Today we would have to cross some heavily corrugated roads in addition to a couple of river crossings as we attempt to follow the telegraph track which is for serious 4×4 enthusiasts who are also set up properly, travel in groups with heaps of support. Our wee group have no such luxuries but we decided we would have a go. After trying to follow the track we came across a massive dip in the road, which if we dropped down in to there would then be a narrow and wet climb back out of we decided to get back and travel up via the PDR. On the way we took a left and headed along a narrow badly corrugated road to the famous “Gunshot”. This is a near vertical drop in to a waterway then if you survive that you then have to get yourself out of very steep and rocky.
As we arrived there was a queue to get in of about five cars. It turned out they had abandoned them to watch a crazy Israeli guy attempt “Gunshot” and got hung up by by his his back wheels. He was then winched down in to the water then attempted to power out the other side and blew a tyre on one of his back wheels. Once again he was winched out only to have to fix his troopy (Toyota Lancruiser) which was lucky not to have rolled.
Having hung about waiting to see if any others would attempt it we then drove back out the same terrible road on to the PDR and after a bit of a drive arrived at Elliot Falls. Having set up our sites we then discovered that the sites had to be booked we then took them down again and moved out to find a spot to camp as darkness would be falling soon. We managed to find a spot in a pull off behind some trees and free camped there for the night. There were a few folks checking out this spot but had to drive on with darkness rapidly setting in.
In the morning early we headed back to the falls where we were gobsmacked by the sheer peaceful beauty of the place. Since we had been on the road for some time it was good to both cool off and wash some dirt out of our hair.
Having dried off and feeling refreshed it was back on the road to contend with the next round of corrugations and dust. After about 60Km we arrived at the famous Jardine River ferry crossing and went in to the office to pay the $100 dollar return ticket. We were quite surprised that there was no queue as we had seen a few photos online showing long lines waiting to cross. The ferry is operated by an aboriginal corporation and only takes 2 vehicles at one time. Unless you are towing a caravan and or trailer/boat etc then it’s one at a time. Both the Prado and Land cruiser got on in a single trip which the ferry operates using a pulley system and lasts no more than a couple of minutes end to end. The crossing marks a significant point in our trip to the tip and means we are really getting in to some of the remotest places on the planet.
A relatively short time later we arrived at the town of Bamaga where we stocked up on a small amount of essentials then headed to the Crock Tent which is a Cape York icon selling the usual shirts and souvenirs. It was then time to head for the overnight stop at The Alua Beach camp site outside the town of Umagico. It’s not the best camp with dogs, including the owners roaming around complimented by constant barking. It seems everyone in this town has at least three dogs. We also had a horse come in to camp. This is not an unusual occurance as there are wild horses wandering everywhere. This time the owners two dogs ran like a pair of savages toward the poor horse who to give him his due, didn’t move an inch instead ignored the pair of them until one got really in its face and he stomped towards it which made the dog think twice. People were getting a bit concerned and told the owner, who is also the caretaker of the park. who said “ that horse is always knocking the bins over and deserved it”. Meanwhile the dogs had forced the poor horse on to the beach which might give the crocodiles a good feed but at the least the bins would be tidy.
Later we walked on to the beach with a cold one to enjoy the sunset only for the cloud to roll over and block the sun. Oh well at least on this trip we will be guaranteed more. It was then off to bed for a good nights sleep with a choir of howls and barking.
Next morning would be a milestone as today we head for the northern most tip of Australia.
The forecast is not the greatest with high costal winds and choppy seas. On the way we drop once more in to the Croc Shop and grab a few little bit’s. We also get another free map of the tip area with easy to follow directions. In reality all you have to do is follow the next 4×4 that passes and you will be sure to get there.
Overall it takes us just under an hour as the road is really narrow with heaps of turns and blind spots. It’s also has as the usual dirt and corrugations.
We are lucky and seemed to have timed it right with not many cars coming in the opposite direction. Arriving at the car park we see several faces we have seen all the way up and probably will see all the way down. We chat to a few folks we have enjoyed drinks with who point us in the correct direction which is up over quite a steep path. If the tide is out and you are brave sometimes you can walk round but with a high tide, a lot of crocodiles waiting that is not possible today. Instead we set off on our assent over the rocks in to the wind then across and look down to get our first view of the “Northernmost Tip of Australia”.
As you would expect this being Australia where everything is plotting your demise it is rough. The wind is blowing hard and the ocean is joining the assault. We are lucky once again arriving where there is no one here waiting to take the obligatory photo with the iconic sign which must be had as no pic? Then it never happened.
Waisting no time we walk down turn around grab hold of the sign and try to smile as the wind and spray attempt to ruin the shot. We succeed in getting both front and rear shots then retreat to the rocks to hide. We return the favour and snap lots of pics of our bus mates before once again we retreat to crack open a beer and it’s cheers all round on a monumental achievement for all.
We returned back to town where we went to a new camp site at Loyalty Beach which was similar to the previous one but with slightly better facilities.
Here we had a couple of drinks then an early night and left the next morning.
Today we have a treat as we moved again. This time to Punsand Bay Park which is more like a resort. It has a bar, restaurant and a pool.
We will be based here for the next few days. During the first day we pretty much just relax whilst planning our next move. We do however have a go at fishing off the beach but had to remember not to get to close to the water due to our friends the crocodiles. As usual we managed to catch nothing and were mugged for our bait.
Later in the restaurant we ordered a $30 dollar wood fired pizza. That sounds expensive but it had a heap of seafood it was both crispy and delicious.
Next day we had a further treat in the way of breakfast. It was nice but I could’ve eaten three of them. Kaz reported that she was happy with her offering of eggs Benedict.
In the evening we returned to the restaurant and again enjoyed a delicious pizza this time chicken based with spicy sauce and a crispy base, yum.
We then split the bar as some people wanted to watch NRL and some AFL so one tv showed and one showed the other. Once again our team Geelong were slaughtered by. Melbourne. Then it was off to bed for another great sleep in the roof top tent.
During last night the wind and rain picked up so that by morning everything was wet as we packed up ready to make the move South back towards civilisation.
We left in good time at around 8:30am with the intention of visiting Fruit Bat Falls.
As we arrived at Bramwell Station we sadly realised we must have missed the turn and so just carried on to arrive at the Archer River Roadhouse where camped at the exact spot we camped on the way north. We quickly set up our rooftop tent. I went out on a hunt for firewood and next to where we parked some idiot had not put out their fire fully so we dug our fire pit out then used most of the previous fire to start ours. We then ate our dinner round the fire.
Next to us was a solo female camper who had been playing a ukulele and singing. Kaz went over and invited her her to sit round the fire and have a chat which she did.
Her name was Rain, originally from Canada but has called Australia home for a number of years. As darkness fell and the skies lit up with stars we sat round the fire which was just fantastic. Later as our wood stocks dwindled we poured water on the fire then filled in the pit. We said our good night’s and headed for bed amazingly it was only 8:30 but we had a long day and would still sleep.