What set out to be more of a working holiday , looking for new job opportunities in tropical Queensland in June this year , ended up in being another awesome ( but short ) holiday to the northern most point in our country Cape York. Australia’s number one, four wheel driver’s ultimate destination was at our fingertips, how could we pass up this opportunity! From Cairns our Cape York trip began, and not knowing what to expect of the road conditions due to recent rains (Cairns had just experienced one of the wettest June’s in years) we set off with hearts full of adventure.
The country side in tropical Queensland is spectacular, luscious green trees, palms, jungle, sugar cane and banana plantations as far as the eye can see. And that amazing smell, the smell of the sun heating up the rain from the tropical foliage, means only one thing, you are in the wet tropics of Queensland.
Our first stop would be Daintree Village, a beautiful little town where we ventured onto a croc spotting tour on the mighty Daintree River. Our tour guide was very informative and we did spot a handful of large salt water crocs sunning themselves on the banks as well as a baby croc hiding in the reeds. Just the first of the large snap snaps (Charlie and Jordan’s nick name for salt water crocs) we would see this trip.
Crossing the Daintree River via the ferry we ventured into the dense canopy of the incredible world heritage listed Daintree rainforest. As we were limited for time this trip we didn’t have time to stop and see or experience what is on offer in this magical part of Australia, something that is definitely on our list for our big adventure. Just driving through you feel as if you have slipped into a parallel world and the view out of your windscreen could be a scene from a Hollywood block buster (Charlie even said he saw Dinosaurs roaming around!)
We soon reached the start of the Bloomfield track and not expecting it to be very difficult, we were taken back by just how steep some of the ascents and descent were. The scenery along this road was just as beautiful and the handful of water crossing were just a taste of what to expect when we reached the Telegraph Track. We pulled in at the Lion’s Den that night, an iconic but quirky outback Aussie pub with campground facilities on offer. We decided to treat ourselves with a pub dinner that night, to celebrate the start of another epic adventure. The atmosphere of the outside decking area at the Lion’s Den is just great, clear skies above, timber furniture and large servings of food, just the thing to feed our hungry bellies.
The next day saw more sunshine and we soon came across Black Mountain, a huge hill made out of black granite boulders with an amazing view of the changing savanna below.
Cooktown would be our next stop and this is another town that you could spend a while in exploring the many interesting historical locations and buildings. The foreshore is spectacular, Palm lined beaches, lush green lawns, with amazing views overlooking the bay with monuments to Captain James Cook and a great musical boat for the children (and adults) to have fun on. Charlie and Jordan had a great time playing on this musical boat and it was a great place to have lunch and to stop and stretch the legs.
The day continued on with a few stops including Endeavor Falls, Isabella Falls and Old Laura Homestead, a place truly reminiscent of the old pastoral days and gold mining times in the area. We camped at 12 Mile Lagoon that night and after an interesting drive through long grass and reeds along a suspicious looking swamp we found our camp site. Another perfect starry night and a roaring campfire in the remote wilderness of Cape York, what more could you ask for.
After an early morning fish we pushed on to discover more amazing places that Cape York had to offer, stopping off at Musgrave Roadhouse, Moreton Telegraph Station and Archer River Roadhouse , some great places offering a range of accommodation, fuel and food and some interesting history as well. We decided however to continue onto Bramwell Station to camp the night, where we were entertained with some live music from the comfort of our own campsite that evening.
The next morning we awoke to the smell of adventure in the air, it was only a short drive to Bramwell Junction, the start of the infamous old Tele Track!
The old Tele Track is definitely as notorious as it’s made out to be, countless water crossings and an almost non existent track in some parts. Even the first water crossing Palm Creek only a couple of hundred meters in from the start is an absolute doozie! We made it through them all unscaved and even tackled the new chicken track down the infamous Gunshot camper trailer and all (Lavinia drove most of the water crossings including Gunshot).
We stopped for a quick dip in the picturesque Fruit Bat Falls and spent the night at Elliot Twin Falls campground. Not game to tackle Nolan’s Crossing due to the fact we didn’t want our car or camper filling with water or the fact we deemed this crossing to be too dangerous with children on board, we took one of the exits out to the development road instead.
The development road was certainly a different stretch of road in comparison to the “track” we had been on for the past two days. It was more like a main highway with the amount of traffic coming in the opposite direction. We soon reached the Jardine Ferry, bought our ticket and crossed the Jardine River and headed on to Bamaga.
Not knowing what to expect of the townships in this remote region , we wern’t sure how many supplies would be available, so we were pleasantly surprised with what Bamaga had to offer. With a well-stocked grocery store, a variety store, chemist, Service station and mechanic, a tavern, hospital, school and Australia’s Northern most bakery we certainly made use of the facilities available ( couldn’t go past a pie from the bakery for lunch!)
Setting up camp at Seisia camp ground, a smaller community located five km from Bamaga on the beach, we spent a couple of days fishing , exploring the ruins of the WW2 planes, stopping in at The Croc Tent, visiting the northern most tip of Cape York and also discovering the beautiful and historical Somerset Beach. The thing that probably surprised us the most was the abandoned Pajinka resort just short of the tip. It was a strange sight to see these empty resort bungalows dotted throughout the rainforest, especially as we had no idea that these were even here.
At Seisia campground we had uninterrupted views over the ocean, and it was only a short stroll along the foreshore to the Seisia wharf. We now understand why Seisia wharf is so highly regarded when it comes to fishing, there are literally thousands of fish swimming under the jetty. What was even more interesting was watching the local children pulling in the fish over and over again and with only hand lines. Now for anyone reading this with a young fishing enthusiast (in our case Charlie) you would understand how time consuming it is when their lines are constantly getting tangled in the reel, so in keeping with the spirit of the area we bought our little fishing guru a hand line and just as the locals did, Charlie began to catch fish! Although they were only small he still out fished us adults!
As hard as it was to leave Seisia we decided to spend a couple of days up at Punsand Bay as we were lucky enough to get a camp site there. We spent a few more days relaxing and taking in the local atmosphere, swimming in a fresh water swimming hole and even enjoying a wood oven pizza from the Punsand Bay bar for dinner one evening.
Well the time had come for us to leave this magical part of Cape York, a place that we had fallen in love with, the atmosphere, the local people and the sheer relaxed vibe that comes with living in such a tropical paradise.
We headed down the development road and within a few hours we arrived in the brightly coloured red mining town of Weipa. This would be our home for the next few days where we would explore the region, the bauxite mine, a day trip to Mapoon and Penefather beach camp (where we got bogged in the soft sand) and enjoy a nice cool dip in the caravan park pool each evening.
Time was getting away from us and we had to start our journey home, leaving Weipa we arrived in Laura that evening, camping in the campground out the back of the pub. This would be the end of the dirt roads and the onset of some long days driving to get back to Adelaide.
We ventured through the amazing Atherton Tablelands, staying one night in Malanda in a beautiful bed and breakfast (as it was raining and didn’t feel like setting up or packing up a camper in the rain) and taking a couple of hours the following day to look at a handful of waterfalls around the area before heading into Mission Beach for the night.
From Mission Beach it was straight down the Bruce Highway, where made many small stops, one of them being at the Billabong Wildlife Park just outside of Townsville. The boys absolutely loved this park, we were even able to pat a baby croc and lizard and watch a live crocodile feeding show. Definitely a place to stop with the little ones for an enjoyable couple of hours and lunch.
The next few days saw us head down to the Gold Coast to visit family for a night before heading inland where we made overnight stops at Moree then Cobar. Before reaching Cobar for the night though we stopped at Bourke and had a look around the Back O’Bourke information centre as well as doing a self guided driving tour to see many of the historical sights around the town including the Wharf on the Darling River. We decided to have dinner that night at Kidman’s Camp, just outside of Bourke, as they offer a wonderful outback dining experience called Poetry on a Plate three nights a week from April to October. It’s a beautiful experience where diners bring their own chairs and utensils and sit around various individual fire pits under the stars and listen to the tales and poetry performed by its creator Andrew Hull all whilst enjoying a delicious hearty slow cooked meal.
We pressed onto Cobar that night where we left bright and early the next day, making a stop later in the day to explore Silverton and check out the Mad Max Museum! From there we only had and five hour drive home and knowing that it was so close, pushed on through the evening until we reached home.
We truly left our hearts in the northern region of Cape York though, dreaming up ways to help us return (even applying for jobs in the area). What this trip truly instilled in us though was our love of travel, the yearning to explore and discover our amazing country and the reassurance that our boys love the adventure as much as we do. A couple of weeks later and after looking at an amazing array of photographs for the tenth time , our crazy plan was born, one that would see is where we are today planning the ultimate 18 month trip around our incredible country , Australia.