky/Fridge
These kind of go without saying – make sure you’ve got somewhere solid to sleep, and something to keep the beer and food cold. A fridge that kicks the bucket isn’t the end of the world up here, you’ll get food within a few hours’ drive, but it would be a proper pain in the ass. Same goes for a good swag – a snapped pole or torn canvas won’t kill you but is just something you don’t want to have to worry about when you’re ticking this one off the bucket list.

Anything over and above these things is just gravy. You don’t need a brand-spanking new $100,000 diesel 4X4, you don’t need the latest and greatest swag, you don’t need the world’s angriest set of 37-inch muddies … but they sure would make life easier.

It’s an adventure – things are gonna go wrong, just try to limit how badly they can go wrong, and ALWAYS remember, the difference between adversity and adventure is just the way you’re looking at it.

Tyres
33-inch tyres are essentially a minimum for the OTT – not much with a standard-ish wheel track gets up there on less than that, so if you own a Zook, you can straddle everything, if you don’t, you’re going to want 285/75s or 33s.

Two inches of lift is a thing. Chances are you won’t fit the 33s under your 4X4 without it, plus it gets everything just that much further out of the water – like sills, door jams, snorkels, 4X4 occupants’ heads – you get the idea. A little more than this helps of course, but a lot more than this will see you on your roof.

Winches
Have a good quality one, service it and make sure it works before you start heading north. Also make sure you’ve got rated recovery points on your 4X4 too! There’s nothing quite like being stuck in water over the bonnet and the winch decides it’s had enough. No, really, it’s an awesome way to make new friends, who get to see you at your worst when you’re stuck, and your best when they rescue you!

Bar work
Besides somewhere to stick your winch and lights, good solid bar work is a good, solid idea; there’s plenty of wayward pigs up the Cape, and should you happen to meet one at any speed, you’re going to have a bad time – bull bar or not. So make sure you’ve got something to protect you and your rig as best you can. Also, make sure you get good quality bar work. There’s nothing quite like looking in the rear-view mirror and watching a lump of steel and a spare tyre bouncing down the PDR after you.

So, you’ve got the 4X4 all sorted now, with 33s, a winch, snorkel, some decent bar work and you’re about to set off – what spares and tools should you take?

Spares wise, at a minimum you’re going to want drive belts and top and bottom radiator hoses. Without these, you’re stuffed. On the list of ‘if we’ve got room’, you want to throw spare CVs, an alternator, spare air filter, maybe a starter motor if you’re in an auto, wheel bearings, and anything that’s a known ‘weak spot’ on your 4X4. A roll of fencing wire is also a great addition to any 4X4, simple ‘cause of the things you can fix with it – think exhaust mounts, radius arms, spring towers – it’s the heavy-duty version of cable ties.

On the tool front, you’re going to want the usual jack, tyre iron, set of sockets and spanners, pliers/side cutters, hub socket for your wheel bearings, and any other tool you’ll need to replace the spare parts you’ve brought along.

Should the inevitable happen, and you’re stuck and buggered without a chance of sorting it out yourself, our mate Sam Nolan runs Weipa Auto, who are the RACQ blokes up this way. Work out a way to get some phone reception (or pull out the sat phone) and get a message out to Sam, and he’ll come and sort you out. Trust us, it’s worth having his number saved into your phone.

What tools/spares should I take?
Who can I call if I get stuck?
What tools/spares should I take?

“If you’ve got the time, it’s absolutely worth pulling up near Gunshot with a few tins, kicking back and watching the carnage – nice easy way to spend a day with free entertainment!”

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.
Airbag Compatible
and Certified
Tailor made for
your vehicle
100% Waterproof
Fabric 
Made in Australia

The Peninsula Development Road (PDR) is a rather infamous bit of road unto itself, running from Laura to the Tip, it sees its fair share of traffic. It’s around 60% bitumen these days, with more and more bitumen going in every year. That said, the further north you go, the less bitumen you see.

A few things you need to be aware of on the PDR: the corrugations, the dust holes, and the causeways. The dirt parts of the PDR get torn up, graded and flattened out every season, so if you go early, it’s usually a pretty good run. If you’re heading up now, chances are you’re going to see some pretty wild corrugations – some up to eight inches in height and carry on for kilometres on end. Don’t kid yourself, your 4X4 can and will rattle apart, irrespective of whether it’s brand-spanking new, or 25 years old. So plan for that eventuality, and make sure you check over the real important parts every morning when you’re packing up camp. Think wheel nuts, strut towers, control arms, and the like. If it’s directly in contact with the road, or attached to the suspension, it’s going through hell.

The dust holes on the other hand, jump out at you from nowhere, are deadly, and will swallow your four-wheel drive. Thankfully most of them have signs put up on them pretty quickly, so you’ll have some notice, but it’s worth keeping an eye out anyway. They’re generally full of bull dust, run about 50 metres long, and twice the width of your vehicle. If you happen across one, slow down, dodge it if it’s safe to do so, or take it real easy if you have to drive through it; just watch the lips on either side of the hole – some of the steps are a foot deep!

Speaking of lips, when you see a ‘dip’ or ‘causeway’ sign on the PDR, slow down! Some of the lips heading into and out of the causeways are rather aggressive. Suffice to say hitting one at 80km/h will see all four wheels a couple of feet off the ground, two busted shocks, a bent diff housing, and a 50C piece sized hole in the seat where your backside gripped up! Ask me how I know…

The Peninsula Development Road
The Peninsula Development Road

Water
If you’re Russell Coight, you’ll want to take three litres, per day, per person, per man, per degree over 25 degrees, per kilometre on foot, in the winter months divide by two, plus another litre. For the rest of us, carry at least three litres per person per day, and to be extra safe, some water purification tabs to keep in the first aid kit.

What else do you need to take
when you head up to the Cape?
What else do you need to take when you head up to the Cape?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
Something a lot of folks forget, is that you’re a guest up in the Cape. The local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have invited and welcomed us into their home with open arms, for us to enjoy it with them. So make sure you take your rubbish with you, don’t trash the joint, and we’ll all be welcomed back, to share with our kids and grandkids. All too often folks get up there and couldn’t care less. Don’t be that guy (or girl)!

That’s a big ten-four, rubber ducky!
Comms. Have them, use them. Keep an ear out on channel 40 for the trucks rolling up and down the PDR or have your unit on scan if you’re not in a convoy – chances are you’ll get good info on the roads and may save you some bother otherwise!

Have a spare!
Make sure you have a good spare. A 10-year-old, 20% tread, questionable quality tyre that’s been hanging on the back of your 4X4 for the last few years without a look in, probably isn’t the best idea. Check your spare, make sure it’s inflated and is in good repair.

Doing the business in the bush
Make sure you’ve got plenty of dunny roll. Getting halfway up the Tele, and your bowels deciding last night’s green curry wasn’t the greatest idea, with only half a roll of dunny paper left is a real quick way to have a bad idea. Luckily, we’ve written a guide on how to poo in the bush just for you, here!

Watch the crocs!
No, not the shameful rubber variety that go on your feet, the ones with the big eyes and teeth! Most places where crocs have been spotted or are known to frequent are signposted – take heed. That said, there are some spots that aren’t signposted (Nolan’s Brook for example), where crocs have been sighted. So as soon as you’re north of Cairns, stay vigilant and always keep one eye on the water!

Hurry up and wait!
Unless you go real early or late in the season, chances are you’re going to run into other people on the Tele, at the Tip, and trying to cross the Jardine. Be prepared to be able to take your time with schedules, and not rush through anything. At the end of the day, we’re all up here on holidays, right? And above all else, have a bloody good time!

GUIDE

If you’ve been planning this trip for the last six months, or just decided you’ve got four weeks leave you need to take, this guide will get you up and back safely, and with minimal issue.

My first trip to the Cape was in a petrol 80 Series LandCruiser, with a week’s worth of planning, not a huge amount of knowledge, more than a few fears about what it would actually be like and whether we’d make it home in one piece.

To save you becoming prematurely grey, and hopefully wax some of the fears away, we’ve thrown together this hard and fast guide on what you can expect, what to keep an eye out for, and how to survive the Cape!

WORDS BY WES WHITWORTH

your essential guide to

It’s that time of year again, here’s everything you need to know to survive  Cape York in your 4X4

Where to get fuel in the Cape
Despite what we thought, fuel was quite plentiful north of Cairns, albeit bloody expensive! Being in a petrol 80 sucking down 30L/100km, we had four jerry cans across the roof cage, and were having serious second thoughts about how often we could get fuel. Turns out, you’ll find fuel about every 300km at the longest stretch. Yep, you’ll pay for it, as the further north you go, the more expensive it gets, but it is around. Rule of thumb here, if you see a fuel stop, look at putting fuel in. Also don’t rely on getting any fuel better than 91 octane – if you happen to own a supercharged, LSA-powered 4X4, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Easy fuel stops:

  • Cairns to Musgrave Roadhouse: 448km – Fuelled up here (can fuel up in Laura or Lakeland if you’ll not make it ~450km).
  • Musgrave Roadhouse to Archer River Roadhouse: 174km – Stopped for lunch (Archer burgers are to die for!) and fuelled up here too.
  • Archer River to Bramwell Junction Roadhouse: 166km – Fuelled up and pulled up stumps for the night.
  • Bramwell to the Jardine Ferry: 170km – We didn’t fuel up here, but they have fuel.
  • Jardine Ferry to Bamaga: 42km – We fuelled up here.
GETTING THERE – Fuel, ferries and fines

So the fuelling side of things isn’t nearly as bad as you’d think – you’ll find it most places, however if you’re doing the Tele Track (and I mean really, why else are you here?!) then you’ll need to fuel up at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse, as the run up the Tele is slow, low-range, going – so you’ll eat up a fair bit of ‘go juice’ just doing that.

Bamaga also has a local IGA / Foodworks store that you can get bulk supplies from too, once you’re north of the Jardine – everything from vegies and meat, to tofu and bait, you’re covered. If you’re in a pinch, you’ll get most staples from the roadhouses too, including meat and vegies so you’ll not go hungry.

The ferries in the Cape
Okay, so there really is only the one ferry that crosses the mighty Jardine River. You will need to pay to cross on the ferry, however there have been some of the more adventurous that have gone a ways up stream and crossed it in their 4X4. Personally, we opted for the nice, dry, ferry that you can’t get bogged on, and have to wade through chin-deep, croc-infested waters to get recovered from. It’s going to set you back 100 dollarydoos to get a return ticket for a single vehicle (a touch more for towing a trailer or van), but this also covers your camping fees north of the Jardine River – so you can stay and camp north in bushland campsites as long as you want (maintained campsites include Punsand Bay, Alau Beach, Loyalty Beach or Seisia at an extra cost per night).

Fines for alcohol in the Cape
As you’ve probably heard, there are limits on the amount of grog you can take into and have with you in the Cape. For the way up, you’re pretty well right until you hit the Jardine Ferry. Once you’ve crossed and you’re in the ‘Northern Peninsula Area’, there are some limits you need to be aware of.

The maximum amount of alcohol you can have in any one vehicle is:
2 Litres of wine (unfortified – so no port, etc.) AND 11.25L (30 x 375ml cans) of any strength beer;
OR
2 Litres of wine (unfortified) AND 9L (24 x 375ml cans) of premix spirits up to 5.5% alcohol/volume.

If you’re planning on heading out to any of the specific communities off the beaten track, it’s best to check you’re not doing the wrong thing, as some of these are completely dry communities, and there’s no grog allowed.

Just on the off chance you happen to get caught with more than the allowed limits, you’re looking at a fine of up to $47,306 (375 penalty units)!

GETTING THERE – Fuel, ferries and fines

*Entry is open to Australian residents aged 18 years and older. Competition closes 30/09/19 00:00 (AEST). Prize drawn on 14/10/19 15:00 (AEST). Permits: ACT: TP19/03385; NSW: LTPS/19/34846; SA: T19/817. Full terms and conditions at dometic.com/winaraptor

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The Tele Track
A bit of history first: the Cape York Telegraph Line was completed in 1887 and ran from Laura all the way through to Thursday Island. It was used for over 100 years, when in 1987 the line was removed, and replaced with microwave radio transmission towers. The part we’re interested in however, runs from Bramwell Junction Roadhouse in the south, crossing the Peninsula Development Road once, and ends at the Jardine River in the north.

There’s the two main sections, north and south, with a metric truck tonne of crossings, falls, creeks, swimming holes, and campsites along it. It’s not as challenging 4X4 wise as you might think and to be honest, we were a little disappointed with how easy the vast majority of it was. There is, however, plenty to see and do along the track, with a couple of harder sections that may well require the running of the winch line, however most of these parts (think Gunshot Creek) can be bypassed and have the obligatory ‘chicken track’ to get you through if you don’t want to drive the mental parts.

Most of the crossings you’ll find have a solid bottom, and so long as you keep momentum, and don’t just ‘give it the jandal’, you’ll get across them all pretty easily. Our tyre pressures were down to 18psi while on the Tele, and that got us through everything with ease.

Where the southern section has the gnarlier bits of four-wheel driving, the northern section is where it gets really speccy. Pristine creeks, stunning falls and epic water crossings. If we could suggest one bit of the Cape you need to see aside from the sign, it’d be the northern half of the Tele Track.

The Old Telegraph Track and ‘The Sign’

That sign…
Photographic proof you’ve made it to the Tip is a requirement of anyone heading up to the Cape. I mean, if you don’t put a photo of the sign on Facebook and Instagram, did you even go? Something a lot of folks don’t know, is it’s about a 500m walk to the Tip from the carpark. The walk is over pretty rocky terrain up and over a hill, or at low tide you can walk most of the way out around the sand flat – just be mindful of the crocs!

The Old Telegraph Track and ‘The Sign’

“The difference between adversity and adventure is just the way you’re looking at it!”

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

What mods do I need to do the OTT?

Actually, not that much. We did it with the absolute bare minimum – you could too, however, having extra stuff certainly bloody helps. That said, if you’re just going to the Tip, and don’t want to tackle the OTT, you can (and people have) take a Corolla up there, no sweat, just enjoy the corrugations!

As we said above, we tackled the Cape in a petrol-powered 80 Series, and we didn’t die. The old darlin’ had a two-inch lift, 33s, snorkel, temperamental winch, bull bar, and a rear bar that fell off halfway up the PDR. So long as you’ve got that, you’ll get through it … anything above, well that’s just going to make it that much easier.

Tyres
33-inch tyres are essentially a minimum for the OTT – not much with a standard-ish wheel track gets up there on less than that, so if you own a Zook, you can straddle everything, if you don’t, you’re going to want 285/75s or 33s.

Two inches of lift is a thing. Chances are you won’t fit the 33s under your 4X4 without it, plus it gets everything just that much further out of the water – like sills, door jams, snorkels, 4X4 occupants’ heads – you get the idea. A little more than this helps of course, but a lot more than this will see you on your roof.

Snorkel
This is arguably the only real non-negotiable. Unless you head up in November, and there’s no water, or you’re not going to attempt the Tele, you’ll need a snorkel. Make sure it’s an actual snorkel – not a ‘raised air intake’. We had a Patrol along with us that was leaking water into the airbox from behind the Nissan badge riveted into the side of his factory ‘raised air intake’. Best bet – block the snorkel head and make sure it stalls the engine before you leave home.

Winches
Have a good quality one, service it and make sure it works before you start heading north. Also make sure you’ve got rated recovery points on your 4X4 too! There’s nothing quite like being stuck in water over the bonnet and the winch decides it’s had enough. No, really, it’s an awesome way to make new friends, who get to see you at your worst when you’re stuck, and your best when they rescue you!

Bar work
Besides somewhere to stick your winch and lights, good solid bar work is a good, solid idea; there’s plenty of wayward pigs up the Cape, and should you happen to meet one at any speed, you’re going to have a bad time – bull bar or not. So make sure you’ve got something to protect you and your rig as best you can. Also, make sure you get good quality bar work. There’s nothing quite like looking in the rear-view mirror and watching a lump of steel and a spare tyre bouncing down the PDR after you.

Swag and Esky/Fridge
These kind of go without saying – make sure you’ve got somewhere solid to sleep, and something to keep the beer and food cold. A fridge that kicks the bucket isn’t the end of the world up here, you’ll get food within a few hours’ drive, but it would be a proper pain in the ass. Same goes for a good swag – a snapped pole or torn canvas won’t kill you but is just something you don’t want to have to worry about when you’re ticking this one off the bucket list.

Anything over and above these things is just gravy. You don’t need a brand-spanking new $100,000 diesel 4X4, you don’t need the latest and greatest swag, you don’t need the world’s angriest set of 37-inch muddies … but they sure would make life easier.

It’s an adventure – things are gonna go wrong, just try to limit how badly they can go wrong, and ALWAYS remember, the difference between adversity and adventure is just the way you’re looking at it.

What mods do I need to do the OTT?

So, you’ve got the 4X4 all sorted now, with 33s, a winch, snorkel, some decent bar work and you’re about to set off – what spares and tools should you take?

Spares wise, at a minimum you’re going to want drive belts and top and bottom radiator hoses. Without these, you’re stuffed. On the list of ‘if we’ve got room’, you want to throw spare CVs, an alternator, spare air filter, maybe a starter motor if you’re in an auto, wheel bearings, and anything that’s a known ‘weak spot’ on your 4X4. A roll of fencing wire is also a great addition to any 4X4, simple ‘cause of the things you can fix with it – think exhaust mounts, radius arms, spring towers – it’s the heavy-duty version of cable ties.

On the tool front, you’re going to want the usual jack, tyre iron, set of sockets and spanners, pliers/side cutters, hub socket for your wheel bearings, and any other tool you’ll need to replace the spare parts you’ve brought along.

Should the inevitable happen, and you’re stuck and buggered without a chance of sorting it out yourself, our mate Sam Nolan runs Weipa Auto, who are the RACQ blokes up this way. Work out a way to get some phone reception (or pull out the sat phone) and get a message out to Sam, and he’ll come and sort you out. Trust us, it’s worth having his number saved into your phone.

What tools/spares should I take?
Who can I call if I get stuck?
What tools/spares should I take?

“If you’ve got the time, it’s absolutely worth pulling up near Gunshot with a few tins, kicking back and watching the carnage – nice easy way to spend a day with free entertainment!”

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.
Airbag Compatible
and Certified
Tailor made for
your vehicle
100% Waterproof
Fabric 
Made in Australia

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The Peninsula Development Road (PDR) is a rather infamous bit of road unto itself, running from Laura to the Tip, it sees its fair share of traffic. It’s around 60% bitumen these days, with more and more bitumen going in every year. That said, the further north you go, the less bitumen you see.

A few things you need to be aware of on the PDR: the corrugations, the dust holes, and the causeways. The dirt parts of the PDR get torn up, graded and flattened out every season, so if you go early, it’s usually a pretty good run. If you’re heading up now, chances are you’re going to see some pretty wild corrugations – some up to eight inches in height and carry on for kilometres on end. Don’t kid yourself, your 4X4 can and will rattle apart, irrespective of whether it’s brand-spanking new, or 25 years old. So plan for that eventuality, and make sure you check over the real important parts every morning when you’re packing up camp. Think wheel nuts, strut towers, control arms, and the like. If it’s directly in contact with the road, or attached to the suspension, it’s going through hell.

The dust holes on the other hand, jump out at you from nowhere, are deadly, and will swallow your four-wheel drive. Thankfully most of them have signs put up on them pretty quickly, so you’ll have some notice, but it’s worth keeping an eye out anyway. They’re generally full of bull dust, run about 50 metres long, and twice the width of your vehicle. If you happen across one, slow down, dodge it if it’s safe to do so, or take it real easy if you have to drive through it; just watch the lips on either side of the hole – some of the steps are a foot deep!

Speaking of lips, when you see a ‘dip’ or ‘causeway’ sign on the PDR, slow down! Some of the lips heading into and out of the causeways are rather aggressive. Suffice to say hitting one at 80km/h will see all four wheels a couple of feet off the ground, two busted shocks, a bent diff housing, and a 50C piece sized hole in the seat where your backside gripped up! Ask me how I know…

The Peninsula Development Road
The Peninsula Development Road
What else do you need to take
when you head up to the Cape?

Water
If you’re Russell Coight, you’ll want to take three litres, per day, per person, per man, per degree over 25 degrees, per kilometre on foot, in the winter months divide by two, plus another litre. For the rest of us, carry at least three litres per person per day, and to be extra safe, some water purification tabs to keep in the first aid kit.

Have a spare!
Make sure you have a good spare. A 10-year-old, 20% tread, questionable quality tyre that’s been hanging on the back of your 4X4 for the last few years without a look in, probably isn’t the best idea. Check your spare, make sure it’s inflated and is in good repair.

Doing the business in the bush
Make sure you’ve got plenty of dunny roll. Getting halfway up the Tele, and your bowels deciding last night’s green curry wasn’t the greatest idea, with only half a roll of dunny paper left is a real quick way to have a bad idea. Luckily, we’ve written a guide on how to poo in the bush just for you, here!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
Something a lot of folks forget, is that you’re a guest up in the Cape. The local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have invited and welcomed us into their home with open arms, for us to enjoy it with them. So make sure you take your rubbish with you, don’t trash the joint, and we’ll all be welcomed back, to share with our kids and grandkids. All too often folks get up there and couldn’t care less. Don’t be that guy (or girl)!

That’s a big ten-four, rubber ducky!
Comms. Have them, use them. Keep an ear out on channel 40 for the trucks rolling up and down the PDR or have your unit on scan if you’re not in a convoy – chances are you’ll get good info on the roads and may save you some bother otherwise!

Watch the crocs!
No, not the shameful rubber variety that go on your feet, the ones with the big eyes and teeth! Most places where crocs have been spotted or are known to frequent are signposted – take heed. That said, there are some spots that aren’t signposted (Nolan’s Brook for example), where crocs have been sighted. So as soon as you’re north of Cairns, stay vigilant and always keep one eye on the water!

Hurry up and wait!
Unless you go real early or late in the season, chances are you’re going to run into other people on the Tele, at the Tip, and trying to cross the Jardine. Be prepared to be able to take your time with schedules, and not rush through anything. At the end of the day, we’re all up here on holidays, right? And above all else, have a bloody good time!

What else do you need to take when you head up to the Cape?