Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bramwell Junction Station

Again we arrived early in the afternoon. There was only one other camper there. The host indicated towards the couple and said, "We have Ron Moon staying with us". We looked blank, so he asked us whether we knew of his guide books. Again we didn't know what he was talking about. It seemed the other campers did, as they all milled around him, when they knew he was in camp!

The next morning, Peter and I decided to take a look at the Old Telegraph Track. So we left table and chairs with a note for Don, should he arrive before we came back.

This what we saw as the first creek crossing! This is Palm Creek Crossing! What you can't see in the picture, is the height, which was about 15 meters down to the deep mud at the bottom!

This was the second alternative!

We decided we liked our car and camper too much to risk breaking either or both of them in the creek crossing attempt. And this is only the first crossing on the Old Telegrah Track!

We had heard that this particular crossing was particularly challenging, so decided to look further ahead atbthe next part of the old route. Some fifty kms further took us down the track to the Heathland Rangers' Station and then some way down towards the Old Telegraph Track. We could see that the heathlands was on fire right where we needed to go.

So we turned around and went back to Bramwell Junction Station. Nearly there, when we sighted Don by the side of the road!

We had dinner, that night at the station as it was BBQ night, cooked by the station cook.

We took over a small shelter, much to the annoyance of some campertrailer owners!



Archer River Roadhouse

At Kalpowar we cooked our own roast chicken in the Dutch oven, together with roast potatoes, sweet potato and pumpkin.

The road to Archer River Roadhouse had been newly graded so was a pleasure to drive on. We arrived early and could have ordered dinner then, but hamburgers at $17 a pop seemed a little extreme! So we made use of the laft over chicken and made a really lovely fried rice, again in the Dutch oven.

We arrived to find a brigade of tractors already at the campsite. There were 12 tractors of either Harry Fergusson or Massey Ferguson brand and all more than 45 years old. Eight cars were accompanying these tractors as they made their way up to the Cape and back from Cooktown. They were now on their way back, having lined up the tractors at Cape York and taking photos of themselves. One chap played Advance Australia on his bagpipes. They were as pleased as punch with themselves. They averaged 100klms per day, and at 16klms per hour, that meant gruelling days.

This chap was 77. He kept everything he needed in his converted oil heater container!

Next morning we decided to go back into the National Park to view some WWI relics. The road again here was excellent, but Don unfortunately had a puncture, so this necessitated a hasty retreat to Weipa. We went onto Bramwell Junction Station to wait for his return.



Kalpowar Crossing campground

Two nights in Lakeside National Park at Kalpowar Crossing campground was wonderful. This campsite is on the Normanby River. It is also the access point to Cape Melville. A causeway/weir crossing is the beginning of this track. The deep weir section of the river is home to a resident saltwater crocodile. A old guy who has been coming here for forty years had a boat from which he was fishing for barramundi.

He told us a story about a young man in a canoe that was trying to film a crocodile in the lower pool below the cascades. He was taken by that croc due to the raw piece of met he was dangling in the water by a string in an effort to entice it.

There was a lovely walk around the lagoons and waterways, that Peter and I took.


We didn't see very much wildlife, unfortunately, but we saw how the area would look when fully flooded by the wet.

From here we went to Archer's Roadhouse.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lakefield National Park

Two nights in Cooktown allowed us to see the mouth of the Annan River. The first night was spent at The Peninsular Caravan Park. Here we hired a cabin for the night in order to let the camper dry out! Don chose to stay in his tent at the campsite.

Next day we packed up and went to explore some of Cooktown. We were late getting started so only managed to see a small number of the sitesb andnexperiences available.

The view from Mount Cook is magnificent. You are able to see the coral cays, sandy breaches and shallow water areas that Cook would have had to navigate through as he came in to the port with the Endeavour to attempt repairs to it.

We had been given some instructions by Nat Jaques to reach the Annan River mouth, where he said there were great camping spots.

A very narrow track leading through scrubland and forest eventually ended on a long sandy beach. Not a soul around!!! A right hand turn led to the Annan River.

Here we found a group of young people paraskiing on the mouth of the river. They had driven their vehicles onto the sandy peninsular out into the river mouth and were skiing the area just inside this spit.

We had already seen the biggest crocodile over over five meters further up the Annan River so felt this perhaps was foolhardy. However we thought they must be locals and therefore know which croc resided where. The water was quite shallow and they were flying up and down it!

On arrival at the Cooktown camp grounds for our second night, the owner told us there were plenty of resident crocs in the mouth of the river and to be very careful!!

Our advise was that we could access the 24/7 touchscreen Queensland National Park site to purchase our camping permits for Rinyirru (Lakeside) National Park. Needless to say we were again thwarted in our attempts to "do the right thing" and buy a permit! The touchscreen did indeed work, but the key pad to insert names and addresses was broken!

We decided Cooktown was a good place to get some freshly caught fish and were advised to eat at the bowling club. No courtesy bus was available on Sunday night, so we decided to order a taxi. At 6:30pm we rang the local taxi company, to be greeted with a message saying that if you wanted a taxi you had to have booked it prior to 2:00pm! As we had already set up camp for the night, it was decided that I would drive our car into town with the two guys squeezed in on the passenger seat. This caused some discomfort and a great deal of hilarity to and from the club. Dinner was delicious, so it was worth the pain!

The Lure Shop was eventually the pace that we could finally get that camping permit! A stern letter will be sent to the Queensland Govt, re the total inadequacy of this pre-booking system!!



Sunday, August 25, 2013


The drive along the Bloomfield Track was interesting as there were a number of water crossings. None of the road was difficult and could easily be driven along in a normal two wheel dive vehicle.
The weather continued to be rainy all the wy through the rainforest. We passed some magnificent peaks and outlooks. This truly is where "the forest meets the sea"! One of my "bucket list" items!
We stopped many times to take photos of this unique area and took some of the many walks including the one to Wujal Wujal. A resident croc in the Annan River was five meters plus!!
Wujal Wujal Falls

Black Mountain, just before Cooktown is fascinating! Lava spill ccurred under the ground and then over the millenia the clay has eroded away leaving the black basalt rock behind. This in tirn has been fragmented by rain and sun into blocks of rock randomly strewn over the landscape. Native figs somehow manage to survive in a no soil zone, by plunging thgeir roots deep into the crevices to seek out water and nutrients.



On arrival at Cooktown, our first stop was a local caravan park, for a cabin for the night, and a place to dry out the mattress, all the bedding and most of the clothes and towels.

In just 100 kilometers, the scenery had changed from dense rainforest to dry savannah scrubland!


Lync Haven

On arrival at Mossman a big laundry wash was required. Lovely coffee in the cafe next door.


The crossing of the Daintree River, some little way out of Mossman is by ferry. A dim view of people getting out of their vehicals is taken by the ferry staff. A very good reason for this is the very large resident crocs!!

Our first night in the Daintree was at Lync Haven Resort, it has a small camping ground which had few other campers on the first night. We stayed here for two nights allowing us to explore some of the interesting sights offered in the local area.

The resort has its own resident salt water crocodile, which is fed every morning by the owner, Scott. This is Doris, who was first called Boris in mistaken identity. She had been owned by a pet store and outgrew her pen.

Humidity is extremely high in the Daintree, so when it came to closing up to visit the boardwalks and discovery centre, the tarpalin was already damp.
We walked most of the boardwalks and then went to the Daintree Discovery Centre, which was sensational! A descriptive and informative audio accompanies you on the walk to give you an interpretive understanding of all aspects of the rainforest and its eco system.
A cyclone proof tower allows you to see all levels of the forest. The forest is very dense and the colours of the flowers change the higher up the canopy you go. Many of the trees produce fruit of some kind which depends upon the cassowary to eat it, walk away with the seed in its gut and deposit the seed in compost somewhere else. The cassowary range for foraging is about 70 hectares.
We sighted no evidence of real cassowaries despite peering for them everywhere. We met some visitors that had met with them on some of the boardwalks.
The dampness and humidity increases dramatically when it rains. This happened on the second, third and fourth nights.
We moved to Jungle Lodge at Cape Tribulation, for nights three and four. Here we booked a snorkling trip off Mackay Reef.
We snorkled in the rain. On return it took many hours to get warm again despite having worn wetsuits for the two hours spent in the water.


A wet and miserable campsite!!


Granite Gorge - Again!

Returned to Mareeba for service to vehical. Stayed in Mareeba Riverside Caravan Park. Terrible!! Some real down and outs live here! Dirty sites, noisy and uncomfortable! Not a place with much to recommend it.

Serice was done efficiently and well. We wanted a cb radio installed which needed to be done the following morning, so rather than stay another night at Riverside, we opted to camp again at Granite Gorge, where although the facilities are poor the site we used both times as secluded and private. We swam in the waterhole, which was cold but refreshing after another hot day walking the main street of Mareeba.

Wet lands outsde Mareeba going towards Mossman.



Life at the mango farm is simple and Neil and Deb make the most of everything they have! They would be people who leave not carbon footprint as they recycle reuse everything. They use used frying oil to run their cars, pumps and generator. The generator is only used once a week for the washing!

This is a photo f their house from where you arrive!

Here are Neil and Deb with one of the four WoOFers having dinner.

This old stove not only helps heat the water but Deb made a delicious Chocolate birthday cake in it for one of the WOOFers.

The walls of the house are made from hessian coated in a cement slurry. Deb told us the house cost $900 to build!

Deb and Neil grow mangoes, mostly, but also habean intensive crop of tumeric, that is sold directly to the testaurants and eating houses in Melbourne and Sydney. They are now trialling red Galengal as well as ginger as these fresh spices are highly desirable in the southern cities.

Our two days with them was very relaxed and lovely. I helped dig a new garden bed and planted out some vegetable seedlngs for Deb.

On our last day, Sunday, it was the day off, so Neil and Deb took us to Mount Lewis National Park. The turn off is very well hidden and not known by any other than locals so we felt very privileged. We travelled behind Neil's new vehicle melling of fish and chips the entire way in a pristine rain forest!


Neil showed us where the Red Frog tadpoles live. They are at least five inches long!!

Mount Lewis is the mountain directly behind their property, do the WOoFers walked back down the mountain to the property, a walk of some further four hours.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Deb and Neil's and hope to make a return visit after our trip to the cape! Thank you for a lvely time Deb and Neil!!


Port Douglas

Palm Cove - photo just for Robin and Geoff!! This is just to prove that we dropped in to all the beach resort areas north of Cairns! The entire beach front area is filled with resorts, nhotels and eateries of one type or another. Very busy - lots of people everywhere! Most things; restaurants and accommodation; fully booked !

On to Port Douglas, where we had booked a unit with Don and Jan for three nights!

Our unit was on the way in to Port Douglas. This is a VERY tourist town, whose sole business is to provide entertainment to the visitors. Jance wanted some luxuries, so had a massage at one of the spas.

A trip on the Lady Douglas was fun. Here we travelled up the tidal river to view the resident crocs and birds. Many boats moor in here to be protected from storms and cyclones.

We did see two female crocs and some raptures as well as a pair of Pauan Frogmouths.

We took the afternoon tour ending with amagnificent sunset.

Just to prove we are still alive.......

Port Douglas was rather too touristy for Peter and my liking!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Don and Janice pushed on to Cooktown for a night of luxury in a renovated Queenslander B&B. We ambled on through the tableland dropping in on various establishments and admiring the scenery.

On impulse, Peter decided to visit Jaques Coffee Plantation. He wanted to see how the coffee is mechanically picked in Australia. We learned that the owners of the property were ex-Tanzanians from Arusha who had had a coffee farm on the slopes of Kilamanjaro. So we went to introduce ourselves and met Nat and Linda Jaques, who were most hospitable and invited us into their home to give us some local knowledge about travelling and camping on the Cape.

Our camp that night was in Kuranda in the rainforest.

It was a futile try to get tickets on the Skyrail leading down to Cairns from Kuranda as a cruise ship had pulled into Cairns and booked up every available ticket for two days.

So we drove down the mountain to the sea and on to Port Douglas. This photo is taken from the outlook on the road going down the mountain.