Cape York – The Tip – Far North Queensland.

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.

Mount Carbine to Cooktown

Saturday arrived sunny and warm today will be close to 30 degrees as usual which will provide us with heaps of lovely solar power.  Since the second solar panel was added we have been consistently high in our solar charge.

Today we sat down again with our bus mates and have now formulated a plan for the next few days at least.

We spend some time down at the little stream which seems to have been taken over by weekender people who have placed their chairs in the stream and don’t look too welcoming.  We take the hint and remain upstream where we spot a snake having a swim. 

Later in the day it’s all about footy with two games being played.  Between those two we stuff our faces on some beautiful chicken and then began the task of getting ready to move on Sunday then it’s bedtime.

Having packed up most things last night we have the easy task of getting all the little stuff packed then say our goodbyes to our bus mates who we will meet up with in Cooktown.  Today is also their seventh year anniversary.  We will definitely celebrate this milestone tonight.

We drive up to the farmhouse to pay for our second night where the owner asks us if we will return here after the Cape, we say for sure he then says well have a free night and see you on your return!!  You just gotta love country people.

We have a bit of a longer drive today on our way to and just north of Cooktown.  Here we will stay at the Endeavour River Escape.

Leaving Cairns Northbound – Mount Molloy

This morning we head out of the Big4 caravan park which has been great but we prefer to be in farms and remote stays.  Today we will do just that as we head north on our way to Cooktown Far North Queensland.  

First we head to a farm stay called Birds On Barron in Biboorha where we meet back up with our bus mates.  We will stay here for a couple of nights as we need to make solid plans for the next few weeks.  The property is huge with lots of wildlife roaming around there is also an Emu which thinks it’s a horse.  It also has a stream running through it to cool off in.  The farm is just 7k from Mareeba so is an easy drive should we need anything and just as well.  Whilst we were walking with Max he had a run then yelped then couldn’t walk on one of his back legs.  Kaz called a couple of local Vets in Mareeba and we took him in to the one with the earliest appointment.  In the consultation it was suggested that we should x-ray his leg to make sure there was no break.  She also said that he had inflammation in the lower part of the leg.  We left him there and headed to The Coffee Works in Mareeba to treat ourselves to a great coffee with a bite to eat whilst we wait on the completion of the X-ray. 

So back to the vet and $350.00 for the x-ray and a total Bill of $450.00 later he has no break instead he has severe arthritis in the knuckle joints.  We have to give him oral injections now and apparently his arthritis will only worsen as he ages.

Later both groups take some time to organise the gear for Cape York as we will leave the caravan and bus then continue with both Land Cruisers.  We will have quite a bit more room as Max will be going in to kennels in Cooktown till we make our way up then down.  We can’t risk him being taken by a crocodile due to his love of water.  The O’Neills with do the same with little Meeko their terrier.

Next morning having spent a couple of nights here it’s time to leave.  We head out and on the way drop our cash for the stay in the honesty box then hit the road for the short drive via Mount Malloy to Mary Creek Camp Grounds which is another huge farm property backing on to a lovely stream again.  We both arrive without drama then get set up on a level site among the trees.  The place is not too busy but it is so big it would take a lot to make so.  The owner meets us and we pay him the $20.00 per night due.  We reckon we will stay another night as we are making good time now although Cooktown will be a bit of a longer drive.

We spend the day reading, planning and relaxing before we suffer the onslaught of corrugations whilst in the Cape.  There is also a little stream which allows us to cool of as the temperature rises to around 30 degrees as the sun gets higher.

Later it’s over to the bus where Richo has a new satellite dish for the big tv and tonight is Friday night footy night as Geelong takes on Port Adelaide in the finals series.  Although a good game if you are an Adelaide fan but since me and Kaz are Geelong supporters it was not great.  It was as always magic to sit out in the warm night before retiring to bed after another amazing day on the road.