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Sydney to Weipa - Part 1
Packed to the hilt with 2 suitcases and paying an unexpected excess $50.00 baggage charge, I boarded the plane in Sydney for Maroochydore where I met my travelling buddy Kerry. After loading his 4WD with my suitcases which mostly housed my camping gear, we headed north staying mostly in free camp spots. Our 1st night camping was a return visit for me to Calliope (pic1) where a young girl was stung severely by a Box Jelly Fish this year. Newspaper reports stated their amazement how the deadly Box Jelly Fish swam so far up the river. Her mother was aghast that there were no swims warning of the dangers. My "aghast" was how a mother could let her daughter swim in the river where there a "Warning Crocodiles" signs.
Each new camp entailed setting up my tent and inflating my very very comfortable air mattress. And of course every time I put up my tent it had to come down and be packed up for the next camp spot. These tasks became 2nd nature and took about 10 minutes each time. Some of these times proved incredibly difficult because of tiredness and the heat. But nonetheless it had to be done so it was done!!!!!!
Etty Bay provided free range Cassowaries meandering along the beach and people’s campsites looking for food (pic 2). Never let one get too close....check out the size of their feet. The pictured one is only a small female.
We reached the Daintree National Park in next to no time and stayed at the infamous Wonga Beach Caravan Park where Kerry and I met exactly 1 year ago. There were a lot of familiar faces from last year at “happy hour” or should I say “happy hours”. We caught up on some washing and purchased food for the next major leg of the journey. Last year Daintree was noticably in drought and this year has experienced a "wet season" all year. It was exciting to be a witness to the beauty of the Daintree in both seasons in one year and both ends of the spectrum.
We travelled through Cape Tribulation taking the Bloomfield Track which at times was submerged under water after all the rain. A lot of complaints have been heard from tourists because of the unrelenting rain this “dry” season. At 10:00am on the 10/10/10 we stopped for a picture by the river to celebrate all the 10’s (pic 4). Here I am holding up 10 fingers. Bloomfield Falls on the Bloomfield Track (pic 5) at Wujal Wujal and south of Cooktown, was spilling with gusto and probably the biggest I had ever seen (pic 6).
Shortly after that we arrived at the Lions Den Hotel where I had previously organised to meet Peter (from Sydney) who was also travelling the Old Telegraph Track with us. I saw this sign hanging on the wall (pic 8). We tucked into some lunch and headed to Cooktown with Peter in tow.
The humidity was increasing with limited relief. There was nowhere to swim because the waterways are infested with crocodiles, stingers and sharks. Swimming pools are scarce unlike the Kimberleys. Cooktown, an interesting little town with crystal clear blue waters and rolling hills (pic 9) as a backdrop. The new lookout, which is just about to be officially opened provided a magnificent 360 degree view of this quaint town. Cooktown is famously named because in June 1770, two vastly different cultures came together to change Australia forever, the Guugu Yimithirr tribe witnessed and Captain James Cook’s and his crew, limped the damaged ship the Endeavour, into shore after it was struck and maimed on the Endeavour Reef (The Great Barrier Reef). I have posted a photo (pic 10) were Captn Cook actually tied up the Endeavour. I tried to feel what it was like for everyone back then. For me, it felt hard to imagine.
The magnificent and beautifully renovated Cooktown museum was housed in a 1912 Convent. The building was beautiful and in pristine condition (pic 11). The exhibitions included the original anchor and cannon from the Endeavour (pic 12). I was gob smacked when I realized these were the real items and not replicas. The exhibitions included stories of the operating convent, information of the war when soldiers took over the convent and the Chinese life (pic 13) at Cooktown and the gold rush era. I was very rushed looking through these exhibitions but enjoyed the quick visit immensely.
Packed up camp early the next morning and headed for Endeavour Falls where I fed a Barramundi for the 1st time. This Barra was a placid fish and would let you touch it but when it came to food, it became a mad chomping piranha scaring the life out of me when I prawn fed it. My reaction provided some light entertainment for those watching. Isabella Falls was not only beautifully named but beautiful in stature (pics 14 & 15).
It was always very hard to sleep in because of the early morning bird noises and the heat. So for me, it was early to bed and early to rise. We entered Lakefield National Park via Battle Camp Road just north of Cooktown. I enjoyed our time in the Park. We travelled through many watering holes and viewed the largest Lillies at White Lilly Lagoon and Pink Lilly Lagoon (pic 16). We stopped at many operating Stations/Roadhouses including Archer River (pic 17), Musgrave (pic 19), Laura and non operating stations such as Old Laura (pic 18). The operational stations and roadhouses provided fuel, food and an opportunity to look, hear and see about the local history provided by photos, brochures and of course a good yarn. The station operators knew their local history and provided interesting tales of happenings of the past. We ate lunch under the biggest of trees, waded in the clearest of waters with the whitest of sands with eyes looking for freshwater crocs at all times at Archer River (pic 20).
The dirt roads (pic 21) provided the traditional red dust, ruts and dips, corrugations and pot holes. Kerry did a fantastic job providing a safe eye on the road at all times. The only time damaged was sustained to vehicles when both guys backed into trees at the same van park and on the same day. Uncanny!!!!! We met up with another family so there were three vehicles in tow with it always being a pleasure for our vehicle to lead the entourage to minimise the lack of visibility due to the dust. Leading meant you would always see something 1st like lizards, snakes, cattle, horses and Jabirus before the traffic disrupted their idling behaviours on the side of the road. One night we camped at Hann Crossing where the freshwater crocs were in abundance (pic 22). It was pretty scary taking a nocturnal wee with these eyes watching me.
We arrived at Weipa, the largest town on the west side of Cape York, set up camp (pic 23) and then it bucketed down. It didn’t stop raining for a couple of hours and the red dirt stuck to everything. Weipa houses all the 60 series Landcruisers that have disappeared off our streets in the rest of Australia. I have never ever seen so many in one small place. Weipa scenery comprised of Jabirus lurking in the shallow waters (pic 24), ships waiting to be loaded by workers. Bauxite mines and cattle are just a couple of occupations prominent in Weipa. Weipa also provided the bluest of waters and on par with Broome (pic 25).
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