With a camera crew…
This was a trip with a major difference for the Open Sky Touring team as it was our first experience taking a film and photography crew with us. The reason for doing this was to try and up our ‘marketing’ game and to tell our story a bit better than perhaps we had been. Would things work out? How would we all get along? How would we go doing an interview and being in front of the camera? And the big question – Do they even drink rum when camping? All sorts of challenges were coming our way and both Nic and I were pretty nervous about it all.
Joining us on this trip was also Shane Stroud and his Father-in-Law Eddie, who were looking for a break from work, a cold beer on a beach, and who were there to help out if needed. Shane is also the man behind our favourite custom fabrication team at Decked Out Fab, Gordonvale, just south of Cairns, and who had most recently built my new roof rack.
The “Photography guy” coming with us was none other than Scott Mason from Southern Sky Images, a man who has spent a fair bit of time in front of the lens as well as behind it, and who has a huge amount of experience in the 4wdriving and outdoors industry. Scott is also passionate about the outdoors and his work is some of the best in the Industry. As such, we were stoked that he was really keen to support us and our ideas and was super excited about the trip.
The man in charge of the filming side of things is one of the Far North’s own residents and who handles much of Tourism Queensland’s current work, Phil Warring from PhlipVids. Phil also loves the outdoors, the reef, and the rainforest, and had managed to move a heap of workaround just to make this trip with us.
The rough idea was that we would take our time over three or four days and do a loop from Cairns, through Cooktown, to Cape Flattery, then onto Cape Melville and back down via the Kalpowar Crossing of the Normanby River, to Lakefield National Park, before heading home. As it turned out, this wasn’t exactly how the trip went, but it was a starting point, and who really likes plans anyway.
We met up at Tinaroo Dam for the first-afternoon shoot and kicked off our first session with the boat in the water and flicked a few lures in between some camera time. Nic got the first interview out of the way and pretty much nailed it from what I saw. From my perspective, I was so nervous I could hardly think about what it was that I wanted to say, but once I saw Nic nail that first one, I started to relax a bit.
Next stop was Cape Flattery, one of my favourite locations and one that is a bit off the beaten tourist track. Access is also subject to tidal movements and there is a reasonably long beach drive to get there which can only be done safely when the tide is around the halfway mark.
After some fuel and a burger at Lakeland Downs, and a top-up on the ice situation in Cooktown, we soon were snaking down the white sandy single lane track, through creeks and dunes to the beach. I had somehow managed to misread the Tide Tables, but all was still good for our drive down the beach towards our camp for the night. Our planned time for departure the next day might need some adjusting though…but hey, it’s all an adventure right?
Just making it to the beach was like the lifting of a weight from all of our shoulders. I noted smiles all around and everyone just seemed to be kicking it back a notch as the first real bit of ‘bush therapy’ started to take effect. Within five minutes the first coldies had been cracked and were going down a treat. As much as this was a ‘working’ trip, there is no denying the stress relief that comes with the freedom that a 4wd can regularly bring to our lives.
Within the hour we had crossed back over the headland and scoped out a beach camp out of the wind. How good was this! Fire going, sun setting, vehicles unpacked, and Happy Hour underway. As Scotty and Phil did their thing, the rest of us just enjoyed the place and being away from the hustle of the daily grind.
Misreading the Tide Tables turned into a blessing the next morning as we all decided that there was nowhere that we really needed to be, so we could just kick back and relax for another day where we were. The weather was perfect North Queensland September weather, and in no time, we had dropped the tinnie in off the beach and were flicking lures around the point on the hunt for a Barra and Trout. Hey, we’d even take a Queenie for a bit of fun if we came across one.
This was also a trip where we were making use of the Expedition 134 boxes on the roof racks with our new tie-down straps. These straps lock into place on the corner tie-down points of the boxes and allow for the boxes to be opened and used whilst still tied securely to the rack. A massive time saver for touring travellers and something that just makes using the system really nice and easy.
That evening, the highlight was the feed of fresh-caught trout bites with a twist, done in the pan by Shane. The twist was that no one had remembered to bring any flour to dust them in, so he used a packet of crushed Kettle chips to great effect. Haven’t had trout as good as that for a long time and that random recipe is now a firm favourite with all who were there. Nic had a great time in front of the camera ‘interviewing’ Shane as he cracked out the Trout bites and we all enjoyed another cold beer.
Phil finally was able to put down his camera gear after the sun had set, and could enjoy a fish off the beach with a live bait for a while. Again, I heard many a comment about how great a spot we were enjoying and how relaxing this trip was.
As we sat around the fire planning for our final day, a lot of the discussion was on getting the vehicles back up and off the beach and up the big sand dune, particularly for Nic and I as our two vehicles were towing trailers. An early start to try and get to the dune while the sand was still coolish and damp was the plan, as was super-low tyre pressures, and a goodly amount of right foot to top it off.
Day Four saw us depart Cape Flattery and go looking for some Outback red dust for the last testing and photos that we were looking for. It wasn’t too long before Battlecamp Road near Lakefield NP provided the perfect location either. The season so far had been particularly dry and the dust was in abundance. In conditions like this, it is always about safety and driving with headlights on and caution when other vehicles are sighted on the roads coming in the opposite direction. UHF radios in all of our vehicles make it just that much easier to keep everyone aware of any hazards and should be one of the first items installed by anyone spending any amount of time touring the Outback.
Our custom O-ring seals in our Expedition 134 boxes on the roof racks were getting properly tested in the dusty conditions and again were proving their worth as nothing made it into our gear. Once the seals have bedded in, they really give you confidence in keeping the elements out of your gear if you need to keep a box on the roof rack.
It had been an epic few days and once again Cape York had provided the goods. We achieved what we were looking for and both Scotty and Phil were confident they had a heap of content in the bag to help Open Sky Touring get our message out there. For now, it was time to head back to Cairns, unpack, clean up, and think about the next trip.
A huge thanks to Scott Mason, Phil Warring, and Shane and Eddie for the trip. We had a blast. Where are we going next?