Aussie Adventures Pt 7

Friday, Jun 22, 2018 at 21:20

Member - Muncey 72

A slow start today as there was such a heavy due we had to wait until the camper had dried out. Would rather pack it up dry than wet and avoid any potential mold issues. Before leaving a lady asks if Alex would like to look after/take her little dog for a walk of course she would, very cute dog called Milo. We finally leave at 10 o’clock and drive the 35kms into Mareeba, everyone votes for pies from the bakery and we also get some rolls for later. We also stop at Coffee works and have a look a round. It’s a coffee and chocolate shop which if you like those this place is for you. Whilst walking around inside Morgan comes out with a classic comment “Hey Dad it really smells like coffee in here”. I just look at him and point to the of bags of coffee beans he is surrounded by. After leaving Mareeba we drive straight through to Laura which is about 240kms. The drive was very scenic with Banana plantations lining the road and the dividing Range always in view, we do stop once though to buy a huge watermelon from a road side stall. It was all bitumen today which will probably be the last for a while. We stop for fuel in Laura at $1:75 and then head just out of town and pull up in a gravel pit for the night. There are a couple of workers in area who are logging and carting timber. Just a we are about to set up Maz spots a 2 metre black snake a few meters from us. We all freeze, well most of our bodily functions do! The snake makes his way in the other direction, for the rest of the stay here we are all on snake watch. We set up and get a fire going and enjoy the night sky whilst finishing off the left-over lamb sausages in fresh rolls. One of the guys who was carting the logs comes over for a chat, turns out he was born in Waroona which is only about 40kms from us in WA. He also knows quite a few people from Maz’s home town of Ferguson.
After a snake free night, we pack up and hit the road Stopping at the Hann River Roadhouse for a toilet break and pick up some free Mandarins which were absolutely lovely. The roads are surprisingly good and we average about 70kms an hr. There is also a fair bit of bitumen which is also a bonus, quite a few signs talking about road improvements by the Queensland Government. Stopping at the famous Musgrave Station for lunch we also have a look around the old Telegraph Station which has plenty of information on its history. Est in 1886 as the Telegraph station it still holds up well today and became the station homestead in 1929. We arrive in Coen pretty early and set up behind the Coen Guest house for $20 a night. Coen is an Aboriginal community and a service centre for travellers heading North and South. I have look around the old Mein Telegraph Station which is now a museum in the centre of town. Lots of old photos and artefacts from yesteryear. We enjoy a few beers at the Exchange Hotel, well someone has climbed onto the Hotel roof and put an S in front of Exchange sign. Kebabs for tea in the communal guest house kitchen and in bed by 8pm.
There was no dew overnight so we are packed up reasonably early and I whip up bacon and eggs for breakfast. We hit the road and stop at Archer River Road house for a cuppa. There were cows/bulls just sitting everywhere within the grounds very relaxed and definitely not moving out of the way. Again there was a fair bit of bitumen today, some of the gravel was corrugated especially outside Coen. We get to the Historic Moreton Telegraph Station and have wraps for lunch (these have been a staple on this trip) Moreton looks very nice, green and flat and would be a good stop maybe when we head south. Again, lots of old photos and information on the history of this place. We push on and arrive at Bramwell Station which is our stop for the night. Huge area cleared for camping at $25 a night for each vehicle is pretty good value. Just as we are setting up Maz rolls her ankle in an old reticulation trench, no major damage but at least she does have a break from setting up. After setting up the boys go off and play rugby for a while, I have a look around the museum that’s here. Plenty of old pictures, stories and relics from years gone by. There are 2 types of showers here, the standard usual type and then the bush ones which are open plan style. I go in the bush style after a tour has been through and lucky me someone has left “Outback Spirit” shampoo and conditioner bonus. The showers are lovely and hot and spotless clean. We head up to the salon for happy hour $5 beers and meet the family we met at Adel’s Grove who are also heading to the Tip. We enjoy a buffet style dinner with music and a comedian for Sydney, well sort of a comedian let’s just say we were lucky he only had a 15mins time slot.
We are up and on the rode by 8am and headed are ultimate destination. We stop at the Bramwell roadhouse to top up with fuel which is $1:95 and then take the Bamaga bypass road. We are not doing the Old Telegraph track as we are not set up for it, no winch, towing trailer and the car has been through enough on this trip already. The Bamaga road is in very good conditions for the most part just corrugations on a lot of the bends. We decide to miss Fruit bat falls and get to the Jardine ferry crossing before they stop at 12 noon for lunch. We will do the Falls on they way home. The last 10kms to the ferry are the worst so far for the entire trip. The corrugations are about 250-300mm deep and about 500mm apart it was like a swell in the ocean but on land. We also got caught in a sort of convoy so the dust made it even worst, no matter what speed we choose it was shake, rattle and roll in the car. We make it to the ferry and pay the $130 return fee and head to the ferry slipway. On one side is a huge ditch and, on the ferry, coming towards us is a huge caravan so I move down the slipway where I can move further over out of the vans way. Well Mister Ferry master did not like the fact I had moved 2 metres passed his stop sign, I tried to point out his lack of road maintenance on my left and the huge 3 tonne van coming towards me but the toothless ferry master was not interested. With a smile and wave, we move onto the ferry and get across. As we disembark after the 2-minute journey across the toothless ferry master is a new person” Have a great day guys, enjoy your stay and we’ll see you when you travel back down” He chirps. I bite my tongue and drive on. The next 5kms after the ferry are also very rough and we are glad to hit the bitumen outside Injinoo and head to Seisia caravan park. We get a powered site very close to the beach and set up for our 3-night stay. Whilst having lunch we meet up with Steve who we met in Lorella springs, he is now travelling with a French backpacker after the 2 scotsman picked up work in Carins. As its still reasonably early, not to windy and the suns out decide to head to the tip of cape York this arvo. Its approx. 34 kms on a newly graded road. We stop at the Croc tent and get some souvenirs and then drive the last few kms through the rain forest and one good deep creek crossing to the tip. We walk the final 500metres over the headland and the views back across the bay are amazing. We walk down the rocks to the famous tip sign and get some photos, luckily, we are the only ones here for a little while. Was it worth it? Yes, 10800kms done and a little bit of cash but a life time of memories.

We head back to Camp and celebrate. Steve then tells us about his trip up to the cape via the Old Telegraph track which involved being winched twice through water crossings, getting stuck in one crossing with the car failing to start he spent the night on the river bank whilst the car spent the night in the creek and then getting towed the final 35kms into Seisia. Oh, there was also a definite breakdown in Australian and French relations!
I have the best night sleep for a long time, probably the relief of getting here. We are up and at the wharf ready to catch the 8am ferry to Thursday Island. Its only an hour across the Torres Strait and awesome views as we pass by Prince of Wales Island, Horn Island and Possession Island. The sun is out and the south East trade wind is blowing which is a welcome relief as it is quite humid today. We have a look around town and then hop on our tour bus and head up to Green Hill to look around the old fort. Built in 1891-93 in response to a threat of war from Russia at the time it is in an awesome position to defend the surrounding lands. The museum within the fort is very good with many old photos and artefacts from the war, this area was bombed as many times as Broome during world war 2 with most of the bombs hitting Horn island only 1km away. The views are amazing from on top of the fort. We also visit the cultural Centre which is also very interesting telling the history of Thursday Island, this is were we have lunch, the kids order filthy fries (Fries, pulled pork, sour cream and BBQ sauce) yummy. It’s a great trip back to Seisia as we spot a couple of Sea Turtles and a Dugong. Lovely day out and definitely worth the money to have a look.
This morning we are greeted by rain! Yes rain. We decide to have another look the tip and drive back up there. The weather clears and we have a go at fishing from the tip, the water looks perfect for fishing. After 90minutes of toil with bait, lures, spinners and poppers we packed up and drive out to Somerset Beach and have a look at the beach. From here you can see across to Albany Island. I pick up a coconut from the beach for later and we head across to the Western side of the tip to Punsand Bay. Here the beach is a lot nicer and there is a great bar where we have homemade pizzas for lunch. We catch up and say goodbye to Steve again who will be staying up here until his car is fixed. Back at camp I give the kids a lesson in survival on opening a coconut with an axe. 15mins later we are drinking the milk and eating the fresh coconut. (kept thinking of Tom Hanks in castaway) We head to the wharf after tea and watch the locals fishing mainly garfish and trevally are being caught. Tomorrow we say goodbye to the tip and head back south, its been an amazing journey to get here and at times I had doubts we would make it but we did and now we start the next leg of the adventure….Cooktown, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rain forests.
With more rain overnight, we have a wet pack up and then say goodbye to the family we met at Adels Grove. We drive the short trip to Injinoo and fuel up at the reasonable price of $1:80. We get to the Jardine Ferry and road does not seem as bad as before. We drive straight on to the ferry without any issues this time but leaving the ferry is a different story. As the ferry hits the bank on the other side our car slides forward nearly knocking the Ferry Master over, I have the handbrake on but as it is so slippery on the barge we slide. No damage or harm done just a new pair of undies for the ferry Master. After disembarking we see a grader in front of us yeahhhh, unfortunately he has only just started and only done 1km south of the ferry. Rough, its very rough but no dust as it is still raining. The car and trailer bounce all the way to Bramwell station with sections of road that were really good a week ago now deteriorating. We stop once at Fruit Bat Falls for a swim which is a lovely spot, we also see the Carnivorous Pitcher Plant. We pass many a dead pig on road and also a huge eagle that is sitting on a big dead snake, he was not leaving his prize and we had to go around him. We get to Bramwell Station Midafternoon as bright sunshine streams through the clouds. We set up and with the strong breeze blowing the camper is dry within 30 minutes. After hot showers and tea, we head up to the salon and listen to the Bagman playing his tunes and versions of recent hits. His tribute to Miley Cyrus and “wrecking Ball” is very funny. Next morning, we get going early. The road south again is getting worst. There seems a lot more traffic also than we saw on our way up it’s a steady drive filled with corrugations, dust and passing trucks. We get to Musgrave early afternoon and the kids head straight to the bar area to charge up their devices and watch a bit of TV. In the evening we watch the news for the first time in weeks and its all doom and gloom oh except for England beating Tunisia in the World Cup. Next day we leave Musgrave and head south again stopping at Hann River Roadhouse to get some fuel and grab another couple of those mandarins. Laura is where we stop for morning tea and more fuel at $1:67 and also have a chat with some guys doing the tip via a tour in old army Landrovers. From Laura we head to old Laura via the Battlecamp Road. On the way we go around a sharp bend which then descends down into a river crossing. As we round the corner we see a vehicle and caravan in the jackknifed at the bottom of the river crossing, on with the brakes and change the undies later moment. We reverse back up and put on the hazard lights and ensure no other vehicle comes around the corner. Another vehicle winches the caravan and vehicle backout of the river and then the driver manages to drive his car and van through the river and up next to us. They were all ok but annoyed they had missed judged the bend. There was some damage to the rear of the car where the caravan had swung around into it, a blown tyre and also some damage to the van. It could have been a lot worst, especially if we had been crossing the river at the time. After seeing how quickly things can go wrong we take the next 27kms to the old Laura homestead very steady. Lovely spot for lunch with many of the building still in pretty good condition considering it was built in 1882. We continue along Battlecamp Rd which is mainly gravel except for a couple of steep sections which is bitumen. Isabella Falls is a nice stop we stop at for a quick snap and then we make the final days driving through Hope Vale (albeit the wrong way down the main street much to the local young aboriginal’s amusement) out to Elim Beach. At $10 each a night we set up and get a nice fire going. We share our sausage stew with another family and they use our fire and make sweet dumplings and custard for sweets. We are also visited by a dingo who sits near our fire for a while and then cruises around the camp looking for food. The sausage stew is on the move early so most of us are up at sunrise. We pack up and leave the camper whilst we drive up the beach to visit the colored sands, to be honest they are pretty average but I think we have been spoilt on this trip as the sands at Cape Leveque were amazing. We do pass a landcrusier on its side in the ocean which is different. We collect the camper and make the short journey south to Cooktown, we book into the Cooktown Holiday park for 2 nights at $64 a night!! Here the next phase of our trip begins.
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