After failing to find gold in the Coen River we headed south on Wednesday 28th. Spent some time exploring the Coen township. This is a small settlement of about fifty houses, two general stores and a pub as well as medical, school and police personnel. A very neat and well looked after settlement. These outback stores are fantastic, you never know what you will find inside. I have previously commented on the lack of information of the history of the area further north, well Coen has a terrific local museum. The old two story telegraph building has been restored and stocked with memorabilia from the area. As well the history from residents, both indigenous and european histories have been compiled into book form and these are available for perusal at the museum. Fascinating reading. The whole Cape York Peninsula has a rich history of exploration, gold mining and cattle.
Coming out of the Coen General Store we meet the last of the Queensland Police aboriginal trackers. A distinguished looking elderly indigenous gentleman in an immaculate police uniform with gold epaulettes embroidered “Police Tracker”. The last of an era. In Coen as in a lot of the mainly indigenous settlements there are Community Police. These are indigenous police officers who have no powers of arrest but act as liaison between the indigenous community and the police and are first response to any public order incidents in the town.
On the porch of the local Coen store is the school attendance report. The photographs of school pupils are shown alongside the relevant attendance percentage. By the look of it they have achieved pretty good attendance at the Coen school.
The road south from Coen to Musgrave had one corrugated section of about ten kilometres. This was the same as when we went north. There is certainly less traffic on the road now, the mad school holiday dash seems to be over.
At Musgrave we fuelled up and headed for Laura. When going north we came through Lakefield National Park and only came onto the PDR at Musgrave so the road south from Musgrave was new to us. It turned out to be the worst road of the whole trip, very bad corrugations.
Camped behind the pub at Laura. Once again the barmaids where backpackers. Three young ladies from Germany, Ireland and Scotland. Laura is known for the Quikan Aboriginal rock art. There are over 1200 of these galleries in the sandstone bluffs south of Laura and UNESCO lists these sites as being in the top ten rock art sites in the world. There are also a small number of petroglyph sites. These predate the Quinkan art and little is known about them. The Quinkan and Regional Cultural Centre at Laura is well worth a visit. It has a great display of the exploration and settlement of the area.
Thursday 29th we left Laura bound for Mareeba. At Lakeland we left the dirt road and rejoined the bitumen. Drove through the quarantine wash which is designed to stop the spread of seeds in and out of the peninsula. Its also great for getting thick mud off from under vehicles!
Once on the sealed road we passed what seemed an endless procession of caravans bound for Cooktown. We also became aware that the car only seemed to be developing about 70% power in 3rd and 4th gear. I’m hoping that the problem only relates to contaminated fuel. Arriving in Mareeba we arranged to have the car serviced tomorrow (Friday). Picked up our new credit cards from the post office. Beth had very kindly forwarded them on as soon as they arrived at Orford.
Servicing the car failed to rectify the problem. The manager was very efficient, even had the injector pump removed and checked but when it became evident that they couldn’t rectify the problem there and then suggested we take the car to the Nissan agent in Atherton. She even phoned the Nissan agent and arranged for them to have a look at the car on Monday. Whilst wandering around Mareeba waiting for the car to be serviced I brought a new battery radio, our old radio had given up the ghost a few weeks ago so we had been without the news for a couple of weeks. Learnt that an election had been called, don’t know how we will vote but will have to find out I suppose.
Saturday 31st headed south for Atherton. On the outskirts of Mareeba we found the Mareeba Markets. Lots of stall selling fresh fruit. We brought pawpaw, custard apple and black sapote. We also brought more books. Visited the Mareeba Historical Society display which is next to the markets.
About halfway between Mareeba and Atherton we stopped at the Rocky Creek War Memorial Park. This is a great free camping area. Half of the park is a free camping area with a 72 hours stay limit and the other half is a war memorial. The park is situated on what was the largest field hospital in the southern hemisphere during the second world war. Over 60,000 patents where treated in this hospital. Little remains of the hospital now, just some cement foundations.
We are spending Sunday at Rocky Creek, Vicki has just done the washing, before heading into Atherton tomorrow to have the car looked at. It was a bit cold this morning 18C when we woke, still its up to 26C now.
Vicki reckons that she has a wonderful washing set up that I made before we left home. It is a large sized white bucket, an upside down funnel with holes drilled in it which is in turn attached to a long piece of plastic pipe with a turned Blackwood handpiece enabling it to be pushed up and down. It leaves the clothing and the bed wear as clean or cleaner than a washing machine. When the sun is shining and a breeze is blowing all washing is dry and back in the cupboard within a few hours!!