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NORMANTON - CAPE YORK - WEIPA


1.6.10 Crawled out of bed about 7.50 this morning, a quick look at the weather on Fox and also the Weather Bureau on the net, and the decision was made to do a day trip to Karumba, a fishing village on the Gulf of Carpentaria, 75 kms away. It seemed we were just one of a battalion of caravans heading to the coast. When we got there, we noticed that all 3 caravan parks were packed, and confirmed our feelings about free camping wherever possible. We are doing this to get away from city living, having left the sardine can nature of metropolitan living behind us. We have no desire to replicate the experience in a caravan park, being parked on top of each other. We also noticed that the guy who arrived into Karumba ahead of us fronted up to one of the parks, only to be spotted towing his van around town a bit later - obviously didn't pre-book.
The town is in two parts. We went to the boat ramp in the town proper, and noted the plethora of 4WDs and boat trailers parked in the car park and up and down the street. A bit later, we went to the Karumba Point locality, and found as many, if not more cars and trailers parked around that boat ramp. We don't fish, so we purchased a kg of fresh cooked prawns, and then of to the cafe for a feed of Barra and Chips for lunch.
Then it was time to head back to Normanton. A chopper buzzing overhead caught our attention, and while Lesley was hanging out the window trying photograph same, I noticed a herd of cattle on the road heading towards town. We had noticed a ute rounding up cattle on the roadside as we arrived in Karumba. Now it seemed that they were being driven back towards town........ but wait, what was helping with the muster, a helicopter. so we parked on the roadside, grabbed the cameras, and filmed the action until the cattle were all past where we were sitting on the side of the road.
There are a number of lagoons beside the road, and these were well populated with waterbirds of all types. And so we spent time recording the images, as we took our time returning to Normanton.
We are now looking forward to our trip on the Gulflander tomorrow.

2.6.10 Up at sparrow f..t this morning, to get to the Normanton railway station to catch the Gulflander train to Croyden at 8.00am. The first rail on the Normanton-Croydon railway was laid in 1888. To lower construction costs and to defeat the termites of the Gulf, steel sleepers were used, designed by George Phillips. The sleepers were packed with earth when they were laid, giving extra weight and stability, and the rails were bolted to the sleepers which meant they could not move nor work loose in the same way as dog-spikes used in timber sleepers. In flood time water simply passed over the top despite the railway carrying normal rolling stock over some of the most flooded and rotten country in Australia. The initial train service was worked by steam train four days a week, being reduced after 1894 to three. The last steam train ran in 1929. Since 1930, the service has been exclusively run using railmotors.* (taken from Gulflander Website) The trip started out in great fashion, and then the interest started to wane as it became another rail journey, albeit on a historic rail motor. We stopped for morning tea at Blackbull Siding, where we had a muffin, and a cuppa in our souvenir Gulflander Tin Mug (which you can only obtain by doing the trip and purchasing morning tea. 4 1/2 hours after setting out, we arrived in Croyden, some 160kms from our start point. Because of the age of the track, the journey is not quick, maximum speed being attained occasionaly being only 40 kph. Because the Train is owned by Queensland Rail, the (sheduled) service runs during the season regardless of the number of passengers. The train was due to start running in February after the wet season, however subsequent rains and floods have delayed the return of the service until just a week ago, when the first service for the year resumed. We had elected not to do the return trip by train, and so we arrived back in Normanton by bus just after 5pm, having had an enjoyable trip on a grand old lady.

3.6.10 We had a leisurely start to the day, filled the water tank in the van, took some photos around town, and then hit the road around midday, heading for Croydon. We figured that the Gulflander would be returning from Croydon about now, and so we set up beside the line and waited for it to appear, so that we could film the train from the outside. And then having achieved that, we moved on to Croydon, where we had a bite to eat, and then drove up to have a look at Lake Belmore, and on the return, had the added bonus of seeing the town and district from a lookout. We then took a look at the old Police Station, Watch house, and Court House. Now here is a statement. I have seen some museums around the country, and they seem to get a heap of old stuff (the same stuff as every other museum) and dump it in a room for you to look at, or they set up a room as it would have looked a 150 years ago, and then don't come back and clean it, so that it genuinely looks 150 years old. The exhibits in the Courthouse Museum at Croydon, have come from Hospital, Dentist surgery, Courtroom, etc, and have been displayed in a manner that makes you feel that you are in a real life situation........ and they are clean. AND they have been selective on what they have on display. It is probably the best rural museum that I have seen. And yes, I know that is a big statement. Congratulations Croydon. Croydon owes its existence to Gold, and at one time had 7000 people and 34 Pubs in the town. As the gold ran out, the numbers dwindled until the town was virtually deserted by the late 1950s. It has recovered to a degree, and currently has a population of around 260 people. It is the destination for the once a week arrival of the Gulflander Train, which despite nearly being axed a number of times, has survived to be a major attraction for tourists to the area. And now, we are camped about 15 kms out of Croydon on the road to Georgetown, struggling to get signal, and fighting over the antenna............

4.6.10 We hit the road early and arrived in Georgetown about 10.15am. As with Normanton and Croydon, the town was spread out, ensuring a healthy walking exercise if you chose to walk between the few stores to do your shopping. We somehow managed to spend a couple of hours in the town, before we again hit the bitumen and headed for Mt Surprise. The road is narrow, a bitumen strip down the middle and gravel aprons which drop suddenly off the side. A fairly spirited discussion was exchanged between myself and a Road Train driver, who felt that he didn't need to surrender any of the bitumen, despite us having half a tyre hanging on the dropoff and a white post lining up the centre of my bullbar. I feel that he eventually maybe thought he may have been a little over the top when he suggested we settle down and forget it....... no apologies tho. In the main, these guys are great. But you do get the odd cowboy. We again managed to spend a couple of hours in Mt Surprise, after taking advantage of their free under car wash. This is set up to encourage you to not carry seeds under your vehicle into their shire. We had three practice runs at it before doing a serious pass. Mt Surprise is just a couple of shops, a pub, 2 caravan parks and a large common, where we parked and caught up with emails and the like. We eventually found a spot to spend the night just 10kms shie of the Undara lava Tube turnoff.

5.6.10 We arrived at the Undara Lava Tubes reception desk ariund 9.30am, only to find we had missed the 10.30 tour cutoff. And so we bought tickets to the 1pm tour, and then set off on a 3.2km round trip walk to Atkinsons Lookout. On our return, we took a look at the unique design of the resort. They have converted about 14 old railway coaches into top class accomodation and service areas. The restaurant area is superb, and is named after a former Helicopter Pilot, Heather Mitchell, who had worked for the company, and was murdered in Papua New Guinea in July 1987. !pm, and we boarded our bus which took us out to the Lava Tubes. 190,000 years ago, volcanoes erupted in the area, and molten lava flowed freely down any contours in the land. As the outer crust cooled, it solidified and formed tunnels (or tubes). When the eruption stopped, the lava flowed out the end of the tubes, leaving these huge tunnels in the goround. As rains came, the rock began to erode, and in places, the roof collapsed. Rainforest sprang up in these deep, dark, moist depressions. It is unbelievable, that you can be standing on a Savannah Landscape, and find yourself descending into a tropical rainforest and these huge tubes. It is an amazing experience. Back into the car, and at 4pm, we found a spot beside the road that was just begging for someone to stop and spend the night.......... How could we refuse?

6.6.10 First stop this morning was Mt Garnett. Interesting little place, reminded me a little of Ravensthorpe in that it is built on the side of a hill with the highway running through the middle. Not much there but we managed to waste half an hour without any trouble. We passed through Innot Hot Springs, and pulled into Archer River Rest Stop to grab a cuppa, running into a couple we had met a couple of days before at Mt Surprise. Next stop, was Millstream Falls National Park. This area was a Demob area for the troops during the war, and these days is a beautiful recreation area. The walk to the falls was naturally downhill, altho tarred. Would have been a great wheelchair track if the corners had been banked. It was a fair gradient. The walk back was it's fair to say, energy sapping (for this guy at least), but well worth it. Finally, the run into Ravenshoe, and what a delightful little town. Again reminded me of Bridgetown and some of the timber towns in the West. No surprise to find out that the town was built on the timber industry. Leaving Ravenshoe, we called in at the Windy Hill Windfarm, before continuing on in search of a camp spot for the night. A community hall on the side of the road at Evelyn Central offered us the best choice, and so we settled down amongst the green fields, hills, fabulous views, and mobs of cattle for the night. Set up the dish, after all, Nascar was on at 2am. had to record that, didn't I?..............

7.6.10 The old Tyredog did it's trick again this morning, alerting me to yet another tyre losing pressure on the van. This is getting a bit tyresome (sic). Am not looking forward to replacing them, but they are wearing, and it will be a 4 tyre exchange, and probably something a little more heavy duty. We set sail for Atherton, calling into Mt Hypipamee National Park, to have a look at a volcanic crater and Dinner Falls. Spectacular. We did another downhill walk to the falls (this time on a narrow track on the side of a steep hill in a rain forest) So the humidity was a great help - not. Then onto Atherton, a town surrounded by mountains, and at an elevation of about 850m. It's a much bigger place than I expected, and with a Mcdonalds, I guess would qualify as "civilisation". We did some food shopping, and not having done any washing since Winton, we were running out of clean clothes, and we had already run out of water, and so decided to actually book into a Caravan park for the first time since 17th May at Longreach. We have been on the road for 59 days, and have freecamped for the last 20 days. Total freecamps so far have been 33 nights, which have saved us a fair whack. I have booked the van into Cairns Caravan Repairs to have some minor (but necessary) jobs done to the van. And so I think that we will book in for a few days, freshen up abit, and then tackle what we came here for, Cape York.

8.6.10 We got away from Atherton, and headed towards Cairns. We were travelling along the Gillies Hwy, and it didn't take long to get into the hills. We pulled in to the Crater Lakes National Park and had a look at Lake Barrine. It has been managed by the Currey Family since the 1920s, except for a period during WWII, when it was used for Servicemen R&R. It is serviced by a beautiful Tearoom, and boat tours around the lake happen 4 times a day. Then, on to Gordonvale, but not before we crossed the Gillies Range, and descended on a winding road (there are 263 corners in the 19km stretch with an elevation change of 800m) overlooking some awesome mountain countryside - well, who was looking - not me - before finally hitting the floor and arriving in this lovely old town which STILL has it's old buildings. The place is green, and surrounded by mountains. Absolutely gorgeous. Finally, we hit the Bruce Hwy, and arrived in Cairns about 2pm. We found where the caravan repair place was, and then did a tour of the town, taking in the wharf area, esplanade and general environs, before settling down for the night.

Croyden to Atherton Pics

9.6.10 We dropped the van off at the "doctor", and not having made a decision as to what we were going to do, found ourselves heading around the bay to Yarrabah. We passed a couple of delightful little residential areas ala Frenchmans bay in Albany, before climbing the Yarrabah Range, and emerging above the cove that is the Yarrabah Community. Unlike a lot of aboriginal communities, this one is open to the white folk, and we found ourselves talking to a couple of the locals for an hour or so, learning about the history and culture of the area. These guys are almost totally sufficient, living off the ocean, and consuming the likes of Goanna, cassowary, Wild Pig, Wallabies and the like. There are something like 7000 people living in the community, it has it's own primary and high schools, and reecently, a new hospital was opened. We were encouraged to have a look around, and we found it interesting that there were those who chose to live in our type of housing, and there were many who chose to live around the bay and in the bush in Shantys. And we saw none of the destruction of property that we have come to expect. These people have lived in this area for over 60,000 years, and we were told about sacred sites and aboriginal artifacts that lay in the heart of the range. Truly an inspiring few hours, and a little trip into paradise. We then found aur way down to Gordonvale where we indulged in our second pie from the Pie shop (we had discovered the shop the previous day), before receiving a phone call to tell us the van was ready to be picked up. We had decided to stop for a couple of days and catch our breath, and so we found a beaut little caravan park, and set up for our stay.

10.6.10 This was a real rest day. We did nothing. Lesleys' cousin Craig visited, and I had to duck into town to attend to some bank business, and that was essentially the day.

11.6.10 We woke up with no set plan for the day. I extended the van site for another night, and we decided to jump in the car and see where we wound up. It happened to be Kuranda, a village in the hills sort of like Kalamunda in WA, but totally touristy. It was probably a mix of Kalamunda and Fremantle markets. We wandered around for a while, then headed for Barron Falls. The amount of water going over at this time was a bit disappointing, but in full flow, it is spectacular. Not diminishing the sheer spectacle of the place regardless. A dam has been created at the top of the falls, and a hydro electric scheme has been engineered into the place, which provides power to Queenslands power grid. We wound our way up to Wright's Lookout, gaining a view straight down the gorge to the plain below. Back into the car, and we descended the winding road back towards Cairns, taking a detour into a delightful area called Lake Placid. This is towards the mouth of the Barron River, surrounded by steep hills, and is a lovely water playground. I have to admit that I wondered with all the warning signs about crocodiles inhabiting the waters around Cairns, why this was not a habitat. Back in the car, and we wound our way around to the Lower Power Station complex, where we saw a video on how the river raged through the gorge when Cyclone Steve struck in 2000. Amazing stuff. Everything is historic on this side of the world, none more so that the Freshwater Railway Station. There is a museum located within the complex, with a model of the mountains and the road and rail paths cut through them. The railway was built to open the coast to the riches being mined and cut in the Atherton Tableland. There was some amazing engineering skills employed, as the railway was built by hand in the late 1800s. Cairns at the time was broke, the population had dwindled, and the town was about to go under. The railway it is said, saved the town, and today, it is huge metropolis. It was getting late, but we thought we would have a look at the Crystal Cascades, and so another trip into the base of the range to the carpark, where we discovered a young mum and her kids and mother, were about to take a walk up the river. I noticed that the tyre on her Landcruiser was almost flat, and having had experience with split rims and tubed tyres, knew that whatever I did, it would go down again slowly. And so I told her that we would pump it up when we returned from our walk, so that she could get home. As it turned out, the problem appeared more serious than that, and so A tyre swap was done, and the spare fitted. The Crystal Cascades were not a waterfall as we imagined, but a series of small rock pools with the the stream cascading over the rock outcrops. Back to the van park, and get organised - early start tomorrow. Have decided to replace the worn road tyres on the van with off road tyres, before we do the Trip to the Tip, and they want the van at 7.30am.

12.6.10 Awake at six, and out of the van park and at Bob Jane at 7.15. Still nowhere to park the van - the idea of doing it early was to get to the parking area outside the shop before it got clogged with cars - that was where they would do the tyre swap, but the traffic beat us. Didn't take long and the van was parked, and the job done. We then headed north, calling in at Yorkies Knob on the way, before winding our way up the coast to Port Gregory. The road runs up the coast along the base of the hills, and affords some lovely views. We arrived in Port Douglas, and I have to say, for me, I wonder what the attraction is. The place is touristville, has pubs everywhere, souvenir shops, and food venues. I guess it's fine for the drinking, eating set, but we took in the scene, took some photos and video, and departed, heading for the hills, but not before dropping into Mossman, where if I lived in that area, I would probably drop anchor. Another steep winding hill, and we climbed into the heavens to cross the Great Dividing Range I believe it is, and a turn right just north of Mount Molloy. Just through Mount Carbine, and a police prescence on the road with a group of bikies and a couple of 4WDs. They weren't interested in us, and so we proceeded. The road undulated between a couple of mountain ranges, a hill called Lighthouse Mountain (which has a lighthouse built on top of it), and then some fairly flat country before another steep climb off the floor of the tableland to a lookout called Bob's Lookout, which afforded one of the best views we have had of recent times of where we had just come from. We have found the lookouts tend to have been created years ago, when the view was speccy, but then trees and shrubs have been allowed to grow in the line of view, rather obscuring and thus spoiling the experience. I guess the greenies have something to answer for, or the respective authorities just don't care. Tourists are a growing part of their economy, and a few bushes ain't going to make that much difference to global warming. Uh oh, shouldna said that.......... We found another roadside camp near the St George River, which afforded us with some privacy. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Cairns Pics

13.6.10 We left our site and headed for Palmer River Roadhouse, at least, that was the first habitation ahead of us. We crossed the river, and then wound back on ourselves to enter the roadhouse, and what a surprise. This place was one of the best I have seen in a long time. The building is made of rock and stone, and it's design and general appearance make you want to stay. It has a small museum, and a history of the area. Palmer River was a goldfield in the late 1800s, and it was because of this, that Cooktown became the port for the area and actually became a major town in the district. Onward through rolling hills and then a descent from the plateau we had been travelling on since Bob's Lookout yesterday. Some flattish ground, and then we were through Lakeland and on the road to Cooktown. Back into hills, and the curiosity that is Black Mountain. It looks just like a huge pile of Black and Grey Rocks with the odd patch of green, which are fig trees. All sorts of legends emanate from this place - storys of horses and herds of cattle disappearing, strange noises, bad smells, pilots complaining of turbulence over the hill, and so on. We arrived in Cooktown, only to find that the town is in the midst of celebration as it holds it's carnival remembering Captain Cooks arrival and beaching of the Endeavour on it's shore on the 18th June, 1770. We took a wander through the town, taking photos and video, and finally, after exhausting all attempts to find somewhere to park the van - "Not tonight mate, maybe tomorrow night as the crowds leave" - that's helpful, as it's illegal to camp within 15kms of the town, and so tonight we sit in our camp some 25kms away from Cooktown on the banks of the 14.6.10 We decided to backtrack a couple of kms, and visit the Lions Den Pub. This is at the end of the Bloomfield Track, and the CREB track runs here as well. The pub had celebrated the weekend with bands and an Open Mike night was planned for tonight. We had the time to stay and drag the keyboard out, but the decision was made to continue to the "Tip". Our idea is to get the Cape York experience completed, and then take our time coming back as we then have a time frame to get back to Sydney by October. We returned to the Lakeland junction, and turned North up the Peninsula Development Road. Split Rock Art Gallery loomed on our Port Bow, and so we called in to have a look. A climb of about 300m took us to a gallery of Aboriginal Rock Art which is decidedly different to what we saw at Carnarvon Gorge. There, it was mainly stencil art, wheras here, the depictations were definitely drawings of animals, spirits and people. Laura was the next roadhouse we pulled into. It being a long weekend, traffic was plentiful, and the roadhouse had sold out of food, drinks, ice cream and fuel. And so we moved on and found a spot beside a stretch of bitumen, which enabled us to have a sleep without the piles of dust.you would normally expect. The road since Lakelands, has so far has been gravel with sections of bitumen laid for overtaking areas, floodways and hill climbs.
Little Annan River.

15.6.10 Our first port of call was Hann River Roadhouse, where we decided to refuel, not knowing what the supply was like further up the road. We were about lineball on getting to Weipa on what we had in the tank, and needed some insurance. After making friends with a very photogenic emu, we once again hit the road and headed for the next roadhouse some 67kms away, that being Musgrave Telegraph Roadhouse. The road to now has been through undulating. hill country, with long stretches of gravel, and short bitumen stretches for overtaking out of the dust. The road seems to constantly run thru steep dips, many with water in them. This road is impassable in the wet season. And so we arrived at Musgrave Telegraph Roadhouse, so named, because the homestead/store was once one of the Telegraph Stations along this famous piece of road. The Station used to be fortified to protect it against hostile aborigines. It is built on stilts some 7' above the ground, and the undercroft has been furnished as a dining area. There was a flood some years ago, that more than drowned this part of the building. An airstrip runs alongside the place, and the road runs alongside the strip, thus plumes of dust drift across the landing area almost constantly as traffic approaches or leaves. We had 109 kms to reach Coen, and this was achieved without drama. Coen has a population of around 250 people, Coen came into being first as a small fort built by gold miners and prospectors in May 1877 but this first gold rush quickly came to an end, and the settlement did not recover until 1883. It became a centre for several small goldmines in the region but, in 1893, the rich Great Northern mine boomed and the town became a more substantial place. It has an airstrip at Coen Airport (24 km north of the town), hotel/motel, guest house, two general stores and fuel outlets, hospital, post office, police station, camping grounds, primary school kindergarten, ranger base and more. In the run from Musgrave, we had passed a tour of cyclists travrlling north, and while we were in Coen, they began arriving into town. A tour operator supplys the bikes, and these people pay a healthy sum of money to ride them from Cairns to the tip of Cape York. I think I'll do it my way. We left Coen, and drove for another couple of hours looking for somewhere to stay the night. As we approached a particularly tight and potentially nasty dip full of water, I was just moving and about to take a run across to the right hand side of the road where the track seemed to be a safer bet, when a moron in a 4WD came screaming past us from behind, hitting the obstacle at about 60kph, drowning our car with spray, before disappearing into the distance. I don't know whether he had his radio on, but he didn't reply to my wishing him a pleasant day. The video camera happened to be running, and made an entertaining piece of footage. Not long afterwards, I spotted a communications tower, and having camped near these things in the past, we found a gravel pit at that exact spot that suited our needs perfectly.

16.6.10 Refreshed, we drove the 13kms required to reach the Archer River roadhouse, where 3 guys I had let go past in the dust came over and expressed their appreciation. We now had a couple of hundred kms remaining before we hit the West Coast mining town of Weipa. Once we crossed the Archer River, the road altho dirt, was beautiful, and allowed us to travel quite comfortably around 80kph. We arrived in Weipa just after lunch, and set about getting settled into the camp ground. What a shemozzle. You pay your $28 for a powered site, select your own, and fight for a power point. There are few watertaps and you are not encouraged to hook up to them, quite the opposite in fact. It was pointed out that this was a camp ground rather than a caravan park........ When in Weipa.... We managaed to find a spot in amongst the million and a half camper trailers (who brings a caravan up to these parts..... well there are a a few of us). Then a quick run around town, and surprised that apart from the lookalike units, didn't look like a mining town. Mind you, Newman was the last mining town I was in, and that is underground mining. This is above ground, and the abundance of vehicles with safety flags is not apparent. Weipa is a port, which exports Bauxite and cattle. It has a population of just under 3000. It had its beginnings as a Presbyterian Aboriginal mission outpost in 1898. The present town was constructed mainly by Comalco (now called Rio Tinto Alcan), a large aluminium company, which began making trial shipments of bauxite to Japan in 1962. A railway was constructed to transport the ore from the mine at Andoom to the dump of the export facility at Lorim Point. The bauxite mine is the world's largest.

Cairns To Weipa Pics

17.6.10 Today was one of those days when ya jest does nuthin ' And that's what we did........ Well I did update my diary, and uploaded my pics, and uploaded some videos to YouTube........ but that was it ...... Jest sat back and did nuthin' .......

18.6.10 Another lazy day as we set about getting the Cruiser ready for the next week of camping. A bit of shopping, stocking the car fridge, and organising with a friend to leave the caravan at his place whilst we did the trip to the peninsular.

19.6.10 The big day. We dropped the van off, set up the dish, programmed the motor racing from Darwin and N ASCAR (gotta get the priorities right), and set sail for the Tip.The road to Batavia Downs was supposed to present a challenge or two, but for some reason, the road is being upgraded ...... damn Then onto the Telegraph Road proper, and our first destination at Moreton Telegraph Station. It is that in name only these days, as most of the infrastructure and telegraph building have been removed. A very presentable camping spot and stopover, nonetheless. Then on to Bramwell Station, where the main road veers to the East, and the Old Telegraph Track commences. THe roads to now had been in very good condition, and in my case, were becoming boring. Prior to the trip, we had decided to bypass the Old Track, because we were travelling on our own and didn't have a winch, but by now, I needed a challenge. WE were told that the first creek was the most daunting, and the second creek had a big hole in it, and to keep to the left of it, and............. And so we opted to go and have a look at the first crossing, and decide from there what we would do. And so 4kms later, we were standing looking at this almost vertical drop into a mud pit, and a river full of water. We decided to camp the night, and see how we felt in the morning. By then, a couple more guys turned up, and decided against going further. Then Troopy appeared from the other side, splashed through the creek, and ascended the wall like spiderman. Having seen that, my confidence was renewed, and I figured that despite my lack of water experience, that I could do it. We set up camp and slept on it.

20.6.10 Lesley had the video camera in her hand for only the second time in her life, and had been despatched to the far bank of "crocodile infested waters" to film the impending attempt on crossing the obstacle. I sat in the car with the nose hanging over the edge of this sheer drop (about 1.5m and angled in reality) into the mudpit. It was time, i selected low first, and moved forward. The nose dipped, and the mudpit approached the windscrenn, and then I was levelling out, and then crawling over logs placed in the mudpit by previous drivers, and now i was in the river, and the exit chute was in front of me as I gunned it up the slippery slope to safety. I had don e it. I hit the horn, screamed out a Yee Ha, and was happy. Sadly, the video shows a fairly ordinary descent into a small chasm, and the vehicle passing quite sedately thru the stream...... sigh. Now my more extreme 4wd mates will wonder what all the fuss was about, but this is adrenaline pumping stuff first time out. There was no turning back. And so on to the crossing with the deep hole. Once again Lesley walked the creek and showed me where to go, and again took possession of the video camera, as I edged into the water, and skirted the black hole near the exit, which was about 90 degrees to where we entered. So it meant driving around and along the water to do the crossing. And so it continued, until we reached the Gunshot Bypass. There was no way I was goping to attempt this demon, and so we headed off around the bypass. On reaching the old Track again, we turned back to the Gunshot to have a look at what it was all about. There were a number of people camped there, watching the fun as more adventurous tyupes attempted the challenge ...... over and over again. We arrived as a friend we had met in Weipa was being towed out of the boghole at the bottom of the 15' drop into the creek. There are 2 or 3 more "chicken run" areas to cross the creek, with their own challenges, but these guys needed to prove something it seems. We filmed an attempt by another of these guys, including the recovery process, before continuing our trip. WE rejoined the Main road for a few kms, before turning into Fruitbat Falls. This is a picnic area, day use only, and a beautiful spot for swimming and marvelling at the way the river has drooped a level to create the waterfall midstream. We then headed for Eliot Falls campground, where we found ourselves a spot, and whilst eating tea, watched thousands of bats circling over the camp area. Spectacular.

21.6.10 We had breakfast, packed up camp, and then walked down to have a look at the Twin Falls, Eliot Falls, and the Saucepan. The Twin Falls are on Canal Creek, which joins Eliot Creek a few metres on, and then runs into the Jardine River. They are delightful, a beautiful swimming hole, and created a lovely setting for a photographer, who was standing waist deep in the water with his camera on a tripod, taking photos of the scene, with his crew standing by waiting to take the camera as he finished his shots. We then followed the track around to the Eliot Falls, and then further to the Saucepan, another smaller waterfall in the river. Walking back to the campsite, we passed through a grove of trees, where the colony of bats from last night were just hanging out of the trees. We had decided not to continue the Old track, as it now meant fording rivers bonnet high with water, and I wasn't prepared for that experience just yet. You only get one chance to get it wrong and destroy the engine. We had spent the best part of a day doing next to no kms yesterday, and so the trip up the main road passed fairly quickly until we reached the ferry at the Jardine River. In the past, people travelling up the old track have forded the Jardine downstream, and many have lost their vehicles trying to avoid the $88 charge for the ferry. It is believed that the local community blew holes in the river at the old crossing, making it now impassable. We parted with our hard earned, and continued up the road to Injinoo, Imagico, and finally Bamaga, the main town at the top. We decided that we would continue to the Tip, calling in at the Croc Tent on the way. The area main Information Centre closed some time ago, and the Croc tent is the main source of infop in the area. We now found ourselves wending our way along a narrow, but very pretty road covered with foliage, until the Ocean appeared in front of us, and we were there. We had made it to the northern most point of the continent ..... almost. We now had to negotiate a walking trail over a hill for about 500m to reach the signpost stuck in a rock on the ocean edge, proclaiming our achievement. Photos and videos done, we decided to camp on the beach for the night, and with the wind blowing a gale, hoped we wouldn't end up in the Torres Strait overnight.

22.6.10 We left the Tip and headed back to Somerset, the ortiginal homestead of the Jardines who opened up the area in the late 1800s. There not much left there now, but there is a nice little camping beach, along with the graves of the Jardines and some of their staff. There is a cave around the point with some aboriginal rockart, that can be accessed by walking around the point at low tide, howev er the tide was in, and that option wasn't open to us. We then travelled back to the Croc Tent, nd turned toward Punsand Bay Resort, which was to us, a major disappointment. The facilities and grounds seem run down, and the laundry and toilets were attrocious. We did partake of a Rum and Coke to celebrate our reaching the Tip, before jumping back in the car and heading up a bush track which would take us to Roonga Point. There are no signposts up here telling you where to go, and so a mud map, and the Outback Explorer mode in my GPS was holding us in good stead. There used to be a sawmill in this area, but all that remains now is the remnants of a jetty. I think most people turn back before they reach this destination, as the track could be daunting to someone who is not used to these conditions. We drove back to the Croc Tent, and asked about the best way to get to Loyalty Beach. We were given a shortcut which proved to be a pretty drive with a couple of creek crossings, before reaching the camping ground. By comparison with Punsand Bay, this place was well presented, well organised, and the facilities were much nicer. Then on to Seisha, which is a port. What we found amusing, was the number of horses just wandering around these towns as you would see dogs nosing around. There are a few plane wrecks from WWII in thearea, and so we headed off to have a look at the remains of a DC3 which crashed in 1945 (just left as it landed), and then into the scrub to find a Lockheed that had come down near the current airport. It was now getting late, and we decided that Loyalty Beach was the place to stay, and so we returned to the camping ground and booked in for the night.

23.6.10 We were leaving town, but wanted to have a look at Muttee Head, and so we drove out along a well made road which ran along a ridge line for much of the way, affording some beautiful scenery along the way. The road was built by American Servicemaen during the war, and the Beach was used by Australian and American forces as a camp. After checking out the campsite, we again headed into the scrub, and up a track surrounded by tall grass to find an old Radar tower from the war days. We also found some graves of people who had come to the mainland from a nearby island. Back on the road, and we crossed the Jardine, and made our way back towards Eliot Falls where we planned to spend the night. The road was fantastic, smooth dirt, good for 100 clicks, and then a horror stretch of some 20-30kms, with corrugations that would test your dentists ability at fixing permanent fillings in your teeth. We eventually arrived at our destination, and settled down to decide where we would go tomorrow.

24.6.10 The weather had been dodgy for the past couple of days, and we were tossing up whether to go to Captain Billy Landing. It was just 30km off the main track, and according to our bible, "Cape York, an adventurers handbook" by Ron and Viv Moon, the road was good (at the time of writing - all things change from season to season up here), and it was a very picturesque drive. We figured that we probably wouldn't be up here again in a hurry, and so it was decided. Captain Billy, here we come. More of those corrugations, and then a narrow track similar to the one at the tip - one car wide and an avenue of trees and foliage. The drive was sensational, breaking out to a lookout overlooking the plain stretching out below us. then down a steep scarp, and our next surprise, a meadow of green grass. before burrowing back into the trees and creek crossings, and finally, bursting out on top of acliff overlooking the sea and the cove that was Captain Billy Landing. We descended to the camp ground, took shelter in picnic hut, and broke out our lunch. The explorer Kennedy was led to this place by an aboriginal who called himself captain Billy. Apparently later, Kennedy would be speared by a party of natives led by said Captain Billy. The shed and jetty that occupied the land for years has now been removed by QWPS, and a picnic shelter and toilet have been provided. Time to move on, and we reached Bramwell Junction Roadhouse (Where the Old Telegraph Track leaves the main road) and set up camp for the night.

25.6.10 Up early, and on our way, heading for the Batavia Downs bypass, which would bring us back to Weipa, where we arrived about lunchtime. We reaquainted ourselves with the Van, and started the task of downloading photos, video footage, catching up with emails, Facebook and writing our diaries and blogs. We had been away a week, and what a week it was.

Weipa To The Tip Pics

26-28.6.10 Just hanging around Weipa, resting, looking for crocodiles (found a couple this morning - bit too far away to photograph - the shot here has been severely blown up). Generally just chilling out, getting the energy to start heading back south. We have been on the road 11 weeks and done over 11000kms.

29.6.10 We decided to go back out and have another look for crocodiles, check out the airport, and generally have look around the town of Weipa itself. Caught up with some friends that we met on the road to the Tip, and had dinner with them at the Bowls club. Becoming regular socialites we are, dinner at the bowls club Saturday and last night, and a BBQ on Sunday.......

30.6.10 It's time to travel north to the sleepy little aboriginal community that is Mapoon. In 1954, a decision was made by the Presbyterian Mission and the Government to close the community, and move the locals to Weipa, and subsequently to New Mapoon. The locals were not happy, as they wanted to remain in their homeland, and it took 40 years for the community to regain the right to move back to Marpoon. Not an episode that the Church and the government should be proud of. Our goal was to get to to Janie Creek, and after arriving in the town, and visiting Cullen Point, we found the sandtrack winding down the beach that took us the 9.4 kms south to the mouth of the Janie Creek, where we found a number of people camping, and a picnic table under a tree that served admirably as our lunch table. We then returned to the town to attempt to find other points of interest that had been recommended to us, but with time getting away from us, (it was now 3pm) and the amazing lack of signposting in the Cape, we found ourselves heading back to Weipa, arriving back in town just after 5pm.

 

QUEENSLAND TRIP VIDEOS 2010

Simpson Desert In Bloom Posted 17/9/10
Waterfalls - North Queensland
Old Telegraph Track - Qld
Gillies Hwy - Qld

Cattle Muster Qld
Gulflander - Normanton - Qld

Sheepyard War Memorial - NSW
Back O Bourke Hotel - before the fire
The Ant Ordeal - Bourke

Mt Moffat - Top Shelter Shed - Carnarvon NP

If you would like to contact me or email your thoughts or comments, please feel free to do so. I would love to hear from you

For more photos, visit Lesley's site. Queensland, Australia

Lesley Bray Photography

 

 

 

 

Updated 28.12-2010

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