4WD time
Experience | 4WD | national park | off road | Far North | Queensland

4WD time

Bloomfield and CREB tracks

by Susie Baber  |  28 August 2022

Our trip to cape York so far hasn’t involved a lot of very adventurous 4WDing other than corrugations and red dust. After yesterday’s beach drive, the boys are keen to try something a little more challenging, so we head south from the Lion’s Den to Wajul Wajul and two of Queenslands most famous 4WD tracks. The conditions of these tracks can vary greatly and change quickly with any shift in the weather. Always check track conditions before you attempt set out to explore.

The Bloomfield Track

This iconic track runs for 30km between the Daintree and Cooktown is flanked by a pristine coastline on one side and ancient rainforest on the other. It can be driven in both directions and while very steep in places, is mostly sealed and has a few easy creek crossings. The Track is not recommended for trailers or caravans.

Despite protests from environmental groups the road was completed in 1984. To reduce the environment impact it was designed with few switchbacks and bends on the climbs resulting in patches of steep gradients over the ranges. The two steepest sections of the track are at Donovan’s Range (20% – 1:5) and Cowie Range (up to 33% – 1:3) where even sealed surfaces can be very slippery in the wet.

After congratulating ourselves on completing our first 4WD track of the day we enjoy the drive through the Daintree Rainforest, stopping at Thornton Beach for coffee and a chocolate brownie and at Mt Alexandra Lookout to admire yet another panoramic view. Despite seeing dozens of warning signs about cassowaries, and keeping a vigilant lookout, they remain elusive.

The CREB track

Our next challenge is the CREB (Cairns Regional Electricity Board) track, an old maintenance road for the electricity line that linked Daintree in the south to Cooktown in the north. To get to the start of the track we cross the Daintree River by ferry and then swing inland through the town of Daintree.

The CREB is a much more difficult track than the Bloomfield and is only suitable for well-equipped 4WD vehicles and drivers with recovery experience. Definitely not suitable for trailers. It is 70km long but not all of that is challenging 4WD territory, from the river crossing to Yindilli camp is just over 20km. Everything before and after that is pretty straight forward.

From the warning signs which mark the official beginning of the CREB track there is 9km of regular gravel road before we reach the Daintree River crossing. There are a couple of cars waiting at the crossing when we arrive and there is a bit of a Mexican stand off as everyone waits for someone else to go first so they can see the best line to take. A couple of guys walk through the river and it is about hip deep, a guy on a motorbike has a go and conks out half way across. He has obviously done this before as it’s not long before he gets his bike going and is off again. We have some lunch while we contemplate our options, and the queue of cars slowly grows. Even after we have eaten and cleaned up no other cars have taken the plunge, so we decide to give it a go. Swing wide to the right and no drama, easy peasy.

We have timed our adventure well and the track is quite dry and well graded. The next few kms are uneventful, gently undulating through long grass and patches of rainforest. As the track gets steeper and the rainforest get thicker the drive is beautiful and every now and then the forest opens up and you can see panoramic views out to the coast.

There are few slippery sections and some very steep sections, the red clay surface offering very little grip whether you are going up or down. Occasionally we have a choice of tracks, one option more challenging than the other. At one point we come across a car that has taken the more challenging choice at a fork in the road and got themselves stuck. Out comes the recovery gear and they are soon on their way.

The end of the track is upon us before we know it, much shorter I think than any of us were expecting. On the way back through Wajul Wajul we stopped and did the short walk up to Wajul Wajul (Bloomfield) Falls.

This was a great drive on the day we did it, we had good weather, well equipped cars and experienced 4WDers. The following day it rained and not just one, but two cars rolled on the track and blocked access for several days. It doesn’t take much rain to turn the red clay into impassable mud. Cars were being turned around and sent back down, towed out by locals and abandoned until the conditions improved. I think we timed our adventure well.

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