Tag Archives: Budget Travel

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 🙂

 

 

 

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 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 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.

The Brewery, Townsville Brewing Co

My Paddle

My Paddle

I really like to eat and drink and unfortunately Queensland isn’t really known for its gourmet food and alcohol products, they do exist, they just aren’t well known or as predominant as other states. So to satisfy my cravings I did some research into breweries and wineries in Queensland that I might be able to visit and Townsville Brewery came up as the only boutique brewery in Far North Queensland.

Townsville Brewing Co

Townsville Brewing Co

The brewery is located on Flinders St, Townsville CBD. The building was originally a postal and telephone office, the military communications headquarters during World War 2 and then back to a post office before being redeveloped into a brewery, restaurant, bar and function centre.

I knew that they brewed on site so I was completely unprepared for the dark and opulent feel of the venue as I walked in. The inside was all high ceilings with simple chandeliers gracing the roof, heavy wooden tables with intricate designs carved into them and bar tables made from old barrels. There were dark leather couches scattered around the space, a ceiling to floor wooden bookcase, a simple and understated fireplace and a gold gilded mirror, I was in love.

The bar staff were lovely and yes they do have tasting paddles, my favourite. For $12 I was able to sample  their 7 beers on tap that are made onsite.

  1. Townsville Bitter Premium Light
  2. Townsville Bitter Premium
  3. Bandito Loco, Mexican Lager
  4. Belgian Blonde, Wit Beer
  5. Digger’s Golden Ale
  6. Ned’s Red, Red Ale
  7. Flanagan’s Dry Irish Stout
The Belgian Blond

The Belgian Blond

My favourite, the Belgium Blonde. “A naturally cloudy ale brewed with pilsner malt, unmalted wheat, malted wheat and flavoured with coriander and ginger. It is bittered with Saaz hops and fermented using a Belgium yeast strain resulting in light-bodied refreshing beer with a slightly fruity and complete aroma.”

They also had a lunch special going with a chicken BLT and a schooner for $10, bargain. All in all a great place, great beer and great service.

Townsville Brewery_A Girl A 4WD And A Trailer.JPG-4

The island affectionately known as â€œMaggie”

Magnetic Island, Townsville

Magnetic Island, Townsville

From Mackay we continued northward to Townsville. We did stop along the way at Bowen and took a couple of pics with the big mango. A local news crew accosted us on the way back to the car and asked us some questions about what we thought of the local area from a tourist’s perspective. Having not prepared for the interview and not seen anything of the local area, our responses were somewhat lacking and rather embarrassing ‘cringe!’

Anyway we arrived in Townsville and we did a day trip over to Magnetic Island, also known by the locals as “Maggie”.

We found that as we are RACQ members we were able to get a 10% discount off the ferry to Maggie, bargain! We caught the early ferry across and waited until the car hire place opened. We wanted a Moke to get around the island, but they were really expensive so we hired the Topless instead.

Me in a Topless, Magnetic Island

Me in a Topless, Magnetic Island

Picnic Bay Wharf

Picnic Bay Wharf

The island is only 12kms long so we drove From Nelly Bay down to Horseshoe Bay to see if there was any good snorkeling to be had. Unfortunately there was a strong breeze and the lifeguards told us that there probably wouldn’t be any decent snorkeling that day.

Undeterred we drove down to Picnic Bay, changed into our snorkeling gear and attempted to go in. Dammit, the lifeguards were right, we could barely see a metre in front.

So we had a quick stop off at the local museum and the island’s memorial park and drove back to Horseshoe Bay for some lunch.

Lunch at the local pub was lovely and after a quick lie down on the beach we drove back to the ferry and called it a day.

A Day Trip to The Land of The Clouds

After 6 glorious days we left Byfield and resumed our journey north to Mackay.

From this point forward we will be staying in caravan parks. I’ve never been up this far north and I want to spend some time in the larger towns. Unfortunately you don’t find free camps in bigger towns/cities so we have to stay in caravan parks for ease of access.

Anyway, the next stop was Mackay. I spent a couple of hours in Mackay CBD and while the historic building trail I was following was very interesting, the town itself was pretty average.

On one of the days we drove out to the Mackay hinterland, to Finch Hatton Gorge and Eungella National park / Township.

Finch Hatton Gorge is a beautiful secluded section of Eungella National Park. We did the short 1 hour walk to the Araluen Cascade Falls. On the way back we came across our first snake, a tiny baby black. We stamped and banged the ground and it slowly slithered away.

Araluen Cascade Falls

Araluen Cascade Falls

Eungella means “Land of the Clouds” and the township definitely embodies this being 1280m at its zenith. The drive up the mountain is not for the faint hearted, thankfully we weren’t towing at the time. It is the oldest and longest stretch of subtropical rainforest in Australia and it’s been cut off from other rainforests for roughly 30,000 years. This has guaranteed that there are a number of strange critters not found anywhere else in the world.

We did a couple of very short stops at lookouts around Eungella.

View from Sky Window Lookout

View from Sky Window Lookout, Eungella

A walk around the Historic Eungella Chalet where the backyard looks out over a cliff and a number of random woodcarvings have been placed.

Wooden carvings on the lawn outside of Eungella Chalet

Wooden carvings on the lawn outside of Eungella Chalet

Then through the cane fields, with stunning mountainous backdrops, back to our campsite.

Cane fields with mountains in the background

Cane fields with mountains in the background

Exploring Five Rocks Headland

Looking behind us towards Stockyard Point

Looking behind us towards Stockyard Point

At about midday the tide was going out, so armed with our wet suit boots, drink bottles and a camera we traversed the rocky crop on the north side of Little Five Rocks Beach.

Yesterday during our exploratory trip to Stockyard Point Lookout we could see that there was another tiny remote beach. A quick check of the maps confirms this to be the case. So with a hop, skip and a jump were on the second beach.

From here we weren’t able to positively ascertain whether or not we would be able to reach the headland. The rocks were all different sizes and we couldn’t see if there were any obstacles that might stop us from getting across. We decided that the only way we would find out is by attempting it, then we could always turn back if we got stuck.

Climbing over the rocks

Climbing over the rocks

Over, across and through the rocky outcrop we went for about 30 minutes and finally we came to the channel separately us from the headlands. On the other side of the rocks was another perfectly remote beach.

The channel separating us from the start of the headland

The channel separating us from the start of the headland

As the tide was nearly at its lowest point, we were able to walk the short distance to start of the headland. It soon became apparent that the headland is actually separated by small channels. We traversed 3 channels, about half way along, before calling it a day and turning back around to our campsite.

Back onto Little Five Rocks Beach. When the tide is out there is a huge sand plain

Back onto Little Five Rocks Beach. When the tide is out there is a huge sand plain

Welcome to Byfield National Park

From Carnarvon Gorge we headed east to Rockhampton. We stopped overnight in Duaringa at an awesome free camp and headed into Rocky early the next morning.

We only stayed one night in Rocky, to prepare for our 6 day trip in Byfield National Park. During the day we went to Rockhampton Heritage Festival at the Heritage Village and walked around. It reminded me of Pioneer Park in Griffith.

Rocky to Byfield Town

Rocky to Byfield Town

The next morning we drove to Byfield National Park, approx an hour and a half drive north east of Rockhampton. There is a tiny little town called Byfield, it is a small hippy town at the entrance of the park. We stopped briefly and I bought what could possibly be the most amazing brownie I’ve ever had in my life!

Our campground was at Little Five Rocks, about a half hour 4WD through sand dunes and forest, just outside of another tiny village called Stockyard Point Township.

A quick point about the village. It was a strange little place, which even the local lady at the petrol station in Rockhampton didn’t know about. There was a mixture of tiny seashacks, sheds and a couple of beautiful mansions. It seemed empty on our arrival, however we saw a lot more activity closer to the weekend.

View from the top of the hill looking down to Little Five Rocks Beach and the headlands in the background

View from the top of the hill looking down to Little Five Rocks Beach and the headlands in the background

Anyway, we loved the campground and the site that we booked. The campground was on top of a hill that backed onto the beach. The layout of the grounds was great with toilets and an outdoor shower in the site next to us. We were the only people staying there for the majority of the time so we had the whole place to ourselves.

Butterflies, thousands of them

Butterflies, thousands of them

Water running down the hill into the ocean

Water running down the hill into the ocean

The Little Five Rocks Beach was a short stroll through some lovely bush and a corridor filled with butterflies. BUTTERFLIES! A whole corridor filled with them and when you walked through they were disturbed and would fill the air like magic!

Past the butterflies and there was a little fresh water creek running down the hill into little waterfalls, rockpools and little wooden bridges before heading out to the ocean.

Further down the hill and onto the small, remote beach. No vehicle access and no one else around.

We enjoyed 6 relaxing nights in the park and had a couple of adventures, more info to follow.

Pretty grass in the afternoon

Pretty grass in the afternoon