Burton's Perth to Cape York Twin Falls to the TIP Day 47-48 16-17 May 2011

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 15:57

Red Dirt Australia


With some sadness we left Twin Falls. It was one of those right time, right place sort of camps. Hardly any people and those we did meet were like minded travellers, the falls mostly to ourselves, the weather reasonably good and the damn insect population in control. Packing up canvas dry is one of life's little bonuses, packing up quickly, efficiently, with no minor arguments or rise in blood pressure is an added pleasure. We drove up to Dave and Lindel's campsite to find the Camprite packed and parked at our other new friend's Chrissie and Mick's site, up the track a bit. We gas-bagged for a short while, exaggerated previous adventures, where our new ones will take us, exchanged email addresses and said how we hope to catch up again...we lent Dave a UHF handset, his batteries having exhausted themselves and headed out of our Twin Falls paradise towards Punsand Bay and the Tip. Dave wanted a swim, so turned right on the Old Telegraph Track stopping at the Canal Creek crossing. There were a couple of modified entry and exit points, some very chopped up, signposted by an old BFG carcass.

Retracing our steps we headed south down the OTT until we found the excellently graded Peninsular Development Road and pointed the Cruiser's roo bar towards the Jardine Ferry. The road was mostly well formed gravel surrounded by woodland forests. The weather was warm and somewhat humid. The ticket guy was at lunch until 1.00pm so we did likewise, nibbling on cheese and crackers washed down with cold fruit juice from the Engel. Car and trailer cost us $99 for a return ticket, as well as camping rights north of the Jardine. The journey across the Jardine on the small cable driven punt ferry took minutes, me marvelling at the swiftly flowing river and those that had to cross the hard way in the old days! Dave and family followed on the next load and we wasted no time in heading north towards Bamaga. The country started to look wetter and more lushly and densely vegetated. The greens were darker, the trees taller. The road was a mixture of some bitumen, some very good wide gravel littered with hidden deep dips and holes that tested the shocks and coils in an unpleasant way. The bitumen twisted and turned through the two aboriginal communities of Injinoo and Umagico before we arrived at the largish centre of Bamaga. Here we fuelled up with our most expensive fuel to date, $2.40 a litre! We shopped in the well stocked supermarket for some top up supplies and visited the post office to pick up our post restante Naplan tests for the kids. Their cheers could be heard far and wide as we were informed that they had not yet arrived and to check back in a week! Well, that wouldn't work so we arranged for them to forwarded to Darwin and hopefully we'll time it right this time.

Dave and Lindell had stocked up with food and the restricted legal amount of booze from the Bamaga pub ( no more than 2 litres of wine and a carton of low or mid strength beer)....we all headed towards more good gravel and Punsand Bay. At the turn off to Punsand we encountered the famous Croc Tent, a place we couldn't drive by without stopping and pulling out the wallet. Dale and Lea were managing the place this tourist season and doing a great job. Lea was most welcoming, providing the Croc Tent's local mud map and generally being a ray of sunshine. We purchased a new tank top to replace my rapidly unravelling old one as well as a stubbie holder for bragging rights..chuckle. The 11 kilometre track to Punsand Bay was a different ball game...it was twisty and wet with more wide-long water crossings than you could poke a stick at. This was the real Cape and what a ball we had with water over the bonnet on more than one occasion! The road became rutted, deep washaways and hidden holes. The bush became denser, greener and more rainforest-like. During a brief stop I discovered that our front number plate had become dismembered by some water crossing or other. It was not immediately fixable so out came the tool kit and the plate was stashed until we returned home. I sort of cursed myself, having anticipated this and had meant to refit the plate with two hinges before we left home.

We'd caught the Resort on the hop with us being their first guests this season. The pool wasn't ready, the new shower heads not fitted and many other symptoms evident of our very early seasonal arrival. Sue gave us a great camp site - 'Turtle' right on the beach and equipped with its own undercover camp kitchen. We'd booked a powered site for two nights and also spoiled ourselves with their 'restaurant' fish and chips the first night. It was good value and the Heineken was plentiful and cold! The yellow tropical beach snaked around a bay towards some volcanic looking rocks that Sue assured us is barramundi territory! Kate amused herself playing with the two resident dogs, a third having disappeared and believed to have been taken by a croc during the recent very high tides. A very green tree frog visited us during dinner and sat next to me on the spare plastic chair. Kate and Lucy, Dave and Lindel's daughter became best friends and spent hours preparing a drama show for us all.

Next morning the two four wheel drives headed out, revelling in the wet, muddy exit road, turning left at the Croc Tent and making our way towards 'Pajinka' or the Tip. The road was unbelievable fun, the flora very tropical, vines hanging down causing Jack to make Tarzan noises. We even encountered a ruined and decaying resort, rapidly being overtaken by jungle and mould. Palm trees, cycads, green tunnels where the road disappeared and endless water crossings gave us the feeling of being in another country, it was fantastic and all we'd come for...it was a shame it was only in these last 30 kilometres or so...... The track ended at the beach in a small cul-de-sac almost full with vehicles! Dave and I squeezed in, families out, hats on and cameras ready. We'd been briefed on the scantily marked track, confidently striding up the black rocks, none of us being walking frame material we hardly raised a puff as we quickly climbed to the top of the cliff.The view across the Timor Sea and the Torres Straight was breathtaking, the beaches picture postcard perfect, the view across to York and Eborac Islands spectacular. Another few minutes climbing down over rocks and partly formed path saw us posing for photos at the famous sign.

Lulu even came all the way, about 15 minutes in total to pose next to the sign. Today was our 14th wedding anniversary and what a way to spend it! No quiet candle lit dinners for us...just a scrabble over some dirty rocks to stand in front of a rusty sign...and we drove over 10,000 kilometres to do it LOL! Sorry honey!

After a quick turnaround on the beach and investigating some horrible screeches coming from grit impregnated brakes we headed off towards Somerset Beach and the Jardine family ruins and graves. On the way out a local road crew had 'helpfully' dumped big piles of red muddy dirt over a badly laid drain pipe crossing the road. We'd previously 'banged' things crossing it on the way in as it protruded about 200mm above the road. Now with several buckets of dirt on top it was virtually impassable... I could see myself getting the shovel out.....the workers were resting and didn't know when it would be ready and directed us across some muddy bush. Dave went first, making it after churning up the mud and after a resounding metallic bang as sump, diff or some other important bit hit something solid. Avowing not to do that, I faithfully repeated every movement including the metallic thud...aargh! Fortunately nothing appeared to be cracked and no important fluids were escaping that I could see....

Somerset Beach appeared to be a bit of a bush camp, not too clean with a Gunshot Creek like trophy tree, stinking and mouldering away......why do people insist on leaving bits of clothing and graffiti behind....are they so insecure and insignificant that they must leave their polluting marks on the world? The kids tried to crack open coconuts and not grimace as they drank the sour contents..chuckle...we found the grave sites and the old well.

The Albany Island 'Bargarse' lay stranded in the smelly mangrove mud, as the tide rapidly receded. A short drive further round took us to the Jardine monument and old cannon.

Dave and family wanted to drive further round the coast to visit Fly Point. We returned to the Croc Tent and Punsand Bay, taking the opportunity to replace our number plate with a choice number..."I lost my number plate at Cape York"....what a pearler as they say....

We lit a fire that night, watched the sun go down and enjoyed a few drinks in excellent company. Next morning Kate and Lucy performed their superb show, "Clown Town". We packed up and headed off on our separate ways.We had finished another segment of our journey and technically were on our long way home via the Top and the Kimberleys. Dave and Lindel weren't sure what they were doing, maybe heading for Weipa. In all our travels this was our first experience travelling with someone else. We had always been reticent or disappointed but not this time. Dave, Lindel and family were of similar values and temperament and we really enjoyed their company, their kids being very well mannered and behaved, our kids having a ball...I'm sure we'll meet again somewhere on the road as our itineraries are very similar.....
Mike & Amanda
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