Bramwell Station is a great spot to stop in on your way up the Cape, it’s got loads of space to setup your van and is famous for it’s bush dinner and entertainment.
On the way in we seen this lying in the middle of the road!
Friday night with the Hall’s is home made pizza night. So we fired up my fire pit oven for wood fired pizzas. Llew-Llew approves – she loves ‘Pitzzy’!
Bramwell is also just before the start of the ‘Old Tele Track’ so perfect to use as a base to leave your big van for day trips to check out the track.
I’ve been watching 4WD shows and YouTube videos about Cape York and the ‘Old Telegraph Track’ for years. It’s probably the most well know track in Australia, famous for it’s remote location following the line of the old overland telegraph line in the northern cape. It strikes fear in to many four wheel drivers given the number of deep creek crossings, each marking an oasis of insurance claims! It has a legendary status thanks to it’s reputation of “testing the best and drowning the rest!”
I had already said we wouldn’t do the track, too risky this early in trip, we have well over a year of exploring Australia to do. If the worst happened and we got stranded/flooded in a creek and had to rebuild the car with all the modifications we had done that alone would take at least two months.
We did though intend to jump into the track from the main Bamaga Road at a couple of points and check out the ‘crazies’ doing ‘Gunshot creek’. There are also a couple of great waterfalls and swimming holes off the track that are a must visit on any trip up the Cape.
So we left the van at Bramwell Station and after checking the winch, uhf radios and making sure my recovery gear was close at hand we headed off just a little bit north to Bramwell roadhouse and the start of the ‘Overland Telegraph Track’.
The very first creek crossing is one of the toughest, ‘Palm Creek’. A very steep drop-in to the creek and an equally steep exit. I had just watched an online video from the 4wd action guys and they we’re pretty nervous about this crossing.
We watched a couple young guys tackle it – with high 4” lifts and plenty of welly from their V8’s on the exit. I knew our car could do it but what damage might occur!
We met a couple here – Simon and Sarah who we’re towing a trailer through the track and learned they we’re very experienced – they decided to find the ‘chicken track’ that bypasses the main crossing. So we tagged along to bypass it ourselves.
The chicken track turned out to be more of a ‘Rooster Track’. Still pretty steep entrance and a tricky exit especially steep at the top. Sarah and Simon showed us the line and said use your lockers and take it real easy – great advice.
You may not know that normally, when one of the wheels on the front or rear axle is off the ground or loosing traction the other stops turning providing no traction whatsoever. This can happen to both front and rear. Differentials which are needed in all cars, allows one wheel to turn faster than the other to make turning corners easier.
Locking differentials or lockers – lock the wheels in sync, providing traction to that set even if one wheel is in the air – having both front and rear lockers provides the best traction possible – although it’s very difficult to turn the car when the front lockers are engaged – it feels like you’ve lost power steering.
Anyway rear lockers engaged going in and both front and rear going out enabled us to conquer Palm Creek in control and style!
We always intended to just check out Gunshot and watch some other mad 4wd’ers cross it as it’s the most famous of the Tele-track crossings with a near vertical gully entrance.
The day though was getting away from us and we needed to make a call if we go all the way there and then potentially have to double back and take the long detour of the Gunshot Bypass.
Bumping into Sarah and Simon again turned out again to be fortuitous, giving us a boost of confidence, assuring us that there were sure to be chicken tracks that we could take and so go the direct route – so onward we went!
Once there, seeing the vertical dropoff into Gunshot Creek in person was an instant no-way!
The exit looked pretty step and muddy as well, and a few drivers earlier in the season had cooked the exit too much and gone straight over the thin ledge and rolled their vehicles. This was now cautioned off with a strip of pink tape!
We watched a couple of other drivers navigate the creek using one of the other entrances and got ready to take it on ourselves…
You had to be careful getting under the tree in the middle of the creek – you can see part of the tree has had a neat corner chainsawed out to allow taller vechiles to get through and the turn from the creek to get up the exit was real tight as well.
I took it real easy on the exit to make sure I never ended up on the wrong side of the pink tape, but lost traction in the mud. A quick back-up, engaging the front lockers, then made it look easy and in control. We’ve done Gunshot! Time for a photo!
Cockatoo Creek was up next – it’s a beautiful clear flowing creek with a hard rock base with some huge potholes and ledges caused by the constant erosion from the flowing water. We walked this on our own to pick the line we would drive to avoid the potholes, some of which would easily swallow a wheel.
We took it easy and kinda zig-zagged across the creek, with Leonie spotting for me. The big cruiser’s turning circle makes this a bit harder than it should be, but no problem taking it nice and easy.
At Salior Creek the final creek of the souther section, we met a 4wd convoy that had pulled up just before the rickety wooden bridge because the leaders Nissan Patrol had broken an axle. They were waiting for a recovery truck coming all the way from Wepia – that was going to take a while! Someone had marked / closed off the bridge as being dangerous, so we ended up with a bonus creek crossing to end the day.
By this time, there was no way we we’re going to have enough time to visit Fruit Bat falls and get home before dark, so it was back to Bramwell via the PDR, faster, but no-less less bumpy.
We had cleverly booked ourselves in for the famous bush dinner back at Bramwell Station that night knowing we’d be exhausted from the days adventures. Turned out to be a cracker of evening with some awesome bush comedy and entertainment by the Bagman!
So much for not doing the tele-track! We done the entire southern half and would do even more in the days to come!