We made our way south down the east coast of Cape York and as predicted was windy all the way. Our only ‘coast camp’ was at Captain Billy’s Landing and while there we were told about a croc slide on the beach north of the campground coming from a creek. A photo of Greg shows you how wide it was. The next day at low tide when you could get around the rocks to the south we spotted a croc on the edge of the water below another creek. It certainly blended in with the rocks! Funny how a few people we have spoke to, travelled the Cape and didn’t see one croc. They must have their eyes closed as we’ve seen them everywhere, in creeks, rivers, billabongs, ocean and beaches!
Next we went to Portland Road and Chilli Beach but camped about 20 kms inland in a rainforest out of the wind. Around this area is home for the ‘Eclectus Parrot’ which we heard but couldn’t see and the ‘Green Python’. We spotted a juvenile one and they are yellow till about nine months when they change to green. This Python was across the road from where we camped and came out at night in the same spot. Word got around it was there and even the ranger came out one night to take photos. Poor thing would have been sick of torches and flashes going off in its face.
Portland Road ‘village’ has about half a dozen houses in a protected bay and looked very nice where as Chilli Beach was totally littered with rubbish which blows in with the trade winds and mostly comes from overseas and passing ships.They reckon every year when they have a big clean up they pick up around 4000 thongs and about 6000 plastic bottles!
While in this area we visited Lockhart River, an aboriginal community that was surprisingly bigger than we expected. Highly recommended is their art gallery where you could see some of the artists at work out the back.There’s lots of beautiful works, traditional and modern piled up for sale and they have regular exhibitions around Australia as well as an upcoming Singapore exhibition.
Finally we went to Lakefield National Park which was still closed on the way up. Here are the remains of old Lakefield and Laura Homesteads as well as many billabongs and birdlife including magnificent Brolgas and Sarus Cranes.
Backtracking a little, we cut over to the Karumba to Musgrave road from Laura which showed 4WD track on the map. Turned out to be better than most gravel roads and we just had to watch the ‘dips’. We crossed the Mitchell River that was only about a half metre deep at the time but quite wide and as it was getting late and others were camped up we did too even though there were ‘no camping’ signs. We were going to pull up beforehand but came across kilometres of burning off so wasn’t a good idea! The next morning the irate farmer came along and hunted everyone off, bad sport!
We continued on our way to Karumba and stayed for four nights. We were lucky to get a site as the five caravan parks were fairly full and mostly with long term ‘grey nomads’. They’re mad fisherman and the queue at the boat ramp everyday was entertaining to watch. It’s funny how they all turn up at the same time and again all come back in about the same time!
We saw a bloke catch a ‘queenie’ on the beach and he wasn’t real impressed. Said he would take it back to camp and see if anyone wanted it and no doubt it would probably end up being fish cakes. They get a bit fussy with their fish!
While here we did a ‘croc spotting and sunset cruise’ up the Norman River and out to the Gulf. We also found out that the banana and tiger prawns from here are supplied to Woolworths, so now you know where they come from!
Normanton was our next stop and we stayed about 20kms out of town on Leichhardt Lagoon station. We expected maybe half a dozen others to be camped there but was closer to 50 caravans. Some come here every year for a couple of months and I believe a lot of others get there for the Saturday night three coarse meal for six bucks. We missed that one! Also barramundi is being caught in the nearby Norman River and we saw some good ones come in between 70 and 84 cms long. No one was giving them ones away!
One day we enjoyed a ride on the historic ‘Gulflander’ motor train (It’s got a ‘crash’ gearbox!) and was built in the 1880’s to link the Croydon goldfields with the river port of Normanton and has run continuously ever since, though these days for tourism.
Normanton is also home of the ‘Purple Pub’ (yes, we had a beer and lunch there) and also the ‘life size’ replica of the biggest crocodile ever shot. A brave woman by the name of Krystina Pawlowski, a crocodile hunter, shot it in 1957 in the Norman River. It measured in at 8.63 metres and to this day is the largest recorded in the Guinness Book of Records! Could you even imagine coming across one this size? I know I’d crap myself for sure!
So we are currently at Burketown for a few days camped near the Albert River and will go to Adels Grove and Lawn Hill national park on Monday. Not much to see here but we did catch ourselves a nice mud crab…..yummmmm!
Saw these ‘clowns’ in Burketown with their truck and large old boat sitting on a trailer with one broken axle, one bent one and two stuffed tyres. Later they were at the boat ramp with piles of ‘jumping castles’ and who knows what else which they loaded onto the boat to take to Mornington Island for NAIDOC week. The boat was overloaded, on a tilt and they had 150 kms to go. We expected to see all their gear floating back in with the tide and Marine Rescue going out to save them! Might happen yet as they still have to get back, let’s hope not!
Captain Billy’s Landing
Juvenile Green Python
Washing the car in Laura River.
Split Rock art.
A Karumba jetty – whats left!
Prawn trawlers at Karumba.
Queenie – fish cakes!
Normanton ‘Purple Pub”.
Can’t wait to get back to work!
Krys, the Savannah Croc.
Leichhardt Lagoon sunset.
Burke and Wills blaze. Their most northern camp.