Category Archives: QLD

QLD travels

Where are we now?

A lot has happened since the last post. We are now in Darwin and plan on remaining here at least for the next 12 months. Hubby and I both have decent jobs and have moved into our own place. However, inspiration smacked me in the head this morning and told me to finish our story, so here it is.

Thankfully our journey back into civilisation (Cooktown *cough*) we relatively uneventful. The next plan was to head back down to Cairns to collect our roof rack that had snapped off the car in the roll over two week prior. However, as we have skipped Cape Trib on the way up, due to the unseasonal weather, we made the decision to stop there a couple of days on route to Cairns.

View from Cape Tribulation Camping

View from Cape Tribulation Camping

Morning sunlight pouring through the trees at Cape Tribulaiton Camping

Morning sunlight pouring through the trees at Cape Tribulation Camping

Besides the scary, bumpy, windy road into Cape Trib full of speeding cars, we had a lovely 2 full days.

The same owners that owned Punsand Bay at The Tip own Cape Tribulation Camping, which is where we stayed.

So what did we do in Cape Trib? I got up early and took some stunning photos of the sunrising over the water and through the rainforest ūüôā

 

 

 

Jungle Surfing

We also went Jungle Surfing through the Rainforest.

And visited a fascinating Exotic Fruit Farm for a tasting, which I loved, and tried some really interesting fruits including:

  • Tahitian Lime
  • Pommelo
  • Yellow Sapote
  • Dragon Fruit
  • Sapodilla
  • Black Sapote
  • Jaboticaba
  • Rollinia
  • Atemoya
  • Guanabana (soursop)

Check out the weird fruits below! But seriously, this was awesome! And for around $25/pp including transport to and from the farm, great value for money!

Black Sapote ripe and green, Pommelo and yellow Sapote

Black Sapote ripe and green, Pommelo and yellow Sapote

I wish we had more time to spend at Cape Trib. The activities we could do were nearly endless. Next time we will horse ride on the beach, explore all of the other beaches and natural springs and relax.

Next stop Cairns to fix our car.

Cape York Days 10 – 14

From here on our trip back was pretty uneventful.

Day 10. The Falls to Weipa

Weipa is a mining town and really not much else. It’s meant to be fantastic for fishing, however, the prices are also fantastic. So we set up at the Weipa Caravan Park on a non powered site at the waters edge for a couple of days of R&R. Too bad you can’t swim for fear of crocs!

Weipa sunset was brilliant. The colours on this haven't been altered by any enhancing software, this is the actual sky.

Weipa sunset was brilliant. The colours on this haven’t been altered by any enhancing software, this is the actual sky.

Day 11. Rest day at Weipa Rest day at Weipa, lazed around and went to the pub.

Day 12. Weipa to Chili Beach and Archer River Roadhouse

We left Weipa and to the Peninsula Developmental Road and turned off at the iron ranges. We were meant to stay at Chili beach however the campsite wasn’t good for our swag and there was nothing else available. This is a very popular spot, although I can’t see why.

We drove down to Portland Roads Out of The Blue Cafe, had some lovely locally caught seafood and then drove to Archer River Roadhouse.

Dinner was the famous Archer River burger, It is a bit of a legend with the tourists. The burger was $12 and HUGE! YUM!

Day 13. Archer River to Laura

We’re asked to give some of the local aboriginals a jump start in Archer River and saw more broken down on the road before Coen.

At the quarantine station (where we noticed we had a flat tyre) we were asked if we could tow some of the local Aboriginals into Coen¬†as they had¬†run out of fuel. Apparently a local family group was trying to get back up the Cape and drove their cars until they had no more fuel (?!?). We were unable to help as our car is starting to show signs that something may be wrong and we don’t want to risk more damage.

We¬†saw the place where we rolled our car. The road has dried out so much that you would never know that 2 weeks ago that it was more a treacherous slush pool then a road. Along the sides of the road are reminders if you care to look. Deep tyre treads mark the churned edges where the graders haven’t yet been through.

We stayed the night in the back of the pub in Laura.

Day 14. Laura to Cooktown

We drove back to Cooktown and back to our trailer, our Cape York trip came to an end.

Cape York Day 9 – Eliot Falls, Fruit Bat Falls, Saucepan Falls and Twin Falls

And time to leave the Tip of Australia.

Back through all of the little towns to the Jardine River ferry, back across and we drove down to the falls. We skipped these on the way up because we were bent on getting to the Tip.

First stop was Fruit Bat Falls, the other 3 waterfalls are within walking distance of each other.

Even though we are in winter, it’s really hot and dusty, so a dip in a waterfall was exactly what we needed.

I also had been advised that all of these waterfalls are croc free.

The Tip Fruit Bat Falls_A Girl A 4WD And A Trailer.JPG-2

 

We drove down to Eliot Falls, Twin Falls and Saucepan Falls. This is where the campgrounds are and where were to stay the night. The waterfalls are very popular for people camping and day tripping so the falls were really busy. We had a walk around and a bit of a dip, but decided to come back early in the morning, before all of the people got in, to take pics.

We did however, bump into the 4WD Action crew, Hubby’s idols. We were very luck and were able to get some pics!

The next morning we got up early for some sunrise photos of the falls and were treated to an amazing view of empty waterfalls covered in mist.

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Cape York Day 8 – Thursday Island

UntitledOriginally we weren’t going to do the tour over to Thursday Island as is was a bit expensive. However, when we got to the Tip we decided that we had come all of this way, we probably won’t do it again, we should just do it. So we did.

We booked our ferry tickets through reception at Punsand Bay, who were wonderful, and caught the ferry the next day. Peddells Ferry is the only passenger ferry that goes over and they also run a tour. We decided to pass on the tour and instead take a tour with a local guy Dirk who was just starting his own business.

View of the back of the ferry to Thursday Island

View of the back of the ferry to Thursday Island

Good choice! He tooks us around on a personalised tour around the island. He was very laid back, but full of information. The name of his company is Lax Charters & Tours and he can be contacted on lax_tours@hotmail.com.

Thursday Island (TI) is the administrative and commercial centre of the Torres Strait Islands and the most northerly town in Australia, it has had a fascinating history.

The Island has approx 3000 residents with about 9000 in total on all of the Islands in the area, and there are a few. Dirk, our guide lives on Prince of Wales Island next door to TI and commutes over to work by boat.

First stop on our tour was the Fort on Green Hill which was built in response to a Russian war scare. It is now a museum with amazing views.

Green Hill Fort

Green Hill Fort looking over Prince Of Wales Island

Rows and rows and rows of Japanese Pearlers are buried here. They say that at least 600 Japanese were killed while Pearling

Rows and rows and rows of Japanese Pearlers are buried here. They say that at least 600 Japanese were killed while Pearling and not all were recovered.

We drove around the “suburbs” of TI and then to the cemetery.¬†The Pearling Industry began when pearl shells were first discovered in the Torres Strait in the 1890’s. This attracted workers from surrounding countries. Unfortunately pearling was a perilous job and hundreds of workers, particularly the Japanese, were killed. This makes TI’s cemetery rather unique as the occupants are a mixture of¬†Muslims, Buddhists, Japanese, Pacific Islanders and Torres Strait Islanders. As well as being one of the northern most cemeteries in Australia.

We weren’t able to visit the cultural centre as it wasn’t open because it was Saturday which was disappointing.

Instead we stopped at The Torres Hotel which is famous because its the most northern pub in Australia, Fantastic! We had lunch and a few drinks before we headed back to catch our ferry back to the mainland.

Cape York Camping Punsand Bay

Campground right on the beach edge. This was a sunrise one morning.

Campground right on the beach edge. This was a sunrise one morning.

Name: Cape York Camping Punsand Bay
Address: Lot 11 Punsand Bay via Bamaga QLD 4876
Contact Details: (07) 4069 1722
Website: http://www.capeyorkcamping.com.au

Background: After a long and tough journey to the Tip of Australia, we decided to stay at Punsand as it seemed to be a popular campground as per the conversations we’d had with fellow travellers on the way. The service was amazing, there was a bar and restaurant with wood fired pizza ovens and the views from our beachfront campground were amazing!

Cost: $15/pp for unpowered site
Facilities:

  • Kitchen / Cooking areas – not really, be prepared to cook at your tent
  • Toilets – yes, not many, but they were clean
  • Showers –¬†yes, not many, but they were clean
  • Good lighting – not so much
  • Laundry – unknown
  • Fitness & Leisure Facilities – there was a pool
  • Security – You’re pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Standard precautions should be taken.
  • Pets Allowed – unsure, ring and ask
  • Fires – yes
  • Noise Levels – fine

Will We Return: absolutely! We will even consider coming back next year to work here next dry season.

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 ūüė¶

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 РThe Old Tele  Track РJardine 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.