Cape York via Simpson Desert 20 June 2015 – Day 19

Saturday, Jun 20, 2015 at 18:38

Peter Beard (WA)

Back on the road today. Not being in a great hurry to leave Trinity Beach, we pulled our stuff together and wandered down to the car around 9:00 to find both Engels warming, no power to either of them. Very alarming, given the freezer is full of food for the trip home. The second battery has drained itself after three days of car idleness. Pete got the engine running and put jumper leads across from the main battery to make sure the fridges were actually working. We are hoping the new Redarc BCDC 1220 charging system will right everything by the time we stop for the night.

A couple of coffees, a sandwich for lunch and a load of fuel set us on our way north to Cooktown via Mossman, Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield Track. The Captain Cook Highway follows the coast for many kilometres, a beautiful view to the east over the Pacific Ocean dotted with islands, and of palms and mangroves on the shore. Not far north of Mossman is the turn off to the car ferry over the Daintree River with a big sign warning to not get close to the river bank or swim - crocodiles infest these waters. We waited in line for the ferry to cross back to the south bank then filed on with all the other cars, the ferry man asking us to bunch up tight to let on as many cars as possible. A short trip over the brown waters and we were in the Daintree rainforest.

This is an incredibly beautiful part of the world. The road climbs steeply through thick rainforest to Mount Alexander lookout, continuing from there to climb and drop, wind and weave to Cape Tribulation. It is a sealed road all the way to Cape Tribulation and we are amazed at the number of lodges, bars, art galleries and coffee shops in the area. The last time we were here, back in 1996 in the aftermath of a cyclone, we took our hire car to the Cape and it was gravel from the ferry. Back then the sign on the northern side of the Daintree River said 4WD only, but everyone knows that means hire cars too.

After Cape Tribulation is the start of the Bloomfield Track, a dirt track full of major potholes and seriously steep ascents and descents. From the Emmagen Creek it is definitely 4WD only, you need clearance to get over this fast flowing bit of water. We saw a couple of sedans heading south towards us before the creek, presumably hire cars that realised they had met their match. Some of the really steep bits of the track are concreted to make sure the track doesn't wash away every year. Even the concrete made it a challenging climb for the trusty Landcruiser, we were down to second gear low rage for a number of sections - just to get up or to slow our descent to a safe speed.

The tarmac starts again at Wujal Wujal on the Bloomfield River, taking us out of the Daintree to the aptly named Black Mountain National Park, a rocky, barren series of hills that stand out clearly in this otherwise verdant landscape.

Cooktown is a neat little place, and first stop was the hospital. Nothing major wrong, Ali has a swollen eye, which for her is the first sign of shingles. Given we are heading to north to Cape York where there are no services or towns we thought it wise to get antiviral treatment underway as soon as possible. If you catch shingles in the first 72 hours it is all OK. Leave them longer and it is nasty pain for weeks or even months. Not worth it. It is now a moot point as to whether the shingles have been brought on by Pete's stress-inducing driving or Ali's shock at realising just how old she is today on her birthday!


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