Video: FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser in Cape York, 1975

Norm Needham explains the famous 1975 river crossing of Cape York.

1970s Cape York Float

IT’S AN image that has been shared and seen world-wide since it was digitised to the internet.

It made its first public appearance in a four-wheel drive magazine in the 1980s, and it has become a symbol of four-wheel drive adventure in Australia.

The photograph shows Norm Needham – part-time 4X4 Australia contributor, 4X4 of the Year judge and seasoned four-wheel driver – standing on the front of a home-made raft, ferrying his FJ40 Land Cruiser across a river in Cape York in 1975.

These days you can drive just about any sort of car to the northern tip of Australia – the road is progressively being sealed and there are now bridges across the major rivers. The trek is not the adventure it once was.

It was very different back in 1975 when Norm and his wife Sandy, along with Ian and Jan Wright and their baby daughter, Jen, made the trip. Back then, there were no bridges over the rivers, tracks you could barely call roads, and hardly another person on the entire peninsular.

This video shows the story behind that photograph, as it follows the intrepid adventurers to The Tip and their exploration of the east coast of The Cape. It’s an adventure that would be difficult to find in this day and age, and it shows us just how far travel in Australia has come in 40 years.

4X4 Australia thanks Norm Needham for allowing us to share this with you.


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