Sydney to Cape York & Back

Journey                 # 5

Time:                      July. 2011

Having a bit of lunch at the park in Narrabri, NSW.

Saturday 23rd July - Day 1
I awoke at 3.55am, several minutes before the alarm was due to go off. The car was packed and the van was hooked up ready to go by 5am, but we still didn't manage to leave on time. It was 5.30am, but Sydney traffic was light for a Saturday morning and we had a good run. First stop for the night, was Gil Gil Creek Rest area 40 kms north of Moree. After dinner we sat and chatted a while with our travelling 'family', Mark, Wendy and Margaret. We turned the lights out and went to bed at 9:10pm! Can't remember when I have gone to bed that early.

Gil Gil rest area was our first nights stay.

Sunday 24th July - Day 2
We woke up to -1 degrees . It was a tad cold. After a breakfast of toast and cereal, we packed up and were on the road about 8:15. First stop was McDonald's in Goondiwindi for coffee and loo. From there it was onto St George for lunch, then Surat, Roma (fuel), then Injune and finally to Carnarvon Gorge. It was a long day, as it was further than we thought. It ended up being 705 klms. We arrived at Carnarvon gorge at 7pm and set up in the dark.

Carnarvon Gorge is a jewel in the wilderness.

Monday 25th July - Day 3
Today, we were heading into the gorge to see which walks we could do, within a reasonable timeframe. We checked out the maps and decided to do Moss Garden, the Amphitheatre, and the Art Gallery. Mark and I would probably also do the Ward's Canyon walk. It was a long day - 7 hours elapsed - but we saw some really nice things. We are all feeling a bit stiff and sore, and I am sure tomorrow will bring a few other aches. We head north again tomorrow.

  We were packed in like sardines at the Belyando "caravan park".

Tuesday 26th July - Day 4
Up early again this morning as we had a fair way to go. Left the camp at about 8:15 and turned towards the north again. Emerald was the first port of call, with an aim of McDonalds for coffee. There weren't too many exciting things on the road as it was basically going through unimproved country most of the way. We arrived late afternoon, at the caravan park at Belyando Crossing, which was our overnight stop.

The local council provide a great rest area/free camp at Ravenshoe.

Wednesday 27th July - Day 5
At Belyando Crossing we were all lined up in a row so that as many vehicles as possible could be squeezed in. Too bad if you were in the middle and wanted to get out early! We headed off north again, and the trip was pretty well the same as the previous day. The road was very hilly and with a strong headwind, the 'cruiser was down to 2nd gear in places. Feels wrong to have to accelerate going downhill, into the teeth of the wind. We ended up staying at a large grassy area, next to a creek, 12 kms west of Ravenshoe. There were already about 15 vans there but we got in ok. It was a clear night and the stars were magnificent.

Lakeland Caravan Park, where we stored our van for almost 4 weeks.

Thursday 28th July - Day 6
Well today was supposed to be a short one - only 273kms. Anyway, we headed into Mareeba via Ravenshoe and Atherton. Every road seemed to go uphill, with some seriously steep bits. The country was very up and down, with beautiful vistas and we finally came to the caravan's final camp site - Lakeland Caravan Park, at the start of the dirt. Tomorrow we head onto the corrugations and bull dust - that will be interesting.

The Archer River is a beautiful spot, running beside the roadhouse.

Friday 29th July - Day 7
We were only going 50 or so kms to the first stop which was an aboriginal art area. It was only 300m from the car park, but it had to be the longest 300m in the world! Back on the dirt and the road was in very good condition. We sat on about 90kms and the road slipped by pretty quickly. Next stop along the way was Musgrave for lunch. Coen was originally our final destination but at lunch we discussed going past Coen and onto Archer River roadhouse/campsite. We finally pulled into Archer River about 4pm, after 362 kms.

The start of the Old Telegraph Track, at Bramwell Junction.

Saturday 30th July - Day 8
From Archer River, the next stop was at the Morton Old Telegraph station and then Bramwell Junction for fuel. This was also the start of the Old Telegraph road. We weren't going down that road, as we were doing the southern bypass, but we drove down to Palm Creek to look at the crossing. It had been chewed out by over enthusiastic drivers and was a bit of a ruin. The next 'obstacle' was the Jardine River crossing. It is made a lot easier nowadays, because there is a ferry! It is easier, but not cheaper - $99 for car and camper, and $88 for car only. It is return fare included however. I think Macquarie bank must own the ferry! From the Jardine Ferry, it was only 45kms to Bamaga so it was the home run. We pulled into Bamaga about 4pm, and a day earlier than planned. That is because we were able to do the 'dirt' road in 2 days, rather than the 3 we had allowed for. We booked in to the Seisia caravan park for the night.

Waiting our turn to be ferried across the Jardine River.

Sunday 31st July - Day 9
First thing on the schedule was to head over to the office to try to move to a better site. We were still in the wind, but not as bad as yesterday. All was good, and we have a beautiful view of the water from our kitchen area. After a cuppa, we decided that we would go to Punsand Bay for lunch of their 'famous' fish and chips. After lunch, we headed through a really beautiful, single lane, track through the bush - including quite a few 'tricky' bits - and came out on the track that heads to the most northerly point on the Australian mainland. It was about a 20 minute walk from the car park to the 'tip' and it was really beautiful. It was also really windy. It was well worth the walk, and lots of photos were taken.

Our camp at Seisia, first night. Very windy and exposed so we shifted the following day.

Monday 1st August - Day 10
This was a quiet day for us all. Basically we chilled out at the camp. Mark and I went fishing off the jetty and I caught a Golden Trevally. Very pretty fish, but not the big ones we were expecting.

Punsand Bay is a pretty spot up near the very top of Australia.

Tuesday 2nd August - Day 11
We went for a drive out to a Beaufort Bomber wreck, which crashed near the current airport during WWII. There was also a wreck of a DC3 which came down in 1945. After the planes, I noticed a noise in the rear of the car. Upon investigation, we discovered a broken shock absorber. The left rear shock had come out of it's fitting at the top, and was just sitting inside part of the chassis. We tried to remove the fitting, without success. After talking to the mechanic, and a couple of other people, we decided to head on as per normal without it.

Well, I guess the sign says it all. We made it.

Wednesday 3rd August - Day 12
Today we headed off to Thursday Island. As usual, it was a blowy day, but this one seemed even more so. Heading over to TI was not too bad, but we knew coming home, into the wind was going to be something else. We had a good look around the shops, and close to harbour items, and at 3:30 we had a bus tour of the island, including a tour of Green Hill fort. This was quite interesting. The day ended with a not-too-rough ride home on the boat. Arriving back into Seisia, we witnessed a lovely sunset.

The boat is waiting to take us to Thursday Island.

Thursday 4th August - Day 13
Today we packed up our gear at Seisia, and headed down to the Jardine River for an overnight stay and to do a spot of fishing. We didn't end up leaving Seisia until about 12:30. The Jardine was only 45kms away so there wasn't a real hurry. We were not sure what we would find at the Jardine River. There are 3 free camp areas, and one council (aboriginal) run affair. We had heard bad reports about the council one, so we looked at the site on the northern side of the river to see what it was like. It was beautiful and we ended up having it to ourselves. We setup tent, then put the boat in, looking wildly for crocodiles as we walked through the shallow waters, heading to deeper waters to start the engine. It was a large river with a fast flow. We topped up the fuel tanks, rigged up a rod, and Marg joined us for another few runs up and down the river, trolling for some fish. Nothing happening, so we finally headed back to the sandy shore, and had to be satisfied with a garlic lobster feast of painted crayfish tails that had been bought on TI yesterday. Delicious. We also had a bit a rain while we ate, so it was very refreshing, and cooled the night down.

A pair of Palm Cockatoos at dusk. Bad picture but the only one I could get.

Friday 5th August - Day 14
We decided to stay a second night at this spot. It is really restful. After lunch,we went fishing again in the boat. We went downstream for about 4 kms. We trolled and flicked as we went down, and again on the way back. I hooked a Saratoga, which leapt through the air, but got off. A bit later I flicked along some lily pads and got a hit and landed a jungle perch. About 4 or 5 all jumped out at the lure, but a second and third pass yielded no more hits. We saw two Palm Cockatoo's today. Apparently they are quite rare to see, and they have the most unique call. Nothing at all like the Sulphur Crested one. It was really melodic.
We had talked earlier about crocs and we decided that there were none in the area, only to find out that while we were sitting in the tent, and shining a light out across the river, we saw the tell-tale red eyes of a croc sitting on the far side at water level. We watched him for a while, until he submerged (or closed his eyes). When we saw him again, he was sitting in the middle of the river on the shallow sandbank. We watched him for a while again, and when he disappeared and re-appeared, he was back on the other side. We then gave up watching.

Not much left of the old shipwreck on Vrilya Point.

Saturday 6th August - Day 15
Two weeks have passed already. We wanted to find the old Jardine crossing, so went for a drive in the direction it should have been. We went down a few tracks and finally came across it. I really don't know people managed to get across there. Either it has dramatically changed, or people were dramatically stupid! From the bit we saw on the north side, it hasn't been used for quite a while as it was all over grown, and lily pads covered the water-side of the crossing. It also looked about 3m deep. We could see the far side and looked a lot easier. It also looked about 100m away! Saw a big saltie in the lilies right at the 'crossing'.
When we got back, it was time to start packing up. We had to head back to the ferry crossing (only about 14kms away), where we had to get fuel. Of course, as soon as we got off the ferry, there was then a big queue for fuel, at $2.20 per litre! It was still cheaper than Seisia which was $2.36 !! My fuel bill was $374 to fill my tanks. From the crossing we headed back down the 'highway' for 26.5 kms where we took the unmarked road to Vrilya Point. This a 27 km track that went back to the west coast of the cape. Four kms in, we had to cross the infamous log bridge. This is a bridge made up of logs across a 2m gully. The bridge was about 10m long. The approach and departure parts of the track were severely rough. You had to pick your path even getting to the bridge, then pick which logs to drive on, and then you had to pick your path out the other side. At Vrylia, we decided to head up the beach. We had not let our tyres down (deliberately), and we drove as far as the lightship wreck and stopped for photos. It was here that we let the tyre pressures down. We got to the end of the sand and turned right up into the Casuarina trees that would provide shelter for out tents.

  Here I stand in awe of God's beauty.

Sunday 7th August - Day 16
We got up at 6:30 for an early morning fish and we witnessed a beautiful sunrise - albeit very glary as we fished directly into it. So, we had sunrise over water, and sunset over water. What more could you ask for? Tomorrow we pack up and move to Elliot Falls for our next stay.

The cascading waters of Elliot Falls.

The Giant Pitcher plant is carniverous, feeding on insects it traps inside the tube.

Monday 8th August - Day 16
Everyone up early today as we had to try to beat the tide on the beach, else we had to drive on the soft stuff. After packing up, we headed down the beach, leaving a beautiful spot. We reached the southern end of the beach without incident, even though we had to travel most of the way on the soft stuff. Stoping at the end of the beach, we pumped our tyres up again - only to about 33psi - and headed back along the bumpy track towards the log bridge. Coming in from the western end was a bit different from the other way, but we both got across ok, even though Marks left trailer wheel fell into the gap between two logs, and slid sideways until it hit the end of the logs. Back on the 'highway', we turned south and then turned off again on a short bit of road that joined the new with the old. It was on this road that we had the next bit of fun, which was Sam's crossing. With it's crystal clear water, it was very enticing, but we were told by people who we had just met, that we had to keep to the left, as the right was deep. Mark did that and was surprised how much a car can lean over without toppling over, especially considering the weight he had on the roof! With that challenge met, we turned back south on the Old Track and headed towards Elliot Falls camp ground. With km to go, we came across the Crystal Creek crossing. There were two entrance paths and we took the easier one. The other one looked certain to drop the left wheel off a rock shelf, into a large hole about thigh deep. Our path was pretty straight forward, although straight it wasn't! It was all curves, but still quite easy. Out of that one, and we hit the Elliot Falls turn about 11am and into the grounds we went. We had heard that the spaces were limited and we were a bit concerned, but on the way in - about a 1 km drive, six vehicles were departing so we then knew there would be some camp spots. We drove around and found them quite easily, although to get a single site we could all fit on, took us until the 4th last camp site. All the sites were built by NP people, so they had green pole bollards up and you could only park where the vehicles could fit. We were lucky enough to find a big one without any real restriction. So we set to getting organised and had camp set up very quickly. We had a quick bite of lunch, and then headed down to the falls. In this location, there was Elliot Falls, Twin Falls, and Indian Head Falls. Elliot Falls was a horseshoe shaped fall on the Elliot Creek, while the other ones were the typical cascading falls of another creek that joined Elliot Creek below it's falls. The falls were beautiful and we spent a couple of hours swimming and sitting in natural pools. It was really nice to cool down in the water, but we were all a bit 'prunie' so headed back for sausages and vegies, and eventually bed. We were all tired.

The Wenlock River now has a bridge for the crossing, but it is a pretty river to stop and have a look.

Tuesday 9th August - Day 17
We had decided to only stay the one night at Elliot, so today we headed out early to drive the vast distance of 7 kms, to Fruit Bat Falls. We had heard from so many people that these falls were the best for swimming and picnicking. We arrived there pretty quickly, but only after negotiating a long crossing with water up to the top of the bull bar. It was a muddied water crossing as another car had just gone through heading in our direction.
We got out of our cars with great anticipation. It was about 10:30am so it was warm enough for a swim. The falls were about 70m wide and dropped about 3m in a curtain. After lunch we got back on the 'highway' and headed to the spot where we had lunch on the way up, and we were successful in finding the knob to Marks cooker, which we lost on the way up nearly 2 weeks ago! We continued onto our final destination for the day of Moreton Telegraph Station, on the Wenlock River. We set up camp on a grassy patch away from everyone and also started the generator for power. The Wenlock was very picturesque. Dinner was the flathead and trevally we had caught at Vrilya and it was very nice. Tomorrow we head for Weipa, and the 'big smoke'

Casting a net to capture bait at Weipa.

Wednesday 10th August - Day 18
Packed up in a mist filled morning. First mist we have had since home. We took off and arrived in Weipa without any issues. The 'cruiser bounced around a bit on the one rear shock and a couple of times it bounced me across the road. Had to be very aware of oncoming traffic, of which there was very little. As soon as we arrived in Weipa we went to the repair place that we were told about and they said they could do it in the afternoon. We set up camp in a nice shady spot and sat down to relax. We took the car up and eventually got it fixed, despite them initially trying to install front shocks on the rear! We had lunch at the local café, but we won't be going back. We found out Weipa has the dearest Woolies in all of Australia! We still shopped there, as had no choice. A quiet night was had by all.

The long road bridge over the Mission River at Weipa.

Thursday 11th August - Day 19
We booked up for the Rio Tinto bauxite mine tour at 2:30. The tour bus picked us up at the campsite at 2:30 and found out we were not allowed to leave the bus due to OH&S reasons. The tour was ok, and we got to see the digging and filling of the bauxite and then the sending to the filter, sizer, and onto the train for shipment to the shipping dock in Weipa. The tour went for 2 hours, but I don't think it was worth the $30 each we paid.
Mark and I went to the beach at sunset to witness a most spectacular spectacle. With the fires around the place the sky was amazing. Took some nice shots with a person throwing a cast nest in the foreground, and also one of an Egret fishing for food.

Loading up Bauxite at the Rio Tinto mine site.

Friday 12th August - Day 20
Today we decided to go up to Marpoon and Cullen Point to try some fishing and the girls could sit and relax near the beach. It was about 90km north. Originally we had planned to stay there for 4 days, but because of the issues with sand flies and mites, we decided we would only go up for the day. That turned out to be a very good decision, as it was a dump! It would be ok for a couple of blokes going for fishing only, but there was no shade, and absolutely nothing to do except fish. With the low tide we witnessed, even fishing didn't look appealing to us. We turned around and went straight home. Between Weipa and Marpoon is the bridge over the Mission River. This bridge is a single lane bridge which is just over 1 km long. It is also a train bridge for the ore to be taken to Weipa from the mines. An interesting fact about the rails on this bridge is that there are no joins in the rails. This is to eliminate a failure in any joins. There are also two inside rails which connect to two wheels on the carriages to ensure no sideways movements in the carriages and a possible de-rail situation. If an ore train went off this bridge, it would be a very big incident indeed.
I wanted to try my new cast net, so we went down the beach about 4pm and got a few mullet and lots of glass-eye fish.

Houses were surrounded by high fences and padlocked gates at Aurukun. Hmmmm!

Saturday 13th August - Day 21
Today was planned to be a quiet one, and that is the way it panned out. Mark and I went for a fish about 7am. We must have caught 60 bream, but only 12 were of legal size. We were there until about 10:30 and then we had to scale and clean them.
We will be heading out tomorrow for Aurukun, hopefully early! It's a bit hard to get some people up.

The Archer River is one of three emptying out into the sea at Aurukun.

Sunday 14th August - Day 22
Aurukun was 207 kms by the map, and we were going to drop[ in and see a couple of friends, Anne and Neil Ewart, who we hadn't seen in many years. Neil had told us it would take about 2 hrs to get there. We got to the turnoff to Aurukun after 97-odd kms, and turned right. It was another 207 kms into town. The road was very good until about 35kms out and it got a bit bumpy. Neil said this was due to the last rains they had that made a bit of a mess. After a quick cup of tea, Neil gave us the royal tour of town, which included the new airstrip, the barge landing, the old and new houses, the council chambers, the shop, the police/courthouse complex and the box which the army use when they do manoeuvres in the area. It took us about 20 mins and then we were back at the house. We set up camp in the front yard and then put dinner on. It was a bit of an eye opener, that all the non indigenous homes had high wire fences and padlocked gates around the perimeter. Neil said that a security patrol drives around at night to ensure the padlocks were on and everyone was locked in for the night. Hmmmm - not a place I want to live in. We had to keep travelling so said our goodbyes in readiness for our exit in the morning

Our overnight camp at Musgrave. Pretty ordinary.

Monday 15th August - Day 23
Our objective was Musgrave Roadhouse, which is at the intersection of the main road, and the road out to Lakefield NP. We had stopped and had lunch there on the way up, but had not stayed there. We didn't want to stay somewhere we had already stayed. It meant a fairly long drive, but as we had left pretty early, and the roads were pretty good, we expected to get there in plenty of time.
All was good then and we made it to Musgrave about 4:30pm, after having an early lunch at Archer River roadhouse. The facilities were a bit ordinary, so I don't think we will put this place on our list of 'must do again' places. I am sure we will survive the night and be ready to head off in the morning to Lakefield NP.

The boys were working on the Hann River crossing, putting in a concrete causeway.

Freshwater croc sunning himself at Kalpowar

Tuesday 16th August - Day 24
We packed up without any issues and headed directly east from Musgrave. The road was pretty good and we had read about Nifold Plains which was supposed to have quite a unique layout of termite mounds. From there we headed back down the road towards Lakefield. On the way we passed a Red Lily lagoon, and then White Lily lagoon. We stopped at both to look at the flora. Again, lots of magpie geese, herons and cormorants. At red Lily lagoon there was a boardwalk out to the middle of the reeds and water.
Continuing on we came to the Hann crossing. There was a bunch (20 or so) workers there repairing the crossing. They were actually laying new concrete, so they had used sandbags to redirect some of the water. This meant that we had to wait until they had finished doing what they were doing before we could be let through.
Not far down the road we came across Breeza Homestead, which consists of a couple of old buildings built by the German family of Sinclair Balser, over 100 years ago. There was also a corridor of 100 year old Mango trees, which were huge! We had stopped there because there was another waterhole with lots of flora and birds.
On the road again we came to some major road works but this time the road was basically in a sand only area so it was very soft and hard going in some spots. There seemed to be no soil anywhere. We made it through obviously, and finally arrived at Kalpowar campsite. We were going to look at this and then maybe go and look at 12 Mile camp, but this one was really nice, with plenty of sites, water, toilets, and even had showers (cold) and it was on a river with fishing. We set up camp and had a look at the river. We had seen a lot of Barramundi carcases lying around so we were hopeful of something better. The best thing about the afternoon was that we came upon a crocodile, basking on a rock. He was only a Johnson's but it was the first one we had laid eyes on apart from the eyes we saw on the Jardine. I took a few photos and he didn't move until I got a bit close and he opened his mouth a bit to show his teeth. The rest of the day was relaxing, as Mark and I flicked a few more lures from the causeway and caught nothing again. We heard later that the water was a lot colder than normal and the barra were catching 'white spot' and it had caused them to die. That is probably why we had seen a lot of dead ones in the water, and also why they don't seem to be eating.

Driving across the causeway at Kalpowar.

Wednesday 17th August - Day 25
Today was even more relaxing than yesterday. We had decided to stay an extra day and just unwind. While Mark and I were walking in the bushes on the side of the river, we heard the rustle as a snake slithered away. We saw it was darkish and only about 1m long. I flicked it with the rod tip to make it scurry faster. It was then that I realised it was a Taipan -Australia's deadliest snake. We had seen a couple of these on the roads as we were driving along. A bunch more people arrived in camp today and all the sites were occupied. There was one group of 8 adults and 10 kids! Good thing they were not next to us.

The Old Laura Homestead has been preserved for tourists.

Cooktown is full of history and grand old buildings like this one.

Overlooking the magnificent coastline of Cooktown.

Thursday 18th August - Day 26
We had a leisurely pack up this morning but we still seemed to get away about 8:30 so we must be getting better at it. We continued heading south keeping an eye out for the 12-Mile Hut and waterhole campsite, which is where we could have been staying, had we not stopped at Kalpowar. We saw no signs, and no indications that it even existed. Opposite the new Laura homestead there was a road to the campsite 15 km away, but according to the map, the 12-Mile Hut was supposed to be located near the road about 3-5 km from the homestead. Nothing! So, we kept going. Soon we came across a sign to the 6-Mile waterhole, which meant that we had passed the 12-mile one 6 miles ago! So, once again, we kept going looking for other things.
Next thing we stopped at was the Old Laura homestead. This was an impressive homestead for something that started life in 1874 (or sometime). It was a 2-story tin and wood shed with several out-buildings. We wandered around for a while, trying to picture what life would have been like back then.
After a few water crossings, we next called in at Horseshoe Lagoon and Lake Emma. Horseshoe had a lot of bird life, a lot of lilies and lovely paperbark forests around it. A Sea Eagle graced us with a show of how to catch a fish while still on the wing. Emma Lake was a bit further down the track on the edge of Lakefield NP boundary. It was a huge lake, but no birds except for a couple of ducks. The scenery was chalk and cheese compared to Horseshoe Lagoon.
We stopped at Isabella Falls, which was only a little fall of about about 3m, but it was really pretty. The next thing on the agenda was Endeavour Falls. This was closer to Cooktown, but still we could only find Endeavour Falls Caravan Park, so we assumed it was close to that. We came across the park, so we stopped and went in. The falls were down the back, and even though they weren't on the caravan park grounds, you had to walk through the park to get to them. The falls were not overly spectacular, but they were nice. We called into the shop on the way out and they had a large Barra (about 1m long) in a tank. The shop lady said hold one of the prawns in the box on top near the water surface. Mark did so and he came to the surface with a great splash and sucked the prawn out of his grasp. It made us all jump, and splashed water all over him. From the falls it was a short drive of about 20kms into Cooktown. We hadn't had lunch, so we checked into the Big4 Caravan Park, and headed into town for lunch.
Beryl has been suffering badly from sandfly bites and she has come up in big welts, and blisters. Today her left hand was red and badly swollen, so she wanted to go to the chemist. After lunch, we headed down to the chemist, who told her she must go and see the Dr. So she headed off to the Dr and he told her she has got several infections in some of the bites. He gave her some antibiotics.
We had a some visitors to our tent after dark. We are on the edge of the property and back onto an industrial block. Soon after dark a wallaby wandered along our fence. Soon after that some Curlews walked past, and then soon after, a bandicoot scurried and dug around on our back tent section.

Pretty sunsets over the river at Cooktown.

Great meal at the 1770 restaurant on the Cooktown jetty.

Friday 19th August - Day 27
Beryl's birthday! As it was her birthday, she got to choose what we did today.
First cab off the rank after brekkie was to do laundry. Wow Beryl, you sure pick all the fun things to do. After the washing was done, and hung out, we prepared for a day out on the town. Second event for the day was Devonshire Tea at Vera's café. We weren't sure where it was, but had an idea where it could be, so we headed off to the tourist info centre at the Botanical Gardens. Yes, that was where it was. As it was noon by now, we decided to make it lunch too, but unfortunately there were no cooks on duty, so we had just the scones, jam and cream. After that we did a quick whip around some of the gardens, looking at plants and the butterflies. Again, there were butterflies everywhere.
Following on from there, we went over to the James Cook Museum. We were there for about 1 hrs as it was quite comprehensive about the history of the area, as well as his feats and accomplishments. It was a lovely old building, and was originally built as a catholic school. From the museum, we went home to take the washing down, and then headed up to Grassy Hill, for a 360 deg view of the Cooktown area. It was a great view, but was also very windy. After the lookout, we headed back to the main street to check out the Arts and Crafts store, then down to the Croc Shop to look at all the wonderful tourist goodies. We also went down to the wharf area to check out the restaurant that we were taking Beryl to. They told us we had to book, and the first sitting was at 6:30. So we booked a table for 6:30, and hoped if we got there a bit early we could get a window seat looking out of the river. We arrived about 6:15, missed the sunset by a couple of minutes, but we got our table by the window! As it turned out, we could have picked any table, as apart from 2 other people who came in just after us, we were the only ones there. Anyway, the food was good and the company was better. Wendy had Thai Coral Trout, Mark and I had eye fillet, Marg had a Lamb Rack, and Beryl had Gilled Coral Trout. Of course we all finished the meal with a desert each.
Tomorrow we hit the road again, but not too early as the girls want to go to the local markets, as well as do some grocery shopping for the next few days. Marg also wanted to go to the camping shop to try to get some fibreglass rods to repair her tent poles.

Trevethan Falls is well hidden, just out of Cooktown. Few directions, but we found them.

It is a given that everyone who drives the Bloomfield Track, stops at the Lions Den pub.

Saturday 20th August - Day 28
We packed up and headed into town to do the markets. We then headed out of town, down towards the turnoff to the Bloomfield track. On the way, he hit Black Mountain lookout, which overlooks a black granite mountain made from large boulders. It is quite imposing in the middle of all the green surrounding rainforest-like greenery. While we at the lookout Wendy found the directions to Trevethan Falls, which was just a few kms back to the turnoff, and then down a dirt road. We headed back, only to find the road went on and on, and got smaller and smaller until we finally found it, after a 200m walk up hill at the end. The falls were certainly worth it. Nestled in a small ravine, water poured down about 15m to an inviting pool, and then bubbled down a boulder strewn creek. We spent about 30 mins there, just admiring and walking around. Back in the car, and then back past Black Mountain revealed a 34km detour! By now it was about 1:45 and we were supposed to call into The Lion's Den Pub for lunch. It was still 20-odd kms away down the dirt. We got there about 2, and pleased to learn that lunch was served until 2:30.
We had lunch under a Cannonball Tree. This was a normal looking tree on the bottom and top, but in the middle it shot out weird looking branches where bizarre flowers and round, large coconut-like balls. It was very strange. Also hanging in the nearby tree was a Jade vine. This was a jade-like coloured flowered vine. It was really beautiful.
After lunch, we got serious about the Bloomfield track, and headed down with great gusto. It wasn't hard going, but was windy, and bumpy in spots. It wasn't until we got near the town of Bloomfield that it started to get pretty. We ran along the Bloomfield River for quite a while. This was very wide, and had sailing and power boats on it. It looked very nice and enticing. When we got the aboriginal community of Wujal Wujal we were near the Bloomfield falls so headed down another dirt road for about 2kms and found a car park. We walked about 400m down a very rough track and it opened out into a very spectacular chasm where bucket loads of water plunged 50m down a sheer rock face. It was amazing. We clambered over rocks and saw this spectacular falls in their glory. We could also see how far the driftwood was perched in the rocks and it was hard to imagine the water level up at the height of the driftwood. The wet must be amazing to experience.
From the falls, we went back to the Bloomfield River causeway and headed on further. As soon as we crossed over, the road changed. It was white dirt and it went straight up and over the mountains that came toward the sea. We were down to first gear, and low range to get up some of the hills. The worst one had been concreted luckily. I would not like to try to do this road in the rain. It would be near impossible, as the hills were so steep and long. We went up and down for a long time before we finally hit the coast just above Cape Tribulation. Unfortunately there are no lookouts anywhere along the windy road which has been cut out of the near vertical cliffs, with drop straight down to the ocean. From there we drifted into Cape Trib and found some unpowered sights in the Cape Trib Camping ground. We got in about 5pm so didn't have time to fix Marg's tent pole.

The Bloomfield Falls at Wudjal Wudjal are well worth a visit.

What a way to celebrate your birthday at Cape Tribulation.

Sunday 21th August - Day 29
After brekkie, we went for a walk along the beach. The beach is at least 2 kms long and when we got to the other end, had to cross a small creek which came out of the rainforest. We followed the creek up towards it's source and it split into two wide streams. One went parallel to the beach behind the coconut groves, and other went straight into the rainforest. It looked very much like croc country! As we walked along it's banks we verified that by finding croc tracks in the sand. At 2:15 we walked up to the camp office in time to be picked up to head off to do some 'jungle surfing'. This is a 6-station, 5-flying fox run, through the canopy of the rainforest. The bus took us to a little shed up the hill where we got fitted into a harness and helmet. Each of the helmets had a name on it of a character from the movies. The guides chose which helemt suited their impression of each customer. Mark was Atom Ant, Wendy was Princess Leah, I was 'The Fly', Beryl was Stifler's mother, and Marg was Tinkerbell. From there we had to walk up to the first station. It was quite a serious climb up there, and a lot of huffing and puffing was done. The five runs were all different, in that some were single runs, some were doubles, some were fast, some slow, some we stopped in the middle to admire the view for a while and the last one was upside down! It was a lot of fun and the 3 guys who took us though it were very entertaining and made the event a lot of fun. Throughout the whole time, the guys called us by our character name, and had lots of jokes and comments about them. The photos tell quite a story with the looks on the faces. The screaming could not be captured on 'film' though. We had forgotten to take our little video camera which would have been handy. It was a good afternoon.
Back to camp again, we had afternoon, tea and then thought about dinner. Having the camp kitchen makes it a bit easier to prepare and eat dinner, and you can wash up after. We sat around the kitchen for a while after dinner talking to other campers, trying to work out where we will stay tomorrow night. When we went to bed we were still none the wiser.

The rainforest meets the sea at Cape Tribulation.

Yes, there are crocodiles in the creeks around here.

Monday 22th August - Day 30
During breakfast discussion we decided to stay here an extra night, and do the local creek cruise for crocs. We booked the 2pm boat trip on the Cooper Creek and as a warm up, we decided to go and walk the Myall creek near us. We walked up for a while and we did end up seeing a little one on the far bank. We wandered back along the creek until we got to the ocean and walked around the point back to our beach. Lunch was decided to be taken down near the cruise location rather than wait here then drive down in time just for the cruse. We stopped at the Lync Haven café for lunch. It was really good food and a nice location, as the place had some good exhibits of live snakes, live baby crocs, and even live birds. After lunch we headed to the boat and headed up the river with great anticipation of seeing some big crocs. The guy on the boat looked a bit past his prime, but his commentary was good, not that you can talk too long about mangroves. We did see a few crocs, both male and female, but the biggest was a female of 4m - so the guy said. I reckon he wasn't bigger than 2.5m. Apparently they saw a big male on the morning cruise. Oh well, too bad for us. The cruise was ok, but not brilliant. It was only $25 for hour cruise so can't really complain.
On the way back from the cruise we did the Marrja Botanical Walk along a boardwalk through the mangroves at Noah Beach. That was nice and we got to see some nice birds and trees. Lots of photos! That took us an hour or so, then back to camp for tea & coffee, then start to get ready for dinner. We had quite a few good talks to other campers about our trips and their trips. We are planning to pack up tomorrow and head down though Daintree to Mossman or Port Douglas for the next night.

Dinner at the Tin shed, Port Douglas.

Tuesday 23th August - Day 31
Today, Beryl and I had to return to Lakeland to pick up our van out of storage. We decided to go back up the Bloomfield Track and then across to Lakeland. We were then meeting the others at the caravan park at Craiglie, about 10kms south of Port Douglas. We had been told about a restaurant in Port Douglas that is on the water, and you can see the sun setting over the mountains, with the water in front. It was called the Combined Club, or The Tin Shed, so we just drove around until we found it. There was a big mob of people trying to get tables, so we just waited. We got one pretty quickly and sat there on the very outside row, with perfect view of the water and sunset. The mountains were covered in cloud so it wasn't the perfect sunset, but was still pretty special. Dinner was really good, so it was a good night. A bit of grocery shopping on the way home, then into bed. Tomorrow we travel all of about 55kms to Cairns.

Rare to see a Cassowary in the wild, but this one came out at Mossman Gorge.

Crystal Cascades, Cairns.

Wednesday 24th August - Day 32
It was a late start, getting under way about 10. We headed north again, this time to see the Mossman Gorge. About 2kms up the road was a 'no caravans' sign. We turned the van around and took it back to near town and left it on the side of the road. Saw a Cassowary wandering slowly up the hill, and he was only 2m in the bush. He continued his trek up until he finally passed the gate where people could go. It was a good thing we got our photos. We did see him again while we were on the elevated walkway, but it wasn't as good.
We were there for about an hour or more, wandering around the rainforest tracks and playing in the boulders. We left the gorge and headed south again, this time heading for Cairns. We didn't make any stops, even though we called in to Palm Cove to check it out. Thirty five years ago we spent 7 weeks there and it was a vastly different place. It was like Surfer's Paradise, without the skyscrapers. We didn't even stop the vehicles, as it was very disappointing.
Cairns had grown 20-fold and seemed to be about 20kms long, and we hadn't even got to the port area. We headed out of town looking for a Big4 and ended up in Redlynch which is about 13 kms out of town. It is really nice, and hasn't got the hustle and bustle of Cairns. We are near the Crystal Cascades and we went there after we had set up.
The Crystal Cascades are a series of waterfalls and pools, spread up a 1.5km valley. The falls were not big, but there were many of them. We took lots of photos, including some of tortoises that were in some of the pools.
Home again for a nice camp kitchen Shepherd's Pie dinner that Beryl made. In the kitchen we ran into another camper that we spent time in Cape Trib with. She was from England, out here with 3 of her 13 children.

The tourist train at Kuranda seems to be getting longer.

Thursday 25th August - Day 33
We are still in Cairns for tonight, and leaving for tomorrow for Townsville, or thereabouts. Hoping to drop in and see some friends who work on a mission there. Not much happened for us men today. We dropped the 3 girls into town at Central Station, so they could catch the train up to Kuranda. Us men hung around by going to Cash Converters and BCF, and then we drove up to Kuranda to meet them, and to see the sights. The town has grown by about 6000 times. It was nothing when we were here last, but now it is a huge tourist place. We arrived there just in time for the girls to arrive in the train, along with 5 million other people. It was crazy. Thirteen carriages of tourists from all countries.
Had lunch at a German 'restaurant'.

Need to drive safely where the cassowaries live.

Friday 26th August - Day 34
The girls had arranged with Amanda (mother of 13 kids) to leave at the same time as them (3 kids, and a potential kid-in-law are here with her) and go back towards town to a big craft store.
From there we got back on the road south towards Townsville. It was an uneventful drive, except for two detours. We stopped in Mission Beach for lunch. Mission Beach is where my mum and dad used to take their van up for holidays.
The second detour was to Tully. We drove through Tully just to see what damage from cyclone Yasi still needs doing. There were lots of rooves missing, and walls missing. They were mostly the older corrugated iron buildings, and of course lots of trees had been stripped bare.
From Tully it was a straight forward drive to the north of Townsville (17kms) to our home for the next 2 nights. We didn't arrive until just before dark, so we just got things set up in time. Mark and I cooked our meat on the BBQ while the girls made up some rice and diced vegies. After dinner we sat around for a while and discussed tomorrow's activities.

This man made waterfall is a feature on the Strand walk at Townsville

Magnetic Island, out of Townsville is a place to visit.

Saturday 27th August - Day 35
We awoke to a cloudy, dismal looking day. We sat around for a while to see what was happening. We decided on Magnetic Island. For $29 return ferry price, and $6.50 for an all-day bus ticket, we thought that was the way to go. We got on the ferry and arrived on Magnetic Is 20 minutes later. It was still very hazy, and not a good photo day at all. The early weather had gone, but we were not sure if it was going to rain or not. Hopped on a bus and ended up in Horseshoe Bay. We didn't find a café, but did find a pub, so we had a counter lunch in there. I think we got off the bus mainly to get away from the crazy bus driver, who drove the bus far too fast for the roads. We went for a walk down the beach, and sat in the park just watching the world go by. Back on a bus again, this time headed for Picnic Bay, which was where we wanted to go the first time. The second bus driver was worse than the first one I think. I was watching his face in the mirror and I am sure he was on drugs or something. He was talking to himself, and moving his head in all directions, with weird expressions on his face. He also dove very fast. We pulled up at the bus depot and I was relieved to see him get out of the bus and a third driver get in. He was much better. He drove sedately and even spoke to the passengers. When we got to Picnic Bay, we decided to stay on the bus and head back to Nelly Bay, where the ferry docks. We got back just in time to get straight on the ferry and back to Townsville.
From the wharf we decided, instead of going back to the cars, to walk along The Strand. This was the foreshore walk through parks and beach sides. It was only about 2 kms but it was a nice walk, as the sun was out and the place was full of families enjoying the water activities and grass. There was a TV camera and crew fiddling around on the beach and we soon realised that a guy from the turtle hospital was going to return a turtle to the sea. They were there to film it for the local news I assume.

Our camping spot during last nights heavy thunderstorm. Glad it was sandy, so the water could run off.

Sunday 28th August - Day 36
We left camp about 9 and headed south. Not a very exciting trip, as our destination was around the Mackay area but we really had no plan as to the specific location. The road was not very exciting and we didn't stop anywhere of note, except for lunch at Proserpine. We went through Mackay, then through Sarina, until we hit Ilbilbe. It was a town of a motel, 4 houses and a Caltex. The only good thing about Ilbilbe was that there was a turnoff to a bush camp out near the coast. The book says 11km with 1km of dirt. We hit the dirt and found the campsite but it was an area of about 15m square and it was next to the mangroves. We kept driving as the GPS location was not exactly as the map says, but it was close. We drove though woodland until we thought it was getting a bit rough for the van, so we stopped and walked a bit. The track was getting rough, and it was getting darker, so we just stopped in a small clearing and started to set up camp. We had already had a few small showers on the road - the first in 5 weeks since leaving home - and we heard the rumble of thunder. This did not look good as we also had some lightning strikes nearby. Mark threw all Marg's tent stuff in the back of their car, and told her she could bunk in with them. They just put up the tent up as the rain hit - and did it hit! I was inside the tent and the other girls ran for the van. It bucketed down for about 20 mins. It finally eased enough for Mark to run across to the van too. He was soaked.
It rained for most of the night. We found out later that they had 35mm overnight.

The "road" in to Ilbilbe free camp is a bit narrow and rough in places, for a 20ft road van. Watch out for locals.

Monday 29th August - Day 37
The previous late afternoon we had seen some vans out on the point but couldn't work out how to get there. The track actually led there.It was Yarrawonga Park Reserve and it was free camping. It was a beautiful place with plenty of room, but no amenities of course. The track was full of rain puddles from last night, but it was a lot smoother than the track we had ended up camping next to. Mind you, if we had kept driving, we wouldn't have made it in time to set up camp before the storm hit.
The neighbouring farmer stopped by and told us that it was a good thing we didn't camp at the spot that was in the book, as there was a resident 14' croc there that had already attacked two boats! He said they had never had so many croc sightings as they have had this year.
Back out to the main road again, and turned south. The road was really boring, with no features to talk of. Just before Rockhampton, we turned towards Yeppoon, and when we had gone the 33kms to Yeppoon, we turned south along the coastline and ended up at Big4 Capricorn Palms, Mulambin Beach. We setup camp as quickly as possible to try to dry out the camper from last night's storm. Marg will stay in the camper again tonight as we are taking her to the Rockhampton airport early tomorrow, and she will fly home.

Great coastline at Yeppon on the Capricorn Coast.

Tuesday 30th August - Day 38
We had quite a lot of rain in the evening after we got back from the Tavern, and it rained all night long. Mark and Wendy had to take Margie to the airport his morning so had to get up at 5:20am to make sure she was there by 6:45.
In the afternoon, we all went for a drive up the north coast a bit (40kms), and ended up in Nob Creek Pottery in Byfield. Wendy bought a couple of things, and Beryl bought some stuff too. We then went back down the coast calling in at Yeppoon to take some photos of the fruit bats nesting in the dead trees in the middle of town. From the bats we headed down to Rosslyn Bay to take some photos from the lookout. Mark and I climbed up the very steep hill to get to the top and look at the amazing view. From Rosslyn Bay we then headed south to Emu Park to look at the Singing Ship. This is a memorial to Capt James Cook who was in this area and named the Keppel group of islands in 1770. From there, we came home and decided to leave the chicken in the freezer and head back to the Tavern for the 2 for 1 Pizza deal. It was good too.

We camped at my sisters place at Bauple. Very nice and loads of tropical fruit trees.

Wednesday 31st August - Day 39
We planned to leave early as we had a long day today in the car. We headed south to Rockhampton for re-fuelling and then onto the Bruce Highway. Heading south was nothing special. The only thing that kept us 'amused' was the bad drivers on the road. One particular B-double driver was a lunatic as he overtook lots of vehicles on crests or curves and over unbroken lines. We don't know if he had vision over the vehicles and could see that no cars were coming, but he was scary. We also had a woman driver in a Magna that kept roaming from side to side, including across the middle unbroken lines. She also overtook dangerously. Just after she overtook Klaus in front of us, we came into a town and we were glad to see she pulled of the road into a side area. We were also pleased to know that the truck was stopped there with a police car, with flashing lights, parked behind it, and the cop was 'chatting' to the driver. There was also another driver towing a box trailer with motor bikes on it. He too overtook over double yellow lines and forced oncoming cars to have to veer off the road to avoid accidents. Even cars going the same way as us were forced to pull off the road to let him in so he didn't hit anyone! It was sheer arrogance and stupidity.
We had a quick lunch on the side of the road and then on the road again. We didn't stop anywhere until we hit Bauple which is where my sister Silvia lives with her husband Colin, and our camp for two nights. We arrived about 3:30 and she showed us around their property of 42 acres. They had all sorts of fruit tree - various mango varieties, lychees, oranges, mandarins, different types of berries, star fruit, jack fruit, and lots of others. She also has horses, including one in foal due in a couple of weeks. We walked up and down, and all over a small portion of their property. We saw wallabies, bush turkeys, hares, and lots of birds. It is a nice property.

The beautiful Mary River is at her back doorstep.

Thursday 1st September - Day 40
Today Col was taking us fishing on the Mary River. It was a beautiful day and it was nice to be on such a wide river that was full of life. It was very muddy, but just being on the river was great. We fished for an hour or so but only caught 1 large catfish. We also saw a platypus and a couple of large tortoises. We drove right down to the barrage (weir) which is a 2m drop from the fresh water down to the tidal salt water. It took us 40 mins to get back to the boat ramp and then we had to drive the 20kms back to the house.
Later in the afternoon, Wendy and Beryl wanted to go into Rockhampton to visit some patchwork shops. I offered to drive them in, although they would have much time as they closed in less than an hour and it was a 30min drive. On the way into Rockhampton we stopped in Tairo, which is only about 15 kms from the house, as we had been told they had an excellent butcher who served up the best Cattleman's Cutlets. We decided to buy some for our dinner. They were huge, and very expensive. Six cutlets for $52.
The cutlets were magnificent! The meat just melted in your mouth. We sat around for ages talking of old stories and whatever came to mind. We finally went to bed knowing that we would be packing up in the morning, once again heading south.

We stayed at the Tallebudgera Creek caravan park for a couple of days

Friday 2nd September - Day 41
We ended up leaving about 10:15 and drove towards Marks brother and sister in law, Garry and Chris, at a steady pace. The traffic seemed a bit heavier than it had been, but I suppose that is understandable as we are now back in the more populated areas, and the traffic on the coast road was always going to be a pain.
We stopped in Gympie at an antiques store, and again at Yandina for lunch. Just after lunch Garry rang us to see where we were as they were waiting for us for lunch! So, about 20 mins later we pulled into their house for the night. After the customary greetings and a cup of tea, some of the girls started arriving, with their kids of course. Carolyn brought Noah and Felicity, Kathy brought Joanna, Katy and Christina, while Annie had Zane, Isaac and Jade in tow. Oh, Greg and Lorei also popped in. It was great to see them all, but the serene afternoon tea turned into a zoo. There were no fights and squabbles, and mostly the kids played out the back, so it wasn't too bad, and it was good to see them all. They only stayed for an hour or so, so after that Chris started preparing for the baked dinner. It really is non-stop eating at that house.

Dredging at the entrance to Tallebudgerra Creek.

Saturday 3rd September - Day 42
Only one week to go. We packed our gear, said our farewells, and left Garry's about 12:15. We were heading down to Morayfield to visit Dave and Jenny Mensforth, who are old friends from Gymea days. We spent some time with them and it was great to catch up and tell old stories. Their daughter-in-law was also there, with her two little boys. Brad was away working up in Gladstone, so she is staying with them for a while. Dave and Jenny hadn't changed a bit.
Booked in and set up camp in the Burleigh Beach van park, as we had to meet more of Mark's rello's for dinner. We ended up going to the bowling club. After coffee and baklava, we had to go back and finish setting up.

The Gold Coast skyline from Tallebudgerra.

Sunday 4th September - Day 43
More friends, Con and Margaret Giovas were coming down to visit us at 1pm. We did not know if they were coming for lunch, or if they had already eaten, or if we were supposed to have eaten, so we just had some fruit ready, and then be prepared for any other program that may have to be initiated. It all got decided when Con rang and said he was at the hamburger/fish and chips shop around the corner, and asked us what we wanted for lunch. It was great to meet up with them again. We caught up with them in February this year, after probably 15 years. We sat around our campsite and chatted and laughed until about 3:30pm when they had to move onto their next appointment which was with their sons for Father's day. They both live nearby to where we were staying.
We went for a stroll down along Tallebudgera Creek and onto the break wall near the beach. Soon after returning we then had to get ready for our dinner date with Warren and Jennifer, more friends from Gymea days. We met them at their apartment which overlooks Currumbin Beach. It was a beautiful, 180 degree view, looking north and south. They have lived there for quite a while, and have no desire to go back to a normal house situation. We walked from there down to The Rock surf club for dinner. The six of us sat outside and had a lovely dinner and chat. It was good to see them again.

Looking across at the lighthouse from the Yamba breakwall

Monday 5th September - Day 44
A normal start for us as we packed up once again, to head further south. Today's target is Yamba. Nothing exciting happened along the way, unless you can call coffee at McDonald's in Ballina. We arrived at the Blue Dolphin Park in Yamba about 1pm, and set up. Mark and I ended up driving into town and then went to the break wall. We didn't get back until about 5pm. From there it was dinner, sit around the caravan, sort out what we are planning to do, and then showers and bed. Unfortunately the weather forecast is not too promising, so we shall have to wait and see.

The breakwall is home to some very large Eastern Water Dragons.

Tuesday 6th September - Day 45
Today was going to be a bit of a fishing day. The women wanted to do some washing, so we were happy to get out of their way. We put the boat in and we went over the middle wall in search of anything really. We were there for about 4 hours, and only ended up with a bream and a large whiting. It was a bit disappointing. We decided we would try the rock wall later on in the afternoon. We came back empty handed - again a disappointing event.

The park at McClean offered some rest for the weary.

Wednesday 7th September - Day 46
Not a big day today. We went for a drive in Maclean for coffee, a bit of window shopping, and real shopping, and left there in time to go into Yamba for lunch at the Potbelly Pie shop. After that we went for a walk out to the end of the break wall. We saw lots of water dragons so we took some photos. We saw one whale out wide, and some dolphins in the river. Coming home again, we had some afternoon tea in the caravan. This included the vanilla slices we bought while in town.

The ferry sailed right past our camp at the Blue Dolphin caravan park in Yamba.

Thursday 8th September - Day 47
Another brilliant sunrise and cloudless morning. Went down to the rocks this morning to get some cabbage weed from between low and high tide to be used for black fishing this afternoon. Of course Mark was the bunny that got down on the rock ledge while I stood up high and watched for waves. I get all the responsible jobs. Mark got a bit wet.
After breakfast we got in the boat ready for a big day on the water. We started out on the northern side of the middle wall looking for bream, or anything else. We only had a small amount of bait left over from Tuesday, so we needed to catch something. We fished for quite a while with little bites, but nothing else really. We tried a few places on the island that joins to the middle wall. From there we went up to Oyster Creek, which is where the high road bridge goes over the water. We spent about 3 hours there and only got 2 large flathead. Back to camp again to clean the fish and then get ready for the black fishing. We rigged up and went out to the rock wall. Not long after we got there Mark had one on but after a few minutes of fighting, he ducked under the rock and broke off. I had a similar fight and lost mine too. Mark ran back to the car to get the net and when he got back I had landed one. We tried for a while until it got dark but we didn't get any more. We will try again tomorrow morning.
We did see 3 dolphins swimming within 3m of us and then we saw them herd a bunch of fish into a small rock structure and then tear through them as they gorged on the fish. The rock area was only about 1m deep so the dolphins were jumping in and out of the water as they ate. It was amazing to see. At least we had enough fish from today for a meal, so we went home and cooked the flathead and blackfish for dinner.

Sunset over the river from our caravan park at Yamba.

Friday 9th September - Day 48
Well it has finally happened. It is raining! The very last day in camp and it started raining about 10:30 and hasn't stopped. It is the first rain during the day since we left Sydney 7 weeks ago. Good thing Mark and I went fishing at about 6:30 for some black fish. We got three good ones before we had to give in to the cold and overcast morning, not to mention our grumbling stomachs. Good for us the coffee shop was serving bacon and egg rolls! We finished them off and then went to the ramp next door to the campsite to clean the fish. You can see from the photos that we were very popular with the locals. I am not looking forward to putting the boat back on the car this afternoon in the rain.

Well, the silly stuff has come to an end and we are back home to the everyday life. Can't wait for the next big trip.

Saturday 10th September - Day 49
Well, it is all over, and we are all home. Marg got home last Tuesday week after flying home from Rockhampton, while we landed home about 7pm on Saturday night. It was a very quiet trip home really. There was little conversation at breakfast on Saturday morning when we left Yamba, and not a whole lot of chatter on UHF channel 26 either. It was sad to have to come to an end, but the trip was great.
Hopefully the photos and stories has convinced some of you to take the plunge, and head north to one of Australia's most wild, most remote, most beautiful, and most intriguing parts of this wonderful land we have.
We really had a great time doing this trip with great friends (family, really). The time went slowly at first but then the last few weeks rushed by. I am amazed at the beauty of God's creation and then appalled at how man manages to pollute and destroy. The worst examples of filth and rubbish were seen in areas where the natural guardians of the land were in charge. The wonders of the stars and heavens, when seen in the unpolluted skies of the outback were just amazing. We, in the cities, do not get to see that because of the lighting and smog. I would definately be putting my hand up for a second round. We all have a better idea of what to expect from roads and fuel etc. Now comes the time for cleaning cars, caravans and homes. Thanks guys for a memorable holiday.


We did a tally of costs etc for the trip and came up with.
Total mileage 9,500 klm.
Total fuel used 3147 lt.
Av used - 22.5 lt per 100 klm.



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