A quick drive to Brisbane – June 2023

This was a trip with a difference. Two days to drive solo to Brisbane on the June long weekend to leave the van at Delica Garage QLD, ending with a flight back to Canberra on the third day.

I left around 8am on a cold Canberra June morning, having to scrape the frost of the windscreen before I could get anywhere.

The drive up to Yass was fairly uneventful on the Barton and Hume highways. Once near Yass I took the turnoff onto the first B-road, Lachlan Valley Way B81. I was planning to travel inland to Brisbane for a couple of reasons. First, it was the June long weekend so it was likely to be very busy and dangerous. And second, we’d never been able to drive up that way before on our many trips up to QLD, so I treated the entire trip as a bit of recon for upcoming travel plans.

A quick stop at Boorowa for a cheese and bacon sausage roll (not bad), then back on the road heading north through Cowra. I had another quick break at Canowindra to stretch my legs.

On the road again, I headed up for a longer stint through Molong, Yeoval and Obley. Between Obley and Dubbo though, a ute that I had been following about 1km behind had a serious accident and rolled. I was the first person on the scene, just after both occupants had managed to pull themselves out of the wreck. I checked both of them for any injuries or bleeding they may not have noticed as they were both in a lot of shock. I checked their pupils as well to make sure they were able to focus properly and there wasn’t any signs of head trauma. The two teenagers were both fine amazingly considering the condition of their Triton.

The road was relatively busy so as soon as the next car came through we sent them ahead to call emergency services once they got to an area with reception. Heaps of people offered help as they passed, and a couple of locals with a mobile phone extender took the two teens up the hill so they could call their family. The driver claimed he had swerved to avoid a big kangaroo and then overcorrected. He had no insurance as the ute was quite new to him. After about 45 minutes a family member came down the road by chance and took over from me in making sure they were all okay. As I drove away, 6 emergency vehicles were screaming past coming in from Dubbo. I’m not sure that many were needed, but it may have been for a different accident or they may have been unsure about how dangerous the situation was.

After that little side adventure, I kept going to Dubbo and filled up there. My Fuelio app says that I managed 399km, but Google says 411km. Either way, that’s quite a long distance for the van and it gave me some of the best fuel economy I’ve ever seen. It’s still terrible of course, but better than usual. I put it down to travelling light (single person, no built in drawers, no big fridge, limited water) and the B roads restricting speed to 100km in most places. I’d originally been planning on having lunch in Dubbo, but with the accident I decided to keep heading on. My goal was to make Narrabri before dusk to avoid peak kangaroo suicide times.

At Mendooran there was a pub calling out to me, so I dropped in for a beer. Unfortunately no food available after 2pm, so I kept on driving after just one beer.

Past Coonabarabran the road starting getting flatter and straighter and headed into the Pilliga, a conservation area of some typical bush scrub and eucalypts. With dusk starting to come down and with headlights switched on, I ended up in Narrabri. I stayed at the Mid-Town Inn Narrabri, which is a typical and basic motel. I chose it simply because it was close to a pub, the Namoi Hotel-Motel. I had an excellent dinner and evening there that night, with a great steak sandwich and several beers. Highly recommended, the service was great.

The next morning I packed up the motel room and headed off around 8am. The goal was to take it a little easier on this travel day so that I could get set up at a campsite in the early afternoon and relax for a bit. I picked up some easy to cook food at Woolies, then continued heading up north. I filled up just outside Moree and headed up to Goondiwindi, a town on the NSW/QLD border.

She’s thirsty

It was here that I saw my first speed camera in a 80km zone, basically as soon as you cross the border. There’s a couple of ways to get to Brisbane from here, but I took the northern route on Gore Hwy A39. A lot of huge paddocks along this road, and some terrible ruts and potholes to start with. It was pretty smooth travelling up to Millmerran where I stopped for a great lunch at The Mill Inn Tavern. A great location and very popular with locals, I got a huge schnitzel and a beer in this place and looked for accommodation near Ipswich for later that night. I wasn’t able to find any bush camping sites nearby that either answered the phone or had space available, so I ended up booking in at the Willowbank Caravan Park.

Continuing down the last stretch, I filled up for the last time in Toowoomba and drove through the town to avoid a toll road that bypasses the town. Continuing down the Warrego Hwy, I got caught in traffic and then came to a complete stop for several minutes at some roadworks that were still being worked on at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. Getting to the caravan park after a hard 2 days of driving, I was fairly disappointed with the caravan park. Caravans too close together, they put me in with them instead of in the camping area out the back. Apparently it was to protect me from some loud campers that had been there all weekend. Even if there had been loud people in that space, I wouldn’t have heard them over the horrendous road noise and airport noise that came into the park throughout the night. While it may not be the worst caravan park in the world, and I do appreciate the owners helping me out, but overall it was not a fun night and I can’t recommend the park overall.

The next morning I woke up early, packed up as quietly as I could, and drove down the road to Delica Garage Queensland. I dropped off the van, disconnected the centre console from the battery and solar, and got an Uber to the airport. After far too long stuck at BNE airport, I ended up back in Canberra on a freezing cold day. I should be able to collect the van around early July 2023, with all things going well.

Ultimately the van is undergoing a full engine replacement. The stock 3.0L 6G72 engine will be replaced with a used 3.8L 6G75 engine from a low kilometre Mitsubishi 380. This is a common mod for older Mitsubishi vehicles with this type of engine as in most cases it’s an almost direct swap in. Once installed I should get a bunch more power and torque with the new engine in its stock form, and hopefully even more gains once a conservative tune is applied. There might be a new exhaust down the track as well. As a bare minimum, the default stock figures are 138Kw to 175Kw (26% increase) and 265Nm to 343Nm (29% increase). I’m hoping for better fuel economy as well once a tune is applied, but we’ll see. This level of upgrade should be perfect for driving with the van fully loaded up, as well as any towing I need to do in the future.

We’ll be back with a brand new engine (if everything goes well!)
Scott Written by:

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