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  • Writer's pictureMadelyn Holmes


Updated: Jan 2, 2023

I drove the OTT, CREB, Frenchman's and Bloomfield tracks unrecovered in a Defender 90 on 31s and these are my best tips.

The input from online Land Rover communities was a huge help in planning my travels to Cape York, so these are a few of my notes for anyone else who may be looking for some trip planning tips.

I successfully completed the Old Telegraph Track, Frenchman's, CREB and Bloomfield Tracks unrecovered in a twin locked 2.2 Tdci Defender 90 with 265s (albeit as part of a small convoy with plenty of recovery equipment).

Best tips:

  • Check roof racks, shocks, hoses, wheel nuts and fluids every morning - the corrugations on the PDR and Bamaga Road were worse to drive than the 4WD tracks.

  • I used a Boab wading screen and insect net which was good security for some of the deeper/more muddy water crossings.

  • Know your car and don't believe what all the 4WD shows will have you think, I drove most of the renowned spots low and slow without issue.

  • Having front and rear air lockers as well as mud tyres undoubtedly made a difference on these tracks - many sections become slippery, rutted and steep from the seasons and other vehicles.

  • I did the trip without a winch, but knowing I was in a group with winches and recovery experience - luckily we never needed it.


  • I replaced my front wheel bearings/swivel pins, tie rod end boots, intercooler and clutch (mainly as I could tell the springs were loose). My output shaft had also been replaced previously - this is a known issue on late model Defenders.

  • The snorkel/airbox and seat boxes got a good coating of silicone to help prevent water ingress (that's not to say I didn't get water in, the door seals are still non-existent).

  • I packed foam between the notorious intercooler hoses that rub and it was fine, but I did take silicone spares.


  • Extra air filters (I went through 4 from the dust), snorkel socks, fuel filters, oil filter, hub tool, wheel bearings, timing belt, hoses and tyre plugs.

  • A variety of spare bolts, nuts, screws, split pins, clamps, leak fix tape, shock bushes/washers - but whatever you bring, you still won't have what you end up needing.

  • Extra oils, coolant, fuel treatment, spare keys, jumper leads, recovery gear and decent paper maps.


Give everything a thorough clean, air dry the interior, change your oils and then clean it all again because you'll find more red dirt. I knew it would be bad, but it's really bad. For all that, I only lost a couple of bolts/rivets to the rough roads - then still ended up sending my car home on a carrier with bad fuel just outside Cairns. That's a story for another post...

If you'd like to follow along with my future adventures or see more from my past trips, please check out Lady in a Landy on Instagram and Facebook as well.

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