Glenn and Bob's 2012 Gulf of Carpentaria Trip
This is a very shortened
version of my 5
part Gulf Trip Report which was serialised in 5 issues of
the Magazine for Mokees 'Tracks'. This is published
monthly by the 'Moke Owners Association of Victoria
Inc.' (membership and other information-
) I have included numbered days for
continuity and to give the reader some idea of the
enormity of the journey.
From PART 1
We both left from my place on June 20th 2012 it
was a typical Melbourne winter's day. cold but no rain.
Our destination on day 1 was Hay in N.S.W. but by
Echuca Bob's battery had died. Goodyear here actually
had a listing for a Moke battery and 1 in stock! Leaving
Echuca we encountered extreme winds and making
headway was very hard going for our Mokes but we
finally arrived at Hay and a cabin there in the caravan
Day 2 Our lunch break was in Ivanhoe
where we shared
the café with a meeting of both young and old members
of the local CWA (Country Women's Association). We
also met Debbie here who informed us that there were 2
Mokes in town both owned by herself and she was
restoring the best one with parts from the other.
Debbie had just ordered a new hood, wheels (Chinese) and
Day 3 During the morning at White Cliffs
Bob's rear right-
hand suspension was looking very low. The Hi/Lows
were winding themselves down because the lock nut
had worked lose. During our next stop, Tiboorburra, we
had the honour of being met by another Glenn. He is the
Sector Officer of the N.S.W. Police and he and his wife
owned a Moke back in the late 70s. Glenn also publishes
the local magazine, 'The Corner News' and there just
happened to be a story written about us in it.
We had been fighting strong headwinds for the next
three days and the track now was really rough all the
way to Cameron Corner. And you can add to that, driving
into the sun while trying to avoid hitting the Kangaroos,
Emus, Beef Cattle, Sheep and Goats! We were sure glad
to reach our destination for the day.
Days 4-5-6-7 We ventured into South Australia just for an
overnight stop at Innamincka (Population 131) and from
there into Queensland where we camped out under the
stars besides a large Billabong 30 kms south of Hadden's
Corner. We were now well and truly out in the wilds and
it had been 18 hours since we had seen another vehicle.
Next was the roundabout track to Birdsville as the direct
new bypass route was underwater.
From PART 2
Day 8 120 kms north of Birdsville heading for Bedourie
we were faced with two oncoming Road Trains that
were producing large volumes of dust trails. Before they
went past we slowed down and moved over to the left
to give them plenty of room. Then as the first Road Train
went past . . . BANG! BANG! BANG! And again with the
next Train BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! We realised then
that the dust was not dust but aggregate rock which
was cascading off the top of their very full loads.
My windscreen took 7 major hits so I pulled over and
stopped. When all was clear again Bob was not to be seen.
He turned up several minutes later with no windscreen
at all! Most of it had blown inside his Moke and worse
he had several cuts on his hand and lip. First Aid for
Bob then we both settled down and cleaned all the windscreen
fragments out of Bob's Moke realising there was 550 kms
(343 miles) to go to reach Mt. Isa.
Bedourie about 45 kms along the road was our next stop and
it was there that the staff at the roadhouse gave us the Mt.
Isa phone number of Sunnex/O'Briens windscreen replacement.
Unperturbed by the absence of a windscreen Bob followed me
200 kms (125 miles) to Boulia for an overnight stop at a motel there.
Day 9 A phone call to Mt. Isa confirmed
that they could
cut a laminated windscreen to fit a Moke. So rather than
wait a week for one to be sent to us from Townville we
opted for the 300 km (187 miles) trip to Mt. Isa along
what turned out to be an excellent road. (Moke Club
member Dave Margison has driven 10 kms in a Moke
without a windscreen and found it to be a very nasty
experience indeed. Bob should have been given a gold
medal for endurance as 545 kms [340 miles] without a
windscreen is an amazing feat).
Day 10 After the windscreen replacement we took Bob's
Moke to Tyre Power for a front end alignment. We
thought this might stop a peculiar squeaking/grinding
noise that had developed. It emanated from the front,
maybe the wheels, but was pronounced only when the
Moke changed direction and decelerated . . . funny. But
not so funny, it still persisted and was a bit of a worry.
Much time was spent going to various mechanical repair
shops in Mt. Isa to see if they had any ideas about the
noise. They had . . . it was the gearbox or the diff or
maybe the brakes and rotors or if not the CV or bearing
hubs . . . and we still had the noise!
Having spent 6 nights in Mt. Isa which was far more than
we had planned we headed north once again and onto
(Day 15). Just over 500 kms
(312 miles) for
this day's driving.
Day 16 A short drive to Karumba , almost on the shore of
the Gulf of Carpentaria and this was to be the furthest
North we had planned to travel. Here we took a night-time
dinner cruise down the Norman River and watched
the sun set over the calm waters of the Gulf. A really
From PART 3
Day 18 After descending from Atherton on the
Tablelands along an ideal Moke road (263 bends) we
were soon in Cairns which was to be our base for 5 days.
A lunchtime meeting had been arranged at a waterfront
restaurant with 'NQ Mokes'. This is a small and mainly
local group of Moke enthusiasts with Max Lincoln being
the chief instigator and guiding light. 2 hours of Moke
talk ensued during which our trip was acknowledged by
the presentation of a Certificate of Achievement.
Participants: 10 Moke enthusiasts and a line-up of 6
Mokes in the car park.
Day 21 Autobarn and for my Moke a new set of plugs
and leads to stop an infrequent misfiring. Disaster again
with Bob's Moke as the front right side wheel bearing
started to grind. It was the same noise encountered at
Mt. Isa. We both had a spare bearing so without
mucking around we got stuck into it. As you can imagine
it was quite a job but all went well and a road test
revealed the noise had not quite completely gone.
Day 22 Leaving Cairns we headed south but like our
outbound journey we had not picked a straight forward
route for our return trip. It was back up the Gillies
Highway and the 463 bends. This highway goes up 800
metres in 17 kms so top gear was not an option. Back on
the tablelands we stayed with my relatives for 2 days at
their 2 acre property at Malanda.
Day 27 It was back down to the coast and Townsville
where 3 days were spent with friends including Colin
'Squizzy' Taylor one of our club members. He had
organised a photographer from the local newspaper to
meet us so we got our 30 minutes of fame in colour.
Day 30 We left Townsville and headed inland to Charters
Towers before heading south once more and now only
2540 kms (1587 miles) to home.
From PART 4
Lack of space prevents me from relating the many
adventures from this part but it was singularly
fascinating and covered our journey from Charters
Towers south to Gulargambone. The driving during this
section was all plain sailing for us and our Mokes.
Day 34 On our return trip one of our stops on the Newel
Highway was at Dubbo. It's a large sprawling country
centre where fuel and coffee were on the agenda.
Continuing down the highway our next planned stop
was at Peak Hill.
But ... when we were about 8 km out of Dubbo and
cruising along nicely with great driving conditions ...
over the CB radio came the words "trouble, trouble". I
pulled off onto the shoulder of the road and looked
back. Bob's Moke was rolling to a stop enveloped in a
mist of blue oil smoke ... oh dear!!! I quickly drove back
to the disaster. The long oil trail and a strong smell of oil
were signs that things were not well.
Inspection time ... everything covered in oil, locked in
top gear but could still roll, a split in the gearbox casing
and most of the engine's 5 litres of oil in a nice long
slightly curved line on the highway. We were going to
need a sense of humour.
Phone calls to RACV (Royal Automobile Club of Victoria)
and the Automobile Club of N.S.W. brought, in just over
an hour, the breakdown vehicle. As the driver braked on
the highway to pull in to where we were parked he
locked up the front wheels on the oil slick.
"Bit slippery out here today boys" said the mechanic as
he approached us. "Let's see what you've done" Lifting
the bonnet he took one look at the oil covered motor
then the oil on the ground, lowered the bonnet and said,
"That's ******, I best order you a tilt tray".
After another hour's wait Bob's Moke was put on the tilt
tray and delivered to a compound yard on the other side
of Dubbo. We took out some food and clothes,
organised a hire car to be picked up the following day
(RACV Total Care) then went off to find a cabin in one of
the bigger caravan parks.
The overnight temperature was to be -3 Celsius so we
stayed in the cabin, cooked ourselves a good meal and
relaxed after the day's ordeal.
Our first job the next morning was to pick up Bob's new
wheels a Holden Cruz from Hertz Rentals then back to
the compound yard to transfer all Bob's gear into the
Cruz for the trip home.
There were several more overnight stops and days spent
exploring wonderful museums and places of interest
and all great driving conditions apart from this white
Cruz behind me all the time!
Day 37 And the final stretch was down the Hume
freeway to Lilydale ... HOME ... where Bob and I shook
hands and said "See you Saturday night at the
So there you have it, a brief smattering of an excellent
adventure covering 37 days, 7250 kilometres (4531 miles)
during which we met some new friends and caught up
with club members and relatives of mine in FNQ (Far
North Queensland). Each Moke used 550 litres of petrol
I must thank my wife Mary for letting me complete the
trip. Considering that she was not well when we left and
then got progressively worse during the next 10 days
before she came good. It could quite easily have turned
out that Birdsville would have been as far as we could go
before the 4 day journey home to be with her.
And would I ever do a trip like this again???
Hmmm ... NEVER SAY NEVER!!!
Analysis of Bob's blow up ... the diff self-destructed
after a diff pin became lose and punched a hole in
the block. The gearbox casing was also split. No damage to
the crank, conrods, pistons and head and minor damage
to the gears but Bob did manage to BEND the camshaft!
Our thanks go to Glenn and Bob for taking the time and
trouble to complete a daily log of their epic journey thus
enabling Mokees and others to gain a detailed insight
into their everyday happenings. Also many thanks go to
them for picking out these mainly Moke related extracts
and many apologies for having to leave out so much
really fascinating reading.