Cairns to Townsville

The late night run from Cairns down to Townsville was largely uneventful for the leading few cars although Portman and Jackson both lost quite a bit of time.

T18 – Cane Fields Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
221.5 km3 hours 15 minutes3.20 am Wednesday Click here

The first car departed Cairns just after midnight and headed south on the Bruce Highway to Innisfail then up the twisty Palmerston Highway onto the Atherton Tableland at Millaa Millaa and westwards through Ravenshoe to Mount Garnet. Even at this time of night police were evident and crews now had to be even more cautious on transports but the time allowed for this stage was generous.
Both Jackson and Portman had problems to be resolved in Cairns so were late leaving. Jackson lost 45 minutes on the transport while Portman lost 1 hour 43 minutes, sliding several places down the leaderboard. The big loser was Rowney who faced with the risk of exeeding the late time limit, opted to skip the next trial stage, going directly to the end from Cairns so as to only drop a single control. It must have been a tough decision but the alternative, being excluded at Townsville, was not worth contemplating.

T19 – Mount Fox Trial Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
235.9 km2 hours 45 minutes6.05 am Wednesday Click here

This stage started just west of Mount Garnet, heading southwards into undulating grazing country passing stations including Gunnawarra, Minnamoolka, Camel Creek, Wairuna and Lake Lucy. After an initial very sharp bend onto a bridge, the first 100 km was extremely fast on fairly good quality roads and dirt tracks. The middle part of the stage included a lot of narrow farm tracks, some black soil tracks that were damp and slippery, and a number of narrow log bridges. Towards the end the stage turned east and climbed into the ranges on a good quality gravel road ending more or less at the top of the range. Dawn was breaking as the first cars completed the stage just after 6 am.
Only the three MHDT Commodores, the two running Cortinas (Carr and Fury), Portman and Nalder (Richards driving) cleaned the stage. The results show 49 cars completing the stage. As a consequence of the delayed departure from Darwin, much of the field would have done this stage partially or fully in daylight and the last part had the potential to be dangerous, being along a fairly major public road.


  • Ferguson, Brock, Mehta, Nalder, Carr, Portman, Fury clean
  • Hilton 1
  • Dunkerton 2
  • Loader 4 (guess, not in results)
  • Jackson 6
  • Watson 8
  • Beveridge 9
  • Barth 10
  • Faulkner 12
  • Travis 13
  • Clarke, Finlay, McCubbin, Goldsborough 14
  • Kahler 15
  • Jensen, O'Donnell 16
  • Herrmann 18
  • Koseki, Maloney 20
  • Mizel, Roberts, Birrell 21
  • Penny, Davis 23
  • Lahiff 24
  • Miettunen 27
  • Hurrey 32
  • Farmer 36
  • Tattingham 42
  • Sheridan 43
  • Richardson, Stockley 45
  • Lance 48
  • Murray, Johnson 54
  • Carter, Herdy 58
  • Heaton 1.00
  • Lunney 1.47
  • O'Shanesy 2.00
  • Neilson 2.10
  • Ferrier 2.21

T20 – Townsville Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
161.4 km2 hours 15 minutes8.20 am Wednesday Click here

From the end of the trial stage cars descended steeply on a narrow twisty road onto the coastal plains and then out to Ingham where they joined the Bruce Highway for the run south to Townsville. A more than adequate time was allowed and Ferguson lead the field into the Townsville Showgrounds on a fine sunny Wednesday morning soon after 8 am. The lead crews would have a very welcome eight hour break in Townsville but later crews would, as usual, have their breaks squeezed.

Ferguson leads the event into the Townsville Showgrounds
(Photo grabbed from the ABC Sport video)

Despite the adequate time, Dunkerton was a minute late and Hilton 14 minutes late. Behind the leading bunch, many crews would be both late and early, but of those who had actually visited the previous control at Mount Fox, 22 were late into impound, some several hours late, indicating that they were carrying out repairs before going into impound.

Next: Back to Division T summary

1 comment:

Ian Richards said...

I drove from Cairns with Geoff navigating, initially refuelling and then heading down the Bruce Highway to before Innisfail. It was after midnight and I was probably doing 120 km/h in the 100 zones. Somewhere after Gordonvale I was conscious of a car following and soon enough the blue flashing light indicated I should pull over. He was extremely friendly, didn’t even want to see my licence and just asked us to knock 15 km/h off the speed. Geoff and Wes slept for much of the transport as I certainly knew the way. They probably stirred on the hairpin bends going up the Palmerston Highway which was good fun. We quickly motored across the Atherton Tableland to Mount Garnet where we stopped for a drink, having about 15 minutes to do the 3 km out to the start control. We arrived at control as Ferguson was just leaving and we were now back to 2 minutes behind the Mehta Commodore, Aaltonen driving. As we departed, a local advised us of a nasty corner just one kilometre down the road, which we duly ignored!
That first corner was indeed quite tricky, a right hander onto a narrow bridge where I spun rather than hitting the bridge! The section was mostly very quick with creeks, dips, gates, narrow bridges and some back soil tracks that were very slippery. There was little or no dust as it was somewhat damp. I was getting pretty tired by the end and pushed harder as we got into the mountainous terrain, arriving two minutes early and getting a nice compliment from Rauno Aaltonen that we had done such a good time in such a small car! We didn’t know at the time that it was such a good time as only the three Commodores, two Cortinas and Portman had cleaned.
Geoff got in the back for a sleep as I navigated Wes down to Ingham. He enjoyed the twisty descent even if it wasn’t competitive! It was light now – we had finished the stage at 6.20 am and pulled into the Townsville Showgrounds well in time by about 8 am. There were some interviews, autographs and the like while Dick and Steve had already organised the dealership for later that day. A Repco courtesy car took Geoff and me to the Travelodge with Dick, Steve and Wes arriving soon after. It was a beautiful sunny day looking across to Magnetic Island, far too nice to be in bed, but we desperately needed sleep and even for us at the front it would by barely 8 hours. We were on a high of course, having placed fouth on the division and later we discovered that we were up to fifth outright, but we also knew that Carr was right behind us and there was no way we were going to compete head to head with him between here and Melbourne. We had our pace and he had his, and if he survived there was no doubt he would be fifth and we would be sixth.