Day 1-2: As the sun went down I left the cane fields of Jacobs Well, Queensland, headed west and drove until about 2am, making camp near Walgett in NSW.
The next day’s driving to Wanaaring was tricky, although the roads were signed open the rains had made the road slimy and soft, and you couldn’t get off it or turn around for the next couple of hundred kms. I was forced to stay in 2WD, so the front wheels just maintained steering, but the back end was never in line. Seems strange doing 80–90kmh sideways for hours on end. Finally, I camped at Dead Horse Gully, near Tibooburra.
Day 3-4: I hooked up with the Overlander Club crew at Cameron Corner. We were treated to a magnificent sunset and then we hit the bar.
Farewelling the crew I headed towards Innamincka, SA, where I had my first close shave. As I stopped to take a photo, the right front wheel hit a soft patch and the truck swerved across the road into some deep mud. I hung precariously over the bonnet to lock the hubs in, then tried to reverse back gently to avoid wheelspin but the truck just crabbed sideways with only one wheel on firm ground. After I found some clear track I gunned it, just managing to claw my way back onto the road. I followed the old Strezlecki track and camped at Coopers Creek.
Day 5-7: I found a small hole in a tyre and plugged it. I then hit the road towards Arrabury, passing some colourful rock formations. After another puncture I camped beside the river at Jundah, back in Queensland.
That morning, I headed towards Lark Quarry on the road to Winton. I was hoping to get my tyre replaced at Winton but no luck. The next day I got another damaged tyre. Not a good sign. I drove to Fountain Springs and camped by a mostly dry waterfall.
Day 8: I started to climb the waterfall but chickened out 3/4 of the way up when my boots began to slip and there was no one around to pick up the pieces. Instead I drove along a hand-built tramway and stopped to search for Maltese Cross crystals. I found one good one. I headed to Mount Isa then west to Burketown and Riversleigh, making camp on the O'Shannassy River.
Day 9-11: Arriving at Lawn Hill Gorge I visited a place called ‘wild dog dreaming’ where there are Aboriginal circle carvings and a paintings. I camped at Adels Grove and stayed an extra day to explore. The next day I returned to the gorge and canoed out to see the magnificent towering walls. That night I camped by the Little Bynoe river.
Day 12: The swag on the roof was working well at keeping the mossies out and allowed me to camp close to the crocodile infested waters. I headed into Normanton and pulled up at the life-size replica of an 8.63m croc they captured in the Norman River years ago. It dwarfed my truck and here’s me thinking I was safe sleeping on the roof! Copped a puncture just before Dunbar.
Day 13: Another day, another puncture. After quick repairs I headed towards Pormpuraaw. Asking for directions, I was told I couldn’t get an exact route as there were dozens of tracks and no landmarks. Great, I had no maps, no spare tyres and half my fuel was gone. All I could do was follow my nose but made it ok. The drowned GQ wagon I passed acted like a warning. I refuelled at Musgrave Roadhouse then camped near Coen.
Day 14-16: At Gunshot Crossing, I heard drivers of the Nissan Club on their Cape York trip but missed them. That night I camped at Captain Billy Landing then headed to Weipa where I shopped and camped. That morning I had to shake, rattle and roll my way back to the Telegraph Road then north to Bramwell Junction where I turned into the Telegraph Track. I camped at Sailor Creek at the old linesmen's hut. This is one of the only huts where the dunny still works. Beauty!
Day 17-18: I crossed Scrubby Creek and explored Elliot Falls. The bridge over Crystal Creek has a few large gaps and I had to be careful. The next day I had a rough but easy run back to Nolans Brook where I found the crossing blocked by a couple of drowned bikes and a stuck camper. When I reached Dulcie Creek I dropped into the deep bit and gave the bonnet and the windscreen a bit of a wash. Problem was I had the window down and got a bit wet. I made camp at the Wenlock River.
Day 19-20: The old hut above the banks of the Wenlock River needed repairs so I patched a hole in the floor and fixed some shutters to keep out the approaching storm. Of course as soon as I finished the skies cleared and I had a beautiful starry night.
That morning I explored the old mining area in Wenlock then headed out through Lakefield National Park. The sign at Saltwater Creek reminds you that all those inviting swimming holes are best left for the mother-in-law. I set up camp at Breeza.
Day 21-22: I explored the old Bathurst Heads out-station. National Parks are burning off the area and don't seem to be concerned about burning down historic buildings. I reached the beach at Bathurst Heads. From there I drove to Ninian Bay, set up camp and spent the next day exploring and pigging out on oysters.
Day 23-24: After watching the magnificent sunrise, I drove to Cape Melville where I found the remains of an old plane wreck. The next day I reached Cooktown and checked out the harbour and had a nice feed of coral trout. I headed south and camped at Annan River.
Day 25: I arrived at Trevayn Falls then went south towards Cairns. Just after Wujal Wujal I turned right for Bloomfield Falls. I slowly crossed the Bloomfield River finding it was a lot deeper than it looked. The water was up to the middle of the door for most of the way across. I made it to Mossman and camped.
Day 26-27: I stopped on Cairns then drove down to Gordonvale and headed up into the mountains towards Atherton. It was completely dark when I arrived at Innot Springs to camp. The next day at Undarrra I took a tour of the amazing lava tubes and walked the rim of Kalkani Volcano before driving to Clermont.
Day 28: I made it to Carnavon Gorge and spent the day exploring. After 12km of hiking my feet were killing me. I don’t think the steel capped boots helped! Driving south I camped at Pickanjinnie.
Day 29: I had an easy ride home to Jacobs Well. In the 10,532km trip I averaged 16.5 litres per 100km and used 1740 litres of diesel. I broke the eye on one shock and five of the tyres and took 1953 photos and loved every minute of it.