Autumn 2023 Adventure Profile: Cape York Track/Old Telegraph Track
Location: Cooktown to Seisia (QLD)
Best time to travel: May-October
This group of 4 friends had been planning this trip for three years, dreaming of rugged top-end adventure from the dreary monotony of mid-2020 lockdown. They wanted the exact opposite of restriction, and the iconic Old Telegraph Track, or OTT, ticked all the boxes.
Two couples made up the group: John and Deb, and Chris and Sue, all in their mid-60s and bonded over their love of outdoor living – the more remote the better! They had unanimously selected the OTT. Once FNQ’s only line of communication, the OTT stopped being maintained when the northern and southern bypass roads opened. However, the group was anything but deterred by the track’s numerous river crossings with near-vertical exits, copious amounts of red dust, and remote camping opportunities. Their 4×4 vehicles and camper trailers were geared up and ready for the challenge. Now THIS kind of isolation is more like it!
Let’s follow the group’s progress from Cooktown to Seisia as they drive, camp, and adventure the 848km to Far North Queensland.
It was John and Deb’s idea to make it a drinking game: every time they successfully got their 4x4s across a creek, everyone had a drink! Of water or juice, of course, during the drive. It soon became apparent that these celebrations were going to be frequent!
Though they were doing the trip in May, during the Dry Season, the wet crossings still made a formidable list: Dulhunty River, Bertie Creek, Cholmondeley Creek, Gunshot Creek, Cockatoo Creek, Canal Creek, Sam Creek, Mistake Creek, Cannibal Creek, Logans Creek, and finally the infamous Nolan’s Brook that claims the highest numbers of vehicles, even if they are 4x4s.
Being in no rush, the group would often stop at these crossings for a break or a meal – or a much-needed toilet stop after all those celebratory drinks! Deb and Sue loved swimming, and there was no shortage of swimming holes to enjoy, including those at Fruit Bat Falls, Eliot Falls, and Twin Falls.
Every day the group was spoiled for places to stop. Just some of the more scenic scenic stop-off and side trip locations along the way included Old Laura Station, Lakefield National Park, Weipa, and Chili Beach.
Slow progress had never been so satisfying, and their camper trailers and off-grid power systems meant they could be flexible and comfortable as they camped all the way up the track. They even took the opportunity to linger a little longer in certain locations which felt like absolute luxury and exactly the level of freedom they had been craving.
The moment the group saw the crystal blue waters of Seisia is something they will never forget. Upon arriving, they checked into the Loyalty Beach Campground and quickly set up their camper trailers on unpowered sites right on the water. It was time to immerse themselves in their new environment!
Over the next twelve days, the contrasting red sand against the sparkling waters would become familiar for the group, but not for one second did they stop marvelling at the beauty of their surroundings.
They spent many happy days fishing off the Seisia Wharf as well as doing several half and full day fishing tours. On the coastal flats, the group caught a combination of Trevally, Queenfish, Salmon, and Giant Herring. They also took boats to off-shore islands where they caught Mackerel, Queenfish, Giant Trevally, and Tuna. John and Chris even took a fishing charter on the amazingly clear waters of the Jardine River and caught two decent-sized Barramundi.
It wasn’t all fishing however. The group took advantage of a guided tour to the Northernmost point of Australia, taking in the Cape York flora and fauna, and were glad to leave the driving to someone else. They toured islands, took in cultural performances, and saw it all from the sky on a helicopter tour. Of course, they spent plenty of time relaxing on their camping site, basking in the warm weather, and adjusting to the slow pace of their tropical paradise.
It was a wrench having to leave this beautiful, remote, and special part of the world, but eventually their stay came to an end. They left thoroughly enamoured with FNQ, and enjoyed the rugged trip south, treasuring the fact that they would be finding red dust in every nook and cranny of their vehicles and gear for months to come.
There were some particular pieces of kit that were the MVPs for John, Deb, Chris, and Sue’s OTT adventure.
John and Deb powered their trip with the Baintech 12V 150Ah Slimline Lithium Battery. This battery ensured the couple saved space and weight and had reliable power for their kettle, fan, and campside lighting. They also took full advantage of the sun during their trip and while camping with the Baintech 120 watt solar blanket. Again wanting to save space, they loved being able to fold this 156cm x 77cm blanket down to the size of a Yellow Pages. They remember what those are. They would simply hang the blanket down the side of their 4×4 or drape it on top of their camper van to catch the sun’s energy wherever they were.
For Sue and Chris, they have had their camper van for many years (and many adventures) so they decided to upgrade their power system before their OTT trip. They selected the Baintech ‘Escape’ power board system which includes a Victron Smart Battery Protect, DC-DC charger, Digital Multi Control, and much more. They pared this system with the Baintech 200w Solar Bundle. This bundle provided an elegant, light, and compact solution to the couple’s power needs, running all their 12V appliances. Sue’s coffee pod machine and milk frother didn’t just come along for the ride!
When they got home, both 4×4 vehicles were treated to a much-needed external clean as well as an internal clean. One small bottle of X-1R Engine Treatment and X-1R Fuel System Cleaner ensured all dirt and deposits in the petrol system and motor oil were removed. They even saved money getting them both from Baintech.