Ned Cakovan runs the Y62 Patrol Club of Australia and often spends his time tweaking his trusty Patrol before hitting the roads with other members of the club.
In this blog, Ned talks to us about his epic journey up the notorious Cape York Peninsula with his family and camper trailer. Towing on such treacherous roads meant that having an electric brake controller was a necessity, so REDARC gave him a Tow-Pro Elite to evaluate across this leg of his trip. Below Ned talks about his adventure up the Cape and how our Tow-Pro Elite helped him tow his camper.
Planning for the journey
This year my travels took me to the northern-most point of Australia, allowing me to take in some of the most beautiful scenery this awesome country of ours has to offer. And on this trip, I decided to take along a camper trailer and my two kids, Zoran (7) and Katija (6).
REDARC were again kind enough to let me test out their Tow-Pro Elite brake controller and let me write another story about my trip and what I thought of their product.
I had never needed a brake controller on any of my vehicles before, but with the camper weighing 1600kg, I knew I needed extra support to get me through to the Cape.
Throughout my travels over the last year, I’ve seen first-hand just how reliable the REDARC products are, and I’m pleased to say that the Tow-Pro was no exception.
Cape York is often referred to as the Mecca of 4WDing in Australia
Getting kitted up
My Nissan Patrol Y62 had all the wiring ready to go from the factory, so it really was easy to install the brake controller myself. I placed the control module behind my dash and just used some velcro to stick it to the carpet.
The switch was placed into one of the blank switch panels on the centre console, where so it was easy to reach and adjust the settings. Modern vehicles all tend to now adopt a clip system for all the panels, so it really wasn’t too difficult to pull apart the panels on the dash and get behind it to install the switch.
Once I had (followed the instructions) completed the installation, I hooked up the camper and tested it all out to make sure I understood how it worked, and to ensure I calibrated it correctly for my vehicle and trailer.
What amazed me was that this process was so easy. The Tow-Pro Elite auto calibrates for you, so you really don’t have to do much else.
Then all that was needed was to pack the car, hook the trailer up and we were ready to travel.
Bird's eye view
Travelling up the coast to the Daintree was relatively uneventful, and while there were some lovely spots to stop and look out, our goal was to get off the tar and onto the dirt as soon as possible.
The Patrol towed the camper effortlessly and with some tweaking and experimenting with settings on the Tow-Pro, I quickly found that the Proportional setting was the best. It meant I didn’t have to do any thinking, just sit back, drive, and the camper would break without pushing the car at all.
I found I could confidently stop, slow down and manoeuvre the camper without much fuss. This setting applies all the brakes to the camper as you apply it to the vehicle. The harder you brake, the harder the camper brakes. This really was the only setting to use while travelling on the highway.
After heading to the lovely Daintree River and across the ferry to camp at Cape Tribulation Camping ground, we discovered such a beautiful spot to stay, made even better because it’s just off the beach.
We stayed a couple nights at Cape Tribulation as we wanted to tackle the famous CREB Track, and as it had only been open for a few days before we arrived, we were strongly persuaded not to attempt it with the camper.
But to be honest, I was a little disappointed with the CREB. After all the stories I expected it to be a bit more challenging for us and the vehicles. It is jam-packed with some magnificent views, steep climbs and descents, making it a very pleasant drive, but not at all challenging for the Patrols. Had the tracks been wet, it would be a totally different story and I could understand why they close that track off during the rains.
So, on we moved slowly north, travelling the Bloomfield Track to the Bloomfield Falls.
Switching it up
I found increasing the sensitivity on the Tow-Pro in User-controlled mode was the best way to travel down the very hilly Bloomfield Track. Coming down some of the hills it was much safer to be in low range, letting the engine braking keep you moving safely without letting the vehicle run away from you. And just touching the brakes when I needed to help slow momentum.
Continuing our journey, we headed to Weipa after camping at places like Kalpowa and Chilli Beach, which led us finally to The Old Telegraph Track.
After hearing all the stories, seeing all the videos and photos from so many people travelling up there, I couldn’t wait to tackle it.
And tackle it we did. The Tow-Pro Elite really is outstanding in these situations. Driving on the road and even the unsealed roads I forgot about the camper because the brakes just worked. That really is as simple as I can put it, the Tow-Pro Elite really does it all for you.
Crossing the Jardine
When things get a bit tricky
But when you get to the tricky stuff I found the manual settings to be truly outstanding. I could increase the sensitivity right up so that I could use the camper to actually help slow the vehicle down and I wouldn’t have to worry about braking hard on the vehicle. I could focus more on my throttle control and manoeuvre the vehicle through the trickier tracks.
On the flip side, I found climbing some of the steep hills it was better to decrease the sensitivity, so the camper didn’t slow me down and rob me of any power if I had to feather the brakes.
The Old Tele was one of the areas where there weren’t any powered sites, and you generally camped next to a creek or river. So thankfully having fitted all the REDARC gear last year, I didn’t have to worry about keeping my fridge cold or my batteries charged.
The DC-DC charger In-vehicle battery charger, solar blanket and Pure Sine Wave Inverter all worked a treat. The inverter was particularly handy this year as I used it a lot to keep my drone batteries charged and it let me transfer all the videos and pictures from all my devices to my laptop.
The remote head of the Tow-Pro Elite
Taking in the sights
With most of the tough tracks done the rest of the trip was pretty easy. Lots of beautiful places to see, and never enough time to see them all.
After the OTT we got to the Jardine ferry, and set-up camp at what had to be my favourite place of the trip, Loyalty Beach. Being so close to town, with a very decent tavern at Bamaga and jetty at Seisia, the kids and I spent most of the days fishing.
We also headed to Punsand Bay after a couple of days and walked to the very tip of Australia, followed by a few extra days relaxing at Loyalty Beach, it was then time to head home.
Making it to the tip is an accomplishment in itself
An absolute breeze
I can see why the Tow-Pro Elite has become such a necessity, even if there is an element of fit and forget. And if you are mainly touring Australia in a van and sticking to the bitumen, you really can’t go past one.
It’s so good having the peace of mind of the Tow-Pro that it allows you to focus more on the road and your surroundings rather then what setting you should be using when approaching hilly areas.
Off-road I couldn’t have been happier either. The switch is easy to use, the dial clicks so you can feel the settings change and you don’t even have to look at the dial.
The Cape itself has some spectacular views that come with some very hilly terrain, and The Tow-Pro makes towing a camper or trailer an absolute breeze. It really takes the hassle out of towing off-road.
When the towing gets tough, the tough get towing