The morning we left to start the track everyone was up and ready bright and early …. there was just a little bit of excitement in the air ….. and maybe a bit of nervousness and anticipation of what was to follow.
We arrived at the Bramwell Junction Roadhouse to fill up and do some last-minute vehicle checks, check pressures etc as this was the last fuel for a few days. Bramwell Junction Roadhouse is also the start of the Old Telegraph Track …… a small wooden sign marks the start of the track.
This is one of those iconic 4WD tracks that is on everyone’s bucket list. A visit to the cape isn’t complete without being able to say you completed the Old Telegraph Track. Although not an overly long track, there are many challenging parts, with lots of water crossings and deep, steep, slippery river banks to deal with.
Although this track is a 4WD’ers dream, it’s also an important part of our history. In the early 1880’s the Queensland Government enlisted JR Bradford to survey a route along the Cape York Peninsula to Thursday Island for the construction of an electric telegraph line. The line consisted of galvanized cast iron ‘Oppenheimer’ poles which were manufactured in Germany. Some of these poles are still standing today. After more than 100 years of service the line was closed in the late 1980’s.
The Old Telegraph Track is basically split into two sections, the southern section and the northern section. The southern section runs from Bramwell Junction to Bamaga Road, while the northern section runs from Bamaga Road to the Jardine River ferry.
You could drive the whole track in a day, but most people take at least 2 days to do it. It’s such a beautiful area and an amazing experience that we didn’t want to rush it, so we took 2 full days to drive the track, which gave us plenty of time to explore.
As with most of the tracks in the area, track conditions change significantly every year. The wet season comes through, fires sweep through the area and even from the beginning to the end of the tourist season, the tracks change.
We were interested to see how much had changed since our visit 5 years ago and wow, this track had definitely changed!
The first major obstacle you come to is Palm Creek. Now last time we went we were told we wouldn’t get up this without a winch, but we did! This time …… we didn’t!
We all stood at the top of Palm Creek and looked down the huge rutted drop and wondered if we really should attempt it or not. Finally George decided he’d give it a crack and the rest said they’d follow if we made it through! Everyone lined the banks of the crossing and waited in anticipation to see if the mighty Prado would make it. We made it down the first side and into the creek crossing without an issue. The Patrol, BT50 and Triton all followed. Our other two vehicles decided to give it a miss and met up with us later that day at camp.
After all making our way safely down the first side it was time to tackle the next hurdle and get UP the exit. We nearly made it all the way up , but couldn’t quite get there so our winch was used for the first time, and boy did the winch get a workout here! After only about 15 minutes on the track we then spent over 1 1/2 hours winching every single vehicle up Palm Creek! Our 4WD Supacentre Domin8r winch certainly got a work out that morning (Shelly really does buy the best presents!).
So at this point we are still only about 15 minutes into the tele track and have a long way to go and there is so much more action still to come, so stay tuned! ……..
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We are George & Shelly, a married couple from Sydney, Australia, who love 4WDing, camping and travelling this great country of ours. We love sharing our adventures and hope to inspire others to travel as well. Join us on our journeys around Australia!
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….. making memories one track at a time