John Myles and his Kenworth.
John Myles and his Kenworth.

Kuranda Range: A truckie’s thoughts on the dangerous range

WHEN it rains, the Kuranda Range Road is far north Queensland is one of the most dangerous highways for truckies to negotiate in the country.

It is part of the Kennedy Highway and connects the outer Cairns suburb of Smithfield with the tourist hamlet of Kuranda, and further on to the scenic Atherton Tablelands.

It is mostly one lane each way with some overtaking areas.

The 17km of winding road along the Kuranda Range section has seen many serious accidents including one the day before I travelled down it in January.

That day it was pelting rain and I pulled up at traffic lights on the Kennedy Highway at the entrance to Kuranda, and was behind a Kenworth truck and dog combination.

I followed it down and there was lots of traffic coming up the range all with lights on as visibility was poor.

The Kenworth T409 driver did a great job considering there was water running across the road from gutters and debris on it from fallen rainforest trees.

He never once crossed a double line and travelled slowly with safety his obvious concern.

When I got down the range I pulled up beside the truck and gleaned from a side it was a Marano’s Fuel vehicle.

I contacted the driver John Myles for his thoughts on the drive down such a notorious range in challenging conditions.

It was raining heavily as John Myles carefully drove his Kenworth down the notorious Kuranda Range.
It was raining heavily as John Myles carefully drove his Kenworth down the notorious Kuranda Range.

“I drove at no more than 35kmph and sometimes dropped that back to 30kmph. I was aware there had been an accident along it the day before. But at that safe speed it wasn’t slippery or greasy. We are only allowed to drive down the Kuranda Range whilst empty,” he said.

The Cairns based 50-year-old John has been a truckie since 1990 and with Marano’s Fuel for the past six months.

Before that John was in the Australian Army.

“I served in Sydney and Perth and did a stint in Africa with the United Nations and drove old Mack Tippers called Flintstones with a butterfly bonnet,” he said.

John said whilst you have to be cautious driving up the Kuranda Range, often other drivers were not so careful.

“If you drive safely you should be okay but it can come down to the actions of others,” he said.

John said he once saw a cassowary along the range and has often seen feral pigs there.

I asked John how the Kuranda Range compared with the Gillies Highway between Gordonvale and the Atherton Tablelands, and the Rex Range from the Captain Cook Highway near Mossman to Mount Molloy.

“I drove Bdoubles along the Rex carrying sugar and it is okay but the Gillies is probably the worst. Although I came up it this morning and went slowly,” he said.

Outside work John is into motor sports and was a former speedway competitor in Cairns.

John gets to travel around the far north and likes stopping at a Cooktown café named Rosie’s.

One thing that has interested him of late are cameras placed in Cairns which detect drivers using mobile phones.

“People know where they are and make sure they aren’t on their phones near them and until when they go past,” he said.

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