Today we went off to do the 5 beach drive, where you drive along the beach and out through the bush and back down to the beach, visiting 5 beaches along the way, the views were great and the beaches completely empty. Didn't see anther car the whole time we were out, and although the day was overcast and windy, with on and off rain, it didn't spoil the views. The only downside was the rubbish on the beaches, it's all washed in from the ocean, from ships etc and its a big problem on the beaches up the cape.
We did have a casualty today, one of the spot lights broke off, the corrugations of the last few days must have been too much for it! We wrote a note on the back of it and left it on one of the 'thong trees' as a momento of our honeymoon!
The phots below are a few photos from the Pajinka Wilderness Lodge, which was abandoned years ago. The owner walked away leaving all plant and equipment behind, apparently the bar was left stocked, linen on beds, tv's ..... Everything! There isn't much left now, it's very overgrown so we didn't walk around, but it's definitely in ruins now.
Apparently it once offered very upmarket accommodation, located in the rainforest, within 400m of the 'tip' of Australia. A boardwalk took you through the rainforest to the tip.
Seems like it would have been a beautiful place (and a great business to own), so to think that it closed and owners just walked out is really strange. Not too much information around about what actually happened, but we can say that there is this really strange eerie feeling being there.
Today we also took a drive around all the other communities, we drove out to the Aboriginal communities of Injinoo and Umagico. Found a great Aboriginal owned and run caravan park at Unagico, right on the water. Very low key compared to Loyalty Beach and Punsand Bay, but quiet and great view.
Called in to the Bakery at Bamaga for lunch and fed this poor little stray pup. She was a mum, but she was so young, little and skinny. She was very timid and any sudden movement or noise scared her, but the poor thing was so hungry and was taking the food so gently from our hands.
It's so sad to see the amount of dogs roaming the streets, we've never seen anything like it, they are all so skinny. Just want to put them all in the car and take them home with us!
And wild horses every as well, it's a whole different world up here. While driving today we say a horse eating out of a garbage bin, with dogs playing under it. It blows your mind how different things are up here.
There is so much history up here, photos of one of the crashed planes below.
Below is a photo of temains of the fire outside the caravan park - last night it actually headed into the end of the caravan park.
Lots of smoke around and fairly sore throat today after it being so think last night.
There has actually be quite a few fires up here, one place we drove past yesterday had flames quite close to the road, we drove fairly quickly past that one!
So today was what it was all about, we made it to the tip! The northernmost point of Australia!
We made the trek up the hill and over the rocks, about a 15-20min walk. It was hot, very hot, but the wind helped things a little. It wasn't exactly a "relaxing" walk, but when you get to the top and then you see that sign, you get this extra energy and just want to run down the hill!!
We had walked with a couple who were camping next to us with their dog - their dog even had photos at the tip too!
After our photos and taking in the view, we started the walk back to the car park. As the tide appeared to be heading out, we decided to walk back along the beach. Probably not the best idea as the tide wasn't out far enough and we all had to clamber along rocks and rock ledges and then through the water, with a watchful eye out for potential crocodiles sitting in wait for a nice meal of 4 humans and a dog!!
Today saw us leave Eliot Falls to complete the rest of the telegraph track and cross the Jardine River for our final journey to the tip.
First crossing we came to today was Canal Creek and guess who drove it! George guided me through with the handheld radio. There was not too much water, but full of pot holes and very uneven surface so required a walk thru first to work out the best way across.
This creek is just north of Fruit Bat Falls and Twin Falls and is the first creek crossing on the northern half of the Old Telegraph Track (which is more difficult than the southern half).
Nolans Brook is another difficult one on the track, which we weren't overly excited about! For the past week or so all we have heard about is how many cars have been towed out of there or been filled with water while crossing. One guy said that 8 cars crossed while he was there and only 2 made it, not great odds! Another Suzuki got stuck half way across and by the time they got out to get help and came back, the water was spilling out of the windows of the car. A family we met a few days ago also got stuck in their landcruiser and now the car won't run (computer wet or something) - apparently insurance will write the car off!
Anyway, while in Weipa we spoke to a local who had done the track 2 weeks ago and he gave us instructions for all the more difficult crossings - Nolans was "take the third entry and keep close to the tree" - spot on!!
Arrived at the ferry at 12.05, only to find that they are closed for lunch between 12pm and 1pm - great timing on our part!!
After our hour wait, we filled up with petrol (this one hurt!), purchased our barge ticket and permit and we were on our way. What a good deal that barge is for the operators, $129 to travel 40 meters (for about 1 minute, if that!). Don't have much choice though, and they know it! The water is very deep and infested with crocodiles so definitely not safe to drive across it anymore.
This morning we headed off to the start of the telegraph track. Called in at the Bramwell Junction Roadhouse to fuel up and the young guy working there lived in Baulkham Hills! Was nice to tell someone where we live and them actually know exactly what we were talking about as he lived 10 min away!!!
We were then on the Telegraph Track and soon came to the first creek crossing, Palm Creek. We had been warned about this one and told we would need a vehicle with us to help winch through. As we had lost our other vehicle, we were all alone and had no choice, either try to tackle it or turn around and take the bypass road. George thought about it and decided to just go for it, no denying that we were a little hesitant, it wasn't an inviting crossing - steep going down, very rutted, big drop on the left that you had to fall into, but we made it! And no panel touched the sides, just the rocksliders scrapped a little. Then it was time to head up the other side, not sure if this side was worse or not, but it was a steep incline, very rutted and I'm sure a few wheels were off the ground as we went up!! George was so excited when we made it through and jumped out the car screaming!!!
Today saw us crossing numerous creek crossing, some slot easier than others. The more interesting ones were Cockatoo, Bertie, Gunshot and Sailor Creek.
We arrived at Fruit Bat Falls and went down for a swim, what a beautiful place this is. Have always wanted to sit and swim under a waterfall and we finally got to do it! It's the most amazing place, words just can't describe it .... And photos probably won't do it justice either. There was another family there when we first arrived and they soon left (and we had just passed a tourist bus on the track in so we had timed it perfectly). So we ended up having the whole of Fruit Bat Falls to ourself, truly amazing and got some great photos..
Next stop was Eliot Falls and Twin Falls just a little further down the road. We had already prebooked to camp at Eliot Falls so went on to set up camp before heading to the falls, another really good campsite (National Parks actually did really well this time!!)
Sunday 25th August
Called into the Moreton Telegraph Station on the way and then arrived at Bramerll Station Tourist Park around. 12:30 pm.
Bramwell station is Australia's northernmost cattle station, 200km from the tip of Cape York.
Beautiful place and highly recommended place to stay at. The bar/restaurant area is really nice and was a great place to catch up with fellow travellers over a beer or two (or 3 or 4 during happy hour!!). When I say bar/restaurant, it's not what you would imagine, it's an undercover area built from tree trunks and corrugated iron and filled with outdoor table and chairs! But it's great and totally suits the surroundings. On the night we were one of only 3 cars staying so it was very quiet..
We had a few beers and chatted with the others and swapped stories and got advice in where we are all heading, we played with "fluffy", the resident cockatoo who lives there. He's only about 9 months old and has very few feathers and can't fly, but he's the cutest little thing. Was amusing watching George's reaction every time fluffy went near him as he was scared he was going to get bitten! Bitten by the bird that just fell asleep on my arm while getting tickles and scratches!! Haha
Then we visited the baby cows and the resident brolga ( also a pet who was abandoned as a baby and now lives on the property as a "guard bird"!). A late night visit from one of the station dogs was also nice, he enjoyed his pats .... But wasn't a fan of the hundreds and thousands biscuit I offered him!
We also got a talk about the station and its history, which was quite interesting to hear. It's the little things like this that make your stay a memorable one.
To everyone that doubted we could fit all of our gear into the car, here you go!
In the back we have the fridge, recovery gear in the drawers and 2 boxes with cooking and cleaning equipment, lights, pots and pans, stove etc. We also have 50 litres of water in 3 seperate containers.
The back seat has been removed and replaced with a shelving unit and extra cargo barrier. This section now holds two boxes of food, our bags, first aid equipment, camping stretchers, drinks and more water.
On the roof we have a second spare wheel and tyre, the tent and a cargo bag with our camping chairs and a few other bits and pieces.
We are also carrying our shovel, hi-lift jack and TREDS (for recovery).
In the front we have our bags with everyday requirements, water bottles, IPods etc. We have a small waeco fridge which holds a couple of drinks, cheese n crackers, chocolate - for easy access while driving!
On and around the dash area is our ipad with the Hema Maps app loaded, our phones, GPS, SPOT tracker, video camera and various charging points.
Last night we all went on an Eco cruise in Weipa. We left from Evans Landing and cruised around the waterways for a couple of hours, being supplied with history and information from a very informative guide. A nice way to spend a few hours and watch the sunset, drinking beer and champagne!
This morning George and I headed off on a tour of the town and one of the Rio Tinto mine sites up here. Excellent tour and highly recommended by anyone heading up this way. It was run by the caravan park we are staying in and we toured the whole town (which to be honest, isn't that big!), but we saw all the important buildings in town, the newly purpose built cyclone centre, the house of the Rio Tinto CEO, the school, hospital, vet (which is only open every second week - if we lived here with my accident prone dog, he'd afford to be able to open full time!!).
Then we headed out onto the Andoom mine site which mines for bauxite. Learned a lot on this tour and was great to be out on the mine amongst all the huge machinery watching it all happen around us. This site is huge and they have only started mining a small portion of it so far.
After a quick trip down to Woolworths to grab some things (namely, chicken twisties and soda water, of which they had neither!) we grabbed some lunch, some bread, a case of XXXX Gold and headed back to camp.
This arvo we took a drive out to the lake and surrounds and searched for crocodiles (no luck) and Stewy decided to follow us down a track to the beach and got bogged in the sand in the hire car.
Out came the snatch strap, hooked up to the rear of his hilux and pulled him out ....... Only Stewy could require 2 vehicle recoveries in 2 seperate vehicles in a matter of days!!!
Decided to drive direct to Weipa today instead of stopping in at Merluna Station. The drive was easy enough, but full of corrugations, which really aren't that much fun! And then the fact that the car wouldn't go into 4WD, made it even worse!
Arrived at Weipa and checked into the caravan park. Set up camp and then Stewy, Kristy and Rori made their way to our campsite as they had checked into a cabin in the same park yesterday.
George got straight on the phone to our mechanic back in Sydney to get instructions on how to fix our 4WD gear selector and after numerous phone calls to Adam, George and Stewy managed to fix it! (We had also been in touch with a friend who used to live here to get the name of a good mechanic up here as a backup, but luckily this wasn't needed!)
One badly cut finger later, various blood splatters on and around the car, and a quick first aid application from Nurse Shelly, the car was fixed, George's finger was bandaged and we were ready to go exploring.
Only a short drive today, arrived at Archer River Roadhouse just before lunchtime and set up camp. Today was very hot again, but if you could position your camp chair in the shade, there was a slight breeze today.
Chicken schnitzel, gravy and pasta for dinner tonight .... all prepared, cooked, eaten and cleaned up by 6.30!
A few people camping with dogs again today, the same couple with their kelpie that we've seen a few times and a young couple with little fat black staffy ... I miss my little Gelly belly. These are all such well behaved dogs though, nothing like our two!!
Full moon tonight!
Well today started out like any other day ... But weren't we in for a shock! Took off from Laura and a while later Stewy announces that his car is making a pretty bad noise, so we pull over to the side of the road to check it out. We decide to press on and see if there is anything at Hahn River Roadhouse to help out. No luck! They do, however, give us a tin and tell us to head up to the track beside the property to drop the oil and do an oil change. Oil is black, never seen anything like it! We do the oil change, sound is slightly better so we try to make it to Musgrave Station where we are staying the night and will have more time to look at it or possibly even have someone else look at it ..... Again no luck!
We ended up leaving Stewy, Kristy and Rori at around 4pm to head off to Musgrave to set up camp, but we left them with our sat phone in case they need it or the driver needed to get back in touch with them. As it turned out, we passed the tow truck just a few kms up the road so we knew they were being picked up.
A while later they pulled into Musgrave Roadhouse to drop off our sat phone and have some dinner. They were definitely the talk of the campsite after arriving on the back if a tilt tray! As it turned out, the driver was the owner of Archer River Roadhouse, just a short distance north, so he manged to get them a room there for the night and then head off to weipa tomorrow morning.
It's been a long day for all involved and we can't be bothered cooking so we are off to grab some dinner in the cafe and head to bed!!
Arrived a Laura today and spent the night camping behind the Quinkan Hotel.
Quite a nice little campground, except for the rooster, which was a little too loud for my liking!
Took a drive our to the Split Rock Aboriginal art site, made it half way up and nearly died in the heat! George made the walk and I waited for him back down the bottom. They day was way too hot to be doing uphill bush walks like that!!
Before leaving Townsville this morning we took a drive down to The Strand and walked around, what a beautiful are. Palm trees, the beach, pathways and a rock pool, as well as views across to the mountains, such a pretty place.
Today's journey was only about 380km, but it took forever! Lucky it was a scenic drive. The roadworks were killing us again, they are absolutely everywhere.
Stopped in at Ingham to grab a bite to eat and buy some sudafed for my sinus .... What an adventure that turned out to be ..... Who would have thought buying a packet of sudafed would be so hard!
George and I visited a nice waterfall on the way and finally arrived at Mareeba about 4pm and met up with Stewy, Kristy and Rori.
Spending the night at the Mareeba Rodeo grounds, $16 for a double for a powered site, can't really complain! And the place is packed with caravans and campervans, so it's a pretty popular place.
First night of camping, so the trip has really begun! The trek to Cape York starts tomorrow ..... Finally!!
Not a bad drive today, some really nice scenery along the way. Passed a lot of sugar cane fields and the scenery switched between completely flat, mountains and the most beautiful aqua blue water.
Could do without the constant delays from roadwork though! From north of Gypie we have had constant roadwork, it's just the waiting time that varies!! At some point in the future, this drive is going to be so much quicker due to all the dual lanes they are creating on the Bruce highway.
Arrived in Townsville, found a motel to check into, had a quick shower and freshen up and then headed off to visit friends who have recently moved up to Townsville. Had a lovely dinner with Jack and Elise and their family and a good catch up. Found out some interest facts about cane toads too .... Not sure we should share that info here though!!
Anyway, off to bed now for our drive tomorrow to Mareeba to meet up with Stewy, Kristy and Rori for the official start of our Cape York trip.
Last night was spent catching up with our good friends, Danny and Cat. We arrived about 8:30pm last night, grabbed some pizza and watched some footy, as well as exploring their 'in progress' house renovations .... Looking great guys!
A 7am phone call from the room next door had us up early ..... Thanks Danny! I was already awake, but George probably wasn't as impressed about this added service of 'wake up calls'!!
After a 7am phone call from the bedroom next door, thanks Danny!, we were up and ready to go to breakfast at a cafe by the water. Ended up heading off about 11:30am for our drive to Rockhampton.
The first day of our trip is finally here and after a busy morning of packing the roof of the car and final things, we were ready to leave about 9.30am.
We said goodbye to our baby girls, going to miss these two .... Especially my little baby Gelly.
Today's journey was the 953km from home to Danny & Cat's house in Margate, Qld. After two 5 min toilet stops and a 10 min petrol stop ..... and battling constant roadworks along the way, we arrived right on 8:30pm last night, exactly 11 hours of driving.
Shelves are in the car and the packing begins. The house looks like a bomb has hit it, every room has something in it and the hallway is lined with camping equipment!
But now the fun begins and we need to fit all of this into the car! We've done it before and we'll do it again, to all that doubt that it will fit ...... watch this space!!
Productive day of cryvacing food ready for the trip. All dry food, pasta, rice etc has been packaged into meal size portions ready to go and all the meat has been weighed, cut and cryvaced ready for the fridge. Meal prep is so much easier when things are organised before you leave home!
So the car is back from the mechanics after it's service and once over and we are getting ready to start loading it up!
First stop is to get the new tyres put on (thanks Bridgestone!), take the back seats out, install the shelves and second cargo barrier and then start packing.
Food nearly all packed and ready to go, just need to buy and cryvac all our meat and we are done. Working out food supplies for 7 weeks has been a fun job!
2 weeks to go and still a million things to do, but its now starting to get very real and very exciting!!