The Great Budget 4wd Trip Around Australia – Week 8

Australia Map

We’re well and truly back into the rhythm of life on the road again, loving the red dirt and covering some good ground.

When needed, we can now pack up our camp in under 15 minutes – although usually that doesn’t happen! As I have said before, we don’t like to rush and are quite happy to have a few coffees in the morning, meaning most of our pack-downs are pretty leisurely affairs!

After hugging the coast for most of our trip, this week heralded a different direction. Yes, after 7 weeks on the road with the compass pointing north, we’ve now turned a corner and are headed due west. Full speed ahead to Broome!

This means we’ve finally managed to get into the Outback, starting with Queensland’s beautiful Gulf Region along the Savannah Way.

Distance Travelled:

Spot of the Week:
Elim Beach, Cape York

Free Camp of the Week:
Top of a hill east of Georgetown known as Zandbergen Magnificent (thanks wikicamps!)

Tip of the Week:
If you are going anywhere where you won’t be able to get fresh supplies for over a week definitely spend the extra money and get your fresh meats cryovaced (essentially vacuum sealed!) Alternatively, you can do it yourself by investing in a cryovac machine.

Before we hit the Savannah Way we did a massive 2 week shop in Mareeba, QLD and G stocked up on all his meat there. With everything split into portions and cryvoaced by the butcher, he has had no issues at all with deterioration. The meat supply should last him for over 2 weeks until we reach Katherine, NT and he can get some more there at a reasonable price.

Disaster of the Week:
On the epic 4wd Bloomfield Track in Cape York, we broke a water pipe bracket, so do make sure yours are sturdy enough people!

Luckily, the issue was semi-repairable at the time, with the clever use of a ratchet strap, which meant that the thing would hold until we could find a decent hardware to replace the bracket.

Bittersweet, but where we stopped to fix the bracket on the Bloomfield Track, we got a birdseye view of a very large croc sunning itself on a sandy bank of the river below – yay and eek!

The Budget ($ AUD):
Fuel – $136.00
Groceries – $370.00 (2 weeks worth as we are going remote for the next 2 weeks and won’t have access to a supermarket)
Camping Fees – $40.00
Internet – $9.00 (Cooktown library)
Daintree Ferry Crossing – $14.00
Snorkel Air Filter – $38.00 (to stop that Outback dust getting into the engine)
Hardware/Car Parts – $7.50 (New water pipe clamps – see disaster of the week!)
Coffee – $10.50
Total – $625.00

Just over our weekly estimated budget of $600. We were pleased with this, as it actually covers the cost of our food for week 10 too.

Hopefully, in next week’s spendings, we will see a big drop!


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Day 1 – Elim Beach

Beach Elim

After our interesting night at the Lions Den Hotel, we headed back to Cooktown for some more internet time and some reorganising of the storage system in the Landy.

We then hit the road north in search of a little gem we’d heard about from a Cooktown local.

Making it as far as the Aboriginal community of Hopevale, we were then flying blind as our Garmin GPS had no idea where either we or the campsite were!

After some epic twisting on turning on dirt roads through what were basically sand dunes, we eventually came to a hand painted sign “Camping this Way —>”.

We followed the sandy bush track for a few more minutes and then arrived at a little piece of paradise called Elim Beach.


Day 2 – Elim Beach

Camp Elim

So delighted and charmed were we by our newfound paradise, that we couldn’t tear ourselves away and decided to spend another night here!

For us, it was a welcome relief not to have to put the tent down and pack up the car (as we had done every day for the last 10 days!) and seriously the place was stunning.

With only a few other campers around, the Elim Beach Bush Camp is situated on an aboriginal elder’s land directly on the coast of Cape York.

Silica-white sand dunes to one side and epic mangrove swamps hugging the coast to the other, it’s a dreamy spot for anyone looking to disconnect and enjoy a few simple days away from it all.

We LOVED it!


Day 3 – Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

We actually thought about spending another day in Elim Beach paradise, but decided we did need to get moving instead – it’s long way to Broome and we only have so much of the cooler weather left in which to make the journey there bearable!

So we hit the road again, first calling into our beloved Cooktown for a spot of lunch and a stroll along the wonderful historic Esplanade.

I would have loved to have climbed Mount Cook here, but it was just way too hot for a walk, so on we motored southwards.

Driving back towards Helenvale and then onto Rossville, we finally reached the infamous Bloomfield Track, one of the most renowned 4wd routes in Australia.

Not to be disappointed, this was a rough, fun ride, during which our waterpipe broke (see disaster of the week!) although we did get to spot some epic crocs at the same time!

After the Bloomfield, we arrived in Cape Tribulation.

Not even a town, just a strip of hotels and hostels along a deserted tropical beach, we managed to find a free camp for the night right on the coast – result!


Day 4 – Port Douglas / Mount Molloy

Elim Coloured Sands

Finding it hard to tear ourselves away from our free camp right on the beautiful beach at Cape Tribulation, we finally hit the road about lunchtime and made our way south through the UNESCO World Heritage Site Daintree Rainforest – a stunning and epic drive.

Sorry we couldn’t have spent more time in the Cape – we have vowed to come back. Sadly this time, it was just a hop onto the Daintree ferry for us and we were making our way back down the coast towards the town of Port Douglas.

After a quick swim in the ocean – very much need after only being able to stare at the croc-infested waters of the Cape – we made it to our free camp up in the hills at Mount Molloy.


Day 5 – Port Douglas / Mount Molloy

Port Douglas

Another great free camp, with a shower and toilet, we again had a slow start at Mount Molloy, after making use of all the great facilities!!

When we did finally make the decision about where to head that day, there was actually a mutual consensus to return to Port Douglas and enjoy another day at the beach, rather than heading to the inland village of Kuranda, as had been our original plan!

It was great to enjoy a super sunny day in the lovely town of Port Douglas – making full use of the internet facilities here, the beautiful beach and the picturesque views from the top of the town’s lookout.

At about 5pm, we finally tore ourselves away from this gorgeous coastal town and returned to the brilliant Mount Molloy free camp.


Day 6 – Georgetown

Georgetown Camp

An early start today – the earliest for us so far – we were up and on the road by 7:30am!

We had a lot to do and a lot of ground to cover today!

First up was a trip to Mareeba to fuel up for a big run. We also needed to buy food and gas canisters for 2 weeks (enough to last again until a major supermarket at Katherine, NT), so had to rearrange the car totally so that the supplies for 3 of us would fit in!

Laden down to the max, we finally hit the road about lunchtime – destination … the Outback!

Just short of Georgetown, we reached an awesome free camp on top of a hill with amazing views across the whole valley.

The colours of the sunset sky were amazing and well complimented by our fire! We were definitely hitting the Outback now!


Day 7 – Normanton / Karumba

Karumba Sunset

After a stunning sunrise, we enjoyed breakfast with a view and then packed up and hit the road again.

First stop was Georgetown, where we had a good look around the informative visitor centre, before making it on to our favourite place – the gorgeous and charming town of Croyden (actually one of our favourite North Queensland destinations!)

Once a bustling and wealthy Outback town, this remote place has now been lovingly restored as a historic town.

There was a beautiful picnic area where we enjoyed lunch among the old streets and buildings, and afterwards we even discovered the oldest store in Australia here!

What a result!

Onwards we motored, passing through the town of Normanton until we reached our final destination at Karumba.

This is the place famous for where the Outback meets the ocean and true to form we enjoyed a spectacular sunset over the Gulf of Carpentaria, accompanied by a frosty one.



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