TIPS FROM A DEFENDER OWNER FOR CAPE YORK
Updated: Jan 2
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).
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...