Tuesday 6th July
Left Cooktown Friday 2rd July for Lakefield National Park. Our route into this park was via Battle Camp Road which was reputed to be pretty rough. It proved to be anything but rough, the main obstacle was the amount of road maintenance being done on the road. It got hit pretty badly in the last wet season and money had only just been made available to do up the road. It is now going to be sealed for a significant proportion of its length. So we had a good drive into our first camp which we made on the dry bed of the Laura River.
This proved to be a good camp. Plenty of firewood and the river was safe at the crossing to have a wash in (if you didn’t get run over by tourists). I should explain that for about a hundred metres the river was only about 3 metres wide and half a metre deep and crystal clear. So in the centre of this it was safe to wash, provided you kept a lookout for fast drivers and crocodiles. Either end were deep holes and it certainly wasn’t safe to wash near them.
Stayed two days at this camp just watching the traffic go by. It was interesting to see the different rigs and camper trailers being towed as a lot stopped at the crossing for a cuppa. The only other caravan we saw was one that got temporarily bogged in the creek gravel through the drivers ineptitude and then turned around and disappeared back down the track. Very strange. There are quite some large convoys, and it is nothing to see six vehicles travelling together and more than fifty percent are towing camper trailers. One group of “oldies”, all towing hired Kimberley Campers seemed to be looking for a Mobile service station and one driver was concerned that he would not get very far if they didn’t find it. No one in the group seemed to know that that particular service station was near Cooktown and there were no service stations in the park. They couldn’t have had any maps or knowledge of the area at all.
Spoke to some very interesting people, some just stopping for a cuppa and others camping for the night. Some were coming south and we picked their brains about camp sites and road conditions. The general consensus is that whilst the Cape York road was good before the school holidays it is now in a poor condition due to the amount of traffic. The traffic counter across the road at the Musgrave Roadhouse reported over7000 vehicles going north in a two week period.
On the way talked to a couple of stockmen catching cattle that had strayed into the park from the adjoining property. You should have seen their vehicles, absolute classics. I think it was only the bull catching framework that was actually holding them together. Notice the leather straps around their waists. These are used to truss the cattle’s legs once the vehicles has knocked them over. A very dangerous occupation.
We had seen a few snakes on the road, in fact this park is known for having large numbers of snakes, and we came upon this taipan. He was very aggressive, as the vehicle moved towards him he rose about half a metre and advanced towards us. I backed up a little and he stopped advancing but he wasn’t moving off the road until he was good and ready. I wouldn’t have liked to come upon him on foot.
Made camp at Kalpower Crossing and almost immediately found another snake in our camp. We where pretty sure that this was a brown tree snake but Vicki wasn’t very impressed when it went up under our van. I managed to dislodge it from there but then it went up under the car so we left it to digest the frog that we had seen it catch and eat.
As it is still four weeks before we are due to meet Raewyn and Garry we will spend a few days at this camp.
The dust covers that I had made up for the van seem to be working well. Everything outside is coated in a thick layer of dust but inside is pretty good. I wish that was the same with the back of the ute, we never have been able to dust proof this satisfactorily. Have been maintaining contact with VKS –737 Charters Towers base station and the HF communication is working well. Will try to work out a way to permanently mount the HF for next year as it takes a time to rig and then pack it away every time it is used.