Thelma and Louise left Cairns this morning on a wonderful sunny day, heading into the unknown. We headed to Mareeba where, after seeing some fantastic retailers, on a recommendation we found the best coffee at Coffee Works. While we were short on time, we would recommend a visit and a browse in the store, as well as the great range of coffee on offer.
Moving on we found the iconic Palmer River Roadhouse, where Andrew made us most welcome. At Lakeland Caravan Park a surprise encounter with Russell, who we had met at Agfest in Tasmania earlier this year. After exchanging plenty of info on track conditions it was on to the Lions Den. We interrupted a wake at the Den, a wonderful celebration of the life of Tom, a resident of the hotel for 30 years. Music and nostalgia, but not the best time to have a drink with the locals although they made us welcome, so we beat a retreat and headed for Cooktown. We will be back to the Lions Den on our way home.
Cape York Navigation & Maps
Cooktown is humid and a bit windy, but it is obvious that there is a great mix of expectant explorers heading north and weary travellers heading home, all enjoying the facilities and beauty of Cooktown. We had a great day meeting many storeowners, from the Museum and Botanic Gardens to fuel stops, newsagents, camping stores and more. What a friendly welcome we received. We took time out at the end of the day to enjoy the view from the recently restored lighthouse and check out the fishing on the jetty.
Looking forward to starting the real adventure of Cape York through Lakefield National Park tomorrow.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Colin and Grant knew the ins and outs of Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park well; Colin's makeshift GPS cradle that works a treat in his 4WD; Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park is a haven for wildlife.
We were lucky to run across Colin and Grant at Saltwater Creek, where Colin shared a secret spot to view young barramundi in the creek and we were able to help out with a few tips on how to access his previous tracks on his HN6 (check out the unique HN6 holder Colin has fixed with Velcro to his dash). These guys have been around the Cape for years and with their wives have been up here this time for a few weeks already. Shame we didn’t meet up earlier in the day as they had fresh barra & salad wraps for lunch!
We were also fortunate to visit Lotus Bird Lodge, where birdlife abounds on the huge lagoon and the accommodation is perfect for a night of relief for weary travellers. We were also privileged to view a three-metre croc on the far side of the lagoon through Sue's telescope.
What a wonderful day of experiences. As we passed the beginning of the Old Telegraph Track it was clear that many are not daunted by the conditions, with a queue waiting to head that way. We girls decided to opt for the softer route! We did however detour to Fruitbat, Elliot and Twin Falls. At Fruitbat falls we pulled up directly behind a Britz Camper. It transpired that the driver, Andreas had purchased our Hema Navigator, app and maps before coming out to Australia to start his big adventure. He was pleased to meet us.
We proceeded to Seisia via the Jardine River Ferry and Alau Campground at Umagico. If we had been camping then this was a serene option. The ferry has been most newsworthy of late for the price increase and the possibility of a bridge in the foreseeable future, but we just enjoyed the trip and friendly nature of the guardians in charge.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Our Hema explorers were impressed by Twin Falls; A Hema explorer at Fruitbat Falls; What are the chances of running into a Swedish traveller who is a Hema Maps fanatic?
What is there to say except: We Did It! We girls were probably the first car at the tip for the day, as the creek crossing was running clear and there were no vehicles in the carpark. That didn’t last for long and we were joined by others by the time we reached the sign at the tip. Views towards Thursday Island are amazing as is the beach nearby!
After a quick look at Somerset Beach and Fly Point we headed via the Croc Tent to Punsand Bay for a lovely lunch and did some business from the beachfront, the first place we could get emails for days.
A final highlight was our burger dinner and karaoke at the Fishing Club with Talina and Susie, 2 very friendly Bamaga Policewomen who are also keen Hema Navigator users!
Our time in Weipa was uneventful, with second day mostly spent repacking the Patrol, cleaning up our gear and networking with the friendly folk in the Weipa Caravan Park. We did however make an afternoon trip to Penefather Beach to see what the boys were raving about – well worth it!
And finally a fabulous sunset that we were well positioned to witness.
LEFT TO RIGHT: The view from the Tip is a humbling one; Paronella Park was a scenic highlight and a great photo opportunity; The Map Patrol about to roll through a creek crossing on the Bloomfield Track.
Hard to believe there were still more sensational experiences to be had. Coffee at the Lions Den, the start of our Bloomfield Track/Cape Tribulation adventures. We managed to stop at many vantage points to revel in the views and also to watch the experienced and foolhardy cross the modest creeks along the track.
From here on it is just the journey home, but there is still Paronella Park to experience and for me the added bonus of a night with the grandchildren in Townsville.
We met many wonderful travellers using Hema products along the way. We were able to help with app training on the Bloomfield track, navigator training in Weipa, Archer River & Daintree, map reading in Lakeland and generally enjoy great company with like-minded people wherever we stopped.
Finally, we girls appreciated the lovely pink cottage at Mossman Motel and Villas for the final night of what was a memorable Cape York adventure.