Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On the way home

We got away from Cairns at 9:30am on Jul 13. We waited a bit longer for the sun to rise over the hill to help dry some very wet canvas from the previous day's rain and the heavy morning dew. I must have wiped over a ltr of water off and then moved the canvas onto the roadway to dry. Time was against us so we needed to pack up still damp but no longer dripping.

Normanton was around 600ks away so getting going was important. The first 100ks through Atherton took nearly 2hrs due to the winding road and road works. The rest of the trip was at the speed limit. We arrived at Normanton just as the sun was setting.

We wanted to see the Gulf so we got an early start and did the 140k round trip to Karumba for breakfast.

Lunch was a Burke and Wills Hotdog at the Burke and Wills Road House. We arrived at Mt Isa at 3:30.

Today we do the above ground mine tour, so I've taken the opportunity to get the local Toyota dealer to do the 40k service. Hopefully they will be finished by 1:00pm when the tour is finished.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Trip Back From The Tip

Day 11 - Punsand Bay to Moreton Telegraph Station.
A pretty uneventful trip back the way we came (on this day anyway).

We stopped briefly at the Croc Tent souvenir shop which just had a lot of high priced usual stuff along with some interesting accessories made from Croc leather and shark skin.

The Croc is a Croc (Fake)

Did a bit of detective work with the GPS and found a couple of Plane Wrecks just out of Bamaga.

We also stopped in again at Fruit Bat Falls for another swim - even got Mrs Gazza in briefly.

Arrived at Moreton TS mid afternoon only to find the tyre that was "repaired" in Bamaga had gone flat again. It was mounted on the spare tyre carrier of my mates cruiser and he was pretty annoyed at the failure. So we pulled it off the rim using his gear only to find the guy had put the edge of the patch over the hole instead of the center of the patch. Grrrr. So he reamed the area again and put a new patch on in the right place; although this required putting it over half the patch the repair guy put on so it was a 50/50 bet it would work. Anyway after nearly a week its still holding pressure so looks like it worked OK. We should have done it ourselves in the first place.

Day 12 - Moreton Telegraph Station to Chili Beach.
The original plan was to go the Chili Beach via the Frenchmans track but we met some guys who had come through there and dinged up their trucks a bit - also suggested one river crossing might be a bit deep. Not wanting to take too much of a risk with our vehicles we took the main road in. That was an easy run and probably a lot quicker.

On arrival at Chili Beach all the camp spots were taken so we had heard of an old abandoned "hippie" camp that could be used to camp at, found it and set up camp there. As it turns out it isn't a hippie camp at all but an abandoned Aboriginal Camp - Some traditional owners turned up and set us straight - they were very obliging and said we could stay over night, even gave us hints as to where to drop a line in. This turned out to be good advice - mate caught 4, keeping one for supper.

We found a couple of coconuts lying on the ground and opened them with the tomahawk to reveal some fresh milk and flesh. Mate found one too but his was rank either with seawater or just past its "best by" date.

This is "Wilson"

There's a cafe at Portland Roads about 10k away where the word among the travelers is they serve a nice cheese cake and coffee. Turned out to be very true we went back the next day for seconds. Its kinda typical of the cape very remote areas and then an oasis of something. Beaches, waterfalls, rivers, rain forests, road houses, small towns and the odd cafe. Its great!

Day 13 - Chili Beach to Archer River Roadhouse.
After having seconds at the cafe we returned to the main road then headed south for Archer River RH. Found a nice camping spot and settled in for the night. ARRH is famous for their burgers but as with much on the cape some lowering of expectations is required. The burgers are probably the best on the cape but not the best on the country - you need to keep reminding yourself that supplies have a long and rough trip in so with that in consideration the burgers were pretty good.

Friday is the day after pension day so some of the locals from Lockhart River who are not allowed alcohol in town - turn up for a fortnightly all night "corroboree" - These "Facts" I got secondhand so I'm not sure what exactly took place - What I know is they were still going at dawn and they were not always in tune.

Day 14 - Archer River Roadhouse to Port Douglas.

So after a rough night's sleep we decided to leave early and skip the stop at Laura and drive to Port Douglas a day early instead.

We stopped for a nice coffee at the ???? Beast Cafe in Coen - Having refuelled at Bamaga I had enough diesel to get me to Port Douglas.

The road coming into Laura is the worst part of the main road north having a rocky base it is hard on your suspension. But it only lasts about 20ks. Given its the last bit of gravel, we wondered how we would have felt had we come up this way thinking we might have had nearly 800km of those conditions.

That said I'm sure the road conditions change frequently with traffic and weather so what might be good one time could be much worse the next. On the whole I think we struck excellent conditions, making great trip times most of the trip.

We also stopped in Lakefield at a Roadhouse for lunch. We parted company with mate and family here, they were going to Hopevale for the night to catch up with Eddie who takes visitors spear hunting in the traditional way.

Now back on the black top and up to 110kph again we finished the trip arriving in Port Douglas mid afternoon.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

OK - Time to update

OK we are rested, Truck & Trailer are clean and we are all setup for a few days stay at Port Douglas.

Time to update the missing days.

Day 7 - Cairns to Cooktown.

We stopped to look at the Daintree Discovery Centre which has some raised paths among a large range of natural fauna & flora. A good way to see a lot in a short period of time if you are prepared to pay for it.

Zipped past Cape tribulation but obviously didn't do my research properly because we didn't see anything noteworthy.

We took the Bloomfield Track which is pretty slow going (Avg 30-40kph) parts are steep even had the big Twin Turbo V8 in first gear. Also a bit rough. So rough in fact that the tailgate in the camper opened and we lost my recovery gear and socket set - very frustrating. We managed to replace the most critical gear in Cooktown at prices only marginally more expensive than home.

Stayed the night at the Big 4 - Very nice indeed.

Day 8 - Cooktown to Hann Crossing (Lakefield NP).
The Trip was pretty straight forward road conditions around 60-70kph average.
Hann Crossing has an honor registration system where you write on a white board which camp site you are staying in and leave money in a steel mail box.

We stayed at camp 11/12 right next to the river very nice - it also had a 1-2m bank making it harder for the crocs to come straight from the river to camp. We saw crocs by torch light that night (red eyes floating down the river).

Day 9 - Hann Crossing (Lakefield NP) - Moreton Telegraph Station.
The road gets progressively easier as you approach the main road north where you find short stretches of black top and surprisingly even smoother clay top.

Fuelled up (Diesel this time) at Coen - The BP is not a BP so that was a bit inconvenient but no real biggie.

The people at Moreton are very friendly and helpful.

Day 9 - Moreton Telegraph Station - Punsand Bay.
The family we were traveling with started the day with a flat tyre - changed it a got it fixed??? (read below) in Bamaga.

We stopped at Fruit Bat Falls for a swim - the best natural water body swim I've ever had - very nice.

Anyway stopped in Bamaga to get the tyre fixed and stock up supplies.

The road into Punsand was a bit rough but not as bad as the Bloomfield track.

The scenery at Punsand is fantastic! the Beach is great but no swimming - some people went for quick dips the bottom is sandy and the water clear if you're quick. The facilities at Punsand Bay Resort hardly qualify to be called "resort" but they are adequate and priced accordingly - Keep expectations low.

The sunsets were amazing.

Day 10 - The Tip!.
This was the big day - the whole reason for the 4,500km (so far) trip - And I wasn't disappointed.

We took the back road from Punsand to the tip which is very slow with a number of deeper water holes to navigate - nothing covering the tyres but almost - It was fun. A bit overgrown so I got some surface scratches on the 200 - about time - It was looking very Toorak.

The Tip was huge fun we got the obligatory photo at the official tip but then using the GPS found the real tip of the Main Land Continent of Australia about 10m to the west.

The walk from the car park is either via the beach or over the top - we went one way and came back the other.

Took this panorama on the way back...

More Later....

Saturday, July 4, 2009

In Port Douglas

A late post just to say we have been to the tip and back and are now in Port Douglas.

The trip was much easier than we expected although we have a few stories to tell involving:
Socket Sets
The Real Tip
Ant Hills
Grass Trees
Water Crossings
and more...
But it will have to wait for a few days.
Stay tuned.