July/ August 2011
Map of Trip-2006.
Map of Trip-2008.
Map of Trip-2009.
Map of Trip-2010.
Map of Trip-2011.
Well, well, well. What a slack fellow I have been. So much has
much to tell.
Only a few weeks after the furniture arrived in Nhulunbuy and it was
all unpacked it was time for me to head off again, back to Bundaberg to
get the car and camper ready for the trip up to Cape York.
Just before I left I thought it was about time I started to look for
some work, as it was getting onto 11 months since I last did anything.
Hospital work, no way. There were still a few more options yet to
explore. I was offered two jobs before waltzing into an Aboriginal
Health organisation to see if they had anything on offer. A meeting was
arranged and we had a nice chat about life in general but mostly about
Tasmania. Finally it was time to talk business. I explained I was only
looking for part-time work, no weekends, no public holidays and that I
wanted all the school holidays off. Well, it would seem that I was in
the right place at the right time. They were looking for a male to work
in the town clinic, and it would appear that I fitted the bill. They
offered me full time work, Monday to Friday with all the school
holidays off. A nice big
flash office and only a 10 minute bike ride from home. It was such a
good offer I had to say yes. Next problem was that I could not start
until after the July holidays as the trip to the Cape was locked in.
They were more than happy with that and the deal was done. More about
So I flew to Bundaberg and again stayed with the Joiners for a few
nights while I got everything ready. The car had spent a few weeks at
the mechanics as it needed a few things attended to. The exhaust gasket
had blown (which was the funny noise they attempted to find while in
Tasmania), the intercooler had a hole in it (got a replacement) and the
alternator chucked in the towel. I also wanted to get rid of the auto
locking hubs (they too had been making a few funny sounds) and replaced
them with good old manual hubs. Throw in a service, an auto service and
there goes $3,000.00. Considering what that poor car is expected to do,
I am happy to part with the money as a tow job out of Cape York would
cost far more than that.
The car was sitting in the shed ready and willing to hit the
Gulf. I was all packed up and ready to go within a few days and headed
north, to meet the family in Cairns. First day I made it to Mackay and
stayed with the Pierpoints and it was great to catch up again. Next day
up to Townsville to again stay with Greg and Jos. We stayed
with both these guys only at the end of last year when we were making
back south from W.A. Next day off to Cairns. I stayed with Derryn and
Carla and kids who we met in Perth in 2006. For those regular readers
may remember the van that had been painted up with 'Austin Powers' all
over it. The last time we had seen them was in Adelaide when we stayed
with Wayne and Tracey late in 2006. We have kept in touch and it was
awesome to see them again. Next morning the family arrived and we
hastily packed the camper trailer (in between rain showers) before
First stop was a whole 15 kms up the road to Palm Cove to spend a few
nights in the little council park there with the Priestleys. They were
spending a couple of weeks there and as always it was great to see them
again. Michelle and Chris sat around drinking while Ross and I talked
crap (and sat around drinking!!). The weather was even more crap than
our crap and it rained on and
off the entire time.
While there we had a ton of
food shopping to
attend to as well as a bit of reorganising before heading bush.
Seriously, the way Chris was going on you would think we were heading
the black hole for 20 years. Finally
was happy with the supply issue and it
was time to make a move. The weather had turned very crappy and the
final trailer packing was done in the rain. Great start. Time to move on and hit the wild Cape and the tip
of Australia. This was very exciting for us as it is the fifth and
final extremity for us to visit.
We had initially planned to do the
trip with the
Joiners but they had
to pull the pin. At that stage we thought doing the Old Telegraph track
on our own may be out of the question and also because the 'Top End'
was just getting over the biggest wet in many, many years.
Unfortunately we had almost resigned ourselves to the fact that that
was the way it was going to be.
We headed for Cape Tribulation, crossed
River (on the
cable ferry) and found a campground for the night. Then disaster
struck, worse than anything you could imagine. Chris discovered that
Alex had taken the bag of camera chargers out of the car and left them
the Priestleys caravan. Oh my god, the end of the world is nye.
A few phone calls to Ross and they were located. The next morning Ross
drove up to the ferry and I met him there for the big hand over.
Possibly one of the biggest disasters in modern time averted. (Back at
Cape Trib.....) we were
camped in a small muddy site and it absolutely poured all night and
again while we were packing up. In all our years of travel that was the
wet pack up in the camper trailer, and boy it was wet!!! We were
soaked, the canvas was soaked
and most of our gear was also soaked. Some nice people in a van next
to us sat and watched while they sipped on their cups of tea, quietly
thinking I am sure, thank god, we bought a caravan. It was miserable,
believe me. The weather forecast for the next few days was not a lot
better - just great.
On our way out we visited the Cape Trib information centre as we wanted
to travel the Bloomfield track, but thought due to the rain it may be
closed. Luckily it was open, but they made us swear on the bible that
we had a 4 wheel drive, that we would travel in low range and not go
over 10 kms/ hr. It's a very dangerous road she told us 20 times, and
make sure you are not towing anything.
Then you will have to contend with the Bloomfield River crossing. Not
many make it across alive. Oh my god. She had us nervous wrecks. Should
we, shouldn't we???????
As I have said so many times before, don't listen to what other
say, it's like chinese whispers, the story just gets bigger and bigger.
We hit the track and it was beautiful, even in the drizzling rain. The
views from the lookouts, not so great but we could live with that. It
is a beautiful road that could be transversed in a Datsun 120Y. As for
the extremely steep low range hills, they must have washed away with
all the rain. It is
an easy trip that any caravan could handle. In saying that there were a
number of water crossings, some wide but not very deep. The mighty
Bloomfield River was a concrete causeway that was about 2'' deep. Very
stuff, believe me.
Just over the causeway you head (R) to Cooktown. If you
1 km down the road is the Bloomfield Falls (or Wujai Wujai Falls). Due
to the recent heavy rain the falls were almost the best we have ever
seen. The amount of water was hard to imagine. See there are some
benefits to traveling in the rain.
Next night we pulled into the Lion's Den Hotel. This is one of those
iconic must stay at places. The campground is excellent as are the
amenities. It is on the banks of the Little Annan River. By now
the weather was on the improve and a chance to dry a few things out. We
had dinner up at the hotel, great meal and a great atmosphere. The pub
is very similar to the Daley Waters Pub, with all sorts of things
covering the walls. There were a couple of rough looking bushies there
who appeared not to have 5 cents between them. They had consumed
a few and were rather vocal, but funny. They decided they would have an
arm wrestle contest betting $200, with the winnings going to the
They moved people off the tables and it started. Groaning, sweat
few colourful words and we had a winner. The crowd cheered with the
loser handing over the loot to the barman. He may have been a little
intoxicated but he still remembered to ask for a tax receipt. He is
most likely loaded. The great part about it all was the winner also put
in 200 bucks. The Great Aussie spirit is alive and well.
Next stop Cooktown. Cooktown has always had me intrigued. Not sure why
but it was a place I really wanted to see, and I was actually offered a
job there at the end of 2010, but I had to decline as we decided to do
Tasmania instead. There are many caravan parks to choose from, all
bloody expensive. Not sure why as they are nothing flash. Must be the
short tourist season, make the cash while you can. Cooktown is really
nice, just as I had imagined it. Situated on the ocean and the
Endeavour River, it has lovely
parks and walkways with palm trees by the dozen providing shade for
those that wanted to sit and take in the ambience of the area. It has a
very small shopping area with an IGA and
small shops scattered along the main road with the river as a backdrop.
We decided to buy a new tarp to cover the camper should it rain,
full well if we bought one, the rain would stop, which it did. We had a
couple of nights in Cooktown and visited everything there was to see,
including the Captain Cook Museum. Cooktown is still remote, but now
has an all
weather bitumen road into Cairns, only a few hours away. That's remote
with facilities nice and close. I could definitely see Chris and I
spending a few months there at some stage in the future.
We got away and started to make our way up the Peninsula Development
If heading this way we would suggest buying the Ron and Viv Moon, Cape
York book. It is a great resource and tells you pretty much everything
you need to know and see. The Development Road goes pretty much
straight up the guts, is around 700 kms long and generally well
maintained, give or take a few million corrugations. There are side
roads shooting off in all directions to any
number of beaches and sights. You would need 3 months to see them all,
and as we only had 1 month, we had to pick and choose.
We passed through a tiny little place called Laura and
stopped to check
out this little old Austin Chummy that actually made it all the way to
back in 1928. Just imagine what the roads would have been like back
then. All of a sudden you don't feel so tough doing the trip in your
big flashy four wheel drive. This thing was so small, I reckon the kids
and I could have picked it up and walked off with it. We then set up
camp for the night in one of the many Roadhouses along the way. These
are cheap (usually $20-00 a night per family), have toilets and if you
are lucky a shower, maybe warm, maybe not.
This one, Hann River
Roadhouse was huge,
plenty of room to spread out complete with a resident and very friendly
emu. He was a funny chap and seemed to take a liking to us, as you
The weather was definitely on the improve as we packed up and continued
north. Next stop was Coen for a quick look around and an ice-cream. Not
much here except for the rather well known Exchange Hotel that had a
name change when someone climbed up on the roof and added an "S" making
it the Sexchange Hotel. It was a bit too early to start drinking so we
continued on our way, stopping at the Archer River Roadhouse for an
'Archer Burger'. Very nice and worth a try but still not in the same
league as a Kimberley Beef Burger from Drysdale Station on the way to
Our first off-shoot was Chillie Beach. It took a number of hours
(approx 200 kms) to get there once we had left the Development Road. In
should have camped somewhere else for the night as it was getting late
when we arrived and the campground
was small and packed.
We broke our first rule of camping - be off the
road and set up by 3-00pm or you end up camping somewhere less than
desirable. We found a few square feet almost in the pit
toilet and set up camp. It turned out to be a great little camp spot,
while others closer to the beach were hammered by really strong winds
during the night.
On the way into Chillie Beach the car developed a horrible grinding,
crunching not good kind of sound. Great, now what, especially after
spending all that money on it. I climbed under and couldn't see a
No leaks, nothing broken. I had thought the turbo had chucked in the
towel. As I was pulling myself out from under the car I pulled
myself out using the exhaust. It made the same sound. What I discovered
was enough to bring a tear to my eye, a tear of joy. All it was, was a
broken exhaust bracket that was rubbing together causing that horrid
sound. By this time a few old blokes were hanging around. I mentioned I
needed some fencing wire and off they scurried, coming back with a
of coat hangers. Perfect. Ten minutes later and it was fixed,
temporarily at least. When we get to Weipa I will get it fixed
properly. The weather at Chillie was horrible. Windy, windy, windy. We
soon discovered that the eastern side of the Cape is windy 364 days of
the year, and yes we missed the one nice day that was a few months ago.
who were camped closer to the beach actually packed up in the
middle of the night and moved on. We were very well protected but old
Chillie Beach did not look like the postcards, not that day at least.
The other thing that disappointed us was the amount of rubbish on the
beach. I have
never seen so much and it seriously detracted from what would be a very
pretty area. The rubbish was thick, gas bottles, tyres, batteries, rope
and anything else you could imagine. As we were to discover most
beaches in the Cape are rubbish collectors, floating in from heaven
knows where. Such a shame.
The kids kept themselves busy collecting and opening coconuts.
used a tent peg while Alex beat them to death with a tomahawk. Lucky he
didn't chop his foot off. We had a drive around to check out a small
fishing village close by called Portlands Road, visited Lockhart River
Community (that was just like every other community we have lived in),
walked the beach and enjoyed the downtime.
There were a lot of families doing the trip so we were hopeful of
meeting up with some along the track. As everyone is either heading
north or south, as long as they are going in the same direction as you
are, you are bound to bump into them again. On our last morning there,
we were packing up when we heard a car speeding out of the campground,
followed by a big crash. Ha, ha, I thought. You have hit a tree. I ran
down the track to find nothing except a tool box laying on the ground,
tools spread everywhere. He must have left them on the back of
the car and taken off, going so fast he didn't hear them hit the deck.
Thank you dickhead. Next time slow down. There were some nice tools
amongst them, including a Leatherman Supertool which is now mine.
Weipa. The campground, footy night and the magnificent sunsets.
The trip back to the Development Rd took nearly 3 hours and then
into Weipa. We had tried to book but they do not take bookings so it
was first in, best dressed. It is a very large park, absolutely on the
water. It is nicely maintained and it was busy, really busy. It is
actually a campground, not a caravan park but they do have powered
sites. After paying you drive around until you find an empty site. That
is only half the battle. Then you have to see if there is power nearby
and if there is a spare outlet. There were cords running in all
directions, over roads and up trees. I seriously think they need a
better system. We scored a nice site next to a couple Kev and Lorraine
in a big Kedron. They were a great couple and we became pretty friendly
with them. As luck would have it our chances of getting to do the Old
Telegraph Line (OTL) were about to improve, dramatically.
There were two families with kids traveling together camped behind us.
They were from Sydney and were absolutely doing the OTL, despite all
the doom and gloom stories. They had planned this trip for many months
and nothing was going to stop them. Over the next few days we chatted
and had drinks. They asked if we were planning on doing the OTL and I
am not sure if it was the sad tale about our friends pulling out at the
last minute or me bursting into tears, but whatever it was they asked
if we would like to join them on that part of the journey. Bloody oath.
So Shad and Natasha and Barry and Kerry became our newest and bestest
friends. Sunset drinks on the beach became the thing to do, as did the
tour of the Rio Bauxite mine.
We washed, shopped and explored the local
area. It is very similar to Nhulunbuy, not just because they are both
Bauxite mines. In many ways they were similar, same housing, same
infrastructure and very similar terrain. If you had the time you could
a week or more here, fishing and relaxing. I also booked the car into a
local mechanics that looked like a front for a bikie gang. It was a
pretty wild turn-out but they were nice blokes and did a good job, not
only welding up the broken bracket but also adding two more very
substantial brackets to brace the dump pipe and support the main
exhaust. I am very sure the problem has now been fixed, and it didn't
cost an arm and a leg. If you are in Weipa and need some work done see
the lads at Rebel Auto Repairs.
On Friday 8th July it was time for the true
the journey to
commence. Stage one was for us all to meet at Bramwell Station
campground before heading off bright and early the next day to tackle
OTL. We arrived there just after lunch, set up and then drove the few
kms to the beginning of the OTL, to watch a few cars tackle Palm Creek
before it was our turn the next morning.
This was to turn out to be one of the more difficult decents and exits
of the trip. When we pulled up for a look Chris went a little pale as
the reality of what she may encounter over the next few days sank in.
It was steep, long and very rutted. We watched a number of vehicles
approach it with different lines, some coming to grief and some doing
it rather easily. We spent a number of hours there watching the
activity. This was like chicken rock at Uluru. If you can't do this
time to turn around. Chris was starting to doubt my abilities, the
abilities and her ability not to wet her pants in fear. It was then
back to the campsite for dinner and an early night. I must say I did
wake a few times wondering what laid ahead.
Saturday we were up bright and early as we wanted to get on the track
before anyone else. The creek exits gets more slippery as more cars get
through and you don't really want to be held up too much. We
refueled and then hit the OTL. How exciting. Palm Creek was not too
bad. We picked a good line and got down with ease. Believe it or not
the camper actually made all the decents very easy. The reason is that
some are very steep. The car is unable to maintain traction and slips
down, often with a big crunch at the bottom. What I did was not use the
car brakes at all, low range, 1st gear and applied the trailer brakes
using the electric brake controller. The reason this worked so well was
because the trailer had not yet started its decent, so was still on
level ground. With the trailer brakes locked up the car was pulling the
trailer over the edge creating a sand or dirt mound in front of the
trailer tyres acting like a chock. We had beautiful controlled decents.
Then when the car got to the bottom, I let off the trailer brakes and
the weight of the trailer still coming down the hill pushed the car
through the often boggy bottom. It was so easy.
The beginning - Palm Creek crossing. Much steeper than it looks.
Getting up the other side of Palm Creek was going to be
challenging. Half way up and lost traction. Backed back a few metres
and then straight up. The limited slip diffs on the Patrols are without
a doubt the best on the market. This trip really brought home why the
Patrol really is one of the most capable four wheel drives on the
We then crossed South and North Alice Creeks and Dulcie Creek which
then the Dulhunty River. This looked really difficult but after we
walked it and had a plan it was a piece of cake. The kids had a ball
here playing in the white clay walls of the river, followed by a swim
at the crossing.
There are crocs a-plenty up this way but pick a good
spot and it is as safe as houses. Clear rock pools with limited or no
entry and exits are the way to go. We then crossed Bertie Creek before
the most feared of them all, Gunshot.
We had heard horror stories about this for weeks. You will never
through, it will be the end of you, blah, blah, blah. Again the entry
steep but the trailer held us back. Then you dropped into a muddy
river bed that had a solid bottom. That bit was easy. If you just had a
car not towing anything, this would be a cinch.
The problem for us was
it was a (L) hand bend with a huge tree on the bend. As you went
around, the trailer cut in and hit the tree. There were by now about 8
cars and campers in front of us, all trying to get through. If we just
stood and watched we would still be there so we got in and got dirty,
helping them through one by one. We came up with a tonne of different
ideas to keep the trailers off the tree. Wallaby jacks, winches and
just plain pushing. In the end we laid a large long log along the edge
of the bank so when the trailer tried to mount the bank and hit the
tree, the log directed the trailer away from the bank, just enough to
There was some very good problem
solving and great team
work. No one took over, it was just one big team of strangers with a
common goal working together. Finally it was our turn and we all did it
with ease. It was good to be through, with no damage. That 3 hours
seemed like 3 minutes. That was a heap of fun. We camped for the night
at Gunshot, tired and dirty but excited about what lay ahead. The next
day it was back on the Development Road (the OTL is in two halves and
you have to do a short stint back on the main drag to get on the second
Elliott/Twin Falls campground.
The kids danced while we enjoyed the fire.
Next stop for two nights was at Elliott Falls Campground.
and Twin Falls are an absolute must do. Sensational. We arrived
before most of the people had left getting in around 10-00am. We had a
choice of a number of good spots but if you got there after midday you
would be struggling. At least two nights or longer is needed here. Both
the swimming holes, Twin Falls and Elliott Falls are only a 10 minute
walk from the camp ground and only a minute or two apart. Elliott Falls
great for jumping off while Twin Falls is great for laying around and
soaking and after a few days in the dust a soak is great. It was a lazy
few days with our only outing to Fruit Bat Falls. Again worth a visit.
The campground here is also worth a mention. Well laid out, private,
good toilets and taps scattered around with plenty of water for
showering and washing up.
Next day up bright and early again
and hit part 2 of
the OTL. First
crossing only a few kms from our campground was Canal Creek, which is
also a nice spot to camp. We arrived behind a group of about six cars
all with campers with the average age of
the occupants being about 83 years. The bloke who thought he was in
charge was a complete tosser so we worked out how we could get in front
of them. There were two ways out of here. The easy and the hard. They
took the easy while we took the hard, which was much more fun but they
still managed, with all their stuffing around, to get in front of us.
Luckily they all pulled over a few kms down the track for a cuppa tea,
a pee and to take their medications. Next was Sams Creek then Mistake
Creek. This again had a steep entry but a walk in the park for the
Patrol and the very skilled operator!!
The next spot I was really looking forward to seeing. The famous log
bridge across Cypress Creek. Whenever there are photos or footage of
OTL, the log bridge is in it. The Gall Bros spent hours stuck on it
during their Kedron adventure up the OTL. I was so excited, and then so
disappointed. It looks nothing like any photo I had seen. It had been
almost completely filled with sand, didn't look at all scary nor was it
challenging. Don't you just hate the big build up, then the letdown.
Drum roll please. Nolan Brooke River Crossing. The
feared on the
OTL. One bloke told us 40 cars had been written off this season (which
has only been a few weeks), not to do it, don't even go there. As we
pulled up there was a Landcruiser that had just been towed out with
water running out of all the doors and the camper full of water. Food,
clothes and gear all soaked. Chris went that same pale colour she went
at Palm Creek. It will be OK, I said full of bravado and confidence.
The crossing is not very wide and has two entries. They are close
together and looked very similar. Everyone who was getting stuck was
using the (R) hand entry. A few that had got through used the (L) hand
entry and hugged the bank. We walked it 10 times and while deep, it was
not even close to the bonnet. The problem was the soft silty bottom.
Tyres down to 5 psi (true story) and the car bra on and off we went.
First went Shad, no worries, Barry, too easy and then us. Are you on
edge of your seat yet?? Straight through, easy as, didn't even look
getting stuck. We all had our snatch
straps on ready, someone in the water and a car on the other side for
instant pull if needed.
Nolan's Crossing - this is how you do it. Didn't even
look like stopping.
Crossing - this is how 'not' to do it. Wet carpet for weeks.
We camped there the night and watched a few more come across.
time we heard a car we walked down, gave them our worldly advice and
watched. One guy chose not to listen, took the other entry and,
solid. In fact he was so stuck even his winch was useless. His car was
full of water as was his trailer. Not happy Jan. Should listen to your
elders next time. So that was pretty much it for the OTL. It was
without a doubt the highlight of the Cape Trip 2011. We are so glad we
did it and would love to do it again. It really is one of the great
four wheel driving tracks of Australia.
Next day we were back on the Development Road, a little
sad to have the
OTL behind us. We arrived at the Jardine ferry, should have fueled up
it was 20 cents a litre cheaper than on the other side, and made our
to Bamaga. Now the OTL, Elliott Falls and many other beautiful
spots are constantly talked about, but none as much as the Bamaga
Bakery. We pulled up and filled up with pies, custard tarts and
anything else that was bad for us. Yum, yum. We decided on Loyalty
Beach Caravan Park as it was right on the beach. We ended up with a
great ocean front site big enough for us all. The other caravan park
that seems popular is Seisa which is a few kms out of town.We had a
look at it and although the beach was much nicer,
the park itself was a bit run down and grubby. We were very happy
with our choice, so close to the action. We again bumped into another
two families who were traveling together. Steve and Viv are from Broome
and Terry and Debbie from Tweed Heads. I think we first met them in
Weipa, saw them again on the OTL, Bamaga and up at the tip. They are a
good bunch, good for a laugh and a beer.
The excitement was building as the next morning we planned to
the tip, the very top of Australia and the last extremity for us to
I went to bed that night thinking, boy I hope I don't die in my sleep
tonight, that would really crap me off. Luckily I didn't and we made
our way up there, first dropping in at the famous Croc tent to part
with nearly $300-00 in t-shirts, stubby coolers and all sorts of other
stuff I am sure we don't want. Just got caught up in the moment I
The walk to the tip and the sign only takes about 10 minutes. You go up
a hill and from the top you can look down and see the point and the
sign, that beautiful sign. I did get a little teary (yes, I am getting
softer as I get older) as getting to this final extremity has seen the
end of a 5 year quest to get to them all. We spent well over an hour
there looking, reflecting and of course taking a thousand photos of us
and the sign, in every possible pose and from every possible angle.
(And yes, those hunks of land in the background are only islands!!)
Australia has got some real characters. When we
to the point
there was a group of
golfers, out on the end of a rock with a little carpet square
happily belting a bucket full of golf balls out into the ocean. They
were having the time of their life and celebrating their achievement
doing what they love.
The photos below are us at all points of this continent. Byron Bay is
by far the easiest, South Point (Wilsons Promontory, Vic) was the
hardest by a country mile (with the overnight hike)
and with Steep Point (WA) and Cape York being the most remote. The most
Southern Point of Australia, South East Cape in Tasmania was a breeze
compared to this effort. Next year we will visit Canberra to do a drive
up to Mt. Kosciuszko and do the highest point and then at some stage
actually get to Lake Eyre and officially be at the lowest. Then of
course there is Lambert's Centre blah, blah, blah, blah.
it end? Hopefully never would be my answer.
Point WA, Cape Byron NSW, South Point Vic,
South East Cape Tasmania, Cape York QLD
Next day was a quiet one with a few domestic chores
the town area, including a trip back to the bakery.
Next morning bright and early it was down to the marina for a day trip
over to Thursday Island and Horn Island. The weather was not perfect
but it did not rain. The trip over does not take that long (approx 70
minutes) and before long we had arrived on the very pretty but small
Thursday Island with a land mass of only 3.4 sq kms. It is smaller than
I expected with the main part of town settled on the edge of a large
protected bay. The hospital has a magnificent 250 degree ocean view. It
is perched on the end of a point and looks rather mod. It would not be
the place to be if a tsunami was to occur. There are a lot of Govt.
offices on the island and a lot of money has been spent on
infrastructure. We did a bus tour which showed us all over town
including the Green Hill Fort Museum. Thursday Island played an
important role in protecting our northern waters during WWII.
Green Hill was first manned in 1893 after 30 men took two years
build it. There are three six inch breech loading guns that were only
shot once during WW1 when a ship steaming through the Torres Straight
failed to identify itself. After a shot was fired over its bow it
quickly identified itself as friendly. The guns had a massive firing
range of 22 kms with the six inch shell weighing 45 kg. It is a great
museum with plenty to see and read but as with all these cattle tours
you are herded on and off with little time to actually see anything.
It was then back to the marina and onto a small shuttle ferry that runs
back and forth to Palm Island. We were picked up by a bus and taken to
a local motel for lunch and to have a look through another museum which
is part of the motel. Following lunch it was back on the bus for a tour
of some WW2 plane wrecks and a history lesson about this island. Horn
Island is huge compared to Thursday Island but only has a very small
population. All the rubbish and sewerage from Thursday Island is
transported to Horn for disposal. It does make you wonder why Thursday
Island was chosen as the major centre of this region over the large
Horn Island, especially as they are only about 500 metres apart.
That's Governments for you. It was then back on the boat and back to
mainland. It certainly was a whirl wind tour (and expensive) but we
certainly got to have a good look around, and am not sure what else we
would have seen if we had done an overnighter there.
Next morning we packed up and started our trip South. Unfortunately our
time up in the Cape was drawing to a close. We had to be back in Cairns
by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest as the car and camper had to be
delivered to the transport companies, and we had only just discovered
that the Friday was Cairns Show Day public holiday. Great, that meant
they had to be delivered Thursday pm, giving us even less time to get
organised. The plan was for the camper to get put on a truck and sent
back to Bundaberg with the car going on another truck to Darwin and
then containered and barged across to Nhulunbuy. All sounds simple
The wooden bridge on the way to Vrilya Point and us
Vrilya Point is really beautiful and worthy of a few
We planned to go to Vrilya Point for a night on
as it is a
pretty spot. It is only 29 kms off the main drag and other than one log
bridge that was narrow and a bit rickety, it was an easy run. It is
pretty in fact with many kms of beach along which you can camp. (Ed -
it was quite ironic that we managed to tackle the OTL without a hitch,
only to get bogged at a beach down the track - Barry was most amused!!
were only there for one night we chose to camp at the end of the road
before you get on the beach, the only reason being that if you camp
along the beach you have to wait for low tide to get out again and we
had a few kms to tackle the next day so wanted an early getaway. We set
up under a few shady trees and then set off along the beach to see the
old ship wreck (not much left now). We also bumped into Terry and Deb
and Steve and Viv who were camped miles down the beach. They had a nice
spot so we spent an hour or so chatting to them before heading back to
camp for dinner and an early night. Was not looking forward to the long
dusty drive ahead of us back to Cairns.
Next morning off at a reasonable time and made it as far as Archer
River roadhouse around 3pm. Set up camp and then down to the Archer
River for a swim and a soak. It is a really nice camp ground and an
even nicer spot for a cool-off after being on a long dusty road for 7
hours. If we hoped to make it to Cairns the next day, a total of 620
kms (approx half on dirt) we had to put in a big effort which we did.
The trip was uneventful and rather boring but it had to be done. We
arrived in Cairns just on dark, sore backsides and tired. Back to
and Carla's, backed the trailer down the driveway, unpacked a few
essentials and enjoyed a few beers and a great meal before hitting the
sack in a real bed. In the next couple of days we had a tight time line
we needed to get the car and camper on trucks, and Friday was a public
holiday so we only had two days to get the trailer unpacked and the car
emptied (the transport company insisted it was totally empty, like not
a thing in it). We had to decide what to take up with us to Nhulunbuy
and what to send back in the camper. Luckily the camper could be as
full as we wanted. It was costing $660-00 for us to get the camper
transported from Cairns to Bundaberg which saved me a three day drive
and extra airfares back up. This was a great decision as we were all
able to fly home together, and to be honest, I had had enough of
driving for a while. Then we had to wash and vacuum the car (another
requirement of the transport company) and at 3-00pm on Wednesday while
washing the car I discovered the tailgate door window was smashed and
being held together by the window tinting. I really wanted to get it
fixed prior to coming up here but was running out of time. I made a
number of calls but no one had one in stock and it was too late to get
one up overnight. After a few more calls I found a place who could get
one out of Perth at short notice. Cost $1,000-00 for a bit of glass
500mm x 500mm. Luckily my insurance company covers all glass, not just
windscreens. When I got there the next morning they had actually found
second-hand one for $600-00 fitted. Then I had to get to a tyre shop to
get some new tyres fitted before the car got on the truck. Talk about
Chris had lots of last minute shopping to do, which wasn't helped by
the public holiday, then packing, packing and more packing. QANTAS has
this new rule about baggage. You can only have one piece of luggage
each to the weight of 23 kg. Then each person can buy at $20-00 each
(online) two more pieces at 23 kg each. So we had our one bag each, two
extra pieces of luggage each, a bck each, a guitar, Chris's handbag and
a laptop. That is nineteen pieces of luggage for the four of
us. We had the Evakool esky, furniture removal boxes and bags piled to
the roof. It was insane. A month earlier that excess luggage
184 kg+) would have cost us $1840-00 ($10-00 per kilo). Instead
it cost $160-00. Go figure. When do things ever improve that much? It
is crazy. Thank you QANTAS. It seems to be about the only thing you
have done right lately.
By Thursday the camper was gone as was the car. We then went and hired
a brand new Commodore station wagon so we had wheels for the next few
A day out in Cairns with Derryn, Carla and the kids
Friday morning Derryn organised an outing
for us all. A
push bike ride into the city, down to the marina to have breakfast at a
lovely restaurant. This was followed by a ride home that was all
uphill. I thought the ride in was easy. Now I knew why. We then got in
the car and went for a drive to a lookout that gives a great overview
of Cairns and up to a large lake for a look around. Saturday afternoon,
the commodore was fully loaded and we were off to the airport. We had
to do two trips to get all the gear there, then three trolleys to get
it all into the terminal. What a sight we must have been. All the boxes
were a bit overweight but they let us through. Finally, we could rest.
The flight home was uneventful and then all our boxes started coming
around on the carousel. We were grabbing them and piling them up. It
was quite a sight in Nhulunbuy and certainly had people talking. We
then tried to get on the shuttle bus into town and the cranky bus
driver was giving us grief about the amount of gear we had. He was
charge us extra, but was distracted by an altercation with a woman and
her not being allowed on the bus. It certainly
got very heated, so while he was yelling, Alex and I were frantically
putting boxes in the trailer. He was so hot under the collar he
completely forgot about all our stuff. Finally back home.
It was a sensational trip, more than we expected, but it was good to be
back. Nhulunbuy is still new and exciting and we were all pleased to be
back. Nhulunbuy and our little house feels like home, and we haven't
the feeling for many years.
1) One of the few standing telegraph
poles on the OTL.
called these the 'Penis Plants'. 4) Harry just being cute. 5) The rose
(Patrol) between the two thorns (Hilux's)