Pompey’s 2024 Great Barrier Reef Trip

Pompey

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Location
Granite Belt, Queensland
Current Ride
2018 Subaru Outback
Current Ride #2
1999 Subaru WRX Club Spec Evo 3
Having spent the last few days cleaning both truck and van (and it’s still got red mud on both in places!) I began preparing for this trip. First up i rotated the tyres on the van, putting the two spares on. This proved to be a problem. My rattle gun, which has a 1,600Nm capacity (almost as much as a 6.7 HO!) could not undo 2 of the wheel nuts. So I grabbed my 600mm long breaker bar, that can undo anything, put a 6} extension on it, and proceeded to break the extension bar. So I grabbed another extension bar, and really started to apply some torque. Only for a large bang as the end of the breaker bar snapped off and flew at high speed into the walll of the shed. Geez, I thought, now I’m buggered! So I had a bit of a think, and checked the charge of the battery. It was at about half. So I put it on the charge, and when it was fully charged I tried again. This time they came off easily.

One of the tyres I took off had a puncture, so I got that fixed. As the van will be much lighter for this trip, by about half a tonne, I reduced pressures from 60 to 55psi. There had been significant stone chips on the chassis of the van, so I sprayed bitumous paint the full length of each side on the outside.

The truck too will be much lighter. I will not be carrying Jerry cans, so that saves around 200kgs. I have though decided to take the second spare, so I loaded that in, along with tools. I reduced tyre pressures by 5 psi all round. The rubber floor mats have been replaced with carpet ones.

Even though I have reduced tyre pressures all round, I’m still not certain I’ll run them as they now are. Currently the front of the truck is 55psi and the rear is 60.
 
Safe travels, looking forward to seeing a travel log grow in this thread!
 
Day 1 was a pleasant but long day following an early start. We left home at 0745 with fog coming and going all the way to Warwick. We re-fuelled there and headed to Toowoomba. It was somewhat frustrating with very slow vehicles holding up traffic. Then when we finally got to the overtaking lane, one of them pulls out in front of me as I’m about to overtake him. And he just sat there still doing 20 below the limit. North of Toowoomba we headed towards Dalby and we came across numerous road trains coming the other way. We topped up at Dalby with fuel and stopped for morning tea.

From here the roads deteriorated significantly. The scenery was still pleasant but finding a place to stop for lunch became a challenge. Eventually we found a place stop, and had lunch. Only to find when leaving that where we stopped for lunch was a no stopping zone!

The road north became quite lumpy and less than pleasant. The road then narrowed to a single lane. There was the odd hairy moment with oncoming vehicles but nothing serious.

We arrived at the Mundubbera Showgrounds and set up. It seems a nice enough town, perhaps worthy of a couple of nights but we will be moving on tomorrow.
 
So day 2 got off to a fairly cool start. We were told when we arrived that someone would come around to collect the fee for staying there by late afternoon, but no one turned up. As today’s drive was only half the distance of yesterday, we got up a bit later. Then, as I was about to drive off the lady turned up to collect the money.

The drive north was through at times very pleasant scenery. Totally different of course to the Plenty Hwy trip of a few weeks ago, and due to be very different again when we get to the coast.

There were some steep hills we had to climb and descend, but they provided no difficulties. The trusty Ford turbo diesel V8 just ate them up effortlessly. It was the narrow roads that slowed us down. Often just single lane width, safety dictated ignoring the 100 speed limit. Often I’d be going between 60 and 70. Which was just as well when on one straight stretch of road we saw the familiar “dip” sign. But this was a dip unlike any I have ever seen on a public road. It was very steep, you go down quite a few metres very quickly then hit the other side which is just as steep. The bottom is just 3-4 metres long. I had no doubt that if you hit this at the 100kmh speed limit you’d become airborne and have a very nasty crash landing. I couldn’t believe the only warning was the “dip” sign. Totally misleading. We emerged unscathed.

We arrived at our stay for the night. It’s pleasant and by arriving early we can just relax after such a long day yesterday. The says are getting warmer, too. At home, we had temperatures with maxs of 12-14. Now it’s 24-25. Tomorrow we cross the Tropic of Capricorn, this time on the coast so humidity will probably be higher. So a more typical tropical climate than in the outback.
 
Finally we arrived in Rocky, at the southern end of the GBR. It was a relatively easy drive- a bit of anti climax really. That’s because the drop off the GDR, with large warning signs advising those towing caravans to use caution was the most insignificant of any range crossing I’d ever done. There was one very steep section for about 400 metres, if that. I kept expecting to find the main descent when I’d already done it. Next 5hing I know I’m 5Kms from Rocky and we must be near sea level.

Rockhampton is a bit of a culture shock. It’s not a town, but a city. And that means traffic lights and congestion. Oh joy, oh joy!

We are staying at caravan park, which is quite ok for a caravan park. We did some shopping and will do more tomorrow, as well as doing some sightseeing.

A couple of annoying faults with the van. The induction cooktop inside the van no longer works. Fortunately it’s a combination induction and gas cooktop, so we use the gas. Alternatively, there is the outside kitchen which also has an induction cooktop and that one is still working.

It will be nice having a few nights in one place, without having to pack up every morning. Now to make the most of it.

Sadly last night my mate Dom contacted me to say that he had suffered a stroke. Dom was with me on my first ever big trip back in 87. Nasty stuff strokes and the news was a bit of a shock to say the least. He’s ok but it’s early days and hopefully he will recover enough to lead a normal life. Fingers crossed.
 
Nasty stuff strokes and the news was a bit of a shock to say the least. He’s ok but it’s early days and hopefully he will recover enough to lead a normal life. Fingers crossed
Sorry to hear this. Prayers for him and hopefully they recognized the symptoms quickly, which can make a big difference in recovery.
 
Best wishes to your friend for a substantial recovery. Significant recovery is possible over time. I've observed the effects of strokes in multiple friends and family members and that's a big part of my motivation to control blood pressure and maintain decent weight and health.

Still enjoying seeing the reports of your journey. :)
 
Today we started exploring the Capricornia Coast. First stop was the tourist information centre. Loaded up with information on places to see, we headed off to the river (Fitzroy River) for a pleasant lunch by the riverside. The whole area has been really well developed and is very impressive. There are historic buildings which have been restored and used for cafes etc. The river itself is a rather unpleasant muddy brown, so I can only assume this is the result of flooding upstream.

From there we headed out of town to St Christopher’s Chapel. Built during WW2 when 70,000 US servicemen were located around the district. Today, it is a memorial for US servicemen. The plaque says it’s the only such chapel of its type in the world.

From there, we headed out to Emu Park. The name doesn’t inspire thoughts of an attractive location, but it most certainly is. We first went a park over looking Lake Keppel. A stunning view with the water showing stunning shades of blue. From there, we went and saw the ANZAC memorial. There’s a glass wall, with images of soldiers storming Gallipolli and the landing craft yet perfectly done to line up with the actual beach and water of Lake Keppel behind it. Brilliant.

Travelling north, we stopped along the way at various points, and also looked both left and right at the water views around us. The last lookout overlooked Lake Keppel, with views out to Great Keppel Island and North Keppel Island.

Overall, our first day sightseeing was very good indeed. And such a contrast to the beauty of the Southern Ocean last year and the beauty of the outback last month. A land of incredible contrasts.
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Interesting! I'll be in Lowell, MI next week - home of the gent that holds the High Jump and Shotput records listed on the beams...
 
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