Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
79Trip End Ongoing
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Delighted that the weather was still suitable for a few days in Cooktown we were only sorry that it was too late to head up to the top of the cape (though it does give us a good excuse to come back!). The drive took us through Mareeba along with the little settlements of Mount Molloy and Mount Carbine. The terrain was mostly tropical savannah rising through stunning ranges highlighted by the unique Black Mountains. This mountain range, estimated to be over 100 million years old, looks visually to be a number of extraordinarily large piles of black rocks, all stacked up one atop another
We arrived in Cooktown having now driven 30,147 kilometres and having spent 224 nights on the road. Still as keen as the day we left home, we set up camp and headed out to explore this charming frontier town.
Our first port of call (so to speak) was the Grassy Hill Lookout, despite it being closed for enhancement we managed to make our way up to take in the spectacular views. Encompassing sweeping views out over the Coral Sea and inland along the Endeavour River, we could see for miles. The gorgeous turquoise colour of the sea contrasting with the dark green foliage of the trees which from this distance looked to drop straight into the water was simply stunning.
Back down the hill, we found it easy to spend time strolling along the beautiful Cooktown foreshore soaking up the history and admiring a statue of James Cook along with sculptures honouring the early pioneers. The main street was enchanting, with the charming buildings that line Charlotte Street it was like stepping back in time. We ventured into the RSL, a real little gem; we were delighted to see the walls adorned with military memorabilia and oozing character
Taking a drive north of town we enjoyed a short stroll into Endeavour Falls, a neat little waterfall that would normally stretch across the river from one side to the other, however being the end of the dry it had a small amount of water falling from a few points into the river below. Continuing along through farmland and back out into the bush the horizon was dominated by the heavily treed Battle Camp Ranges. Isabella Falls was our next stop. Here the water was streaming across the road and cascading down the rocks through a variety of crevices forming several individual waterfalls reuniting in an inviting pool below. Whilst we had been assured this was a safe place to swim we opted out being that the water had a chill factor of which we had not felt for some time! Instead we soaked up the natural beauty and listened to the tranquil sounds of the water gushing down the rocks.
On a drive south of Cooktown we stopped in at the historic Lion’s Den Hotel located near the tiny town of Helenvale. Built in 1875, the Lion’s Den is a lovely old pub full of character, charm and relics of its past. There was a good mix of locals and traveler alike all content to wait for the current down pour to abate before continuing on
After soaking up the ambience for an hour or so, the rain had weakened to a mere drizzle and so we continued on south along the Bloomfield Track. It was a stunning drive and we appreciated the short stints of bitumen that greeted us from time to time offering relief from the rain sodden gravel. The rainforest was so pretty, made all the better for the current drizzle; classified as Wet Tropics and listed as a World Heritage Area, we couldn’t help but be in awe of this pristine environment. After passing through the tiny hamlets of Rossville and Ayton we arrived in Wujal Wujal, home of the Bloomfield Falls.
As we walked along the edge of the river we could hear the sound of gushing water getting louder and louder. When the majestic Bloomfield Falls came into sight we couldn’t help but smile. We were greeted by a tall and broad expanse of charcoal rockface and with a large volume of water cascading down its facade, it was simply stunning. This scene had us thinking of our time in Litchfield and wishing we could just dive right in for a swim, however with warning signs everywhere highlighting the danger of crocodiles we gave it a miss!
Whilst we were tempted to continue further, across the Bloomfield River Causeway and complete the Bloomfield Track we decided we would complete the southern sector from Cape Tribulation whilst we were based in Port Douglas… and so we headed back towards Cooktown
Enjoying the countryside so much we took another side trip along the Shipton’s Flat Road. This delightful drive wound its way through spectacular rainforest and across a couple of creeks, all crystal clear and lined with gorgeous rounded stones. The environment was just so lovely with not another sole to be seen or heard, all we needed to complete the experience was to see another Tree Kangaroo however this was not to be on this occasion.
We took a further detour on our way back to camp… this time it was off to Archer Point. As soon as we had turned off the highway we were greeted with the sight of kangaroos grazing in the afternoon sun. Whilst to some we understand they are a nuisance, we can never tire of them and still get a thrill whenever we come across them.
This drive wound through gorgeous country and across numerous creeks, mostly dry, however with all the rain there were a few with puddles and one or two which stretched the width of the road. Having done so much driving today, the road seemed to go on and on, however it was well worth it. At the end we drove up a steep hill to the lookout and had the most magnificant, sweeping views over the Coral Sea. The water was a stunning azure, the colour highlighted by a sprinkling of whitecaps. The shores were lined with palm trees and in the distance were beautiful rolling mountains… We stood and drank in the panoramic view all the time fighting against the strong winds which were determined to remove our hats! Whilst in one of the local brochures it stated that at Archer Point you could snorkel off the point at low tide 'but beware of the crocodiles and stingers’, we decided to give that one a miss!!
We returned to our camp having had the most amazing day, filled to the brim with adventure and scenic splendor we had crammed so much in, loving every moment. This is yet another stunning part of Australia.
Determined not to spend too much time in the car after yesterday, we took a quick trip out to the picturesque Quarantine Bay before going for a walk around Keating Lagoon. The lagoon surface was awash with lilly pads, the leaves a vivid green contrasting beautifully with the shabby Paperbark trees that lined the banks. There was a large array of birds busying themselves, some foraging for food whilst others just glided along the lagoon.
Whilst some businesses had reduced their hours or finished operating for the year with all the travelers having returned south (there was only one other family staying in the park) we loved the tranquility and mixing it with the locals.
Highlights of Cooktown:
- The Bloomfield Track and Bloomfield Falls
- Lion’s Den Hotel
- Archer Point
- Charming Charlotte Street