No we didn’t make a visit to the local garbage dump (rubbish tip) we drove a long, long way from our home on the Sunshine Coast to the northern most tip of Australia on Cape York Peninsula.
We left Weipa after storing our vans at the Caravan Park for our return in six days’ time. Our route was via Batavia Downs Station and we reached the turnoff without difficulty. The road through Batavia Downs was quite good and we made good time as there was little traffic. Once we reached the Old Telegraph Road we found ourselves on a short bitumen strip and it wasn’t long before we reached Moreton Telegraph Station (http://www.moretonstation.com.au/index.html).
We stopped at Moreton TS for morning tea and had a look at the shop; there is supposed to be a hole in the Wenlock River where good Barramundi can be caught so Bevan went for a walk to check this spot out for future attention on our return. We will probably camp there on the return to Weipa.
Earlier in the day we decided we would drive through to Seisa in one trip as this would save the effort of setting up the tent another time – the wisdom of this decision was verified when we arrived at Loyalty Beach and set up camp.
From Moreton TS we drove on to Bramwell Junction Road House (http://www.bramwellstationcapeyork.com.au/roadhouse) where we stopped prior to departing for the Jardine River Ferry (http://www.exploroz.com/Places/99651/QLD/Jardine_River_Ferry_Campground__Service_Station_.aspx). This trip was along the Bamaga Road rather than the Old Telegraph Road as that particular road can be quite rough in places (http://www.capeyork.outdoorssa.com.au/OTT_Frame.htm) (http://www.exploroz.com/TrekNotes/FNQ/Cape_York.aspx) but is popular with four wheel drive enthusiasts.
The road wanders through the Jardine River National Park (http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/jardine-river/) with the turnoff to Fruit Bat Falls and Eliot Falls along the way (we will visit these on the return journey). We had our lunch at a grade off along the road then drove onward to the Jardine River over some good and some very rough sections of road. The nature of the country changes with every kilometre and provides interest with the change in foliage from open savannah to rainforest in spots. The road twists and turns through the national park ensuring the driver has to pay constant attention or risk slipping along the top of the corrugations around the curves.
On reaching the ferry we had to stop to pay our fees for the crossing – $129.00 ($145.00 if you were towing a trailer or caravan) with the ferry crossing taking all of two or three minutes. Of course the fee includes camping anywhere in the northern peninsula area. As we drove of the ferry the road was very rough but as we drove on we encountered works to improve the rideability of the road surface.
Eventually we arrived at the Loyalty Beach Camping Area (http://www.loyaltybeach.com/) and proceeded with the task of setting up the tents for our five day stay. It was so exciting that we are thinking of ways to avoid setting up the tents at Moreton TS on our return and Bevan has actually rung them to find out that the cost of already established safari tents is $106.00 per person per night (at that price we will be setting up our tents as the cost of camping is only $10.00 per person per night).
We heard the curlews calling (sounds like some weird banshee scream – and from such a puny little bird) throughout our first night in the tents and were woken to the sounds of leather jacks calling in the morning along with scrub turkeys roaming and grunting around the camp sites looking for any scraps that may have been left by the campers. Adjusting to sleeping in a tent after the relative comfort of the caravan is another experience we can cross off our list. Bevan and Denise suffered the problem of mattress deflation and tossed and turned the first night while we have decided we need a little more air in ours after two nights.
Saturday we decided to have an early lunch and then drive around to see what was to be seen. Searching for a curried crayfish pie locally made in Bamaga we drove to the bakery only to find it closed. Onward to Seisa we found a kiosk at the camping area there and settled for a meat pie and cold drink before driving north (in Bevan’s car) along the Loyalty Beach back road (through some private property) and joined the main road to Lockerby where we found “The Croc Tent” (https://www.facebook.com/thecroctent) at the junction of the Pajinka Road and the Punsand Bay Road so we stopped to check out the range of souvenirs on sale. A couple of hundred dollars later we headed for the Tip.
About five hundred metres from the Tip lies the abandoned Pajinka Lodge; this was an eco-tourism resort which operated successfully until purchased by the Australian Government and handed back to the local indigenous people. The lodge operated for a few more months before being abandoned and now the bush is slowly reclaiming the area. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DODzznn3RU) (http://www.cape-york-australia.com/pajinka.html). It really is sad to see such facilities lying abandoned. Mind you the road into the area is very narrow and poorly maintained and if approaching another vehicle one has to pull off to the side of the road so as to let the other pass.
We arrived at the area where vehicles pulled up prior to the final journey (on foot) to the Tip and proceeded to walk along the beach to reach the designated spot. The tide was coming in as we walked along so the return journey would be wetter. The last couple of metres necessitated climbing over rocky outcrops to get to the Tip – but at last we had arrived and a metal sign advised us that “You are standing at the northernmost point of the Australian continent”.
Norman, the Kilcoy Hospital gnome, had accompanied us on the journey and was beaming as we took his photograph many times with a number of people including two French tourists travelling in a small Suzuki 4WD whom we had encountered on a number of occasions on the way north. Having captured images we made our way back across the rocks and some slippery beach sections to the Mazda and then headed for Somerset (http://www.cape-york-australia.com/somerset-australia.html) to take a look.
When Bevan and I take our fishing with CY Fishing Charters we will leave from the beach at Somerset as the charter company is based on Albany Island some 900 metres across the bay. We wanted to see how long it would take us to travel from Loyalty Beach to Somerset to arrive by 7:00 am on the day of the charter. The trip is thirty five kilometres and takes forty minutes between to two points.
Monday morning we were all up bright and early to catch the Peddells Ferry (http://peddellsferry.com.au/) from Seisa to Thursday Island. The ferry leaves the wharf at Seisa and roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes later arrives at the wharf on Thursday Island. Like many people on board we had paid for a tour of Thursday Island and were issued with a coloured sticker to wear. Our sticker was pink (indicating we were also going to Horn Island) there were also green stickers (for a tour group) and yellow stickers (for another tour group that were flying out from Horn Island that afternoon to return south). When we arrived on TI (Thursday Island) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thursday_Island,_Queensland) we were shepherded to various buses dependent upon the colour of our sticker and taken for a tour of the island. The tour was quite interesting and took us firstly to Green Hill to see the old fort (http://www.ozatwar.com/bunkers/greenhillfort.htm) where there are lots of interesting relics and a great view of the harbor side of TI.
Next the bus took us through the streets of TI and stopped at various building where the driver explained the history and significance of the structures; then we visited the historic cemetery (http://www.torres.qld.gov.au/thursday-island-cemetery) and the driver told us about the burial of pearl divers (many of them Japanese) in the days of the pearling and pearl shell industry; the driver also explained the burial customs of many of the Islander Groups. We were able to walk through the cemetery and take photos then it was back on the bus and back to the wharf for the next stage of our trip. We were a little disappointed that we did not have the opportunity to walk through the main commercial precinct of the island and were confined to looking for souvenirs at an outlet operated by the ferry company on the wharf.
We then took a McDonalds’ Charter Boats Ferry (http://www.tiferry.com.au/) to Horn Island for lunch and a tour of Horn Island (http://www.torresstrait.com.au/hornisland.html). Upon arrival at Horn Island we were picked up at the wharf by small buses and taken to the Horn Island Resort where some enjoyed a hot meal, others enjoyed a cold meal and we, being thrifty and self-sufficient, ate the sandwiches and snacks we had taken along for the purpose.
There is a museum at the resort (http://www.torresstrait.com.au/museum.html) that we were invited to explore and we were taken on a bus tour of the island by a couple Vanessa and Liberty who have obviously contributed much to the museum and preservation of the historic relics on the island (http://www.torresstraitheritage.com/blog/?page_id=28).
Then it was back on the McDonalds’ Charter Boat Ferry to TI then on the Peddells Ferry back to Seisa where we finished the day with a great meal and drinks with friends.
Tuesday morning was the day of the great fishing trip for Bevan and myself and we were up early ready to drive to Somerset Beach where we would be met by Hamish (Hammer) from CY Fishing Charters (http://www.cyfishingcharters.com.au/) who would be our fishing guide for the day. We scrambled aboard the 14ft. Aluminum half cabin boat and headed off in pursuit of fish.
Our first target was Tuna and we watched for seabirds feeding clusters; this indicated the presence of bait fish which the birds would be feed on and also tuna and other fish. Getting the boat close enough to cast into the melee was difficult as we would no sooner be in position than the bait fish and birds and other fish would move off in a different direction at such pace that it was quite difficult to catch up even though the boat was equipped with two large outboard motors. I was lucky enough to catch the first fish – a blue fin tuna on a cast by Hamish (who then handed the rod to me to reel the fish in); Bevan was successful soon after pulling in a Mac Tuna.
We moved from spot to spot in search of various species and caught a good number of fish throughout the day with Bevan landing a lovely Coral Trout. At the end of the day Hamish took us to Albany Island (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albany_Island) where the charter company is based, to show us the facilities before returning us to Somerset Beach for us to drive back to our camp at Loyalty Beach, tired but happy from a successful and enjoyable day.
On Monday night, despite having charged the battery all day while we were on TI and Horn and prior to that for twenty four hours, we found we had a flat battery on the Nissan and it was not going to recover – a new battery was needed. Apparently the corrugations do nothing to assist the life of the battery and since we have been on a lot on this trip the battery (which was the original and over four years old) decided it had had enough. We are members of the RACQ so while Bevan and I were fishing the ladies had the job of sourcing a new battery. This was achieved with some difficulty and after visiting four different businesses in Bamaga and Seisa. Our opinion of the RACQ service in Bamaga is not too high.
Next day (Wednesday) was moving day and we were again up early to dismantle the camp and pack it all up to move on to the next spot. We were on the road around 9:00 am and drove to the Jardine River Ferry for our return. We intended to visit Eliot Falls (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kD_FD7VsRO4) via a track in from the Bamaga Road to the Old Telegraph Track. We drove in to what we thought was the right track a stopped to have morning tea; however, not being sure we were heading in the right direction (the track further on looked little used) we returned to the main road and drove down to the turnoff to Fruit Bat Falls (http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/jardine-river/about.html) which we drove to with a view to looking there then heading back up to Eliot Falls.
On the OTT just north of Fruit Bat Falls the track crosses creek as it moves north; the crossing entry is quite steep and the water too muddy to be able to see the bottom. We didn’t know if it was solid or soft and without the appropriate recovery gear were reluctant to cross in case we ran into trouble. Just as we were leaving, another group of three four wheel drive vehicles came to the crossing fitted car bras (to divert the water away from the engine) and lead by one fearless soul negotiated the crossing reasonably easily. Bevan would have liked to follow suit but the women were not keen so we turned around and headed south towards Bramwell Junction Roadhouse with a view to camping for the night either there or at Moreton Telegraph Station.
When we reached Bramwell Junction Roadhouse we had an ice cream and discussed the next move. We were only 175 km from Weipa and the comfort of our caravans and the thought of putting up the tents and blowing up the air beds and then dismantling and packing up the next day made our decision to drive on to Weipa and easy one and we arrived back at the Weipa Caravan Park at 4:40pm that afternoon.
Wednesday was spent washing and cleaning clothes and cars and that evening we relaxed with a great meal at the Weipa Bowls Club (http://www.weipabowlsclub.com.au/). Toady Bevan has been fishing this morning (with some success). Tonight we will share fish and chips with Bevan and Denise and tomorrow we will commence our return journey as we leave Weipa bound for Mareeba.