The Tip, There and Back
Trip Start Jul 06, 2009
8Trip End Dec 23, 2009
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Since our last comms from Port Douglas, we have travelled the entire stretch of the Cape York Peninsula to the very most northern point of mainland Australia. For the benefit of those non-Aussies reading this, that would be the very tip of the pointy bit on the right side of Australia. Our innards have been turned into a well pulped, mushy thick shake as we traversed thousands of (what has to be) some the world’s most resilient corrugations upon remote and seasonally washed away ‘roads’. Such was the sheer ferociousness of these corrugations that every nut and bolt belonging to the Troopy shuddered leaving us with an array of mysterious new creaks and squeaks. The overpowering noise would reverberate throughout the vehicle leaving us unable to speak unless resorting to shouting in clear Queen’s English, which seemed always to result in offence being taken by the receiver, then cranky words being exchanged. Silence was the best policy so that one could be sure to take maximum enjoyment from every da,da,da,da,da,da,da bounce. We stared at the road and hoped we’d be safe from mechanical damage.
Starting with the geographical stuff which is best done with a map, however if this seems too tedious, then I would implore you to read on regardless as you’ll get the general drift.
Put briefly (those who see our future slide show will learn more!) our movements have been Port Douglas to – tourists and expensive things to do at the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation – bakery pig out in Cooktown – dodgy 4wd track in the middle of nowhere that took 2 days and never out of 2nd gear in the Cape Melville NP – croc infested waterhole in Lakefield NP – isolation and a rainy day at Chilli Beach in the Iron Range NP – Old Telegraph Track for being a straight line and killing us slowly with the creek crossings but for giving us a little sweet heaven with Elliot and Fruit Bat Falls – Seisa Caravan Park at The Tip where we watched a sunset from our beachfront site every night –a delicious seafood extender wrap coupled with mild heat exhaustion (one should remember a hat) at Thursday Island - RioTinto bauxite mine and yet another failed fishing attempt in Weipa – crunchy grass camping and a little cat with a bad flea problem at the Hann River Roadhouse marking the bottom of the Cape York Peninsula on this journey.
Tootling through the Cape Melville NP we had a very Wolfe Creek experience, for those who have seen this dreadful movie. Tough and slow 4wding, we found ourselves in need of some coastline. We took a dotted track marked on our Hema map that brought us out at a croc infested estuary with a small sandy beach, a couple of run down disused looking caravans, tinny boats and empty tinny cans, a air of human abandonment, dumped boat batteries, old campfire remains, somebody sleeping in a car…..and a French guy with long dreadlocks sharpening a large knife by the water’s edge. He seemed friendly enough, but we still made a quick exit stage left. We bumbled further along the dotted track and drove directly into a fast burning grass fire that crackled more than the crackling on a pork roast! Gusty winds enflamed the grassy inferno and we were caught inside the circle of flame. We experienced flames alongside us 1m+ high and flames even burning the tufts of grass under the car.
The greatest highlight of reaching The Tip would have to be the hair raising, tongue biting, technical creek crossings along the Old Telegraph Track. This track was built to extend an electric telegraph line from Cooktown to every small town on the way to the very Tip of Cape York from 1883. These days the telegraph line is no longer used having being replaced with Telstra microwave towers. You can still drive the original track and see the old (and often flattened) telegraph poles.
The Tip itself is marked by a rather unnoticeable sign after traversing a rocky hill to the water’s edge. It is 34kms north of the nearest town along more corrugated roads. We did the journey twice because we are nutters! Once in the car with our new friends Steve (crazy UK guy who mountain biked from Cairns to The Tip, and whom we repeatedly passed on the journey up), and Annette & Joeg from Germany (crazy motor bike people who had come from Germany across Europe into India down Asia and into Australia, left the motor bikes in Cairns and were in a hired 4wd that they managed to swamp at one of the creek crossings!). Our 2nd trip to The Tip was by mountain bike as we accompanied Steve on his final 34kms of corrugated road and red dust.
Did you realise that Thursday Island is the administrative hub for the Cape York Peninsula? Now you do. It’s a 1 hour ferry ride from Seisa (near The Tip), and lies in the Torres Strait. There is also a Wednesday and Friday Island! It is filled mostly governmental departments, such as quarantine – and believe me they are strict as they try to stop the cooties from Papua New Guinea reaching our shores. The joint even had a bank and decent supermarket, I was dually impressed. It was extremely hot for winter considering they have chopped down a lot of trees, but on the flip side the super aqua shallow waters were highly alluring. Achtung – no swimming surprise, surprise.
Where to next? We plan to scoop around the base of the Gulf of Carpentaria headed for some action in the NT. As I write this under a tree, a nice looking and almost cute all white cockatoo flew onto a branch directly above me. I looked up and thought ‘don’t do it’. And it did. I’ll take this as a good omen!
Over and Out,
Amanda & Roelof
PS, yes we are keeping clean mum! We can get 5 days out of each t-shirt.