Trip to Cape York
From where we were living at the time, in Maryborough, Central Victoria to Cape York Peninsular in far north Queensland was a trip that required some detailed planning.
We had the ideal vehicle, a diesel powered Toyota Land Cruiser this would comfortably tow our 16 foot pop-top caravan as far as Mossman, where the bitumen ended, as well as being large enough to accommodate all our camping gear for the trip through far north Queensland to the Cape.
You can take it as read that we did all the pre-trip maintenance and study of all the maps and available reading matter as well as the detailed listing of requirements and careful packing of same… this was a modern day adventure not to be undertaken lightly.
I’m going to skip quietly past the 3 very enjoyable weeks that it took to get as far as Mossman where we stayed the night at the caravan park where our caravan would stay while we were camping out, that night we carefully checked the gear we were taking with us and stowed it in the Cruiser.
Please click on all photos to enbiggen.
Cooktown is located on Endeavour Bay and was named after James Cook who landed there in 1770
Our first day out we got as far as Cooktown where we spent the night, there was a holdup at the river crossing before getting onto the Bloomfield Track, there was an army convoy crossing and they submerged a Land Rover in a deep pool, something we found they did more than once!!
We continued on to Lakefield National Park, stopped at a great spot called Old Faithful where I caught my first Barramundi then an even bigger one at Mick Finn pool, what a start!!
Travelled on the development road through Coen and Wenlock River, this road is fairly well maintained up to Weipa where there is a bauxite (aluminium) open cut mine and shipping terminal, this is located in the middle of nowhere (about 1,000 km from Cairns.
We continued along the Telegraph Track on a much less maintained surface, there were several detours around the roughest sections but as these sections were the ones with all the creek crossings, waterfalls and all the best scenery we stayed on the old Telegraph Track and just traveled a bit slower.
These first two photos I've posted before I know but no post about the trip to the Cape would be complete without them.
Eventually we got to the Jardine River, a very sizable river with a barge crossing which we
This is the easy way to cross the Jardine River on the barge.
used then on into Seasia for fuel and supplies before heading for the tip of Cape York.
Here we are standing on the very tip of Australia, the whole continent is south of us, the small island in the background is Yorke Island
Having used the barge to cross the Jardine on the way up I was keen to ford the river at the old crossing if possible, we located the crossing site and did a double take, the river is about 120 yards wide at this point, as all the 4WD books always tell you, I decided that I would walk across before venturing in with the vehicle.
So off I went on a meandering walk to test the depth and the bottom’s surface, there was a long pole about half way across where we had been told the army (yeah the same army that drowned a Land Rover at Bloomfield) had submerged a Mercedes Unimog a few months previously (Unimog’s stand about 8 feet tall!!!) so I needed to plot our course well clear of any disturbance to the river bed.
OK I reached the other side and with a clear picture in my mind about how to tackle the crossing I set out to return to the vehicle, I was about half way back when the thought suddenly struck me…. THERE ARE CROCODILES IN THIS RIVER, this thought spurred me on to greater speed and I’m pleased to report I made it in one piece.
All ready... so off we go.
We put a tarp across the front of the cruiser to break the bow wave, let the tyres down a little for better traction…. And then drove across the Jardine, an exhilarating feeling indeed.
We were lucky enough to arrive back in Cooktown on a long weekend when they celebrate Cook's landing in 1770 to effect repairs to the Endeavour which had been holed on the Great Barrier Reef, this weekend turned the sleepy little town into a giant party.
Re-enactment of Cook's landing, the figure on the right is Joseph Banks the botanist who recorded much of Australia's flora and fauna.
A float in the street parade entered by the Soverign Hotel.
Fred Flintstone's car came a creditable last in the soap-box derby.
There was also a re-enactment of a gold escort leaving for Port Douglas, there was a rich gold field based on the Palmer River near Cooktown in the 1800's
There were a few more things of interest along the way back but I don’t want this post to turn into a book so we’ll just say it was the trip of a lifetime and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
When we returned to Mossman to pick up the caravan the young lady in the office asked whether we had enjoyed the Cape, as we both chorused yes she said in a relieved tone that so many people returned complaining about the dust, flies, corrugated roads, and lack of services, shops etc. that it was great to talk to people who had enjoyed their trip… Amen to that.