Gulf Country Day 48 - Cairns to Kurumba

Wednesday, Sep 09, 1998 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Cairns has been raining every night for a few weeks now and although the sun shines during the day and temperatures reach mid 30s we were ready to move on. Some locals have been suggesting that we might have troubles on the roads west across to Normanton but I phoned the Dorunda Lodge near Karumba and learned that people are travelling the 600 odd kilometre journey in a day if needed. Our last night at the Coconut Village Caravan Park in Cairns was very wet but worthwhile because we met Max and Sue from Springwood in the Blue Mountains who are travelling with their 4 children. They are both school teachers and have taken off Term 3 to do this trip. Their recommendation was to stay at Wonga Beach when visiting Mossman.

We left Cairns in the pouring rain after spending hours uploading our website material at the Night Markets internet cafe. We drove into the Wonga Beach camping ground around 4pm but unfortunately it rained all night. Leaving there this morning we started to consider that the weather may in fact affect our trip across the Gulf but a phone call made to Rosy last night gave us hope that the Top End is dry.

Mossman Gorge was very wet and very busy with tourists. Midway along the circuit walking track at Mossman we bumped into Richard and Jenny who were also on the Rum Runner trip to the Coral Sea - its a small country. We continued on after our walk to Mt Molloy, Mareeba and finally arrived in Chillagoe.

We are currently camping at the Chillagoe Camping Ground besides two groups of people we have previously encountered on our travels.I've just spent an hour pouring over maps with Mel and Gill Morris who we met at Captain Billy's Landing in their camper Troopy similar to ours. We shall be reconsidering our route towards Gove and also from Darwin through the Kimberleys. We might be taking even tougher routes than we at first planned because according to Mel and Gill the roads are most reasonable.

We met up with Ken and Irene again after speaking to them in the Coconut Village and now we find they are at Chillagoe about to be the only other people on the cave tour with us this morning.

Ken mentioned he has an air conditioning problem and David offered his assistance. Not only did he find the problem, he fixed it. They are so thankful - the temperatue is rising and its going to be a hot day. Ken offered to buy David and I a few drinks at the pub before we left to Dorunda so we rested in the cool of the Black Cockatoo pub before leaving at 1pm.

The 370km road was in very good condition with little corrugations, but plenty of bulldust. We noticed the significant difference the new suspension has made to the vehicle's handling especially in the bulldust. The trailer would go through stages of being swung sideways to not being seen at all through all the dust!

We pulled into Dorunda about an hour before sunset and setup camp by the car headlights. Dorunda is a unique place with its feature being a 25km long fresh water river, which means no nasty crocodiles. There are 4 people living here - 2 brothers, a girl (Madeline?) and a guy about 30. The two brothers seem characters and on our arrival offered me a coolie with this saying printed on the side..."I bleep anything that moves - don't FIDGET!". The bar was interesting - the shelves were stocked with pig's jaws. Outside parked under a tree was a 75 tray back ute with 5 dogs in cages. Inside was one of the dogs' owners - who explained that he doesn't fish here, he goes pig hunting. Pig hunting is different to pig shooting because the animal, once caught by the dogs, is either let loose or fed to the excited dogs and guns are not used.

When I mentioned I was writing a book one of the brothers became excited and wanted to tell stories. I wasn't in the mood and asked him to hold it until we came back the next night with my computer. He did however, take us out the back and show us his pig and crocodile who live together in a fenced yard with a pond. The croc has been there a while but the tiny pig was a new addition about 3 mths ago.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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