01.08.2010 - 09.08.2010 32 °C
There are a lot of flies up here on Cape York! Lots of red dust, lots of corrugation to bump along and also lots of the most beautiful places to explore!
Weipa is a place we had absolutely no intention of visiting as it is just a mining town and after spending nearly two weeks there we know why we felt like that and we were right.
As an example, on the way in we noticed about 10 wallabies that had been shot and were lying on the road. We found this very distressing. Len mentioned this to the people at the caravan park they were only surprised to find that the wallabies had been left as they are normally shot by the pig shooters to feed to their dogs. There seems to be more pig shooters here as every other car has 3 caged pig hunting dogs on the back. Such a different outlook to our beautiful wallabies than we city people have.
Some other memories of Weipa.
1.This is an open cut mine and to get to the bauxite they remove all the vegetation, burn what remains, take off the topsoil and then mine the bauxite rich soil. In a windy town this means there is red dust and smoke constantly in the air. We are camping so everything we own is outdoors, so everything is continually covered in really fine, dry red dust - including us.
2. Absolutely nothing to do
3. We met a rooster that had been dumped at the caravan park. Unusual for a rooster to be dumped but not unusual for dogs, cats etc to be dumped at the park. Although we have not personally met a rooster before, this one seemed pretty cute - maybe they all are. He was desperate for food and somewhere to sleep. Every night he would run around looking for somewhere to roost up high. He tried to roost on some caravans and was forcibly removed which resulted in him injuring his leg. He was now limping badly and was easy prey for dogs (the caravan park allowed pets). We of course took pity on him and fed him and let him sleep on a couple of our boxes. To show his gratitude he shat on them and in Cecily's shoe. We named him Cyril and have worried about him since and he is the only thing we miss about Weipa.
4. The car finally got fixed. It WAS the fuel pump. We took it for a 90km trial without a hiccup but lots of nerves on our part. Thank heavens this is over!!!!!!!! We normally think that you should stay in a place for a little while to get to know it - Weipa isn't one of those places.
5. We wish we could have had a swim but there are estuarine croc's and the swimming pool's pump broke down.
6. One good thing - we did spot a couple of Jabiru's fishing for their lunch. They had crab and fish while we watched.
31 July 2010 - Weipa to Jardine River Crossing
So, we are back on the road. In our haste to get away we decided not to do any sightseeing or detours on the way up, just head straight to the top. For those who don't know the geography of Australia we are heading to the northernmost tip of mainland Australia over possibly some of the worst roads.
We were pretty nervous when we started off wondering if the car would falter again as we still had doubts about the pump being the only fault. We did have a moment of anxiety when the front wheels screeched for what seemed like a long time but was probably only about 2 seconds. It was just long enough for Len to pull the car over and bring the 2 ton beast to a halt. We leapt out and both got on our hands and knees looking for God only knows what. We didn't find it!! Started off with trepidation and it didn't happen again and we took the car over 300kms, all on gravel, sand or dirt roads. Nothing like testing the car out - we'll teach it for making us stay in Weipa for that long.
We arrived at the Jardine River crossing at about 4pm. What a lovely surprise. We booked in to the camping ground and apart from the flies it was fabulous. It is right on the Jardine River it has hot showers, a lovely setting and we were the only ones staying there. The campsite and the barge that will take us over the crossing in the morning are on Aboriginal Land and owned and run by the Injinoo people.
1 August 2010 Jardine River Crossing to Punsand Bay
We managed to get to Bamaga after getting lost in the small town of Injinoo - the signs up here are appalling. There were a few people driving around Injinoo (about 5 long streets in total) at the same time, all looking equally lost. We now know that we should have bypassed the township. One of the locals told us to follow the bitumen. All roads were bitumen so we followed the direction he pointed and after another circuit of the town we eventually got back on track.
We spent ages going between caravan parks trying to decide where to stay. The final 25km into the caravan park at Punsand Bay had the worst corrugation that we have experienced so far, so no matter what, we were going to stay here. It is beautiful. A really long white beach, torquoise water with the Torres Strait islands in view. But as gorgeous and inviting as the water looks the signs say it all - Achtung - Estuarine Crocodiles.
There are a squillion turtles swimming close to the beach!
The tip of mainland Australia
We made it and it is very beautiful. We had the obligatory photo's taken at the tip and then walked to Crocodile Creek along a stunning white, sandy beach about 3 km's long. We found a tiny bit of protected water and had a quick splash in Torres Strait. We originally weren't coming up this far but we are really glad we did.
We caught the ferry over to TI for a day visit. It is such stunning area and we were really glad that we didn't go on an organised tour as we walked around and explored the island at our leisure. We met a Torres Strait island woman, Cathy who sat and shared her experiences and thoughts on what it means to be a Torres Strait isander and her vision for the future. She holds a somewhat different vision to her elders and is trying to influence a change in their thoughts. Her optimism and enthusiasm was inspirational.
The trip back down the Cape
Our first stop after leaving the top of Cape York was Eliot/Twin Falls in the Heathlands Resources Reserve. After all the heat and dust of the previous month it was a welcome sight to see these beautiful, freshwater swimming holes safely out of reach of the croc's that live further downstream.
There was an astonishing number of fruit bats hanging around in the trees on the walk to Twin Falls. It surely must rate as one of the largest colonies. We watched them leaving on their nightly forage from 3:30pm to 6:30pm. There were thousands upon thousands of them!! It was a little smelly but they are so cute! Oh - and there are a million flies living off their droppings.
Down to Mareeba
We finally left the Cape and the gravel roads and headed into Mareeba. It was a great drive with some stunning scenery. When you look at the size of the dry river beds you can see how much water flows, it would be fabulous to see this area in the wet. It was so different to be on a quiet road, no bumps, no corrugation and no bone or car crunching dips and floodway crossings. Next stop a supermarket and then Chillagoe.