Monday 12th July
Left Coen Saturday morning. As is our habit we made an early start. We like to break camp early in the morning and make camp early in the afternoon or no later than mid afternoon.
60 kilometres north we called into the Archer River Roadhouse to top the fuel tanks up. Diesel was $1.81 the most expensive we have so far paid. The Archer River was beautiful, wide sandy bottom with crystal clear streams meandering through it. It would have been a delightful camp but as it was only mid morning we pushed on to Weipa.
The road was in fantastically good condition. You could easily have sat on 100kph however I prefer to do around 80kph on gravel as I find it much safer at this speed. The only problem was the usual number of idiots driving way to fast. It was also surprising the number of drivers ignoring the frequent signs and driving without their lights on. This makes them almost impossible to see if they are obscured by dust.
Arrived at Weipa around 1300 hours. The first indication that you have arrived are the traffic lights and boom gates that guard the haulage road used by the heavy mine vehicles. These lights are always red and the gates down and will only open as you approach if no traffic is on the haulage way. As there is no camping allowed within 16 kilometres of Weipa we made our way to the camping ground. This is definitely not a caravan park, we are one of only a handful of caravans here. Nice grassed areas, good shade trees and adequate amenities. There are no sites as such, you just pick a spot and move in (after paying of course). We have a great spot right on the sea. The camp is very full with maybe a hundred vehicles, each morning by 0900 it almost empties and by evening it is full again. Most people are tenting or towing camper trailers. Whilst setting up a guy camped near us said to me “I bet that took some effort to get it here”. I said quiet truthfully that in fact it had been easy. He walked away. I think I had offended his “macho” sensibilities by having a caravan in what some misguided individuals consider the domain of rugged and heavily modified 4WD’s.
There is not much to see in Weipa, its sole reason for existing is to support the bauxite mine, the largest in the world. There are a few basic shops, about ten in total, including a Woolworths supermarket (not open on Sunday).
We had been told that there was good fishing at the Weipa wharf and for once this proved correct. We have just had Vicki’s Golden Trevally for tea and it was terrific.
Tomorrow we are heading up to the Pennyfarther River to camp. This is about 80 kilometres north of here and is accessed partly by sealed road and then by sand track. One of the staff at this camping ground has told us it is really good fishing even from the shore as you can fish either into a lagoon or the sea. She also drew us a mud map of how to get there with the marks that the locals use, as she camps there regularly. She really went out of her way to give us some great information.
The track ends at the Pennyfarther, or on a slightly different track the Wenlock River so will have to return to Weipa to pick up the Peninsula Development Road (PDR) to resume our journey to the tip.
We are hoping that by the time we return from the Pennyfarther the travellers on the road for the school holidays will have headed south. The local paper had a report in it stating that the Government budget for maintenance of the PDR this year had almost run out and that there is only enough money left for one remaining grading and therefore the road could be expected to deteriorate.
There was an accident in the camping ground this morning. A person had a wheel off his camper trailer and was under it when it collapsed on him. Emergency services were here for a considerable period of time getting him out and stabilising him. Don’t know how serious it was but about mid afternoon an RFDS airplane came in and then left almost immediately.