Category Archives: Blog About The Great Lap

Blogs on our travels

Cape York Day 7 – To The Tip

We had an early morning start and took the ferry over the Jardine River.

Crossing the Jardine River

Crossing the Jardine River

We drove through the little dust blown towns to the Croc Tent. The Croc Tent is at the junction leading up to The Tip. This is where we picked up some souvenirs and information maps of the area.

Just a little further and we made it to the northern most tip of mainland Australia!!!

Not a great picture, but we made it!

Not a great picture, but we made it!

Even though it was a little touch and go at the beginning of the trip, we are very glad that we did continue on. It makes it just that little bit sweeter knowing that against the odds we got there in the end.

Then off to Cape York Camping at Punsand Bay for some R&R.

Cape York Day 3 – 6

Day 3 – Hann River Roadhouse to Coen

The lady who stopped to help us after the accident very kindly offered to take our tent back to Cairns, as that is where she was heading, while Johny and I decided to continue on. It’s a 6 hour drive back to Cairns, we were too far to give up especially since we’ve determined that the car is driveable.

The drive from Hann River Roadhouse to Coen is approx 130kms. We had a  quick toilet stop at Musgrave Roadhouse and we kept going.

Coen is the last place before The Tip that there is mobile phone service. There is fuel there as well as campgrounds, a pub, mechanic, grocer, cafe, medical centre and various other businesses for the community and visitors.

It was in Coen we discovered a hole in our radiator, thank goodness there is a mechanic here.

We also had to purchase a double swag as we had lost our tent in the accident the day before. The lady at the shop was going to charge us $360 but managed to bring it down to $200(!?!?).

In the evenings the sky was filled with bats in Coen.

In the evenings the sky was filled with bats in Coen.

Day 4 – A lazy day in Coen

We had to spend an extra day in Coen while our car was repaired.

Unfortunately it was at this point that my laptop shutdown and a call to apple support proved pointless, We need to get to Cairns to get it looked at “sigh”.  A good thing I had my ipad to keep notes on what we did.

During our stay in Coen we met a couple who had suffered some health problems overnight and needed medical attention. So while the guy was in hospital we kept company with his wife during the day.

Day 5 – Coen to Moreton Station

On the road again by midday. Thankfully our radiator only cost $175 to fix and we fuelled up in Coen at $1.88/L, we have heard the fuel prices are reaching over $2/L further north.

A few kms out of Coen we came to the quarantine point. This is for the south bound visitors to dispose of any mangos, avos or anything else deemed a potential quarantine threat. This is where we also received our free Cape York kit.

As Archer River Roadhouse was only 67kms out of Coen we kept going to Moreton station, another 50kms or so.

If I’m completely honest, this was the most boring and uncomfortable part of this trip. The roads are coming better with the dirt being hard packed, dry but still very corrugated and bits of the roads have been washed away during the wet so there are gaping holes on the sides of the roads, not great for when you need to pull over in a hurry. This happens more often than you think due to the poor driving skills of the other cars on the road 😦

To top it off, there is no internet or computer which made Monica a very unhappy camper. Can you tell I was feeling rather disgruntled at this stage?

Dusty roads

Dusty roads

Another mishap occurred on the way to Moreton, we lost our temp gauge. This meant we had to pull over, refit it after losing a piece on the ground, hope it would still work, and then keep going.

At Moreton Station we met Paul, a cyclist who was cycling to the tip on his own, crazy!!!

Day 6. Moreton – The Old Tele  Track – Jardine River Crossing

Sunrise at Moreton Station

Sunrise at Moreton Station

We left Moreton early and headed towards Bramwell Station, the station where the Old Telegraph track starts, which is only another 42kms or so.

Old Telegraph Track_A Girl A 4WD And A Trailer.JPG-4On the Old Telegraph Track (OTT), Palm Creek is the first and biggest challenge.  We drove down to have a look and I immediately shut down the idea. We had been told to make our own decision and that there was a “chicken track” around it anyway.  The track was completely impossible to complete without help, a half dozen or so cars were standing around and everyone was getting winched through.

Call me crazy, but why would you call it 4WDing when you’re not driving at all, rather being winched up???

My nerves were still frazzled after the accident so with even the “chicken track” being impassable without a winch up, we turned around and went back to the Peninsula Developmental Road to make our way up to the Tip.

We found a sign leading into Heathland NP that would get us to a portion of the OTT called Gun Shot, which Johny wanted to see. We drove down for a look, I very nearly pooped myself while just looking at it so we turned around and headed back onto the main road again.

Heathlands was stunning!

Heathlands was stunning!

We drove past Elliot Falls and Fruitbat Falls and made the decision to stop there on the way back down.

We made it to the Jardine River crossing by about 3pm. The ferry operates from 8am-5pm in dry season and cost $129 for a car return. The campsite on the other side was too far so we stopped at the campground at the crossing for the night.

Cape York – Day 1 & 2 – The Accident

Day 1 – Cooktown

The drive from Mossman to Cooktown takes about 4 hours through some stunning rainforest and mountain scenery.

While in Cooktown we stayed at Orchid Caravan Park which is located behind Charlotte st (main street), $30/night unpowered. Everything is in walking distance in the main part of town.

We stuck our trailer into storage, we’d decided not to take it to the tip, and walked up the main street, looking at some of the historic buildings and to the wharf.

For lunch we visited the historic Top End Pub for some lovely pizza and cold beers, bliss. It was a real  scorcher in Cooktown and finally the rain has stopped!

Day 2 – Cooktown to Hann River Roadhouse

Pick up last minute groceries from IGA, cash from ANZ or Westpack ATMs, fuel ($1.72), maps, gas, medication e.t.c

Headed north towards Hope Vale and in about 30kms turned left onto Battlecamp Rd.

Our first river crossing was at the Normanby River where we were stuck for 2 hours. The river had risen higher than we were told, a young guy had tried to drive through and had stalled in the middle. Hubby was finally able to use our winch and winched the guy out with the help of a number of visitors who were also stuck on the bank. A tag along tour came through from the other side, the current was flowing with them and they had no problems but still no one from our side was game to try the crossing again. Thankfully the guy we winched out was working in the area and a backhoe was coming to get him across. As a thank you for helping we we’re snatch strapped to the back and followed behind.

Apparently there is a massive croc that lives at this corssing. No one was game to stay in the water when we found that out!

Apparently there is a massive croc that lives at this crossing. No one was game to stay in the water when we found that out!

We had a quick stop off at Old Laura Historic Homestead for some pics. We continued until we reached Peninsula Developmental Road, the road to the tip, we turned right with the plan of stopping at Hann River Roadhouse for the night.

Old Historic Laura Homestead

Old Laura historic homstead

Unfortunately it was between Laura and Hann River that we had our accident.

The roads were wet, slushy and slippery with mud from all of the late rain the area had recently. The mud was so thick that even though we were only going 45kms the ass of our car slid out, the wheels locked up, we slide around and the car tripped on the side and over we went.

It happened in slow motion. Everything loose in the cabin went sideways. Thankfully we had a cargo barrier in and we had our seatbelts on.

Johny yelled “kill the engine” so from my side position I reached up and hit the kill switch.

We were in shock, I kept saying, “we’re ok, we’re ok” over and over and thankfully we were. Johny undid his seatbelt and stood on my window. He pushed up  to open his door and crawled out. Once he was sitting on top he helped me out and I jumped onto the muddy ground, no time for shoes.

We just stood there. I had my camera bag and mobile phone on my lap at the time of the accident and so crawled out of the car with it. No service. I tried 000 and 211, nothing. All we could do was wait for someone to come past.

A lady stopped and gave me a lift to Hann River Roadhouse where I sent some guys out to Johny who stayed with the car. The lady does the trip every week to her husband who is a commercial fisherman in Weipa so she’s basically a local.  She warned us that as it’s a remote area that one of us should stay with the car as there was a good chance it would be gone when we got back if we didn’t stay with it.

Thankfully once the car was back on all 4 wheels it was still driving so Johny drove back to Hann River Roadhouse to take stock of the damage.

The accident had caused our roof rack and tent to snap off the roof, so with our accommodation on the ground we stayed at Hann River Roadhouse in a donga overnight.

The car the day after. The perspex window covers smashed, the front panel under the snorkel is pushed in and so was my car door, it only opened half way until we popped it back in. The roof rack is gone and the side light popped out.

The car the day after. The perspex window covers smashed, the front panel under the snorkel is pushed in and so was my car door, it only opened half way until we popped it back in. The roof rack is gone and the side light popped out.

 

From Cairns to Mossman

From Cairns we followed the Captain Cook Highway to Port Douglas and Mossman. This is the most stunning stretch of road I have seen so far, with rainforest on one side of the road and beautiful beach on the other.

Captain cook highway

 

We continued into Port Douglas and then into Mossman to see the Mossman Gorge. Unfortunately it kept raining which made visiting the gorge rather unappealing. For this reason we decided to skip the gorge and Cape Tribulation and instead we prepared for our trip to Cape York and headed off to Cooktown.

The cane fields with mountains in the background at Mossman

The cane fields with mountains in the background at Mossman

 

Snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef

Unfortunately as the weather turned bad we decided to skip Atherton Tablelands and drove from Paronella Park straight to Cairns. Apparently they have have a really late wet season up this way we’ve been told by every tour guide, receptionist, tourists e.t.c.  The four days we were in Cairns it rained and rained and rained. For the first three days we sat in the camp kitchen at our Caravan Park and played on the internet.

We really, really wanted to go snorkelling so on the 4th day we went out on the boat, regardless of the weather.

The ride out to the reef was horrible with at least 75% of the boat puking out the back deck, Johny included. Thankfully the outer reef was calm and visibility was pretty good. Here are some of the pics I took with the underwater camera we hired.

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The dive company we went with was Down Under Dive who were just fantastic. They had free sea sick tablets, really friendly and entertaining staff, well organised and monitored dives and snorkeling and great value for money!

Note 1: Cairns Holiday Park is the closest to the CBD; however it’s full of backpackers. Usually this wouldn’t worry me except when they are obnoxious, messy, rude, slamming doors and screaming at 3am. We had to be moved into the powered (and much nicer) section of the caravan park for 2 of the 4 days.

Note: we hired the camera at the caravan park. Quality turned out to be fairly average and I’ve had to enhance these pics. There were more expensive cameras on the boat for hire and the quality of their pics was way better.

Through the Ruins of Paronella Park

The Tea Rooms, Paronella Park

The Tea Rooms, Paronella Park

José Paronella arrived in Australia from Catalonia in Spain, in 1913. In 1929, after spending a number of years in Australia, José purchased 13 acres in 1929 and started to build his pleasure gardens and reception centre for the enjoyment of the public.

there was a waterfall, hydro electricity, tea rooms, a castle, a ballroom, swimming pool and over 7000 tropical plants in the extensive garden, all built by José.

A view from the Falls at the front of the Park. On the left is the castle and at the bottom left is the hydro plant

A view from the Falls at the front of the Park. On the left is the castle and at the bottom left is the hydro plant

Unfortunately there was a flood and then soon after José died of stomach cancer, his wife died some years later and his son as well. His son’s wife was left to run the park and in 1977 she sold it.

Sadly, in 1979, a fire swept through the Castle. There were a number of cyclones and floods in the following years and the park fell into ruin.

A pic from the night tour, this is the castle

A pic from the night tour, this is the castle

In 1993 the current owners found the park, bought it and work on maintaining and preserving, rather than rebuilding.

The park has won a number of awards and it’s easy to see why.

We purchased our tickets through RACQ for a 10% discount so it was about $39 each. This includes entry into the park, a day tour, a night tour and 1 nights accommodation in their campground and your ticket is valid for entry up to 24 months. Really it was great value.

The park itself is just stunning! I was able to get some lovely daytime and night time shots.

The Tea Rooms

The Tea Rooms

We loved our time here! The guides were fantastic and the staff in the cafe/reception were amazing. The park is beautiful and a truly unique attraction in FNQ.

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A Walk Through Townsville

The day after our trip to Maggie Island I took a half-day off to myself without the Mr. We were staying in Rowes Bay so I walked along the boardwalk to Kissing Point and into the Strand.

Rowes Bay

Rowes Bay

The Council had really excelled in the design of the facilities along the bay to the city. There are lovely parks, a brand new wooden boardwalk, local artist installations, mainly relating to Aboriginal culture, an outdoor museum at kissing point and then the Strand. It really was a stunning walk.

Castle Hill from Kissing Point

Castle Hill from Kissing Point

I was so invigorated that I decided to walk the track up Castle Hill. Just for some context, I was on my own, it was really hot, I had no water. The climb was hell! But the views at the top were worth it!

Magnetic Island View from Castle Hill

Magnetic Island View from Castle Hill

Then I did the very thing that everyone should do after a long hard walk, I walked to the brewery and had a beer or two at Townsville Brewery.

This walk was definitely the highlight of my time in Townsville!