Trip 20, part 17 – Cape York? Been there, done that.

This is it!  This is the last blog post from our recent trip to Cape York and will focus on the statistics rather than the pics, so let’s go.

  • Distance driven: 15,138 km’s
  • Unleaded fuel used: 3,641 litres
  • Total cost of fuel: $6,171
    • Most expensive fuel: $2.40/ltr at Warrakurna
    • The overall average fuel price across the trip: $1.70/ltr
    • Our average fuel economy on the trip: 23ltr/100km which isn’t great, however, we seemed to be driving into a strong headwind for at least 3/4’s of the trip, plus the van was heavily loaded
  • We were away for a total of: 56 days, or a full 8 weeks
    • Of that, we free camped for 11 of those nights and spent another 3 nights on a scuba diving live-aboard boat on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Number of things that didn’t go to plan, and / or needed some extra attention: 23, see list below for what we had to deal with
  • Number of arguments had: 0
  • Number of memories gained and experiences had: too many to calculate, suffice to say the trip was ‘priceless


As many of you know, Jules and I are reasonably frequent travelers across this great land of ours, and we’ve found it’s often the people you meet that provide the best moments and memories.  Travelling so far on this trip, we obviously met and interacted with a lot of people, but there were a few special characters that deserve a mention and they are:

  • Nadine at Pinnarendi Station. Jules found Pinnarendi via WikiCamps and we instantly fell in love with the laid back vibe, the fantastic amenities, the great home cooking and most of all, Nadine and her family.  We had originally only planned a couple nights here, but quickly extended our stay to almost a week as we loved it that much.  You know you’re not just another customer, when you run into Nadine three weeks later, 150kms away in Atherton and Nadine instantly recognises us and greats us with hugs.  If you’re ever in the area, or just have some time to kill, you must visit Nadine and her family at Pinnarendi.  Tell them Budgie’s sent you…
  • Martin and Toni from the Gemini Caravan Park in Sapphire and their motley crew of campers (guests).  As per my blog post about Sapphire, the Gemini Caravan Park is not the most luxurious park you’ve ever been to.  In fact it’s the oldest park in the area which was so run down it was closed until Martin and Toni bought it and started to slowly restore it.  Despite that, Martin and the camping crew are very laid back and welcoming.  Communal drinks and talking shit sessions held every night barring Fridays, which is the Pot Luck Dinner Night, where everyone brings a plate of something to share… And, then we talk shit about our day..
  • Luana from Rainforest Scuba in Finch Hatton. Again, Jules via WikiCamps discovered Rainforest Scuba as we were approaching the town, on our way to our Broken River Campground about 30kms up the road.  Luana takes you out on a freshwater dive, where there’s a chance of diving with Platypuses.  Whilst we didn’t see a Platypus on our dive, I loved it nonetheless and Luana’s enthusiasm and passion for what she does and where she lives is infectious.
  • Darrell the Ranger at the Broken Hill, Starview Primitive Campground.  A brainchild of Darrell and his ranger mates, they designed, built and manage this little campground just outside of Broken Hill, not far from the Living Sculptures Lookout area.  Darrell does his rounds twice a day and we instantly hit if off when Jules teased him about being the ‘lone ranger’ and asking him where his ‘badge’ was, to which he replied “He didn’t have a badge, but I got me hat..”.  During our stay at Broken Hill, the AFL Grand Final was on, which we watched at our campsite, and after the game, Darrell rocked up on his rounds with four beers to pay up on a promise he’d made to Rod and BJ that he’d shout the beers if the West Coast Eagles won.  What a legend because Darrell doesn’t even drink!
  • Dennis the farmer who owns the land and provides camping and access to Murphy’s Haystacks, a series on inselbergs, essentially large rocks, which pop out of the surrounding farm land.  We ran into Dennis and got talking… Talking a lot as it happens.  And Dennis relays how he was initially reticent about opening the rocks to the public, but says now that it was one of the best decisions he’s made as he gets to come down and meet new people everyday and have a chat (did I mention Dennis loves a chat).  Dennis is everything you’d expect a character Aussie farmer to be, with a cheeky grin and wicked sense of humour to boot.


In addition to all the people, we visited some truly amazing and beautiful places, all of which had something different and special to offer.  So whilst we can’t agree on a single ‘best spot’ on our trip, we all agreed that the Daintree Rainforest area and the Atherton / Millaa Millaa Tablelands area are very special.


Lastly, driving so far and doing so much is bound to result in some wear and tear, and the odd, unplanned for event, so here’s the list that Jules kept, recording what happened and to who.

  • Tony & Jules
    • Had to fix the electric brakes in the van, twice!  Both times, the wires were damaged and cut by rocks after travelling over the rocky dirt roads
    • Repaired the windscreen after it got a stone chip and then cracked, in Alice Springs.  We then got another stone chip on the PDR on the way up to Cape York, but luckily this didn’t progress into a crack
    • Got a bar stuck through the tyre on the way out to the Boxhill Meteorite Crater, which we managed to plug using BJ’s repair kit and kept as a spare
    • One of our van water tanks developed a leak after a rock smashed through the a filler hose elbow on the Plenty Hwy.  Luckily BJ had a spare elbow so I replaced that at Pinnarendi
    • Our Stone Stomper, which shields the van from rocks, developed a couple of small holes, before some knob reversed into it and bent one side of the bar in Atherton.  I managed to fix the bar with some bits from Bunnings, but it then developed a large hole after it became clogged with mud and dragged on the gravel road on our final day, as we were leaving Cave Hill, heading for home
    • More rock damage, this time some small holes in the wheel arches of the van which I managed to temporarily patch with Gorilla Grip Duct Tape
    • Our van spare wheel cover was totally wrecked and ripped from stray rocks whilst coming across the Great Central Road and Plenty Hwy
    • We lost two UHF antennas, which simply snapped off at the base due to the vibrations on the dirt roads.  Luckily we managed to buy a new, third one in Winton which I taped to buggery to stiffen it up and so far this has worked.
    • Our Engel slide rail snapped a bolt, which meant the Engel was bouncing around a bit in the back of the car.  I had a spare bolt which I was able to fit in and temp fix it.
    • I had to replace some pop rivets in the hinge of the van door, as the others had snapped due to the vibrations.


  •  Rod
    • Did a windscreen, but luckily managed to patch it using a temp windscreen repair glue
    • Lost the mounts on his Pajero battery box.  He ended up having to cable tie the battery down
    • Blew out two pairs of shoes and one pair of thongs
    • Managed to get a flat battery at Pinnarendi, requiring a jump start
    • Had one of his Engels die, we think due to the bouncing on the gravel road


  •  BJ
    • Did a windscreen, but luckily managed to patch it using a temp windscreen repair glue
    • The handbrake on his van failed which he got fixed during a service in Cairns
    • Managed to pour a few litres of Unleaded fuel into his Diesel tank on his Landcruiser at Tobermory Station in Qld.
    • Lost his van reversing camera when the cable was cut due to rock damage
    • Lost his van electric brakes, which he got fixed during a service in Cairns
    • Managed to reverse his van into a tree stump, luckily no real damage
    • Lost a leg, the knob and igniter on his Webber BBQ
    • Totally blew out and wrecked a tyre in SA


Would we do it again?  Cape York, probably not.  Whilst we’re glad we’ve done the Cape, it’s a long way and unless you’re into serious 4wd’ing there’s not a lot to see other than the tip, but we’d definitely revisit Qld again.  Like WA, it’s a big state with plenty of variety and lots of stuff to see.

I hope you enjoyed reading our Cape York trip blog!  Keep an eye on our blog site for our next trip.


Cheers Tony and Jules (with Rod and BJ)

2 Replies to “Trip 20, part 17 – Cape York? Been there, done that.”

  1. What an amazing trip….I’m so glad I got to meet you both and I have truly enjoyed reading your blogs….also thanks for the mention and I am so glad you loved my little slice of heaven. Look forward to catching up again in the future…..perhaps on your turf this time.

  2. Sounds amazing guys. Bloody BJ needs reversing lessons I think. Lol. And an inventory list so he can check to make sure he isn’t leaving things behind.

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