Summary

  • TREK TO THE TIP
  • A Tour of Cape York with Steve and Kathy.
  • 5-6-2017 to 7-7-2017
  • We made our way to Kris in Townsville to drop off Stuie. Kris kindly volunteered to take care of him while we were away. We overnighted with Kris, then made our way to a free camp at Rollenstone, just north of Townsville. Steve and Kathy were a couple of days behind us, so we settled ourselves in for a night or two. The weather was great, the camp area a quiet spot in the bush, with lots of birds to keep me entertained.
  • Steve and Kathy arrived late the next afternoon, tired after a long days travel, so a chat, tea and an early night. Up and on the road the next day, with a lunch stop at Cardwell. Made our way to Milaa Milaa on the Atherton Tablelands for the night. Such a lovely part of Queensland. Came in quite cold when the sun went down.
  • Very cold the next morning, and, as Steve and Kathy were travelling with a camper trailer, we all piled into our van for breakfast. Very cosy and fun! Morning tea at Mareeba, the weather by now nice and warm, then a lunch stop at Palmer River Roadhouse. Finally arrived at Laura, and set up camp for a couple of nights at the back of the Quinkan Hotel.
  • There is a bit to see around Laura. First stop Split Rock and a look at the aboriginal rock art. It was a fair climb up the escarpment, but well worth it when we got there. Then on to Lakefield National Park. The Old Laura Homestead was very interesting to explore. We had morning tea on the banks of the Laura River, a lovely spot. It was very dry and dusty further into the park, but we did find a couple of lagoons with some birdlife. The boys decided to try a bit of fishing. Mind you, they didn’t have any bait, so they were both trying to catch a grasshopper or two, that was quite funny to watch. Anyway, with a grasshopper on the hook, Steve managed to catch a small archer fish. Needless to say, it went straight back into the lagoon. Back to the river for lunch, a bit more exploring and then home to our camp. A long day.
  • Left Laura, and now the fun begins, dirt road all the way! Although, not all dirt, there were patches of bitumen here and there. Morning tea at Hann River Roadhouse, where we met Ozzie the Emu, very friendly when there was the prospect of a biscuit or two. Next stop Musgrave Station, for a bit of a look and to stretch our legs. After Musgrave the road turned bad, corrugations horrendous, Max was ready to turn around and head home! But it soon passed and we were on quite good road, with some stretches of bitumen. Roadworks, too, with water trucks laying the dust.
  • We spent two nights at Coen, the hotel offering camping facilities. Max and Steve needed a break from the stressful driving and Kathy and I were able to catch up on some washing.
  • On the road again, road rough, but not too bad. Morning tea at Archer River Roadhouse, lunch at the Moreton Telegraph Station, and finally our next camp at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse. Very busy here, lots of travellers. This is where the infamous Old Telegraph Track meets the Bamaga Road, a few very enthusiastic four-wheel drivers taking the Track. But for us the easier option of the Bamaga Road. I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek!
  • On again, heading for the Jardine River Crossing, parts of the road VERY ROUGH. Managed to get near the head of the line for the ferry, cars lined up behind us for miles! I was astounded at the number of travellers heading to and from the Cape. So busy. Onto the ferry, a five minute crossing, and fairly good road to Bamaga and then on to Seisia, where we planned to make our base. A great camp site right on the beach.
  • Set up camp, took a walk to the wharf and had a bit of a look around. Next day got my first photo of a palm cockatoo. So excited. Such a big black cocky with a sizeable beak, able to crack the large nuts they favour. Anyway, there were soon half a dozen parading about the park, as if they owned it! Had a look around the town, did some grocery shopping, quite expensive, but we expected that, as all supplies come by barge from Cairns. A lot of feral horses around, raiding garbage tins for food and generally being a nuisance. They were even coming into the van park, became quite menacing if you tried to shoo them away.
  • So, up bright and early the next day to catch the ferry to Thursday Island. A very pleasant cruise, taking about three quarters of an hour. We were met by Dirk, our guide for a tour around the island. Visited the cemetery where there is a memorial to Japanese pearl divers, the descendants of whom still live on the island. Dirk’s grandmother was Chinese and his grandfather an Islander, so I imagine most Islanders have a very interesting family tree. The tour of Green Hill Fort very interesting with it’s war time history, both First and Second. As the fort was high on a hill, the view was great, so many islands. Lunch at a local pub where we were treated to an impromptu concert by a group of ladies, singing and playing the ukulele, lovely. All in all, a great day.
  • Max and Steve hired a tinny for a day out fishing, so next day of they went, coming back with enough fish for a couple of meals, they were happy.
  • So, finally the day arrived for our trek to the Tip. First point of interest was the wreck of a DC 3 aircraft and the memorial to the RAAF servicemen who died in the crash. The plane was en route from Archerfield to New Guinea and crashed on 4 May 1945. A stop at the Croc Tent to pick up some souvenirs and then a look at Punsand Bay Resort. Not far to the Tip now, a nice drive through the Lockerbie Scrub Rainforest and we were at the car park. Well, a jumble of cars parked anywhere they’d fit!  A bit of lunch and then we headed off. We went via the beach as the tide was out, rounded the headland, a bit of a climb, and there we were. Not much of a sign, just “You are standing at the northern most tip of the Australian Continent”. Quite small, really. Photos taken, over the awe of actually standing there, and back to the car park. We took a different route back, this time it was more than a “bit of a climb”, more like a small mountain! But spectacular views of the east coast of the Cape, then down again to the car park.
  • On to Somerset Beach, a very secluded campsite. No water or toilet facilities here. Fine for those who like to rough it, very picturesque. The beach was overlooked by Albany Island which was a leper colony in days gone by. There were some old gravesites, one of them dating back to 1890. There was a headstone with Japanese writing, maybe a memorial to a pearl diver. The Jardine family are also buried here. There was a very old windmill and well. A beautiful beach, but such a challenge for pioneers, I wonder what drew them to such an isolated place?
  • The next day we took a drive to have a look at a couple of lakes somewhere off the Somerset Beach road. Although there was no access to the lakes, the place was a garden of all sorts of wildflowers such as sun jewels and orchids.
  • A local fisherman came to the van park selling painted crays (the local lobster) so we bought a couple, only $15 each, such a bargain. Cooked them on the barbie, what a feast. Absolutely delicious.
  • And so time to head for home. We had a good run to the ferry, crossed the river and got about four k’s up the road when “it” happened. We hit a bump, felt something go, and we were going nowhere! A centre bolt had sheared off under the caravan. So, what now? Luckily Steve hadn’t got too far ahead of us, so we radioed that we were stuck (no phone service!) and could he come back. The boys had to go back to the ferry to get phone service to ring RACQ, who arranged for a truck to come from Bamaga to take us back to Seisia.  A very long wait. I must say nearly every passing traveller stopped to see if we were OK. So, after a long drawn out process the van was loaded onto the truck, we said our farewells to Steve and Kathy, no point in them staying as we didn’t know what the outcome of all this would be. And so back to Seisia, the van park found a spot for us, and Max was able to put the van on blocks ready for repairs.  Luckily when Max had a look, the damage wasn’t too bad, easily fixed.
  • To cut a long story short, parts were ordered from Cairns, which took a few days to arrive by the barge, and the van was soon fixed with some help from fellow campers. In the meantime, we made friends with Peter and Jackie, from Tasmania, and Annie and Dave, which was great as it helped to pass the time. All in all it was eight days before we could leave. Thankfully, RACQ paid for our site fees, it really does pay to belong.
  • Peter and Jackie offered to travel with us to Weipa, Dave and Annie asked if we would like to go with them to Cooktown, everyone was so kind and helpful. We took up Jackie and Peter’s offer and we finally left our little coastal paradise and were back on the road.
  • Made it to Bramwell Junction, conscience of every bump in the road! But all went well. Then on to Weipa via the Batavia Downs Road, a good road and very scenic. We spent three nights in Weipa. The Cultural Centre was very interesting, had a look at Lake Patricia, crossed the one lane bridge to Mapoon and back again, otherwise not a lot to do in Weipa.
  • Managed to get all the way to Musgrave Station for the night, a long day. Road not good, down to 10 k’s on some spots. Finally, after an eventful trip, we were back on the bitumen. Hallelujah!!! Overnight at Mt. Molloy, where we were finally able to get in touch with Steve and Kathy. The plan was to meet up with them at Innott Hot Springs and spend a couple of nights. Peter and Jackie were happy to go there, too. We got to Mareeba, did some shopping, and then it happened. The car decided to play up! An ongoing problem we thought was fixed. We found a mechanic, he had a look. We were going nowhere, again! A new part was needed which had to come from Innisfail. We farewelled Peter and Jackie, had such a good time with them, sad to see them go, cancelled our booking at the Hot Springs, and overnighted in the industrial estate.
  • By now we were starting to get a bit weary, so we decided to cut our trip short and make for Kris’. We found a camp at Hull Heads near Tully for a couple of nights. Max was able to wash the van and car, I did the bathroom and cupboards. There was red dust everywhere. Hull Heads was a lovely spot, but the midges were so bad. I was eaten alive!
  • And so finally back in Townsville. Steve and Kathy dropped in to see us on their way home. Another bonus was that my cousins Barry and Kerry had been travelling North QLD, so they called in and we had a nice lunch at the yacht club.
  • I’m so glad we “did” Cape York. Apart from our troubles we had a terrific time with Steve and Kathy, the scenery was spectacular, and it was such a buzz standing on the very tip of Oz. We made new friends in Peter and Jackie (we keep in touch on Facebook!), and maybe one day we will catch up with them again.