Tuesday 29 June
Sunday we had a bit of a slow day. Vicki met up with her school friend and I cut my toe nails. Well one foot only, you don’t want to overdo it so I left one foot for another day.
Tuesday leaving the caravan behind we headed off for Cape Tribulation and beyond. From the Daintree River ferry to Cape Tribulation the road is sealed and there are numerous B & B’s, stores, pubs etc etc. There are also an amazing number of tourists in everything from hire cars to large four wheel drive buses.
I’m glad to hear that our new Prime Minister thinks we should have a sustainable population and not just keep rushing down the track of more and more people. Trouble is I think we have already exceeded a “sustainable population”. Of course it depends on your definition of sustainable. Whilst I’m mentioning the Prime Minister isn’t it nice of her to let Kevin keep the keys to the lodge a little longer – after stabbing him in the back, metaphorically speaking. What a stupid political system we have when a couple of labour heavies can manipulate and connive to get their own choice of Prime Minister. A head of state elected by the people is long overdue!
Anyway I digress. From Cape Tribulation the road is unsealed and suitable for 4WD only. We had been told that whilst we could certainly tow a caravan through the track, because of the steepness and narrowness of the track we would be endangering not only ourselves but other road users. This turned out to be good advice. Heading north there are two ranges to cross, the Donovan and Cowie Ranges and numerous creeks to ford.
Because of the number of vehicles loosing traction the steepest sections of the Donovan range have been concreted and work is underway to do the same with the Cowie range. Even with this the track is a dry weather road only and is closed in the wet.
We reached the crossing over the Bloomfield River, which is about half way along the track, about 1 PM and decided that if we were to get home by sunset we needed to return so we headed back. We saw no caravans but a significant number of camper trailers were being taken along the track. On the return we saw two examples of why it was not a good idea to tow anything on this particular track.
About half way up the Cowie Range where work is being done to concrete the track a vehicle towing a camper trailer had lost traction and jack knifed. Apparently he either did not have or could not engage low range. Luckily for him there was a front end loader present that was able to pull him to the top. The front end loader driver told him that without low range there was no way he would make it over the Donovan Range but he, the loader driver would be along in about an hour and would pull him over that range if necessary. He was very lucky to make it through.
Coming down the Donovan range we saw rocks on the track that had obviously been used to hold a vehicle that had lost traction trying to get up the range.
Apart from a few idiots driving much too fast it was a pleasant drive. Whilst I am sure a lot of campers or caravans have no trouble that is not the point, they do endanger other users by simply being there.
The rainforest was magnificent, the canopy was so dense that it prevented GPS signals reaching the receiver. Back on the sealed road we had a look at Cape Tribulation beach, nothing special. I did however listen to a tourist guide who described a lace monitor as a big goanna and had his foreign tourists enthralled by a description of death within ninety seconds from a stinger should they swim. Goodness knows what stories the poor tourists take home with them.
We called into a farm that makes ice cream using its own trees. We each had a container of Black Sapote, Sugar Banana, Wattle and Carambola ice cream, they were delicious. We also looked at a tea plantation and purchased some locally grown tea. Arrived back at the caravan park just on dusk.
Tuesday morning we headed off for Cooktown via the sealed road. An interesting drive on a good road without the previous amount of traffic. Called into the Palmer River Roadhouse for a look around. Of course the Palmer River was the scene of one of Australia’s biggest gold rushes. Whilst that has all finished there are still prospectors in the area scratching out a living.
Into Lakeland for fuel and lunch. Here we saw a fairly new Coromel camper (wind up canvas sided caravan) with its A frame bent so badly it was touching the ground. Apparently he had turned off the road and gone over a deep culvert without taking his load distribution bars off. These work to keep the car and caravan level and can only ever be used on a sealed straight surface. Most vans use them, but to my way of thinking they are just an excuse for manufactures to produce poorly designed vans and for owners to not pack their vans correctly. They cannot be used off road. If used incorrectly most times they will rip the towbar off. In this instance the A frame must have been pretty weak.
Just before Cooktown we turned south onto the northern end of the Bloomfield Track. A few kilometres along the track is the historic Lions Den Hotel. We are spending the night in its campground. The pub started in 1875 to service the miners in the area. They would hand their paycheque over the bar whilst writing how much it was for on the wall. They would then record their purchases likewise and would know when they had spent it all. This is all still visible. Everything is built of corrugated iron and lengths of trees, basic but functional. A real outback character pub.
The camp ground is pretty full with kids running everywhere as it is the first week of the school holidays in Queensland. There are a large group of motor cyclists heading to the Cape as well as several 4WD tour buses and what looks to be a large tag along tour.
Today has been the first day of really hot tropical weather – great. It has been well over 30 degrees and now at 7:30 PM it is still 25 degrees.