Cape York

Mr Jones - Counting Crows

Upon leaving Laura we had a disappointing experience at the Quinken Cultural Centre. Rude and uninterested staff, expensive tours and no information for free left a very bitter taste as we walked out the door. Let's just say it wasn't very cultural! Leaving in disgust we made our way to Split Rock to find that we could do a self guided walk to view the rock art.
The gallery here is one of many the scatter the escarpment and we sent some time looking at the art. Although confused about the no unauthorized admission ( unless you had paid) signs, the paintings we saw were worth stopping for.
Saying goodbye to ED in Mareeba we made our way down into Cairns. 24 hrs was long enough in Cairns to do some shopping, before we made our way up to Port Douglas.
We spent the next 5 nights in Port Douglas. We caught up with old and new friends (Ant and Peta), cleaned Hilary (a 5 hour job), visited the Reef and saw at least 7 whales (great whale spotting Tony).
Port Douglas is and always will be a favourite. The Physio job at Mossman Hospital is being advertised - tempting!?
Eventually we dragged ourselves away and with recommendations from Tony and Adam made our way west to Mt Mulligan.
The next part of the adventure begins.

A MASSIVE thanks to Tony, Janice, Grace and Cooper for having us to stay and to Graham and Cathie for having us back on Calypso.

Crocodile Rock - Elton John

A windy night turned into a very windy day. Just an annoying wind, noisy but also quite cooling and it kept the flies away. After breaky we drove up the soft sandy beach towards the Cape. On the way we stopped at a monument to a lot of pearling loggers and people who drowned here when a cyclone hit in the late 1800s.
A touch further on we arrived at the end of the beach. We walked around some rocks to try the fishing from here.
Beef for dinner again tonight then.
We spent several hours up near the Cape fishing and exploring. After jumping over one rock I nearly landed on what I thought was a dead crocodile. He was around 6 ft long and was missing his (her?) right front leg. After snapping a couple of photos I discovered that he was not dead as he spun around and slid back into the sea. Certainly makes you look at the croc warning signs a lot more.
After returning to camp for lunch and a read the wind refused to abate. A touch more fishing and a lot of sitting around rounded out the day.

Dusty Road - John Lee Hooker

After a quick morning visit from the Rangers who were out checking camping permits, we left Orange Plain and drove onto Lakefield Ranger Station. Here we added another night to our trip out to Cape Melville. We figured if it was nice then staying another night would be the reward for the long drive. If it wasn't then forfeiting the camp payment wasn't a big deal.
We topped up water supplies at Kalpower Crossing, crossed the river and drove north. The road was in much better condition than we expected. We had been told it would take between 5 and 6 hours to get out to the beach. The first two legs were done in just over an hour. This is where the the condition of the track got worse. Turning left at the Cape Melville-Cooktown intersection the track immediately became narrower. The overall condition was not as bad as we thought it would be however. While slow going, the track was easy to follow and there were no big hazards to overcome. A creek that was marked as a bit tricky came and went without us even noticing it so I guess it was quite dry!
The remaining 42 km did take us a bit over 3 hours. We stopped for a quick lunch and then spent a few minutes dragging ED out of a swamp after they took a wrong turn.
As we hit the beach we knew the drive was worth it. Beautiful views across to Flinders Island and Bathurst Head greeted us. After a quick spin up the beach to our camp at Oystercatcher we set up the tent and Jaks and Dave got stuck into the fishing.
Beef again for dinner tonight then.
As the afternoon wore on the wind came up and a few drops of rain fell.
We retreated to our tents around 8 o'clock and listened to the wind grow.

Light My Fire - The Doors

A day of unknowns. Would we be able to make it south to Lilyvale Station? What would the road be like? Were we allowed to drive through Lama Lama NP?
The first section of the track south of the Stewart River wound through open grass land and paperbark sections. Scrubby Creek was the only wet crossing and didn't prove anything difficult for ED and Hillary.
Between Scrubby Creek and Running Creek large sections of the land was being burnt off and we had to cross the fire front. Sounds tougher than it was. Dave cleared the track of a few burning sticks and away we went. It is quite amazing to see such large areas of land alight and no one to be seen managing the fire. Obviously works ok for them.
Crossing Running Creek we passed through the station and a number of gates. The road improved significantly from here and we tootled our way down to Lilyvale Station.
Along the road we passed a number of official looking signs saying through road to Point Stewart and that we must remain on the gazetted road. All Good indicators we were allowed to carry on.
We arrived at Musgrave in time for lunch and the very helpful Teresa from QPWS booked us some campsites for the next two nights.
Back on familiar roads we headed East into Lakefield NP and along the never ending track to Orange Plain Waterhole, site 4. This area must see some significant water during summer but all that remained were some fairly stagnant waterholes, a nice home for the mosquitos.
Smashed pumpkin (c/o Merluna) filled our tummies and after a quick shower we tucked ourselves into the warm, mosquito free tent. The evening temperatures have dropped considerably and has made sleeping much more comfortable.
Tomorrow more adventures as we head out to Bathurst Head in Cape Melville NP.

Big Balls - AC/DC

This morning we awoke at the HS to a gentle mist of soft pastels with tiny shiny drops suspended in the cool air. Before the KK army departed for Weipa we were were able to grab a few picturesque snaps to capture the quiet start. After a light breaky we did a quick pack up except for a few bits waiting to dry in the early sunshine. A farewell to Suzie and Richard with the VW / ultimate camper trailer who gave us a parting gift of some tiny limes from the trees in the garden. We stopped at the office to say thankyou and goodbye to our hosts and had a interesting conversation with the barefooted adventure hunter Clint, originally from NZ, who manages Merluna HS in the Dry season and runs pig and wild cattle bow hunting tours. And yes he really does go barefoot.
With a few bush lemons from the garden and a pumpkin in the Prados we checked out the 40 & 55 series land cruisers in the shed and the Massey Ferguson plough gear with multiple bid gee barbies attached. Nudging aside wild pigs and a huge chestnut very well sprung wild bull with horns to match we took the road south east for Coen.
Once again onto the red superhighway, four lanes wide at times with a few whoopee-doos along the way. Hamburger time at a quite pleasant Archer river roadhouse then a beer and a chat with some dark and friendly folk at the Coen sExchange hotel. Onwards to Port Stewart along a recently upgraded gravel rd aprox 60kms although not much to see at the end other than mangroves and mosquitos and a keep out signs for properties including the ranger station. Some detective work was required to find a small track eastwards to then go south and after passing a picturesque lagoon full of white water lillies we came upon a very clear trickle of the Stewart Rv. We set up camp on the northern bank, had a relaxings read, camp shower and a lovely tea of blue bone groper, chips and fried rice. A very stary night by the fire with the notes of crickets, curlews, mosquitos and angry cattle.

A guest report by Elysse (age 40) .