Weipa to ‘The top’.

What a great trip it’s been so far! We went into Gunshot crossing via the bypass road and got there in time to see a few young blokes having fun in the ‘extreme’ crossing. You’ll see with the photos that the drop is vertical and the mud was so deep and boggy they had to winch themselves out. We camped there the night and later on four vehicles came in and they apparently took four hours to double winch themselves through Palm Creek which has steep entry and exits. So by the time they got to Gunshot they’d had enough fun for the day and took the ‘chicken track’!
The next morning they left before us and continued up the Telegraph track for 37kms to Fuit Bat Falls while we went the 115km long way and still got there before them! It was great to be able to swim in ‘croc free’ water even though there were heaps of people and a tour bus as well. Imagine the peak time still to come!
Next, under the Rangers’ guidance we went the long,’easy’ way to Eliot Falls as the short way involved driving through a metre deep water and we didn’t want to drag the camper trailer through that or do any electrical damage to the car. It took us two hours to drive approximately 30kms through washed out, deep rutted bloody creek crossings without doing any damage! Once again the falls and the swim at the end of the day was bliss and the best part being we had it all to ourselves.
No wonder!
A couple of days later when we left we went the short way out and at the creek crossing you had the option of going through the deep water or swing left and up a steep bank which we did, but lost a couple of rear trailer legs for the effort but, it only took 15 minutes to get back to the main road. That was our little bit of Telegraph Track adventure and we came out better then a lot of others we’d seen who did most or all of it!
We carried on to Bamaga and stayed at Seisia for a few nights. You think Thailand has problems with dogs! There’s a few poor mutts wandering around here but the stray horses outnumber them by far. Amazing to see them wandering around town and the campground though a bit of a worry if your in a swag as a couple of blokes next to us were. I don’t think they appreciated goodnight kisses from them!
From here we did a few small trips around the area and out to Mutee Head where there’s some great camps on the beach. This is also the area where the islanders from Saibai moved to 70 years ago due to their island being flooded with huge tides and monsoons, before relocating to Bamaga. We were here for the 70 year anniversary and watched their street parade and celebration. Man, they love their bright colours. They look so happy!
We did our own little island getaway going to Thursday Island for the day then hopping over to Horn Island for a night. Definitely not a 5 star luxury resort holiday destination but does have a great museum and WW11 history and relics. Horn Island was the most forward Australian Air Force base and had approximately 5000 allied forces stationed on it. It was also the second most bombed area after Darwin, but the least known about. Today they are still finding plane wrecks, batteries, trenches etc.with the help of maps the old veterans drew up when they use to have reunions. Sadly they no longer have them as there are very few left and are in their 90’s.
Anyone thinking about moving to Thursday Island can expect to pay about $1500 a week rent and the groceries are more then double the price back home. Everything comes here on a cargo boat from Cairns weekly.
Another different custom here is their unveiling of family members tombstones. After the burial it could be up to ten years or longer before they unveil the tombstone (which is like another wake) depending on different circumstances such as mourning, finances or multiple unveilings at once.
Finally, four months after leaving the Central Coast we have made it to the ‘tip’ of mainland Australia! Yee haa!
Now turning south to pick up what we missed on the way up, mainly on the east side of the Cape!
IT WILL BE WINDY! They don’t tell you that in the brochures!

 

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Watch “70 year celebration of movement from the island Saibai to Bamaga.” on YouTube

While in Bamaga we got to see the 70 year celebration of movement from the island Saibai to Bamaga. They moved from the island to mainland because of huge tides and monsoon and resided in an old military camp at Mutee Heads until they relocated to Bamaga a better area.  After the parade they continued with dances, speeches and feasting but we left after the dances.

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Coen to Weipa.

Heading on up the PDR (Peninsula Development Road) we called into Musgrave Telegraph Station which is the only one still standing. Nowadays it’s a roadhouse and campground servicing locals and tourists alike and has a small display on the history of the station and telegraph line.
Further up the road we stayed at Coen, an old gold mining town for two nights at a ‘freebie’ on the Coen River and took in the museum and walked the town which didn’t take long at all!
Next stop was Weipa, a Bauxite mining town and also a favourite fishing spot as most tourists brought their own boats with them. We did a mine and town tour while here and chucked a line in with no luck but saw some locals teaching a young boy traditional fishing. I doubt if they had much luck either since the younger kids were splashing and jumping around enough to scare any fish off!
Just north of Weipa about 60 kms is Pennefather River and beach camping where we went for four nights. Absolutely beautiful and the sunsets are magic. Such a shame you can’t swim there or shouldn’t anyway. We weren’t there long when we saw what we thought was a tree floating offshore but when looking through the binoculars saw it was a rather large croc, about five or six metres (no joke). The photo shows him only about 100 metres offshore. Later that night we shone the touch along the beach looking for red eyes and yep, there was some coming along about a metre offshore. The next night I accidentally picked our friends eyes up again with the head torch while eating dinner. He was parked on the beach below us and eventually moved on. Now we are thinking he’s stalking us and thank God our camp is up high! We never saw him again but I’m sure he was around somewhere.
Just out was a reef and inside was literally bubbling with fish and big ones, probably salmon mostly. We were basically hitting them on the head with bait, lures and live bait but still couldn’t catch one, typical for us. Along comes this bloke, pulls up, casts out, sits down and then starts reeling them in! Bastard!
We drove down to the river one day and found quite a few people camped there and most with boats as well. There we caught one cod that we got a meal out of and one shovel nose shark which we let go.
So after a great relaxing four days we drove back to Weipa, stocked up and headed off again.

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Cape Trib to Cooktown.

We travelled the Bloomfield track and got over ok but what an experience! Valium wouldn’t have gone astray! The worse parts were two ranges we had to go over being the Donovan and the Cowie and were straight up and down steep. These we had to use low range first gear to pull the trailer up and hold us back going down the other side. The first one was gravel and I was a bit worried thinking it might be slippery as we’d had a few days of rain and the second one is now concreted both sides. But all turned out good and we can now tick the Bloomfield Track off the list!
We called into Bloomfield Waterfall and saw our first crocodile this trip basking on a rock at the bottom. No swimming in this one!
The iconic Lion’s Den Hotel was our next stop for a beer and lunch. The interior is covered in people’s names and comments. This tradition was started in the 1800’s by workers from the nearby Lion’s Den mine who use to write their wages on the wall and work out how much they had left to spend! Couldn’t leave without leaving our mark for a donation!
Further on we stopped at the Black Mountain lookout which is amazing and looked liked someone just dumped piles of huge black boulders.
The next four nights we spent at Cooktown which is another small laid back historic town. The locals(the white ones) are very proud of their history as this is where Captain Cook beached the Endeavour in June 1770 for repairs after running aground on a reef. They have one of the six cannons which was thrown overboard to lighten the ship and also the anchor he had to cut loose on display in the museum along with other relics. These were only found about 48 years ago!
Cooktown became a bustling port after gold was discovered in1873 in the Palmer River region. Maytown was one of the main towns in the goldfields and is now just a ghost town with old mining relics scattered throughout the area and this was where we visited next for a few days camping alongside the Palmer River.
We are now on the move after conflicting reports on roads conditions of Cape York. Some say ‘yes, all roads open’ and national parks say ‘all parks still closed’. We met a couple the other day coming back from the ‘the tip’ who said all was open so we are just going to head on up and take it as it comes. What we don’t see on the way up we’ll see on the way back hopefully,
Cheers for now!

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Cairns to Cape Tribulation.

We thought Airlie Beach had lots of backpackers but found Cairns has even more! But there’s also a mixture of other and older tourist about as well. The CBD and esplanade is very chic with shoulder to shoulder bars, al fresco cafes and restaurants. And just about every other shop besides your souvenir, clothing and convenience stores were Greyhound travel centres on every corner.  You would also expect Cairns to have beautiful white sandy beaches but it’s actually built on mud flats. There are two photos taken from the same spot, one looking across the mud flats to the marina and the other across the man made lagoon built on the esplanade and especially enjoyed by the backpackers.

We rode on the historic Kuranda railway and returned by sky rail over the rainforest while the car was getting a service and wheel alignment. It turned out to be a very expensive day and we reckon we got totally ripped off by the smooth talking manager at Midas! Too late now!

We did the usual sightseeing around different beaches, waterfalls and dams before moving onto Port Douglas. We liked Port with it’s laid back tropical but oppulant feel about it. Saturday was market day which was bigger than we expected and amazing stuff for sale from alternate to high end. Some food I wasn’t too sure of and if I ate I would end up hallucinating or not!

Next was onto Daintree to catch the ferry to Cape Tribulation. Daintree is a nice little village and their main tourist attraction seems to be river cruises and crocodile spotting and of course rainforest tours.

We camped at Noah’s Beach at Cape Trib and the first couple of days were great. After that, rain, rain and more rain!  Anyway we still saw all we could with rainforest walks and read all about the mating habits of the mangrove trees, fascinating! Really!

Greg was a bit disappointed expecting Cape Trib to be full of hippies and way out there but these days it’s full of Eco lodges and hostels.

We’ve put a couple of photos of these exotic tropical fruit we came across selling on the side of the road called Mangosteen. Never heard or seen them before so we pulled in to get some. Really nice and sweet and the inside is like mandarine segments. I don’t know how they usually eat or plate them up but we just got into them.

Another photo of Greg out with his trusty chainsaw when there was a tree across the road. You will look at it and think we could have just picked it up and tossed it but as it’s a rainforest tree its full of water and the end was loaded with stag horns. We met the girls in the photo later at camp and they were a little concerned why he just happened to have a chainsaw in the car!

Next onto the Bloomfield track and Cooktown.

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Paronella Park.

Just south west of Innisfail is an old castle ruins that was the dream and creation of a young Spanish man. Some of you may already know of it and been there but I’m going to give you a short version and you can google the full story yourself. Or better still if your up this way, just go and see it.
Jose’ Paronella arrived at Innisfail in 1913 and over 11 years built his wealth by working hard, buying, improving and selling cane farms until he found and brought his dream 13 acres with a waterfall to build his castle. Meanwhile he returned to Spain to marry his fiancé and bring her to Australia but found she’d moved on and married someone else therefore he married her younger sister instead and they returned to build his dream.
So they built their castle, cottage, movie theatre/ ballroom, tennis courts, tunnels, bridges, pathways, staircases, entertaining area, change rooms for swimming, picnic area, tables and so much more all made by hand mixed concrete. Then they planted 7000 tropical plants and trees and added NQ’s first hydro electric plant to light up the lot and opened the park to the public in 1935.
It’s mind blowing how much work they put into the place and he also hand made over 500 concrete plant holders and something like 8000 balustrades. Jose’ passed away in 1948 and it since passed through the family until his daughter sold in 1977.
Sadly though over the years the place has been through floods, cyclones and in 1979 was devastated by fire.
The current owners were holidaying when they came across the park which was overgrown and in a very bad state. But they brought it and with lots of hard work and determination they cleared and made the park safe to open once again to the public.
There’s also a small caravan park attached which Jose’s son created and Mark and Judy, the new owners are building a new park in the near future behind the pub across the road which they also brought. Smart people!
It’s certainly a credit to Jose’ and his family for this outstanding masterpiece they built and also to Mark and Judy for bringing it up to where it is now saving a big piece of history.and sharing Jose’s story and dream!

 

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Waterfalls FNQ.

After leaving Townsville we took our time heading north with some relaxing, peaceful camps alongside creeks and beautiful waterfalls. We were still getting a bit of rain (especially in the rainforests) but nothing too heavy. We visited numerous waterfalls and they all had a fair amount of water running over especially as the locals reckon they haven’t had much rain this year. Speaking of which, we called into Tully, the wettest town in Australia and true to form, it was pelting down when we came out of the supermarket. We sat and waited til it stopped before walking back to the car but the locals didn’t even notice and just carried on in it. One lady we spoke to who moved from Tully to Townsville said the one thing she didn’t miss was the mould and when you looked you could indeed see the mould growing on the outside of the houses so would hate to see the insides!

We stayed a couple of nights at Ingham and did day trips out to Lucinda on the coast (which has the best fish and chips I’ve tasted yet) and up in the hills to Wallaman Falls which is the highest single drop fall in Australia at 268 metres. On the way we drove through the village Trebonne and came across this old corrugated iron post office with old private boxes outside and still opens for one hour a day.

We then went on up past Hinchinbrook Island, through Cardwell stopping at the local ‘Spa Pool’ out in the forest for a dip before camping at Murray Falls for a couple of nights. Onwards next up to Paronella Park for a couple of nights (but that’s another story) and through Innisfail which we should have stayed at for at least a night as there’s some history and old ‘Art Deco’ buildings. We drove to Millaa Millaa up in the Atherton Tablelands and stayed a few nights using this as a base to look around and yep, more waterfalls! There’s some beautiful old historic villages up there worth seeing but watch out for one of the locals who bailed us up for a good hour telling us where and what to see. He was trying to send us up some goat track and in the end was reciting poems he wrote and movie lines before we got away!

For Easter we went out to Chillagoe stopping for a night on the way at Innot Springs where the creek has natural hot thermal springs and you can dig your own spa to sit in. Or you can just stay in the caravan park next door and use their pools all at different temperatures.

Chillagoe is on the Burke Development Road on the way to Normanton and has numerous limestone caves but only a few you can visit, some with a guide only and a couple on your own. There’s also the old smelter that use to refine tin, silver, gold, zinc but mainly copper. Mining is still(or again) active in the area. The main reason we came out this way was to get away from the school holiday and Easter crowds but there was a bit to see and turns out the camping was free at the rodeo grounds and had a nice creek alongside with swimming holes.

After Easter we headed back up to the tablelands and stayed a few nights at Tinaroo Dam and hoped to catch some ‘red claw yabbies’ but there was none about. This may have something to do with the low water levels, the rain or maybe cleaned out over Easter. Not just us, as others weren’t getting any as well!

Next stop the big smoke Cairns. Tell you about it later!

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Dodging Debbie!

Welcome to Queensland’s monsoon season! Since we left Yeppoon we’ve run into plenty of rain and 100% humidity so we therefore seem to be constantly wet from either sweat or rain! Yuk!
We spent a few days at Mackay with Greg’s aunt and uncle and was lucky enough to go out fishing one morning before the sky’s opened again. We got a few nice ‘keepers’ and lots of ‘throw backs’. I think maybe I hooked a stingray or shovel nose as I saw something big come to the surface before breaking the 100lb line. (Another fish story)!
Our next stop was Airlie Beach for three nights. Talk about backpackers haven, we were one of the oldest there! We didn’t end up going out to the islands as the weather was crap. Before we got to Airlie we were thinking of hiring a yacht for a few days and cruising ourselves around but the price and the weather impacted that decision which was probably lucky for us. People were telling us that a cyclone was building up out there (was there?), so instead of spending the next few days at Bowen as we wanted to, we called in and had a look then headed up to Townsville. We had no idea if we were heading straight into the heart of ‘Debbie’ but friends we’d met in Kalgoorlie were living there and we bunked down with them (THANKYOU). Karen, Mick and the boys had been through two big cyclones before, Larry and Yasi and from the stories of how terrifying they can be, we were damn lucky we missed it. It was great to wake up to a normal day and say ‘what cyclone?’. In fact we barely got any wind and no rain at all from her. Sorry to say all you guys down south are copping it while we go on our merry way again north!

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A Long Way To The Top!

The adventure has started again after four months off the road with work, family, friends and Xmas. We were both enthusiastic to get going again in January and have pointed the car and trailer north. The destination is as far north as we can go to the tip of Cape York and so far the journey has been mostly about catching up with many friends we made while in WA who are now either living or travelling on the east side.
Up until Bundaberg we covered places we had already been to last trip and are now seeing new sights and astounded with progress and changes since twenty years ago. For example Hervey Bay is no longer a small seaside town but a city with many suburbs and Yeppoon where Mum and Dad use to go to every winter for three or four months now has high rises and shopping centres!
We’ve camped at many beaches along the way and no doubt will see more but now we are getting in the areas where you shouldn’t swim due to stingers and crocs so it might be lots of cold showers from now on. The crocs are moving further south and are apparently in the Mary River at Maryborough which is only about 250 kms north of Brisbane and also sighted in the creek and bay at Yeppoon. If they don’t start culling them soon they’ll end up coming through the heads of Sydney Harbour looking for new territories!
So we now only have about 950 kms to go for Cairns and then another 1000 kms to the top but there’s no hurry as we’re waiting for the wet season to end before venturing past Cairns. Cheers till next time!

 

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Cunnamulla to Nyngan.

We enjoyed the ‘Cunnamulla Fella Festival’ in outback Queensland  with entertainment all weekend. There were two nights of bull and bronc riding (lots of spills), the ‘Cunnamulla Fella’ challenge, band, fireworks and heaps more. Top weekend and they got a good crowd especially as the Birdsville races were on the following weekend. But, OMG the nights were freezing!

From there we headed south to Bourke and then Cobar. We planned on going to Gundabooka National Park near Bourke but with all the rain they had, all dirt roads were closed. The country is looking magnificent being so green and wildflowers galore (as good as WA). The locals say they haven’t seen it like this for years!

Cobar, a copper and gold mining town, is very busy and enterprising being at a major junction with trucks and caravans passing through non stop. We stayed four nights and was amazed how the caravan park would empty out each morning and be full again that afternoon. No doubt the owners are sitting on their own gold mine as it’s the only caravan park in town!  A bit of trivia we didn’t know was that the town water supply is piped from Burrendong Dam near Wellington. Shouldn’t run out for a while now as the level has gone from about 15% to around 135% last I heard!

Nyngan was our next stop and we camped at the Riverview Caravan Park. And the river view was slowly getting closer each day, but the day before we left it started rising much quicker. I have since been back and where we were camped the week before was then about a metre under water!

So now it’s ‘head down, bum up’ for awhile as Greg is working out at Wallerawang near Lithgow for a couple of months and I am waiting for the grain harvest to start (if it ever stops raining) and head back out to Nyngan for a few weeks work. Then it’s back for Xmas and who knows what after that!

 

 

 

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