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Cape York

A five week trip to Cape York, the northern most point of the Australian main land in August/September 1994. It took us a week of driving just to get to Cooktown (from Melbourne), the unofficial starting point of the trip. It was then a 1000 Km trip over rough, corrigated dirt roads to get to "The Top". Here are just a few pictures from the trip:

The Worst Day

It started out like any other day of travel...

We were traveling along the Telegraph Track, back towards the Wenlock River when we drove over the broken off remains off a telegraph pole. All that was sticking above the ground was a 5cm (2") piece or really sharp steel. This cut through the sidewall of the tyre, leaving a hole about 7.5cm (3") long. No worry, we had a brand new spare wheel and tyre on the back, and a spare tyre/tube in the back as well.

So off came the spare, out came the jack, off came the flat... then things started to going wrong. I couldn't get the spare wheel to go onto the front hub. I was a little tired, and thought I was just not getting things lined up right. The heat wasn't helping either; it was around 35C (95F), not very hot, but hot enough.

After fiddling around for a while I thought I had better check things out a little; it turned out that the spare wheel we had bought was for a Nissan Navara, not a Patrol, and the hole in the center was just a little bit smaller and wouldn't fit over the hub. There was no chance of filing that much steel away to get it to fit, so I had no choice but to start swapping tyres around on rims.

While under the front mudgard, I noticed that something was leaking; it turned out that one cap had come off the auxilary battery, and was leaking acid all over the place under the bonnet. I had nothing I could put in the hole, so I stuffed a rag into the hole. (The following day, the rag had been eaten away by the acid, but we got a new cap, and put in some new acid, and the battery lasted another 2 years, before dying in the Kimberleys.)

My wife went to move the old and useless tyre, and got acid on her fore arms, and mild acid burns.

I got the spare tyre out of the back, and a tube as well. Now it was time to learn how to change tyres. Eventually we got the dead tyre off, the spare tyre on, and a tube in it. Unfortunately, we has pinched the tube, so it was leaking badly. We had one more tube, so carefully put this one in. It held air.

While we were working on the tyres, the vehicke fell off the jack. The door was open, and the useless spare wheel was sitting below the door. Crunch! One bent up door; one jack on its side inder the front axle. So out came the Hi-Lift jack, and we lifted the vehicle back upagain.

The newly inflated wheel/tyre was put on, the jacks removed and we were starting to look better. Now for the door. I wound the window right down, but a blanket over the window sill, and jumped up and down on it until things lined up again. To our luck, it lined up very well and has been untouched since.

Four hours later we had 4 functional tyres and a full complement of working doors too. It was getting late on this Friday, so we decided to head to Weipa that night, the closest town, and get some replacement parts on the Saturday morning.

It was a long drive, but we got to Weipa at about 10:00 pm, and found the camping ground. We thought we would buy dinner that night and drove all over Weipa looking for something that was open. While out driving (my wife was driving) we saw a strange wobbling light in the middle of the road; I thought it was a bicycle swerving between the lines on the road. It turned out to be a policeman doing random breath test; wearing his dark blue uniform, and using an almost flat battery. After almost running him over, we went back and spoke to him, explaining why he was almost a new bull bar mascot. He saw our side of things, and didn't even breath test us.

We found no food that night, so it was stale bread and a tin of fruit for dinner.

Next morning, we found that it was actually Friday, and that we had been a day out; making the rush trip into Weipa totally unnecessary.

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