Mon Jul 10 21:15 2017 NZST
Speed: -4kms
Run: 76.9nm (139.2km)
Avg: 3.3kms
24hr: 79.9kms

Automated update

Thu Oct 23 22:16 2014 NZDT
Run: 62.2nm (112.6km)

After a fun couple of days in Deep water, we are now at KinKuna. Bit if a drive to get to it through soft sandy tracks, but being camped up on top of the dunes looking out of the sea is worth it. What better place to celebrate a wedding anniversary !!

Mon Oct 20 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 68.5nm (124km)

After trying an alternative route up the hill climb out of Grassy Bank, Don managed to stall Dave at the crest of the hill climb and when it threw it into reverse something went click and the gear leaver went floppy. With Dave stuck in reverse amongst a tight spot in the trees, we took Betsie up another track to the top of the hill and after digging out all the gear we managed to winch Dave up to the top with a double line pull and 10m winch extention. I was starting to doubt the winch would handle it!!! Long story short, once mobile again, but not being able to diagnose the exact cause of the issue, they decided to head home rather than going further afield, so we carried on up to Deep Water Nat Park for a couple of nights.

Dave and Betsie after the big winch
Middle Rocks, Deep Water N.P
Fri Oct 17 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 45.7nm (82.7km)

Headed out with the Nearys for a week. Going to be good having the local knowledge and all the secret spots that come along with it!! First up was a couple of days fishing at Grassy Bank

Tue Oct 14 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 36.7nm (66.4km)

With a storm due, we found a sheltered place behind the dunes with some good trees and set up shop for a couple of days until the weather improved. In hind sight, it would have been Bette to have attempted to get to the light house after the rain, as the sand would have been hard!!

Sun Oct 12 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 9.9nm (17.9km)

Found a sheltered spot out of the wind for the night. Had to turn back today after the soft sand got the better of us.

Sat Oct 11 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 28.2nm (51km)

Making our way slowly up 70 mile beach. High tide is around mid day so it's been tricky. Tides improve as the week goes on, so the trip back should be better. Awesome place, a must see!!

Fri Oct 10 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 38.4nm (69.5km)

After crashing accross the island in the fading evening light,dodging tour buses on a soft single lane track through the bush we found this spot for the night. Driving in the wheel tracks of a big 4x4 tour bus in the soft sand is very hard going. Will be avoiding theinland tracks as much as possiblefrom now on!!!!!

Wed Oct 8 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 133.2nm (241.1km)
Avg: 1275.3kms
24hr: 30607.7kms

Made it back to Burrum Heads. Good to see the Nearys again, and plan a trip away with them in the next few weeks. In the mean time, we are going to Fraser Island!!!!

Tue Oct 7 23:53 2014 NZDT
Run: 229.2nm (414.9km)
Avg: 4.8kms
24hr: 114.8kms

Headed in to the Bunya Mountains for the a look around. Found a cool little spot to camp in an old road cutting on the side of the mountain with views back accross the plains we have been driving on for the last few days

Mon Oct 6 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 342.6nm (620.1km)
Avg: 14.3kms
24hr: 342.6kms

Another big day on the road, but it was nice to be on a sealed road after all the crashing around on the dirt up to the QLD boarder. Stumbled onto this camp area by the weir at Mitchell by accident, just following our noses late in the day. Awesome spot!!!

Sun Oct 5 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 192.1nm (347.7km)
Avg: 8kms
24hr: 192.1kms

Had a nice early start today, on the road at just after 6am. Road was really rough, down to 20kph on a lot of it. Not corrugated, just really rocky with deep ruts. Road trains were creeping along it slower t Han us loaded with gear for the Moomba gas plant. Had a nosey round Innaminka at lunch time, and made it to Noccundra pub for the night. Pub meal, and camped down at the water hole.

Moomba gas plant
Sat Oct 4 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 188.1nm (340.5km)
Avg: 7.8kms
24hr: 188.1kms

Had a good run today and made it to the Montecolina Bore. Parked up with a see view and went for a swim in the warm water fresh from the Artesian Basin.

Fri Oct 3 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 130.5nm (236.2km)
Avg: 338.5kms
24hr: 8123.3kms

Managed a good few hundred k's on the dirt today and made it to Coward Springs. Quite busy due to school holidays and heaps of flies. Should have hoped in the spa but decided not to for some odd reason. Camped in a road scrape just up the road from Mound springs.

The coward springs spa
Thu Oct 2 23:36 2014 NZDT
Run: 368.4nm (666.8km)
Avg: 7.7kms
24hr: 185.7kms

Had a good run of 670km down the Stuart Highway to Coober Pedy today. Betsie seems to have survived the sudden oil pressure loss ok so far. Quite worried and apprehensive about heading into the desert tomorrow with it, but the show must go own I guess.....

Wed Oct 1 0:00 2014 NZDT
Run: 51.6nm (93.4km)

Of course vehicle drama always happens on a Friday, so after having to wait around all weekend, and then getting to a work shop on Monday, we were all fixed up again today.

Fri Sep 26 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 4.7nm (8.5km)

This is where The oil cooler hose let go at about 8am in the morning, about 20mins after setting off. Back to Alice it was.

Thu Sep 25 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 265.2nm (480km)
Avg: 11.1kms
24hr: 265.2kms

Heading down the Old Ghan towards Finke. Stopping at Chambers Pillar on the way .

Wed Sep 24 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 229.7nm (415.8km)
Avg: 91.9kms
24hr: 2205.4kms

Devils Marbles. Just something you have to see for your self if your traveling past!! Good enough spot to spend the night as well.

Tue Sep 23 21:30 2014 NZST
Run: 132.2nm (239.3km)
Avg: 5.1kms
24hr: 122.2kms

Went explorng th sthrn lost city 2day. Amazing rock formations! Heading sth 2wards Alice on bak rds p: 17 31.675s 135 41.024e

Mon Sep 22 19:32 2014 NZST
Run: 240.5nm (435.3km)
Avg: 3.6kms
24hr: 85.5kms

Magic spot for th night at Butterfly Springs. Road hs been bettr thn expectd. Not as hot 2day,only 33deg p: 15 37.593s 135 27.610e

Sat Sep 20 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 104nm (188.2km)
Avg: 4.3kms
24hr: 104kms

Quiet cruise through Kakadu today. Stopped and did a few walks while it's was cool in the morning, but as sons as the temperature got above 36deg it was time to sit back and take it all in from the comfort of Betsie. Decided to over night at Edith Falls, swimming was fantastic, it did a big mission accross the pool to the waterfall. Furtherest I have swam in a while!!! Alex is loving his floating, can't get him out of the water ;)

Fri Sep 19 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 59.2nm (107.2km)

Hardies Lagoon for the night. Lots of wild life around, Roos, frogs, birds and yes, croc's. Time for some bird watching tomorrow morning I think

Thu Sep 18 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 63.8nm (115.5km)
Avg: 2.7kms
24hr: 63.8kms

More water. This time at Florence falls. Massive deep pool at the base of the waterfall for swimming in' and the camp site almost to our selves

Wed Sep 17 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 145.2nm (262.8km)
Avg: 6.1kms
24hr: 145.2kms

Douglas springs for the night. Magic hot springs that flow into a river that runs past. Choose your temperature based on how far down stream from the springs you swim!!

Tue Sep 16 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 139.4nm (252.3km)
Avg: 80.4kms
24hr: 1929.5kms

Another 24 hr stop over camp for the night. Big river and lots of Crocadilions!!!!!

Mon Sep 15 22:15 2014 NZST
Run: 153nm (276.9km)
Avg: 3.3kms
24hr: 79.4kms

Wow, finally out of the Gibb River Road and back on the tar seal. That was one hot rough and dusty haul through there. Lots of the gorges were dry, but we did manage a swim at Bell Gorge and a mid day cold shower at Durack River. Massive bush fires up El Questro so couldn't get in there, road closed. Never mind, that's an extra day to spend in Kakadu or somewhere less hot hahah

Sun Sep 14 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 99.2nm (179.6km)
Avg: 4.1kms
24hr: 99.2kms

Campd at Barnet Gorge. Rd v. bad, slow goin. To hot to walk in midle of th day, early morning only

Sat Sep 13 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 183.1nm (331.4km)
Avg: 7.6kms
24hr: 183.1kms

Made to Windjana. Walkd into th gorge on sunset to watch thousnds of Bats fly out on dark

Fri Sep 12 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 290.7nm (526.2km)
Avg: 12.1kms
24hr: 290.7kms

Massive drive 500+ks, 39deg into headwind. Air hot, like standing infrnt of hairdryer

Thu Sep 11 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 140.1nm (253.6km)
Avg: 5.8kms
24hr: 140.1kms

Campd in a 24hr stop over site at De Grey river. Big drive tomorow! p: 20 18.492s 119 15.238e date: 11/09/2014

Thu Sep 11 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 153.8nm (278.4km)

Not the usual status up date, its just a note worthy location. We were talking to some folks at Carawine Gorge and the y mentioned a place called Running Waters. They gave me a few sketchy directions as it wasn't sign posted from any where. Something along the lines off drive down Skull Springs road until you see a hill with a knob that looks kinda like a kangaroo, around there is a track that heads off on the left into the desert, follow that until you find a tyre half buried in the ground, turn there. So with not much fuel in the tank and 150 k's to go before we could get some more, we went looking (as you do right??).....

We found it, the last few hindred meters of track was a bit of a low 1st scramble, but the pool was worth iyt. Water was at least 25 degrees and way over my head. crystal clear an deep blue surrounded by the most enourmous paper barks. One of the those places you will probably never come back to but will always remember. if we had of had more food and fuel we would have stayed. Alas we had to get moving to Marbel Bar for an expensive 20L of fuel to get us to Port Headland were the fuel was better priced and there was a super market.

Wed Sep 10 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 94.5nm (171km)
Avg: 74.6kms
24hr: 1790.9kms

Made it out alive!!! After bashing our way through 700 odd k's of corrugations, we finally arrived at Carawine gorge. Time for a swim. Can't stay long though, under half a tank of fuel left and even less food!!! Not quite down to the 2 minute noodles, more at the damper bread and tins of spaghetti stage. Did find a whoe box of oranges spread over the Telfer Mine road though, so picked up all the good ones. Bush tucker at its best haha

Tue Sep 9 22:44 2014 NZST
Run: 134.8nm (244km)
Avg: 5.8kms
24hr: 139kms

709km on Talawana Trak and Canning Stock Route cmpletd, 271km of Telfer mine rd done. Swim time in 163km p: 21 45.583s 122 28.034e

Mon Sep 8 23:28 2014 NZST
Run: 52nm (94.1km)

Well 31 2nite. Movin at 6.30am when still cool, managd 130km.
Av speed 16kph. Amazing scenery, rocky trak p: 22 31.495s 124 24.288e

Sun Sep 7 23:23 2014 NZST
Run: 43.9nm (79.5km)

Well 27 2nite. Drove 7.30 to 4pm, 109km. 43deg in th truk at 1pm. Gd water well 26 4 lunch time cool off p: 22 47.676s 123 38.638e

Sat Sep 6 23:10 2014 NZST
Run: 167.8nm (303.7km)
Avg: 6.8kms
24hr: 163kms

Campd for night at Gorgia Bore. Good water from hand pump at bore, shower time! Last 20k of Talawana v. rough.

Fri Sep 5 22:28 2014 NZST
Run: 166.1nm (300.6km)

Canning Stock Route here we come! p: 23 00.123s 120 22.838e

Tue Sep 2 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 32.4nm (58.6km)

Made it to Tom Price and caught up with Russell and Linda. Looking forward to the local knowledge and seeing the sites over the next few days with them. Not to mention Russell's Radial engine he's been building for a fair few years............

radial madness
a piece of genius
this is no vintage engine....
Mon Sep 1 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 41nm (74.2km)

Finally found somewhere to swim!!! Headed into the Hamersly Gorge and found a reasonable track down to the pool in the bottom. Spent the afternoon splashing around. Found a spot to camp in a road scrape for the night.

Hamersly Gorge water hole
Sun Aug 31 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 149.2nm (270.1km)

Good few days enjoying the sights and sounds and deep gorges of the Karijini national park. Gotta be somewhere to swim round here!!!!!!

Thu Aug 28 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 246.7nm (446.5km)
Avg: 10.3kms
24hr: 246.7kms

Cook Point for a couple of nights. Number one driver with a dodgy stomach bug!!!

Wed Aug 27 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 71nm (128.5km)

We have had an awesome time in the Broome area. The beaches have been awesome, the camping great. But it has come time to move on. We managed to get 130ks south this afternoon, so it's a good start .....

Sat Aug 23 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 99.2nm (179.6km)

More mooching around enjoying the beach, sand and sun. Went for a drive to collect some more fire wood and followed a few tracks around exploring. Back to the cliff top camp for the night.

Thu Aug 21 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 87.1nm (157.7km)
Avg: 3.6kms
24hr: 87.1kms

Crashed our way up 100km of busy rough sandy corrugated road towards Cape Leveque. Magically at the 112k mark, it changed into a two lane high way with 160ks still to go!! Needless to say, we had a small in car celebration and pulled over to pump the tyres back up!! Cape Leveque was nice. You needed $600 per person to go and see the horizontal water falls, and you had to pay a day visitor fee to walk on the foot path to the point. Alex was asleep so we enjoyed the car park for 10mins and headed on out to one arm point. That was spectacular. The water was rushing between the islands as the tide changed like a river. The water was a deep deep blue, and crystal clear. We camped on the beach at Gumbarnun for the nights

Wed Aug 20 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 16.7nm (30.2km)

Ventured up the coast as far as we dared. Made it to Coulomb Point, but the beach access was tricky and required driving through a short section of salt lagoon. Not an option. Headed up the track further north but it was getting late and there was a muddy sandy crossing I didn't like the look of so turned around. Stunning views up here!!

Mon Aug 18 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 228.3nm (413.2km)
Avg: 9.5kms
24hr: 228.3kms

Headed up the coast from Broome, followed a track along the back of the sand dunes and came across a spot up on a little cliff above the sea. No shade, but a nice cool breeze, so might stay here for the day tomorrow as well. It will be nice to have a rest day, seems like we have driven 8 to 4.30 everyday for the last two months!!!

going to be a hot day!!!
a nice sea breeze
Sun Aug 17 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 148.7nm (269.1km)
Avg: 110.3kms
24hr: 2647.4kms

Lots of tar seal today, decided to treat our selves to a shower and meal, so called into a holiday park at Fitroy for the night. Had a shower, fixed a rattling steering gaurd, then went to the pub for dinner. Broome tomorrow............

Sat Aug 16 22:39 2014 NZST
Run: 127.5nm (230.8km)
Avg: 2.7kms
24hr: 65.6kms

Gd run thru Tanami rd, 1052ks, 2.5days on th same almost strait dirt road. Amazing drive! Wolfe crk 2nite p: 18 59.740s 127 41.806e

Fri Aug 15 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 221.7nm (401.3km)
Avg: 60.2kms
24hr: 1444.1kms

Day two on the Tanami complete. The road improved a lot, they had recently been out with the graders so it was good going. We were able to sit at about 75km /h most of the time. Didn't quite make the NT/WA border today, but should be around Wolfe creek meteor crater tomorrow

Thu Aug 14 20:18 2014 NZST
Run: 169.5nm (306.8km)
Avg: 1473.9kms
24hr: 35373.9kms

Bit of a late start, it was freezing last night so eggs on toast for breakfast:) Filled up the tanks, and the jerry cans and hit the road. So far the Tanami has been very rough. Could be a slow 1050ks to Broom!!! Road scrape camp site for the night....

Road side camp
Pretty secluded for a road scrape ;)
Thu Aug 14 20:12 2014 NZST
Run: 202.1nm (365.8km)
Avg: 3kms
24hr: 71.1kms

Back to Alice today. Missions included pick up new genuine clutch master cylinder, drop into ARB to get my present, and Supercheap to get a pair of needle nose vice grips. We booked into a holiday park, the same as last time, Sarah did the washing, and I swapped master cylinders. Must have been quite a sight, bonnet off, tarp spread out on the grass with tools payed out. There was a vintage car club staying at the holiday park, so soon had an enthusiastic audience offering all sorts of insights, into the premature failure. Consensus was I must have had the adjustment wrong and was pushing the cylinder to far when depressing the clutch pedal. I'm not so sure, the new master cylinder feels quite different........

Tue Aug 12 0:00 2014 NZST

Good day out exploring the Olga's, windy and cold on the walks, but worth while. We unleashed our rebel later in the day, managed to get Alex to sleep in the back of the truck after watching the sunset on Uluru, then sneaked over to the sunrise viewing car park to watch the moon rise. Moon rise wasn't until 8.30pm, an hour after you were supposed to leave the park. We must have been in there until at least 9.30pm. Spooky place!!!!

Mon Aug 11 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 81.8nm (148.1km)
Avg: 3.4kms
24hr: 81.8kms

After a day exploring around Uluru and watching the sunset, we sneaked off into the bush about 10ks out of Yulara and hide away for the night. No camping in the park. Going to explore Kata Tjuta (the Olga's) tomorrow. What is that stuff dripping on the floor mat under the clutch pedal I wonder............

these are cool, don't know what they are yet......
fairly big, definitely not termite related
bad light, but the hole in the center goes a long way down
Hiding place
Sun Aug 10 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 61.9nm (112km)
Avg: 2.6kms
24hr: 61.9kms

More exploring, more driving, more awesome places, more amazing views. Standing right in the center, 2km below the original base of an impact crater, created by an ancient comet at Goose Bluff was definitely one of the highlights!! On the hunt for a campsite we noticed a track leading off into the red dunes out the back of a 24hr rest area. Found a nice little spot tucked away out in the red sand under some trees for the night. Massive moon.

Sat Aug 9 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 40.5nm (73.3km)

All gorged out after today. Very spectacular, very touristy, very cold water. Started on road/track to Boggy Hole in the Finke Gorge Nat park, but road was terrible so it was going to be a slow 33ks. Turned back and went into Palm Vally and found a nice spot in the dry Finke river bed for the night instead. So much to do around this area, prioritising is tricky!!!!

Fri Aug 8 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 31.6nm (57.2km)

All back up and running. Feels nice and tight. No nylock nuts on the new front radius arm bolts though, they assure me they used plenty of locktite, but I'm nervous about it. Stumbled accross a fun little road called the Huge River Bush Camp Track. Drove up there and camped for the night. If time allows later in the week, we might come back and explore some more as it's not far out of Alice.

Thu Aug 7 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 73.7nm (133.4km)
Avg: 2.9kms
24hr: 69.3kms

This counts for the 6th too.... Made it to Alice on the 6th did some shopping and gave Betsie a scrub. Today we dropped her off at the work shop for some new bushes. Front Radius arms, panhard rod and rear A frame bushes. They had a mechanic away today, so it's got to go backin the morning for the A frame bushes. Went the Ghan railway museum and mooches round Alice CBD to kill the day. Looking forward to being back on the road!!!!

I stealthed into the engine room of this bad boy!!!
How it used to be done
Tue Aug 5 22:29 2014 NZST
Run: 111.9nm (202.5km)
Avg: 4.6kms
24hr: 110.1kms

Henbury metorite craters for th nite. Head 2 alice 2morow, clean out, washing, restock. New bushes fit thurs morning

Mon Aug 4 22:05 2014 NZST
Run: 81.8nm (148.1km)
Avg: 7.3kms
24hr: 176.1kms

Campd at th Fink river for th nite. Make our way up th old Ghan rail way tomorow. Road is quite rough, willb slow

Mon Aug 4 10:56 2014 NZST
Run: 44.5nm (80.5km)

Had a well earnd soak in Dalhousie springs, went round the ruins. Campd at 3 o'clock creek 2nite. Emu and 2 chicks 24.515e

Sat Aug 2 21:52 2014 NZST
Run: 80.9nm (146.4km)
Avg: 3.4kms
24hr: 81.5kms

Made it, Purni bore 4pm. Rig rd was great, m.way almost, 2nd hi. Saw camels, lizards, eagles. Freezing cold at nite

Fri Aug 1 22:02 2014 NZST
Run: 50.2nm (90.9km)

Hard slow goin. Dropd tyres to 17 frnt, 27rear. At Lone Gum 2nite. 174ks left to go. Rig rd out 2 French Line

Thu Jul 31 21:57 2014 NZST
Run: 84.2nm (152.4km)

Made it 166ks into th desert 2day, only took 9hrs. At Poppell corner 2nite. WAA Line 2morow p: 25 59.912s 138 00.030e

Wed Jul 30 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 209.9nm (379.9km)
Avg: 8.7kms
24hr: 209.9kms

Full service tonight in the camp ground. Oil, oil filter, fuel filter, full grease, bleed brakes, check air filter (K&N, so just a visual check, still didn't need a clean) and a spanner check. Off to the Birdsville pub for a beer afterwards. Simpson Desert here we come!!!!

Birdsville Hotel
yum yum yum
Breakfast of champions
Tue Jul 29 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 87.8nm (158.9km)
Avg: 3.7kms
24hr: 87.8kms

Today, we went from Dujarra 156ks back to Mt Isa, got the spare panhard rod bushes pressed in, then drove the 156ks back through Dujarra and on to Boulia. I'm shooting for Birdsville tomorrow night :)

Mon Jul 28 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 68.7nm (124.3km)
Avg: 2.9kms
24hr: 68.7kms

Lunch stop turned into a an over nighter here. The road from Mt Isa, while still sealed was a lot rougher than the previous days traveling. The rough road at speed showed up some handleing issues. Turned out that the radius arm bushes and panhard rod bushes were on the verge of failure. We did some road side repairs and fitted the spare radius arm bushes to make it safe and will head back to Mt Isa to get the panhard rod bushes pressed out and the spares fitted.

Sun Jul 27 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 236.9nm (428.8km)
Avg: 9.9kms
24hr: 236.9kms

492ks, nearly at Mt Isa.... Stopped for the night at Corella Dam. Loose king pin bearing cap on top of right front hub & small amount of fluff in drain hole on cam belt cover. Might change T.Case oil, it's dirty again. Must be something wearing in there. Stock up on fuel and food ready for the Simpson desert tomorrow in Mt Isa.

Corella Dam
Sat Jul 26 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 148.9nm (269.5km)
Avg: 6.2kms
24hr: 148.9kms

Made it to Karumba !!! The road was bad, it was a hard fought 300 and something k's of pot holes, bull dust holes, corrugations and dust. Im knackered, and Betsie is filthy inside and out!!! Alex was quite frustrated he couldn't draw in his book because it was so rough, and his DVD player would work either. He did a pretty good job of drawing all over himself instead :) We had fish and chips on the beach and watched the sun set over the Gulf of Carpenteria. 32.7 degrees and ya can't swim!!!

We made it
Picnic time
Fri Jul 25 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 160.8nm (291km)
Avg: 6.7kms
24hr: 160.8kms

The road was good up untill the last 10k's when the holes started to get to big to carry any speed over the corrugations. Still getting a fair bit of dust in the back, must be a gap in the panel work I haven't discovered yet. Camped at the crossing of the Mitchel river at Dunbar. Had heard that the crossing was big, deep and sandy. We arrived to find a causeway had been put through it and they were taking big tandem axle caravans over it!!!

The Crossing
From another angle
Mind the Crocs
Nice spot to our selves away from the crocs!!
Thu Jul 24 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 80.6nm (145.9km)
Avg: 3.4kms
24hr: 80.6kms

Hiding in the sticks at Chilligoe. We found an abandoned quarry and thought it looked like a fitting place to spend the evening. It was an interesting drive from Cairns, in that we missed a turn at Mareeba, so ended up doing a little detour through Irvinebank which turned out to be a pleasant if not unexpected surprise. It was an old mining town complete with historic buildings, vehicle and machinery relics and a narrow winding dirt road.

Camp Chilligoe
Abandoned Quarry
Wed Jul 23 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 122.2nm (221.2km)
Avg: 133.9kms
24hr: 3214kms

Made it back to Cairns. Got some parts for Betsie and checked into a holiday park for the night. Their washers and dryers will never be the same, we used them to get all the red dust out of our bedding and clothes!!!!! I got to work and gave Betsie a good check over and fitted the new bump stops and front drive flanges.

new bling for Betsie
Tue Jul 22 23:05 2014 NZST
Run: 177.7nm (321.6km)
Avg: 1545.2kms
24hr: 37085.2kms

Made it to the end of the dirt roads for now, camped at Laura for the night. Rotated the tyres, did a spanner check, and cleaned the air filter tonight. Ordered some new front bump stops to pick up in Cairns

Tue Jul 22 22:58 2014 NZST
Run: 124.5nm (225.3km)

Camped at the Archer river for the night, heading south to Cairns

Our little spot by the river
View from the back door :)
Sun Jul 20 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 44nm (79.6km)

Drove up to Cullen Point and hit the beach and drove round the point for a few k's. Found an awesome spot under some trees and decided to make a day of it. Miscalculated the path of the sun for the afternoon and we lost our shade for a couple of sweltering hot hours...........

Cullen Point
sun set
Finally the sun has gone!!,
Sat Jul 19 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 94.2nm (170.5km)
Avg: 3.8kms
24hr: 90.3kms

Hiding away at Red Beach near Weipa for the night. 27deg at 8pm, phew!!!!! Still getting lots of dust in the fridge compressor compartment, so going to try and adjust the rear door to close tighter and apply more duct tape to any joins in the body work!! We camped at Crystal creek again last night, so no point adding that as an update.

Vrilya beach
Fridge Compressor full of dust
Thu Jul 17 22:57 2014 NZST
Run: 41.5nm (75.1km)

Nolans brook chestdeep, ovr bonet & v. soft. Turnd bak. Cmpd @ Crystal creek, headn 4 Vrilya beach 2morow p: 11 17.461s 142 17.075e

Wed Jul 16 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 12.5nm (22.6km)

Fly point for lunch

Wed Jul 16 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 1.9nm (3.4km)

Walked to the tip. Turtles at flypoint. Campd behind dunes in 5bays. Winchd a 4wd off beach p: 10 46.220s 142 35.405e d: 16/07/2014

Tue Jul 15 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 46.3nm (83.8km)
Avg: 21.1kms
24hr: 507.1kms

We made it, just the walk to the very tip and it's a tick on the list!!!! Sand, sun, clear blue water and ya can't swim. Looking forward to stopping at fruit bat falls on the way back for another swim there!!!!

Good morning Wroonga Point
Mon Jul 14 21:48 2014 NZST
Run: 31.3nm (56.7km)

Camped at Canal creek, swimming at fruit bat falls today, going over on jardn ferry tomorrow, deep water crossings today.

Sun Jul 13 22:31 2014 NZST
Run: 114.5nm (207.2km)
Avg: 4.5kms
24hr: 107.1kms

Camped at Dalhunty river xing on OTT. Palm creek nt driveable, found bypass tho. We very dusty and dirty

Sat Jul 12 20:51 2014 NZST
Run: 104.2nm (188.6km)
Avg: 4.5kms
24hr: 107.9kms

Stopd at Archer River for 2night. Hard goin, road bad. Mad Aussys do 100+ks on it! A few brokn truks in camp tho.

Fri Jul 11 21:40 2014 NZST
Run: 105nm (190.1km)
Avg: 4.4kms
24hr: 104.4kms

1st full day on dirt rds. Bad rear door dust ingress prob. Camped at sweet water lake for the night.

Thu Jul 10 21:32 2014 NZST
Run: 23.4nm (42.4km)

Campd up at Elim beach for the night.

Hot and sunny. Crocs.1st update from sat phone, does it work......

Wed Jul 9 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 24.8nm (44.9km)

Archer Point. Arrived at lunchtime and just had to stay. Cleaned the truck out, did some washing, cranked the solar panel and relaxed. Well, by the time we had done everything it was dinner time, roast in the camp oven, soooooo goooood :)

magic place
house work time
stuff everywhere
Tue Jul 8 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 18.9nm (34.2km)

Cosy little spot just out side Wajul Wajul. Some strange happenings nearby during the night made for an interesting sleep, but all part of the experience!!!

home for the night
good swimming whole, Crocs???
Alex at work
There is a frog in this photo
Mon Jul 7 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 87.8nm (158.9km)
Avg: 3.7kms
24hr: 87.8kms

Shopping complete. We crossed the Daintree river on the ferry this afternoon and are currently camped up on a river bed for the night on our way towards Cape Tribulation. Feels just like home, camp fire on the river bed with a billy on. Though, there are certain things that are different as you can imagine, turtles in the river, bats passing through over head, frogs croaking and the odd spider the size of your hand sitting brazenly atop his log, just watching. Good place to service Betsie tomorrow morning, ready for the next part........

River camp for the night
Daintree ferry
Sun Jul 6 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 174.5nm (315.8km)
Avg: 7.3kms
24hr: 174.5kms

Smashed out something like 470 odd km today so we could be near Cairns for a supermarket resupply mission and also to get some oil etc for a full service before heading into more remote areas. By my calculations, if I do this service in the next day or so, the engine oil should last right up until we return to Cairns on our way back from the cape.

Sat Jul 5 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 191.3nm (346.3km)
Avg: 8kms
24hr: 191.3kms

Heading back out to the coast to see where PJ landed the Devon when he flew it on a hand held GPS from NZ to Australia. Found a magic piece of river bed to camp the night on and had a swim in the river. It's starting to warm up now!!!

home for the night
Alex LOVES Aussy strawberries!!!!
Fri Jul 4 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 134.5nm (243.4km)
Avg: 5.6kms
24hr: 134.5kms

Road side camp for the night. Tucked in behind some trees and almost invisible from the road. Somewhere between Emerald and Charters Towers :)

home for the night
a bit of rain in the distance maybe
Thu Jul 3 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 146nm (264.3km)
Avg: 6.1kms
24hr: 146kms

Blackdown Table Land National Park. Wow. Here I was thinking there would be a campsite at the base of the massive plateau, the vertical cliffs of which towered above the surrounding plains. How wrong was I. The road went up, hair pin after hair pin, I was tempted to put Betsie into low range, but we kept on climbing. The camp site was perched up on top of the plateau, in amongst rocky out crops and gums. Magic place for the night. The lookout the next morning was breath taking. Should have gone there to watch the sun set!!!!

Wed Jul 2 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 115.7nm (209.4km)
Avg: 4.8kms
24hr: 115.7kms

A couple of camp site failures, the best being a road that didn't exist, and we ended up at Tannum Sands. Very nice place, even if it was just for the night.

home for the night
Tue Jul 1 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 50.9nm (92.1km)

Dropped in to see some old family friends from way back at Burrum Heads. Worked out it would have been at my 21st in 2001 when I saw them last. It was good to see the well travelled "Dave" their 109 L.R aswell. That truck has been EVERYWHERE in Australia!!! It only started as a 3month trip from NZ and they have been here ever since :)

Dave and Betsie
Mon Jun 30 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 353.9nm (640.6km)
Avg: 7.4kms
24hr: 177kms

Party central at Inskip Point!!!! 4x4s and camper trailers and everywhere, but what a magical place. White sand, clear skies and the sound of generators hahahahahaha

Fraser Island and the Fraser Island Ferry in the back ground
Sat Jun 28 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 120.4nm (217.9km)
Avg: 5.5kms
24hr: 133kms

Here we are, sitting inside out of the rain with thunder and lightening echoing all around us and the lights of the Smoky Cape light house cutting eerily through the night sky..........

Fri Jun 27 2:15 2014 NZST
Run: 111.7nm (202.2km)

We made it. To our first camp site of the trip that is. We arrived in the dark to Banksia Greencamping areaon Mungo Brush road, in the Myall lakes national park,north of New Castle.

Tue Jun 24 0:00 2014 NZST
Run: 1370nm (2479.7km)

We arrived at the Expedition center this morning to be greeted by Betsie and another of his customers vehicles on display out the front of the work shop. Was great to drive down the road and see it!!!

Sight for sore eyes
Mon May 19 0:00 2014 NZST

Today is the day!!!!! We loaded Betsie into the container and said good by to her for nearly a month where we will be reunited at the Expedition Center in Sydney.

leaving home for Tauranga
Loaded up and strapped down ready for the voyage to Sydney

Betsie - Its been a while

Its been ages since I have actually got off my back side and blogged!! As you've gathered, we have been up the Tanami, soaked up Broome, stayed longer in Port Headland than was necessary due to me getting a stomach bug, and finally landed in Tom Price, our western most destination for the trip.
Tom Price was a welcome stop on the trip. An odd stop though I must say. Russell and Linda are relatives of a good long time family friend. Although we had all been at various family gatherings

such as weddings etc, we had never actually met as such. We arrived and the rest is history.

No quite. Russell is a mad engineering type who has lived for the last 20 years in the haven that is Tom Price. Surrounded by all of the engineering facilities provided by a dedicated mining town, he has been able to indulge in one of his passions. Radial engines. When we arrived he was busy doing the final preparations on his latest creation, a 100% scratch built 9 cylinder radial engine utilising Over head Cam 600cc Honda XR600 barrels and heads. Its fed by an intercooled supercharger and run by a Mega Squirt ECU. What’s itfor?? Just for fun he tells me. Its to big for a boat and not really aircraft worthy, the props just for fun(and cooling). I suggested strapping it to the back of something with big wheels and taking it out into the desert or down a beach!!!
We were also treated to a guided tour of the local secrets. Betsie got a rest on the back lawn and we all piled into his Disco and headed on out. Wittenoom, a long since abandoned Asbestos mine was the first destination. A deserted sealed road up the gorge past deep blue swimming holes and gravel banks flecked with bright blue chips of asbestos were what greeted us. We went right up the to the old workings and around the old mine village at the head of the valley. Such a pretty place, and so ghostly after 40+ years of abandonment. Not somewhere you should be on a windy day perhaps, and a bit of sensible caution around stirring up to much dust is probably advisable. The call for lunch was made by one of the big deep blue swimming holes and we spent an hour or so cooling off. We also headed up to the summit of Mt Nameless and Mt Sheila to take in the vast surroundings. An awesome few days in excellent company, not something we will forget in a hurry!!!
With time rapidly marching on, and lots still to do, we had to say our good byes and hit the road. The plan is was to head in to Newman, fill up every available container we had with good water, load up on as much fuel as we could squeeze in, fill the fridge and cupboards and head on out into the desert again for a few days. We wanted to do a bit of the Canning Stock Route. For those that cant be assed googling it, surveyed and created in the early 1900s, the scale of the Canning Stock Route is epic. It runs for almost 1800 kilometres, crossing 800 sandhills and four deserts in one of the most inhospitable environments on earth. 52 Wells were sunk along the route to sustain the mobs of cattle on their journey South.
The plans was to join the CSR at Well 23 by coming in on the Talawana Track and travel up to well 33, before heading back out on the Telfer mine road. It was roughly 700km off road between fueling points, most of that was going to be bumping along at 15kph over endless hundreds of k’s of corrugated track. By track, I mean just two corrugated wheel tracks through a desert that stretches out in every direction as far as the eye can see. Why not do more of the CSR you might ask? Most people bump along it for about 3 weeks to get from Wiluna to Halls Creek, requiring usually at least one pre arranged fuel dump. Not many people attempt it alone either. The section from 23 to 33 has a couple of restored wells, is less popular/travelled than the section from well 33 to Halls Creek so potentially in better condition and we were told its goes through some spectacular scenery, not just desert with rolling sand dunes one after another. We had mountains, salt lakes, table lands, black wood forests, desert oaks and even a cave thrown in for good measure!!! Add that to the Talawana track and you've got yourself a good solo mission for 5 or 6 days. The heat was intense, 35 to 38 degrees out side at about 10am. We were up to 43 in the truck on the second day. Luckily we hit well 26 at about mid day which had plenty of water for a cool off. Its amazing how quick your clothes dry in that sort of dry heat.
The reward at the end was Carawine Gorge. A magic place with running water after days in the desert heat. We spend the best part of the day there swimming, doing the laundry and checking over the truck. It was while I was under the truck doing a spanner check I met my first red back spider. Well, it actually met the blunt end of my 32mm ring spanner I should say. It was just hanging out under the truck on the side wall of the rear tyre. I was lying underneath checking the suspension bolts and spotted it next to my head........ Later that evening I got talking to our "neighbours’ and they mentioned another pool that was worth a visit before we left the area called Running Waters. Apparently it was another spring fed pool with clear blue water that was around 25 degrees, surrounded by giant paper bark gums. He gave me some sketchy directions, which I only half listened to, as I was sure I would find it on the map and work it out as you do. What I didn't realise was that when he said " small unmarked road off the main road", he really meant "two wheel tracks with grass down the middle that head off into the desert, off a little dirt road". It took some finding, and it wasn't until we met up with another vehicle that had also been camped at Carawine Gorge that same night and compared notes and maps that we eventually found it!!! By this stage I was starting to get a bit edgy about fuel. I had put 20L in at $3 a litre at Punmu as a safety net to get to Marble Bar, not intending to do some more beating around in the bush looking for cool stuff!!!!!
We made it to South Headland this evening, fuelled up with good fuel at a normal price of $1.74 per L, re stocked with food, loaded up with some bottled water for special treats ( all the towns run on bore water and it tastes salty and strange if your not used to it!!) and headed up the road a bit to a 24hr stopover camp at De Grey River. All the main highways over here have these campsites. They are like an large rest area with a toilet block and a couple of rubbish bins. The idea is you drive all day, rock on in and choose a corner, set up camp for the night as ya do, and head back out on the road the next morning. Its just what they do over here, and the entire country is set up for this kind of travel, its incredible, especially when you think of the drama we have trying too find somewhere to camp on a road trip in NZ!!! Anyhow, I digress. We are heading back up north to the Kimberly to do the Gibb River Road and eventually end up in Darwin. From there it is probably time to think about finding our way back towards Hervey Bay.
If you have noticed that Betsie is sporting tape on the headlights, its because its holding the drivers side headlight lens together!! Road trains are brutal and we got peppered the other day, smashed the headlight and put a chip right at the top of the windscreen, in a mongrel place that I can’t get too with my windscreen repair kit. PIA!!! I have marked the crack, and it hasn’t moved over the last week of corrugations and heat so it might be ok. Other than that, I swapped the tyres around, and fitted the two that had been on the rear for quite a while to the front. For what ever reason they have worn in such a way, and been fitted in the correct way, to now make the steering pull to the center of the road. Tempted to swap left for right and see what it does. Wheel alignment still measures ok and all bushes are good, the only thing that's changed is the tyres. The only other thing I have done that is note worthy is park it up on a steep bank and squeeze an extra 750ml of oil into the transfer case and about the same into the gearbox. Being over full has shut the transfercase up heaps, it starts to complain a bit in the heat after a few hours at constant 110kph. The Aussie L.R guys reckon the extra oil volume means the temp stays down a bit, so taking their advice.

The mission continues...................

Betsie - You know it's rough when...

It's been a while since I blogged. Things have been going fairly well, Alex is coping by singing non stop about anything that comes to mind, drawing in his books, eating what ever he can get his hands on (Banana bread is the new favorite) and demands strawberries everytime we go to a supermarket!!! To him,the perfect campsite has sand were we can build a garage and roads etc for his dump truck. He's also pretty good at undoing his seat belt, climbing in the back and lying down on the couch the

second the truck comes to a stop anywhere. You can tell when he's had enough of sitting in his seat as either the volume of his singing increases, the lyrics get obnoxious, or he starts roaring like a dinosaur.

My observations from the road are that for a country that is known as being dry and barren, it is absolutely teaming with wild life. It's hard to describe, there are so many birds everywhere, from flocks of parrots, to crows, pelicans, to eagles with a 2.5m wing span. Not just the odd eagle or hawk either. The other day at Karumba, I counted 47 eagles soaring above an area, just circling. We past a five of these giant eagles today busily shredding a recently deceased Roo on the side of the road. The ground is alive with insects, termites, ants, crickets and yes, flys. It's been a real surprise to me the shear numbers of native animals just doing there thing everywhere!!!
The drama with the suspension lives on. We did a huge section on good sealed roads from Karumba to Mt Isa. On leaving Mt Isa to head to Birdsville the sealed road turned into a single lane of sealed road down the middle with a gravel run off strip on either side. The seal deteriorated the further we got from town, and at 90km/h on this surface it started to show up some issues I hadn't expected. The dreaded wheel shimmy. We stopped for lunch at Dujarra, and I got under the front with the pry bar and torch, and got Sarah to shake the truck from side to side as hard as she could. There was some movement on the panhard bushes, they hadn't failed, but you could see the rubber was deformed and hanging out the side of the bush. The same scenario for the radius arm bushes, the rubber was all deformed away from the center of the bush, and the left rear bush had spat some of the rubber out the side. Yay.

If only I had noticed it the night before, I could have dropped it at a shop in MT Isa and said "fix please", but now we were 150ks from town and I had some decisions to make. We were parked in a camp site sort of area in Dujarra, there was shade, a toilet, water and safe for Alex. I decided to fit the spare radius arm bushes which were a two piece bush, so no special tools required. The catch was the Panhard rod bushes, the ones I had as spare required a press to fit. Rather than disturbing the panhard rod, as the vehicle was still drive able, we decided the next day we would take it back to Mt Isa and get the spare bushes fitted. So now we have no spare bushes left.

I rang around in Alice, and have ordered a set of two piece poly bushes for the panhard from Pedders Suspension. I have also sorted out genuine Land Rover radius arm bushes and panhard rod bushes from the Land rover agent in Alice. The plan is once we get there, I will get the genuine bushes fitted to everything, and retain the two piece bushes as spare, and also have the two piece panhard rod bushes aswell, so I can fit them on the side of the road. I'm kicking myself I didn't have them with me, but at least with having the press in bushes, I saved my self a long wait if I had had to get them ordered in to Mt Isa.
In order to get to Alice, we have to cross the Simpson desert first. Let's hope it all hangs together, I will be looking after Betsie more than ever now!!!!

bin time.

Betsie - Put the jug on, it's a long one

Lots to say, lots of photos to share and we are finally almost there!!!
First up, let's talk about Betsie. There hasn't been a lot so far, but enough to make me vigilant and regular with my checks.
We had a clunk when cornering sharp under brakes around the Daintree area. Rear bolt on front passengers side radius arm need a tweak up. A few other suspension bolts needed a tweak as well during that spanner check.
I noticed a wet mark up the side of the gearbox during routine

inspection at the Archer road house. It was in an unusual place, no where near any mating surfaces of casings, and all the oil seals were dry (honest, it's true, this one doesn't leak yet!!!). The next day while battering through endless corrugations it occurred to me that I had noticed the oil was also getting thrown out onto the same area of the floor pan that the grease from the rear UJ on the front D/S gets thrown on. We stopped at the Morton telegraph station for morning tea, there was a tall shady tree and a nice cool breeze. Ideal for getting the work shop out and doing some repairs. Sure enough, the flange on the front output from the transfercase was just a fraction loose. The nylock nut must have been getting tired. Permanent strength thread locker to the rescue. At this point, I might add that I was so grateful for having my specially modified for doing Defender drive shafts 9/16 spanner with me, as naturally it had to be the worst of the four flanges to get at, right above the gear box x.member. Also had quite an audience by the time i was done, Sarah thankfully keep them all entertained while focused on fiddly nuts in awkward places that really test your patience!!!!!!!
The pop top has been outstanding. The rubber seal on the passengers front end started to slip off, easy fix, stripped off the whole seal down the side to take the tension off the corner and refitted the corner. Hasn't moved since. One of the catches seems a bit average, it seems to move rather than pull the roof down tight, so keeping a close eye on that incase it's showing metal fatigue, as all the bolts are tight. Nothing like sitting up the top with the windows open spotting croc's etc with the torch at night, Alex loves it!!
My door developed a rattle making the corrugations sound worse than they were (ok, you could hear my door above all the other shaking, squeaking and rattling going on). A quick adjustment of the striker on the pillar solved that for now.
The next up coming repair is on the snorkel. The corrugations have ripped the mounting screws out of the cast alloy windscreen frame. There's a lot of leverage on them, especially with the pre cleaner, in fact it could really do with some kind of diagonal brace at 90ged to the snorkel. For now, It looks like I can possibly drill right through the windscreen frame, and manage to replace one screw on each bracket with a nut and bolt. The other screw positions are hidden behind formations in the casting. That's tomorrow mornings experiment. The pre cleaner is awesome. Everyday I tip at least a tea spoon of dust out on my morning pre start check over.
The trip so far......... Put very simply, it's a bloody long drive up here from Sydney!!!!
The Bloomfield track was steep and slippery, but a great drive. Looks like it all took a hammering from Cyclone Ita in April. We stayed just out of Wajul Wajul down a sneaky track to a swimming hole. It also looked like it had been wrecked in the cyclone, the rope swing above a large gravel bed was a bit of a give away!! Some odd happenings during the night unfolded at that camp site. A mysterious vehicle stopped out by the end of the track at 1am in the morning and started its engine at half hour intervals for a minute or so, lead to an uneasy nights sleep. By uneasy, I mean I hopped out of bed, got the truck ready to go (we never leave anything outside at night anyway) , put the roof down, got Sarah into bed with Alex, and I sat in the passengers seat with my sleeping bag over me, the doors locked and the keys in the ignition ready to get the hell out of there if required!!!! I suspect they were pinching fuel out of the road work machinery parked just up the road from us, and we really had no reason to worry as they would have had no idea we were there. But if someone had seen us go in there earlier......................

Archer Point was awesome, sunny, breezy, and ya can't swim. Grrrrrrr. Got to play with the solar panels though.

We hit Cooktown just at the right time, there was a fuel truck delivering fuel and there had been no Diesel in town for the last two weeks!! It was there we also realised how much of a good move it was to ditch the gas stove for the liquid fuel stove. It was $47 to fill a companion bottle, with an hours wait. How does that work??
Elim beach was nice enough, but if we had another vehicle with us, we could have driven 15km north up the beach to the river mouth and stayed there!!! At least that's what the two guys I spoke to at the beach access were going to do, on the next low tide. Next time I reckon :)
Lakefield national park was good, so many tracks, I wanted to explore them all to find that hidden gem, but alas time wasn't on our side. Sweet water lake was magic, white Lillie's, birds everywhere, crocs, frogs, green ants, and termite mounds. All we get at home is the constant hum of bloody Wasps!!!!
Heading north from Lakefield national park, I almost turned round and went back!!!!! I new as soon as we hit the Peninsula Developement road it was going to get bad. I thought it was pretty bad out to Archer Point and Elim beach, but this was another level again. I had the fronts down at 25psi, and the rears at 35psi so they looked like they were bagging about the same, but I just couldn't do it. There was no where that was smooth enough for you to get through that 40 to 60km/h zone to get up on top of them and do 80km/ h. Then if you did manage to get to that speed, sure enough there would be a dip in the road, a pot hole, a soft patch, a corner, another car coming in the other direction doing 120km/h with a monster cloud of dust billowing out from behind its enormous caravan swallowing up any visibility and peppering you gravel as it went by, or, the corrugations just got MASSIVE, and you just had to slow down.
As it turned out, once we turned off the at the junction of Weipa and the cape, the road improved and you could do 80km/h with the corrugations nothing more than a slight hum. Untill you hit a pot hole, a dip, a soft patch, a corner, or passed another vehicle going like a bat outa hell creating a dust storm worthy of any central Australian Desert!!!
While I was making repairs to the drive flange at the Morton Telegraph station, a couple of guys approached us to make sure all was ok. We bumped into these same two vehicles at Palm creek at the start of the OTT. One was in a brand new Patrol, which had 4000ks on the clock when he left ACT, and the other was in Disco 1, a nice truck with a sensible set up. He drove down through the easy track, and winched him self up the far bank. The Patrol driver had a sneaky track he had been told about, that brought us onto the OTT just up the road, so we opted to tag along with him.
If it hadn't been for meeting these guys, I would have given the OTT a miss. The main track was fine, quite washed out and I was glad to have the locker and loads of suspension travel, but there was plenty of traction. The easy crossings were deep and technical, and people just seemed to crash through them oblivious to the damage to their vehicle they may have just inflicted. Cockatoo creek was the most technical, we had four people standing in the creek marking the route, and the water was over knee deep in some places. After we were all through, someone in a prado with a trailer just hit it straight across the middle. Didn't even get out to look. I don't think they will be driving that home, rainbow colored water............. One un named ford saw us with a tide mark half way up the doors and water lapping at the top of the bonnet. It's always that catch 22, to go back the way you have come could well be worse than the obstacle immediately in front...

Gun shot, well, you gotta be really keen to use your winch, have a super long winch extention, be prepared to burry the front of your truck in the mud while you set you winch up, scrape your rear end all the way down the rock face, the cross the creek, and do three different winches to get up the other side. Waste of time when your thousands of ks from home, and thousands of dollars poorer if you need to get your truck recovered out of there to the nearest work shop!!! There is a perfectly good bypass........... Man or mouse???? In this case, pass me the cheese :)
We parted ways with those two guys at Elliot falls, as they were going to head out Vrilya, and we wanted to keep going north, and look at heading to Vrilya on the way back. As we had stayed at a few camp sites, and stopped at a few road houses, I had a chance to talk to a few people who where on their way back from the cape. Easy to spot the red dusty vehicles from the clean ones still heading up! From talking to them I had started to form a picture about the dreaded Nolan's brook crossing. It was deep. It was worse than ever. Two well kitted out defenders on their way back had gone as far, and decided that it was just to risky, well over bonnet height. Camped at Canal creek last night, another guy in a monster 80 series on 35's with way to much money spent on suspension said that 30 dead vehicles have been salvaged from there in the last two weeks, and there lots more in town suffering consequences of having been stuck in the deep water.

Needless to say, we branched off the OTT just before Mistake Creek and headed on north to catch the ferry over the Jardine river. Whilst waiting for the ferry, a guy came over for a chat. Another Defender driver. His was parked in the camp site beside the waiting area. Dead. Another victim of Nolan's brook. I got quite curious when he said the sump was all twisted and there was an enormous split up the side of the block. I just had to go and see!!!! This Defender 110 was a monster. 33x12.5's, reckoned he had 10k of suspension under it, it was HUGE. Long story short, got stuck with the bonnet submerged, water got in around the air box lid and hydrauliced whilst waiting for the tow out to happen. I got a good pic of the split block on the proper camera so you will have to wait for that until I get it off. It was a 200tdi. We will definitely go and see Nolan's and the old Jardine crossing on the way back down, but I'm not putting Betsie anywhere near it!!!!!
For now we are enjoying the peace and tranquility of Crocs infested Wroonga Point. School holidays finished last week, so we have it all to our selves. Walk to the tip tomorrow, and no I haven't forgotten our precious cargo Rex..............
Peter & Sarah Hal

tide mark half way up the door

Betsie - The Grand Scheme

We are finally somewhere exciting. As if just being here wasn't exciting, but this is were it starts to get good!!

We crossed the Daintree river on the ferry this afternoon, and are heading up the coast towards Cooktown. We stumbled across magic little spot down by the river with a swimming hole. I can't find the name of the river on any of my maps so might have to go and read the sign on the bridge just up the road. Usual story when your looking for a quite spot to camp, look closely on

either side of a bridge, there's quite often access down to the river!!!

The plan is to do the servicing on Betsie in the morning, and see how much of the day is left following that. We have only just ticked over 4700ks, so it's a few hundred early for an oil change, but in terms of the route we are taking north, it makes sense to do it now. It also hasn't had a decent spanner check since Hervey Bay, so it'll be a full inspection of everything.

The plan is to go through the Daintree National Park by heading up coast via the Bloomfield track, to Wajul Wajul, and arrive at Cooktown. From there we might head to Elim beach if we can get permission, otherwise we will nosey on through Lake Field National Park via Battle Camp road to meet up with the Peninsula Developement road at the Musgrave Road house. I'm still on the fence about Cape Melville, in that you can't do everything in the time available, and it's not a through route. It's a detour of around 260ks which is a long way in low range, but it does look spectacular!!!

Mission on!!!!!!


Betsie - Things that go bump in the night

Well, more like things that make strange unexplainable noises in the engine!!!!!
Yesterday we filled up at Blackdown, and I used the high volume truck pump like I always do. I then moved over to the airline while Sarah was inside paying. I was halfway round checking the tyres and I noticed there was a different noise coming from the engine. I assumed that because I was squatting down beside the rear wheel and the front of the truck was tight up against a steel shipping container, I was

just hearing a certain frequency amplified. Maybe belt noise.
We drove another few hundred meters up the road to a shop Sarah wanted to go into, and I noticed the noise was still there. While she was inside I popped the bonnet for a better look/listen. It certainly wasn't like any normal belt noise, and wasn't coming from the usual places this engine makes belt noise from. If I had to pick a spot I would say front of the engine, the drivers side and rotational. All the belt driven stuff in on the passengers side of the engine. Needless to say there was a definite feeling of panic and a knot of dread in my stomach. Yay, serious engine trouble.

I was playing with the revs to see if it got better or worse, if it sped up with the engine speed etc, and it suddenly disappeared and didn't come back. Hmmmmm, ok, a strange rotational noise that magically fixes it's self. Just what you want. We did another 250k's that afternoon, stopping and starting and it was all ok. All of the pre start checks proved everything was as it should be the next morning, and we have done another 400 odd k's today, and it's running like a dream.
Needless to say I lay awake all last night staring at the roof churning away on possibilities. My theory is it was the injector pump. Dumping the fuel in from the high volume pump has stirred up some crud in the tank, which either restricted the pick up, or gave the lift pump a hard time, and the injector pump was struggling for fuel and was making some odd noises in complaint. My revving the engine relieved the blockage and it's sorted itself out. For now. Either that, or the cam belts about to break because the tensioner bearing has seized up, or a cam bearing has nipped up onto the cam shaft and is now wearing out the block, or the oil pump is wearing into the timing cover, or the cam pulley or injector pump pulley has come loose, or the fan bearing is about to fail.
Non of that makes sense, the only thing that does is the injector pump. It's all still going really well, better than ever, so who knows. Hope it doesn't bite me in some really inconvenient time and place!!!
Other than that, I have list count of the dead Roos and pigs, and we have all had a swim in the Reid River this arvo, so all is good!!! Pete.

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Empire Lube Equipment supplies lubrication tools, pump rebuilding parts and hydraulic
accessories along with hoses. Including oil, grease, DEF, antifreeze, Gas, Diesel and
related chemical transfer equipment. As a qualified lubricant pump re builder
and installer, we also serve as a distributor for top brands of fluid management
equipment and oil pump parts, including Alemite, Macnaught, Samson, Reelcraft,
Rhino Tuff Tanks, Black Knight, Zee Line, National Spencer, BJE Husky, Beckett,
Liquidynamics and Lumax lubrication equipment. Our goal is to deliver exceptional
customer service and unmatched value and integrity, resulting in maximum productivity
for your shop. When you buy from Empire you are helping support a young family,
sponsoring a little league team, providing dance lessons and supporting a local
community. We are a small business with a big heart.

<a href="">Macnaught DR100</a>

Empire Lube Equipment supplies lubrication tools, pump rebuilding parts and hydraulic
accessories along with hoses. Including oil, grease, DEF, antifreeze, Gas, Diesel and
related chemical transfer equipment. As a qualified lubricant pump re builder
and installer, we also serve as a distributor for top brands of fluid management
equipment and oil pump parts, including Alemite, Macnaught, Samson, Reelcraft,
Rhino Tuff Tanks, Black Knight, Zee Line, National Spencer, BJE Husky, Beckett,
Liquidynamics and Lumax lubrication equipment. Our goal is to deliver exceptional
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Strawberries, they are all mine!!!!,

Betsie - On the Pacific Highway

What an action packed couple of days!!! We arrived at the Expedition Center yesterday (Friday) at about 8:30am and loaded up the remaining odds and ends, swapped the gas struts on the roof, fitted the curtains etc etc. From there the next stop was to pick up the Sat phone. Some minor issues with that regarding payment, in that they usually deal with mining company accounts so didn't want to deal with cash or credit card. We ended up leaving them to figure it out amongst them selves for a few hours

while we went and stocked up the truck at the supermarket.
I think it took Sarah the best part of 2 hours in the Super Market to get everything required to stock the vehicle up from scratch!! By this stage the day was rapidly disappearing and I had wanted to get 250km away from Sydney to Mungo Brush. We slapped the shopping in the back, the meat and in the fridge and hit the road, the idea being once we got to camp we could then figure out where it all needed to go at our leisure.

The highway out of Sydney was horrendous. The traffic was fine, the actual road was rough as guts! It was concrete, with patches on top of patches, mixed with the odd piece of asphalt just for good measure.

Daniel from Mulgo had said he thought the spigot bush on the fly wheel was worn as he thought he heard it rattling when he was moving it round at his work shop. Didn't make sense to me as I replaced everything only 1500ks ago. Sure enough, I found the noise. It was the bling alloy gear knob and it was loose, and even after a tweak back up tight, it soon came loose again. It sure made a racket when it started to come loose!!!!
The other strange one, is i thought the steering felt vague, well more vague than usual anyway. There seemed to be slightly more play in the steering, as if the steering box needed adjusting.

We arrived at the camp site called Banksia Green, which was a little sheltered camp site nestled behind the sand dunes of a big long white sand beach with clear blue water. Of course by the time we arrived it had been dark for two hours already and we still had all the shopping to put away.... Alex and I played catch in the dark with our head torches on, using a ball that lit up when you bounced it. It was pretty late by the time the two of us were allowed back inside, but Sarah did a good job of sorting it all out. Little did we know we had an audience, it wasn't untill a few minutes after we had turned all our lights out that the Dingos came prowling for a closer inspection. They slipped through the campsite like shadows in the moon light.

This morning (Saturday) we awoke to bright clear sunny skies with some good heat in the sun. After breakfast and a bit more sorting out of gear, we ventured over the dunes to the beach to be greeted by Dolphins playing in the breakers. I was surprised at how warm the water was, so naturally I had to go in for a swim! It wasn't long before Sarah and Alex joined me :)

I was busy doing my morning checks on Betsie whilst trying to figure out what was going on with the loose gear knob. Such a strange thing to happen out of the blue, and it just kept coming loose within a few k's of tightening it. Why had it never happened before??? Even stranger was that the point that it went tight was now further round than usual meaning the shift pattern was shown off center. So strange. I came up with a few ideas to remedy it, and ranked them in order of desperation, should the first idea fail. Thread tape, then lock tight, then epoxy, then drill a hole in it and fit a self tapping screw to lock it. Worst case I throw it in the bin and fit one from Repco in Brisbane. Actually, that might slot in right after the thread tape idea.

I hit it with thread tape, and crossed my fingers. Next I examined the steering. Nothing was amiss underneath, so it traced my way back up through the linkages to the steering wheel. Something was loose, but the big nut in the middle (haha) was tight. Hmmm. Turned out there are four small bolts that hold the center of the steering wheel boss to the outer of the steering wheel boss and they had worked loose. How?? Why??

All I can think is that during shipping it's been subject to a constant vibration for days on end and it's been at just the right frequency to upset the gear knob and those bolts. Otherwise, who knows, everything else looks fine!!!!!

We only got as far as Smoky Cape this afternoon, but in doing so we had a look at the light house, and found a camp site early. Alex saw his first kookaburra and his first Hoppers, which was fun to see. He's been hopping around since.

We had just sat down to eat ( potato bake in the camp oven and sausages ) when we saw the first flash of lightening followed by a clap of thunder and the rain started. I had been watching the sky change for the last few hours, so we were ready for it!!!
So right now we are all tucked up inside, Alex and Sarah are watching a movie and I'm tapping away on my iPad. Cosy :)

Betsie - A big day in Sydney

It's been a big day. First up, there is no conceivable way I could navigate Sydney in a car without a GPS. At one stage we were on the M5 in a tunnel that went for nearly 6km, which of course threw the GPS reception off, only emerged at the far end of the tunnel and miss our exit ramp while the gps was still figuring out where we had ended up!!! We are getting to see some off the beaten tourist route parts of suburban Sydney as we go, so it's all fun. It was good to finally see Betsie again and

the pop top in the flesh. The workmanship is great, we are really happy with what has been done. Looking forward to getting on the road and using it! I had a bit of a struggle getting the rest of the shelves to fit, as the fridge had to be moved slightly to fit around the new interior profiles, but I got them fitted in the end. A few more odds and ends to do tomorrow and it should be ready to roll. Hoping to hit the road on Friday.

Alex and I posing with Betsie

Betsie - Bye Bye Betsie

We loaded Betsie into the container at the port of Tauranga and said good by to her for nearly a month. We will be reunited at the Expedition Center in Sydney on the 22 June. The voyage to Sydney will arrive on the 2nd June, and it should have cleared customs and been delivered to the Expedition Center by the 10th of June. A Pop Top roof is being fitted at the Expedition Center, so it should be well under way when we arrive on the 22nd June.

Pop Top Time