In the Summer of 2012 Dirk en Trudy Regter from the Netherlands started a journey in their 1915 Ford Model T, visiting over 50 countries covering all the continents of the world.
This journey of approx. 80,000 miles will be made in order to raise money to support the worldwide work of SOS Children's villages International. Your contribution will of course be highly appreciated.
It was a cold night again and the stars seemed to be closer than ever. After breakfast we leave, but Dirk sees a termite mound over the head in the high grass so that a reaction rod of the rear axle is bent. After some tinkering and our apologies to the termites, we have this right and tension again. On to Belyando crossing, Mount Coloon, and on to Elphinstone. After this we go down from the asphalt to the gravel, but the route offers little spectacular. Trudy sees another porcupine and a little later we see a group of kangaroo’s.
After we have crossed several hills we descend to a lake at Elphinstone.
Here we see thousands of birds, including black swans, coots, cormorants, shovels, herons and so on. A true spectacle. Here we will camp after a day of 340 kilometers. Hats off for the Model T-Ford.
We spent the night at the Oasis roadhouse. Next to us is an old tree, without intimate life, but with an unusually hospitable reception the most beautiful birds land. We continue our way; 262 kilometers of asphalt. The roads are hypnotic long, the vegetation extremely homogeneous, so you shake your head regularly and wonder “have not I driven here, or are we still still?” You look at your speedometer, which just indicates 70, your tank gauge is also however dropped. There are hardly any animals to see. At our coffee stop at one of the bush lands, an old cowboy meets us on a horse and has an animated conversation. He also tells you to come to a city every now and then, but only to do some shopping and is back in the jungle of the bush as soon as possible. Something we can confirm. In Charters Towers we arrive early in the afternoon and want to go shopping there, but the city seems deserted. There is a large store open, where we can do our shopping. The boys are outside and have regular claims, even the local supercharger makes a chat and gives the boys a pound of freshly cut fricandeau as a present. We drive a lot further and stop 30 kilometers before Belyando crossing. Hit the bush and encounter a group of more than thirty kangaroos. With a little bit of murmur we get a place in their territory. Unfortunately, here are some spines on the ground, so you can not walk with flip-flops. However, sleeping is again fine at this place. A magisterial starry sky, however, gives us little rest !! The farmer comes by to tell us that we are not allowed to make fire, and must take our waste with us.
After we reach the asphalt at Mount Garnet, we take the asphalt to Undarra Volcanic park to visit some lavatubes. Here we arrive late in the morning and can still book a tour.
We have lunch for a while and then we go on the road. The ranger gives an impressive explanation about the formation of these kilometers of underground tunnels, created with volcanic eruptions. Unfortunately, the longest of 126 kilometers is no longer intact, but there have been a number of collapses. The collapses can be recognized in the landscape by small tufts of rainforest that have arisen here and there in the landscape, between the ordinary vegetation.
Against the dark we arrive at a road junction on the back yard of the roadhouse. Here it is full of birds who are going to make a final cry for sleeping.
We had a wonderful night at Ellis Beach, even though it was so busy.
So we decide to go back to the interior at Smithfield, on to Atherton. The mountains are staring at us. Along the way we see many tree ferns, a picture of millions of years back as if the dinosaurs are looking around the corner. We pass again all kinds of coffee, mango and banana plantations. The road is super busy with a lot of holiday traffic, but also a lot of freight traffic and roadtrains. That is why we have chosen a beautiful route through dirt road, which is almost deserted. Via Herberton, Irvingbank we go to Mount Garnet. We have often seen microwaves along the road at a house, not much later it becomes clear to us that the old microwave ovens are used as snake-free mailboxes. In Irvingbank we still come to a museum installation of all kinds of tools for machines, including for miners’ work. A few old techies turn cranes, pumps, and all kinds of stationary engines. Magnificent!! In addition, all kinds of excavated stones, musical instruments have been shown, and what not. The enthusiastic men let us see our collection beaming and enjoy the sight of a T-Ford in their village. Then we end up on a beautiful mountain road with beautiful views, lakes and curves. We do not meet anyone. Just before we reach Mount Garnet we decide to make our campground on a small lake. An only the lonely pelican keeps watch in the lake. Ben and I sleep under the stars again in the bushes, where it is very restless with rustling and splashing in the water.
We have slept at the campsite at DainTree village and decide to go with a boat tour in the morning to see possible crocodiles from the boat. Dirk looks after the T-Ford after the Bloomfield track, which turns out to be okay. During this trip we see several crocodiles, kingfisher and species of cormorants and we hear a lot of interesting facts. They compare crocodiles with solar collectors, they need the sun for their energy. The lush vegetation of the rainforest from the water is extremely impressive. The river is wide and large and we also see many roots of mangrove forests, as it is close to the sea, and therefore provides some salt water.
Then we drive to the coast, where there is much more traffic, but also parts of rainforest that belong to UNESCO world heritage. Regularly we get a beautiful view from the road on pearly palm beaches, with in the back the rainforest. We decide to camp on the beach one night and on Ellis Beach, where we create a beautiful spot under the palm trees on the beach. In the evening we get a visit from a striped bird that seems to walk on stilts and makes the sound like someone is being killed. The Australians notice that these birds do this place every night. And with this reassuring thought, we are going to sleep.
Waking up in a rainforest is always a delight; since the vast majority of the animal kingdom calls for attention, or more; screams for attention. And they will get that. Silence in deserts can be overwhelming, but the symphony of the rainforest gives you an experience of the exuberance of life itself that is unprecedented.
We leave early and have opted for the Bloomfield track against all laws and advice. A route through the rainforest that is only accessible for four-wheel drive cars. In addition, we caught the message that one of the rivers is much too high because of the abundant rains, so that all off-road vehicles can not get through. “We’ll see” says Dirk, and I agree with him. The adventure beckons !!
In the beginning the T-Ford climbs effortlessly through the green tunnel. The path is reasonable, but soon we come across a board with a 22% increase. It is just swallowing but perfectly the Model T goes against it. The Landrover seems to have more trouble with it, but it goes well in the low range. The triumph is celebrated with a cup of coffee made by Trudy. After this we descend and climb again with short curves, keeping it going.
Then we come across a board with 27%, we look at each other, but without many words we continue, we see. But here too the T-Ford buffs roaring, with slipping tires against it. Caramba !! The cogwheels crack, but get upstairs just as calm to cool down. This gives us the opportunity to see the beauty of the green of forest giants, tree ferns, lianas, strangler figs and many birds. On the way our path is crossed by a Cassuari, a one and a half meter high flightless bird from the Dinosaurs era. Magnificent!!
It gives us the feeling that we are sitting in a huge garb since we now come across a board with a 32% increase. Again our eyes cross each other with some care. There is only one possibility: SPEED IS EVERYTHING!! And oh miracle !! The T-Ford gets this slipping and scraping, pounding and grunting. Dirk had the feeling to be in the gearbox, the gears were audible, but we’re upstairs.
After a further descent, a notorious river waits for us, winding its way through the rainforest. First the Landrover, who hit the other side, sloshing and roaring. Then the T-Ford, and oh miracle! He seems to be doing well, he saves it and after much ascent and descent we reach Cape Tribulation. Here the jungle reaches to the sea. Before we get to the beach, we scan it on saltwater crocodiles, but everything seems safe. Not much later we find a camp site and go to sleep with a glorious sunset.
Re-check the oil of the rear axle after 1000 fierce kilometers.
At the campsite we spot Kookaburra (a bird that does not laugh but barks)
Next to us is a colossal truck camper with all the bells and whistles. Everyone asks for a photo session with the T-Ford next to this camper.
A hill and mountainous landscape very green and together with the clouds in the sky it gives a beautiful view. Here we have another wonderful experience when we refuel our tanks at filling station. People are very enthusiastic about the T-Ford and its mission, so we get the whole tip jar for S.O.S. children’s villages, two hands full! At the Palmer roadhouse a short radio interview is still being conducted. The first drops are also on our side but fortunately not for long. We are now in the rainforest.
We take the exit to Ashton, where we take a side road in the bush after not too long, that opens to a river, in the middle of the rainforest, where we create a beautiful camp site in the dry bed.
Dirk and Benno dive into the river before dinner, after there are no crocus marks to be seen.
With a campfire and a provosorisch zeiltje between the Landrover and T-Ford we can again make a lovely bed. In the night it rains heavily, and Ben ends up turning in his sleep under the T-Ford, here he is dry with water, but with a greasy crest of oil.
Before we leave, we visit Tom Prior in Chillagoe with his comprehensive Ford collection and related attributes. He even has original manual books from the T-Ford. Wonder everywhere that in such a small town Tom has managed to collect so much.
On to Mareeba almost asphalt but first a few times dust. Then we suddenly come across cane sugar, banana, mango and orange plantations which gives a completely different look on the landscape. Slowly it gets more cloudy.
We hear that people have fled from the coast because of the unusual, exuberant rainfall on the coast, but also that certain roads have been closed.
We head north towards Cooktown. The Dividing range seems to stop the rain for us. There is a lot of traffic on the road; what really does get used is after all rest on the dirtroads!
Mt.Carabine we end up at the campsite where they have pictures of common birds in the camping office. Benno can also shoot beautiful pictures of two owls that snap above us in the tree, and then go into the bush for some other animals.
We awaken through the cackling of a group of foraging guinea fowl. We have the plan to visit some caves in this area, where Chillagoe turns out to be known. Since1981 one has accidentally encountered a few caves, which has expanded to a small 600 pieces. A world among ours.
The many miners sought shelter from the heat in these caves. For the aborigines these caves were known territory, but because of the evil spirits that lived in them, a no go area.
First we visited the Trezkin cave with the four of us, but the guide who would show us around had strangely gone already. It turned out that we were still in the Northern Territory time, instead of Queensland time, half an hour later. It was not to spoil the fun.
With the science of the strange rocks on the outside, you got the feeling in the cave, to be around in the dungeons of a medieval castle or cathedral, where monsters made the interior in their image. All in all an impressive whole. After this we walked to the balancing rock, from where we had a beautiful view over the area.
Dirk and Trudy decided to explore the village a bit further while Thecla and I walked on to the 3.5 km distant Royal arch cave, where we received a lamp from a ranger who also guided us through this colossal maze. Extremely fascinating!
After the ritual morning check by Dirk van de T-Ford we drive a lot and see relatively few animals. Many species of birds that we can capture.
The environment is slowly but surely changing to a drier area with remarkable, dark, pointed rocks around Chillagoe at the end of the day. Besides the dusting we see an eagle eating from a dead Walibee. For the first time in the journey, dark clouds appear. And in light drizzle we arrive at the roadhouse of Chillagoe, a former mining village, which later went over to the mining of marble. Here we camp under a canopy, that in the night his service proves when it starts to rain.
18 July - Morayfield - 235 km
17 July - Rainbow Beach - 103 km
15 July - Rainbow Beach - 211 km
14 July - Woodgate - 192 km
12 July - Seventeen seventy - 178 km
09 July - Elphinstone - 305 km
08 July - New Victoria Downs - 341 km
07 July - Oasis Roadhouse - 244 km
06 July - Mt Garnet - 182 km
05 July - Ellis Beach - 107 km
04 July - Daintree - 126 km
03 July - Rossville - 180 km
02 July - Mt Carbine - 216 km