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.

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