Australia Day 2015 Cairns

Our Time In Cairns

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Who would have thought that what was supposed to be a short two-month stop in Cairns would drag on for seven months!  The main reason for the extended stay was because we needed to earn some money and fix the Troopy, but another important reason was because we needed to be close to an airport so we could fly back to Melbourne for Dave’s sister’s wedding in April.

 

 

Living in Cairns

With the intention of making contact with some new friends that we met up in Cape York, we arrived in Palm Cove just in time for the Reef Feast Festival.  Symon and Robyne were perfectly hospitable and let us stay at their place, which was a lifesaver while we sorted out more long-term arrangements.

 

 

After a few days, we moved into a hostel on Lake Street, about 3km from the city centre.  We worked for our accommodation – Juz was behind the reception desk while Dave drove the shuttle bus for guests between the airport and town.  As long as we worked 21 hours a week each, we had our private double room paid for, but Juz picked up a job at Subway for some extra cash, and eventually a visit to the emergency room because of a cut thumb.

 

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However, after a month of living with scores of partying backpackers from various countries, working irregular hours and missing a clean and tidy kitchen, we moved out into a house down the street.  The rent for the room was affordable on Juz’s wages, the kitchen was tidy and had a gas stove, and our housemates were lovely and quiet.  Unfortunately, with the road to the airport just outside our window, and the flight path for incoming planes overhead, sleeping in was impossible and conversations would occasionally be interrupted by the roar of jet engines.  We also had an alien fungi farm growing under the sink!

 

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After a month or two, we were presented with an offer we couldn’t refuse.  Cheap rent of a room with an ensuite for a few household favours meant that we moved away from the city to the suburb of Redlynch.  We lived at the base of the Great Dividing Range, close to major supermarkets and a gym but far, far away from the bustle of the city and noise of the airport.  We stayed here until the end of our time in Cairns, and enjoyed weekly cooking challenges with our housemate.

 

 

Working in Cairns

Once we had moved in to the Lake Street House, we were relieved to be free of our hostel duties.  Juz continued her job at Subway while Dave picked up three days of work per week as a landscaper.  He also worked two nights a week as a dish pig at the Palm Cove Surf Club, thanks to Symon putting a good word in.

 

 

When school holidays started, Juz’s shifts at Subway were cut to accommodate for the less expensive teens, so she looked for another way to earn some money.  A search on Gumtree turned up a casual data entry job whereby she could chose her own hours, her own hourly rate, and invoice the client at the end of the week.  It was a dream job that got even dreamier when the client suggested that Juz do it from home – score!

 

 

On top of the Subway job and data entry gig, Juz also enrolled to knock off another subject in her Nutritional Medicine degree.  Needless to say that when the school holidays were over and her Subway shifts were increased, she got stressed out and ditched Subway to focus on data entry and uni work at home.

 

 

In the meantime, Dave’s landscaping job dried up just in time for the Wet Season so he had to find another way to make an extra buck and keep himself busy.  He cleverly devised a plan that would solve both his problems.  Every fortnight, auctions were held in town to sell off a variety of goods, such as repossessed stolen goods, hospitality gear from closed restaurants, tools, furniture, computers, everything you can think of – including bikes!  The bikes would usually sell for between $5 and $20, so Dave would buy one or two each fortnight, fix them, clean them and sell them on Gumtree for what he thought the bike was worth.  One time – he sold a bike for $200!

 

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Fun in Cairns

Our main, regular activity was trivia at the Red Beret Hotel on Monday nights.  On our first visit, we won the jackpot round ($150!) and were hooked.  Over time, we got another core player – Phillip – each week, we would try our luck at winning various vouchers.  Most of them were for Port Douglas, but the prizes for first and second place included a voucher for the Red Beret, so occasionally we would be rewarded with a free dinner.

 

 

 

When it came to making new friends in Cairns, it was fairly difficult with the locals because many of them seem to resent foreigners (the ones supporting Cairn’s tourism industry)!  Most of our friends in Cairns weren’t actually from Cairns at all – like Viki and Akos – a Hungarian couple that moved to Cairns around four years ago, and another couple from Darwin.  It was also great to meet up with local blogger, Kate Richards from Adventure Mumma (but not from Cairns), and chat about what’s great about Australia.  We made a few friends while we were staying at the hostel too.

 

 

Visitors!

We had so many visitors while we were in Cairns.  Both of Juz’s parents visited at around Christmas time, and we got to see Dave’s auntie and uncle when they spent a week in Port Douglas.

 

 

 

It was great to see Peter and Jo again – the last time we saw them was in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.  Another of our buddies, Smita, flew up to go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

 

We were also happy to be visited twice by Peter and Saeng who we stayed with up in Cooktown.  They always brought us a goody-bag of home grown produce and some of Saeng’s home-made delicacies.

 

 

Pros & Cons of Cairns

Cairns is an awesome place to visit but can be difficult to reside in.  Unemployment is high unless you’re interested in hospitality work, and even then you have to complete with backpackers and low wages.  During the peak season there are lots of tourists, and we believe that some locals don’t enjoy this side of Cairns.

 

 

We arrived during the dry season and were looking forward to another opportunity to experience the wet season from December to February.  Unfortunately, all the cyclones that were picked up on the radar dodged Cairns and all we got was a splash of rain and lots of humidity.

 

 

 

 

With all this time spent in the tropics of Australia, we are ready to say goodbye to the misty mountains and sugar cane fields and we look forward to heading south to cooler climates.

 

 

Thanks Cairns!

 

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Oodnadatta Track

Second Year On The Road

Australia Day in Darwin 
Australia Day Cane Toads! Australia Day
Wildlife in our backyard!Possum fell in the pool - nawwww!

 

Cocosaurus Cove
Crocodile snack - Crocosaurus Cove Meet the reptiles - Crocosaurus Cove

 

Litchfield National ParkTermite Mounds - Litchfield National Park

 

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

 

Cutta Cutta CavesCutta Cutta Caves Edith FallsEdith Falls
Lorella Springs Wilderness Park

Lorella Springs Lorella Springs Lorella Springs Northern Spiny-Tailed Gecko
Caranbirini Conservation Reserve Limmen National Park

 

Devil’s Marbles
The Pebbles Devils Marbles

 

Wycliff WellWycliffe WellAileronAileron
Arltunga Historical ReserveBinns TrackTrephina Gorge Nature Park
Binns Track
Alice Springs Beanie FestivalAlice Springs Beanie Festival
Lasseter’s Camel CupLasseters Camel Cup Lasseters Camel Cup
Henley On Todd RegattaHenley On Todd
Alice Springs Reptile CentreAlice Springs Reptile Centre
Our Time In Alice SpringsHelpex Alice Springs Finke Desert RaceFinke Desert Race
Mount Sonder, West MacDonnell RangesWest MacDonnell Ranges
Palm Valley
Palm Valley
Heating up in HermannsburgHeating up in Hermannsburg
UluruUluru-Kata Tjuta
Kata-TjutaUluru-Kata Tjuta
Rainbow Valley

Rainbow Valley Oodnadatta Track
Coober PedyCoober Pedy
Lake EyreOodnadatta Track

Birdsville

BirdsvilleBirdsville 2014-09-05 031 Birdsville 2014-09-06 007water Birdsville 2014-09-06 047water WintonWinton 2014-09-07 003water
NormantonThe Big Croc, Normanton Cobbold GorgeCobbold Gorge
Undara Volanic National ParkUndaraCrystal Caves
The Crystal Caves
Mt Uncle DistilleryMt Uncle Distillery

 

Cape York
Bamaga TavernCape YorkThe Old Telegraph Track
Cape York

Chilli BeachCape YorkCape York
Zazen

ZazenZazen
CooktownCooktown

Our Time In CairnsCairnsAustralia Day 2015 Cairns


 

 

Cooktown

Town Profile : Cooktown

Cooktown

 

We were expecting to linger around Cooktown for two nights before heading to Cairns for work, but just as we were making plans, a fantastic opportunity presented itself.  The owner of a local farm needed some help for the week, and it was just the kind of experience we were looking for.  Now that we were locked in to stay in Cooktown for a week, we had a little more time to get to know the town and the locals.

 

Fast Facts

  • Cooktown is the northernmost town on the east coast of Australia
  • It sits at the mouth of the Endeavour River, named by Captain James Cook after his ship
  • There are two seasons – the wet during December to April, and the dry from May to November.
  • The region is very rich in biodiversity because it covers three major ecozones, and therefore is a place of interest for botanists.

 

History

The traditional owners call the region Gan gaar, which means place of the rock crystals because of all the quartz crystals.

 

In 1770, Captain James Cook arrived and moored the Endeavour at the mouth of the Endeavour River for shelter and repairs after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef.  As the repairs were underway, botanist Joseph Banks and naturalist Daniel Solander explored the area and collected over 200 species of plants for documentation, and they also learnt words from the local people, like ganguru (kangaroo).  There was an artist on board, Sydney Parkinson, who was the first British person to draw Aboriginal people from direct observation.

 

Cooktown

 

In 1872, gold was discovered on the Palmer River southwest of Cooktown and the site was populated by many diggers from all over the world.  Cooktown was selected as the port through which the gold was exported and supplies were imported.  Two years later, Cooktown’s population grew to approximately 4,000 people and it was established as a town.

 

These days, Cooktown’s population is less than 2,000.  It has reached the status of a tourist destination because of its relaxed atmosphere and proximity to Cape York, the Great Barrier Reef, Lakefield National Park and the rainforest.

 

Cooktown

 

Points of Interest

The James Cook Museum

Whether you’re interested in the landing of James Cook in 1770 or not, a stroll through this fantastic museum is a must.  See the original anchor of the Endeavour, learn about Cooktown’s Chinese history and local aboriginal culture, and discover the original use of the museum building.  Fascinating stuff…

 

Cooktown

 

Nature’s Powerhouse & Botanic Gardens

Essentially, Nature’s Powerhouse is Cooktown’s Visitor Information Centre.  Get a map, stroll through the neighbouring Botanic Gardens or have a toasted sanga and a coffee on the deck.

 

The gallery and museum are also worth checking out if you’re interested in flora and fauna.  The Charles Tanner Gallery is a great exhibit of local animals such as snakes, bats, lizards and butterflies.  The displays were both interesting and educational.  The Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery pays tribute to an artist and botanist.  While we were there, they were showing the ‘Botanical Endeavour’ – Sir Joseph Banks’ Florilegium Exhibition from 1770.

 

 

Grassy Hill

OMG – one of the best lookouts we have come across on our journey.  Stunning views of the surrounding mountains, the Endeavour River and Cooktown.  Amazing.

 

Finch Bay

Follow Finch Bay Road all the way to the end, past the Botanic Gardens, and you’ll arrive at Finch Bay.  It’s is a great little beach with an estuary.  We saw a big crab in the shallows and wished that we’d had a net with us to scoop him up!

 

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Black Mountain

About 25km south of Cooktown is Black Mountain National Park.  It is a massive pile of granite rocks that has developed over the last 260 million years.  Due to an unusual joining patter in the granite, fracturing and exposure to water has caused erosion and weathering of the boulders, but while the surface is just a mess of boulders, the solid granite core is underneath.  There are three animals that are completely unique to the park – the Black Mountain boulderfrog, skink and gecko – making Black Mountain one of the most restricted habitats in Australia.

 

The early settlers and local indigenous folks both have stories and rumours about quite a few people (often criminals) venturing into the caves among the giant black boulders and getting lost.  Whilst the people have never been seen again, the locals reckon you sometimes still hear them…

 

Cooktown

 

Food & Drink

Cooktown Hotel

This was the first pub we visited, and for a Saturday afternoon, it was fairly busy.  Then we remembered – AFL Grand Final weekend.  We sat outside in the beer garden and had a lovely lunch of pizza and parma before getting on with the rest of the day.

 

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Cooktown Café

More like cranky-pants café!  The owner of the store had a serious attitude problem, but the coffee was good, which is why people keep coming back.  We found out later that the owner had had a tiff with his partner the night before and was therefore in a particularly cranky-pants mood that day.

 

The Italian (aka De Wogs)

Opposite the road from the Top Pub is a popular Cooktown institution that dishes out mountains of risotto and pasta, tasty pizzas made with fresh ingredients, as well as Chinese food at a dearer than average price.  While Juz’s soggy but yummy parma lacked ham and chips, Dave’s capricciosa pizza was perfection, but to be perfectly honest, neither seemed to justify the price.

 

Cooktown

 

The Lions Den Hotel

About 30km south of Cooktown is an old pub called the Lions Den.  It’s named after a mine in the area, which got its name when a stowaway named Daniel was working at the mines and while standing at the entrance of one of the tunnels, the mine’s owner said, “Daniel in the Lions Den”.

 

The pub has plenty of character, with scribbles, business cards and stickers all over the walls, as well as old hats, thongs, license plates and stubbie holders.

 

Cooktown

 

Information & Accommodation

Nature’s Powerhouse is on Finch Bay Road and is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm.  Contact them for information about Cooktown by emailing info@naturespowerhouse.com.au

 

Pam’s Place YHA – on the corner of Boundary and Charlotte Street.  To make a reservation, call 4069 5166 or email cooktown@yha.com.au http://www.yha.com.au/Hostels/QLD/Cairns-and-Far-North-Queensland/Cooktown/

 

Archer Point

About 15km south of Cooktown is the turnoff for Archer Point.  Continue along the dirt road until you get to the end. It’s a great place to camp provided you don’t set up right on a headland.  The wind is strong and constant, but the views at sunset are breathtaking.

 

Cooktown

 

Zazen

Helpx : Working on a Biodynamic Farm

Zazen

 

It was our last day in Cooktown and as we strolled through the botanic gardens, Dave’s phone rang.  It was a Helpx host asking if we were available to stay for around a week or so and work on their property located 20km outside of town.  It wasn’t part of our plan but we agreed to meet later that day.

 

Peter is the owner of Zazen – which translates to “the source” – a biodynamic permaculture farm that grows a large variety of herbs, fruit and vegetables and is also home to pigs, ducks, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, Lulu the cow, Buddy the dog, and Thom the cat.  Only a quarter of the 40 acre block has been cleared for farming, and the rest is natural rainforest.  Peter lives there with his wife Saeng and daughter Bo.

 

On arrival, we were welcomed with a big hug from Saeng and it wasn’t long before we felt right at home.  Our accommodation was a bamboo bungalow hidden away in the rainforest and meals were eaten at the house.  During our time at Zazen, we met many great people, including another farmer from Yungaburra, and Pat and Meg from Daylesford in Victoria, who were cycling around the east coast of Australia with their dog Zero and 2 year old son Woody.  They are Artist As Family – check out their blog. 

 

Zazen

 

The Farm

The farm is managed by both biodynamic and permaculture principles.  Biodynamic farming is very basically described as holistic agriculture that incorporates spirituality and mysticism.  Permaculture is “permanent agriculture”, which uses sustainable and self-sufficient farming methods based on natural ecosystems.

 

Produce grown on the farm include Cavendish bananas, paw paw, hot chillies, cherry tomatoes, various herbs, snake beans, avocado, taro and sweet potato, pineapple and eggplant.  There were also chickens and ducks that produced magnificent eggs, while pigs and cows provided meat.

 

 

Peter also owns a small milling machine and cuts timber that he has fallen from his property.  He built the dwelling on the property and is currently in the process of building another house using the timber that he has milled.

 

The Duties

Juz’s duties included waking up at the crack of dawn to let the birds out of their coop.  She would also collect the chicken and duck eggs and sprinkle some feed in the enclosures morning and night.  The pigs were fed a bucket of scraps morning and night as well.

 

Zazen

 

Once the animals were tended to, she would water the seedlings and pot plants, do some weeding and harvest chillies, eggplants or tomatoes until the sun got too hot.  Then she would clean the kitchen, pickle tomatoes or pack produce into bags for the Saturday morning markets.  In the afternoon, she would do some more weeding after it had cooled down.  Once every two days, she would set up the sprinklers in the main garden.  In the evening, she would help Saeng with dinner.

 

Zazen

 

Dave’s duties were to help Peter out with his maintenance job.  He also installed and extended sprinkler systems, re-staked crops, laid mulch, helped to cut down trees, and harvested veggies.

 

Peter and Saeng went on a brief holiday while we were there, and they asked us to man their stall at the Saturday morning markets.  This was a great experience for us – collecting herbs and fruit, bundling them up with Saeng’s delicious cordials and sauces and then setting up the stall with Peter’s custom made shade.  We were at the markets for around 2.5 hours and made over $200!

 

Zazen

 

The Memories

We will never forget sleeping in that bamboo bungalow in the rainforest – it was like living on a deserted island. We had the luxury of a fridge, sink and couch, electricity, and two single beds pushed together underneath a mozzie net.  The first night was cut short by roosters that started crowing way too early, but after a while, we got used to the noises.  The outdoor shower and toilet were also a novelty.

 

Zazen

 

Also, the food was incredible!  Duck eggs make the perfect omelette and those biodynamic bananas tasted like joygasms.  Saeng was also a fabulous cook who made yummy curries, stews and noodle dishes, and her award-winning dragonfruit chilli sauce was a staple at the dinner table.

 

While installing some brackets for a sprinkler, Dave managed to hit his thumb with a hammer.  Even though he iced it for the rest of the day, it was still really swollen and sore when we went to bed.  After a sleepless night of throbbing pain, the pressure had to be released.  In the morning, Peter said “You’re gonna have to heat up a pin until it’s red-hot, then burn a hole through the nail.”  It took about half an hour for Dave to nervously, gently and very carefully get the glowing pin through the nail.  Filming the whole process, Juz let out a little shriek as the blood finally splurted out.  The relief was instant and the pain quickly subsided.

 

WARNING: This video is a bit gross – watch at your own risk…

Needle Nail from Our Naked Australia on Vimeo.

 

We really enjoyed our time at Zazen – the place, the people, the food, animals.  It was a great place for us to start getting some hands on experience with sustainable farming.  We look forward to visiting similar places as we make our way down the east coat.

 

Zazen

 

Thanks to Peter, Saeng and Bo for hosting us and sharing your amazing life with us.

 

Zazen

Cooktown

Eating Out : Cooktown Hotel, Cooktown QLD

Cooktown

 

No visit to Cooktown is complete without checking out the Top Pub.

 

Because we arrived in Cooktown on AFL Grand Final weekend, the pub was packed with rough sheilas and burly men in wife-beaters and short shorts.  We later found out that for a more classy experience, you have to go to the Sovereign because the Cooktown Hotel is for bogans.

 

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After ordering our food, we sat outside in the beer garden because all the tables inside were occupied.  Dave’s pizza came out first.  It looked fantastic and was topped with plenty of olives and anchovies, but it missed getting top marks because of the canned mushrooms.  That said though, for the $12 it cost, he was suitably impressed.

 

Cooktown

 

The pizza was devoured and gone by the time Juz’s parma arrived.  Right off the bat, it was clear that it was a factory chicken breast because it was heart-shaped.  It also lacked ham, which was tragic because it could have really done with that extra dimension of flavour, and the tomato sauce seemed to be bottled Bolognese sauce with a few sprinkles of dried Italian herbs.  No matter – it was a tasty and perfectly sized lunch with great chips and scrumptious salad.

 

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Cape York

Experience : Cape York – Part 2

For Experience : Cape York – Part 1 – click here!

 

Bamaga Tavern

 

Day 5

Bamaga

We completed the rest of the 5 Beaches Track and made our way back to Bamaga.  When we took the Troopy out of 4WD, Dave noticed that one of the front spring mounts had snapped. Afraid that the other mount would snap too, we crawled to Bamaga and went straight to the wreckers.  A new mount was an easy $10 and Dave installed it in about 30 minutes.  We then met an inquisitive local named Mark, who worked in one of the aboriginal communities and was interested in hearing about Our Naked Australia.

 

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It was about lunchtime so we lingered around the Bamaga Tavern for a drink and a meal at the northernmost pub in Australia.

 

Seisia

To be honest, there isn’t much to see other than the wharf and jetty.  Fishermen of various ages were trying their luck with the massive schools of fish hanging about below the surface of the water.  One man was even spear fishing.

 

Cape York

 

DC3 Plane Crash Site

On the 5th of May 1945, a DC-3 VH-CXD aircraft that was operated by the RAAF, was flying from Brisbane to Port Moresby to deliver meat to troops.  It needed to refuel in Bamaga but due to foggy conditions, it clipped some trees and crashed about 3km short of its target.  All on board perished.

 

Cape York

 

If you have a chance to swing past and see this crash site, then definitely do.

 

Muttee Head

This was a great place to camp.  It’s right next to the beach, the camping permit is included with the ferry pass, and the sweet scent of fig trees perfumed the breeze.  It looked like someone thought it was a great place to live because there was a campsite with a makeshift sink and little garden.  Perhaps a recent bushfire had chased the beachside hermit away.

 

Cape York

 

Day 6

In the morning, we headed straight to the Jardine Ferry, but the ferryman hadn’t turned up yet.  It was still early so we hung around for 45 minutes with a bunch of other people waiting for the ferry to open.  The guy eventually turned up at 8:15am and got to work straight away.

 

Old Telegraph Track

Today we would complete the northern portion of the OTT, but because the road was closed from the Jardine River, we had to travel a few clicks before finding the side track in.  We checked out Eliot Falls, Twin Falls and Fruit Bat Falls, did a nerve-wrecking water crossing, and headed back to the southern portion of the OTT.  The Jardine Ferry ticket included camping at Bertie Creek so that’s where we spent the rest of the afternoon.

 

 

Day 7

After a quick wash in Bertie Creek, we decided to continue down the OTT instead of taking the Gunshot Bypass back to the main road. We usually avoid back tracking but we liked the OTT so much the first time, we were happy to do it again.

 

After a brief stop at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse to pump up the tyres and stock up on some more water, we went to Moreton Telegraph Station to book our campsite for that night in Iron Range National Park.  The lady at the station was really helpful and told us that Telstra customers can get a few bars of reception at Chilli Beach – if we wanted, we could book our site once we checked out the campgrounds.

 

Frenchmans Track

We took Frenchmans Track into Iron Range National Park, and found the track to be thoroughly unpleasant.  It alternated between unavoidable corrugations, soft sand and the occasional creek crossings.

 

 

There are two rivers that intersect with Frenchmans – Wenlock Crossing is fairly easy to navigate through but watch out for Pascoe Crossing.  It’s steep and rocky and you’ll definitely need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to get through.  Unfortunately, the Troopy got hung up on a rock and while trying to get free, the brake booster blew.  Highly inconvenient – Dave had only one shot at guiding the Troopy down the steep rocky path into the river and he did a bloody good job.

 

The great views that followed the Pascoe Crossing were besmirched by the brake booster busting.  And to make matters worse, our water goon bag had bounced around in the back and tore on a bracket holding the curtains in place.  We dealt with the goon, ate a banana to cheer us up, and made an effort to appreciate our surroundings before continuing on.

 

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Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park

Once off the Frenchmans Track, we followed the tarmac road through the ranges to suddenly be surrounded by rainforest.  We even saw a cassowary hurry off into the bushes!  The road alternated between paved and gravel road, and the rain made it easy for Dave to see pot holes.  The smell of the forest was wonderful, and we were amazed at how thick the foliage was.

 

There are two camping areas in Iron Range.  The rainforest campsites are nice and shaded right amongst the rainforest, but Cooks Hut is the only site that forbids generators.  It’s a large communal clearing with picnic benches and toilets.  Chilli Beach is the other camping area.  While reception is available on the beach, you can actually pick up a signal from the highroad on the way in.  This is where we made our first Queensland campsite booking.  The guy on the other end was really friendly, but we still have to wonder whether this micromanagement of parkland campsites is really the way to go.

 

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Chilli Beach

The sun had set by the time we got to our designated camping spot.  Dave was so frazzled from the day that when he opened the back of the Troopy to find that the goon water had leaked all over the bed, he refused to have anything to do with it and sat down to relax.

 

Juz sorted out the wet sheets and cooked a quick dinner of chicken and broccoli on rice cakes.  We both felt a lot better after a meal so we went to the adjacent campsite and met our neighbours.  Palm Cove locals, Symon & Robyne were holidaying with their kids and while we were on our way south, they were heading to the Tip.  We shared tips, exchanged details, and agreed that it would be good to meet up for a drink once we got to Palm Cove.

 

Cape York

 

Day 8

Juz crawled out of the Troopy in time to catch the sunrise on Chilli Beach.  After 4 days of overcast skies, the sun was finally out.  Eventually Dave woke up too and we went for a walk along the beach, picking up shells, spotting beached jellyfish and terrorising coconuts that were still hanging from the tree.   We also did the short forest walk behind the campgrounds and spotted lizards and butterflies amongst the undergrowth.

 

Cape York

 

Portland Roads

A short drive from Chilli Beach is Portland Roads, a cute little seaside spot with a few holiday houses and the Out of the Blue Café.  If you’re in the vicinity, stop by and get some seafood and chips – amazing!  We were also lucky enough to walk away with a big soursop fruit from the garden, compliments of the chef.

 

Cape York

 

Lockart River

If you need fuel, go to the local aboriginal community of Lockhart River.  It’s only $1.89 for diesel but remember – no photos while in the community. There isn’t much to photograph there anyway.

 

On the way out of Iron Range, we noticed rising smoke in the distance.  A bushfire was slowly burning through the dry scrub, and Juz told Dave to drive faster because the heat was too intense.

 

Cape York

 

Archer River Roadhouse

This was the last stop before the Quarantine checkpoint so we ate the entire soursop fruit for an afternoon snack.  Turns out, the quarantine checkpoint was closed anyway, but no matter – the fruit was delicious.  It was green and prickly on the outside with white flesh full of big black seeds like watermelon but five times bigger.  The flesh is stringy like pineapple or mango, and the flavour is slightly tart/sour.

 

Back in Coen

We got back to Coen just before dinnertime and had two long-awaited drinks at the SExchange.  We spend the night at the Bend again, and it was wonderful to have a wash in the fresh, croc-free water.

 

Day 9

We had another morning wash in the river before heading out to Lakefield National Park.  It was going to be a short day of driving because of the shot brake booster and poor quality fuel, so after swinging past Lotusbird Lodge, gazing at the flowers at Red Lily Lagoon and spying a kookaburra at White Lily Lagoon, we got to Kalpowar Crossing and relaxed.

 

 

Because of the croc-infested river, we had a cold shower in the toilet block and spent the rest of the afternoon reading.  Once the sun went down, we noticed that the ground was moving and found tiny little frogs everywhere… as well as big ugly cane toads.

 

Day 10

Because we didn’t have a boat for fishing on the river, there was nothing else to do at Kalpowar so we set off early for Cooktown.  This would be the final destination of our Cape York adventure, and what was supposed to be a two day stop ended up stretching to 10 days because of an unexpected Helpx invitation.

 

Overall, we enjoyed our time at Cape York.  The two biggest highlights were definitely being at the northern most point of mainland Australia and four-wheel driving along the Old Telegraph Track.

 

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