Wednesday 7th July
This park might be considered remote but it is certainly not lacking in travellers. Last night there would have been in excess of 100 travellers in the camping area. Three groups of motor bikes with their attendant vehicles, one group was a very large commercial operation. A large group of quad bike riders heading for the Cape was also in camp. This was a well organised group with marshals and support vehicles, the quad bikes had received provisional registration for 11 days to enable them to travel to the Cape and back. A support vehicle driver for one of the smaller bike groups was wandering around the camp trying to find if anyone had tyre inflation goo as he had damaged two rims and couldn’t get the tyres to seal. Almost certainly a case of driving too fast with too high tyre pressures.
On Monday we had noticed both a ranger and a police vehicle heading north on the Cape Melville track and then the RFDS plane arrive and depart. Subsequently we learnt from the ranger that a vehicle had slid off the track substantially damaging its front end. As the female passenger experienced chest pains she was airlifted out as a precaution. The rangers had taken a tractor out to try and recover the vehicle but could not pull it back onto the track. I believe the owner has organised for a recovery vehicle to come from Cooktown to retrieve it – hopefully still with all its gear intact.
The camps at Kalpower are designed for tents as bollards prevent a vehicle getting onto the camping area – not really practical when a large percentage of people are now towing something. We are told this is to be changed next year. Last night we allowed a few other groups to use our site as we didn’t need it all and late comers had no place to camp.
Kalpower Crossing is on the banks of the Normanby River and the crossing is a causeway over the river. It is rather disconcerting driving over this crossing as there are no guide marks and you just have to make out the causeway, which curves, through the flowing water. About 10 kilometres from here is “Pandanus Park” the Vietnam Veterans retreat started by the bush tucker man Les Hiddins.
We crossed the causeway and headed out along the Cape Melville road yesterday to get some firewood. Cape Melville Park is actually still closed from the last wet season and this road can, at the moment only be used to skirt the park on the way to Cooktown. We meet up with six rangers in three vehicles who had spent several days surveying the Cape Melville tracks. They had to winch themselves through large sections of the track. I did notice on the back of their utes tied in with all the usual camping gear a number of crab pots so I suppose they must have been eating pretty well.
Coming back over the causeway we encountered three of the most stupid people it is possible to imagine. Here they are out on the causeway having a wash, they had not only passed the usual crocodile warning signs but also a special sign placed directly on the crossing indicating a recent crocodile sighting. They were not young people either. When we had been talking to a ranger previously she had confirmed that a 4 metre crocodile was present in this area. It is apparent that “doing the Cape” seems to bring out the worst “macho” type of behaviour in some people.
Just spoke to the ranger again and he stated they had never seen so many people in the camp as arrived last night. Most packed up and went early this morning, there are only a few of us spending a couple of days here.
A couple of groups that have stayed here several days have had traps in the river and been catching cherubin. These could be described as large freshwater prawns and are delicious when butter flied and cooked in breadcrumbs. Unfortunately we didn’t bring our traps with us this year.
Went for a drive to look at several lagoons of water lilies. One lagoon had white lilies the other pink. All the flowers and leaves where orientated towards the sun. The pink water lily lagoon was particularly impressive, it covered an area of approximately 20 acres. Numerous Magpies Geese on both lagoons, they were pretty safe because even if we had had a shotgun no one would have been willing to go and retrieve a bird from the lagoon.
The people who we let camp on “our site” last night gave us a six pack which was very nice of them and much appreciated as we have run out of beer. The wine supply is pretty depleted also so it looks like we will have to move on so that we can replenish these essential supply items.
There are just too many people on the road these days. I think I was born about a hundred years too late, around the time of Dr Livingston would have been great!