Published: July 6th 2012July 6th 2012
The incessant rain stopped as we left Atherton and we cruised the hour or so into Cairns for a few days rest, staying at the Cool Waters Caravan Park, the long range forecast had indicated more rain and so we were very careful about choosing a camp spot. We specifically inquired whether the spot we had chosen would flood in heavy rain, no was the reply, so we set up. Little were we to know that it would precipitate around 300mm in the next 2 days and totally flood our camp site in several inches of water; needless to say we were none to happy. However to the credit of the Park staff they offered us a cabin at very reduced rates for a couple of nights in order to allow our stuff time to dry out so we could pack it up. In between the rain we had a bit of a look around Cairns and again were impressed by the feel and ameneties that it had to offer. Like Townsville there was a nice area along the coast near the city with heaps of restaurants, board walk, pool area and night markets. It had a great tourist vibe and
we enjoyed a couple of nights down there and had one of the best crepe desserts we have ever had, yum!
We also had the opportunity to catch up with some old friends that we both know; Hans and Yodie Batzke and their 4 amazing kids, Mayella, Samuel, Jonathon and Mishron. They were welcoming, unjudgemental and wonderfully hospitable and we enjoyed a sumptuous lunch and afternoon with them at Trinity Beach just North of Cairns. It was a terrific time with an amazing family, the conversation was robust and real and we were seriously impressed by the calibre of their kids, gorgeous beyond measure and a credit to their parents. Thanks guys for your hand of friendship and spending time out of your busy lives to share an afternoon with us.
A visit to Cairns is not complete without a trip on Skyrail up to Kuranda then back on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, even though the sky was overcast and drizzle fell at times, we still enjoyed the experience. The Skyrail up through the rainforest is magnificent and despite the weather we got a reasonable view of Baron Falls on the way. The little township of Kuranda is
like one big market and we enjoyed the many shops selling souvenirs and curios. The railway trip back was simply brilliant and the commentary about the actual building of it on the way back was truly interesting, it is considered as one of the top 10 rail journeys in the world and rightly so. The fact that it was done in the 1890's is a testament to the engineering skill and hardwork of our pioneers, well worth the expense and a great though exhausting day out.
Monday 28th we left Cairns for Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield Track, the 4wd coastal road to Cooktown, the road first takes you to Pt Douglas on what is probably one of the best coastal drives in the country, second only to The Great Ocean Road in Victoria, from there it is onto Mossman and the famed Gorge and the beginning of the Daintree. A little further on you cross the Daintree River by ferry, the bitumen ends and you are on the dirt until 27 km out of Cooktown. Again the weather forecast was not great and as the Blomfield is pretty difficult in the wet we decided to get as far
as we could this first day and weather permitting come back to Cape Tribulation and do some things and hopefully also take a trip out to the reef!
This was our first proper 4WD experience and we headed into it quite green, the irony was that we really didn't know we had been on the track until we made our first destination. The track was in most parts good, though there was the occasional creek crossing and some hills that were incredibly steep. In fact I read that in some places the grade is 1 in 3, thankfully these sections are concreted but there were certainly others almost as bad that required low range for ascent and descent. I can fathom that it would be virtually impossible in the wet especially with a camper trailer. Nevertheless we made it all the way through to Hayley's Cabins and Campground just out of Ayton, on the Bloomfield River and just past the major concrete crossing at the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Community. This is a beautiful campground and we spent 4 nights there, the owners were great people, they even let us watch TV at their house the second night so we
didn't miss the next episode of Once Upon a Time that we had started watching, albeit we have missed virtually every episode since lol.
The predicted rain did not occur though the skies were overcast, however we headed the 60 or so kms back to Cape Tribulation to have a look around a to go Jungle Surfing. This is a series of 5 flying foxes high up in the rainforest canopy about 500ft above sea level, the views are spectacular and the experience exhilarating, probably the best thing we have done. On being kitted up with our harness you are allocated a helmut with a name on it, this is the name the guides refer to you with throughout the experience. Will was Superboy, Zan was Lara Croft, Jen was Catwoman (though unfortunately she didn't get the leather outfit to go with it) and I was Cinderella, Ha! After our initial trepidation we all got into it, even doing the last run hanging upside down 20 metres above the forest floor, awesome! We also got to see our first Cassowary and its baby in Cape Tribulation, what a beautiful and majestic bird, we couldn't believe our luck.
also went to view the lovely Bloomfield Falls and had a walk around the area, the ever present crocodile warning signs in this part of the country got us eager to see our first croc. The people at Hayley's told us about a track nearby that led up to the mouth of Plantation Creek and that there was crocs up there so we headed off to see if we could find ourselves one. It was a great little track about 3 kms long that ran right alongside the beach till it reached the river mouth and there to our delight was our first estuarine crocodile (saltie) about 70m away on the opposite bank sunning itself. It was about 10 ft long and we decided to launch our trusty dinghy and have a loser look. Just as we were about to launch some locals turned up to fish and told us that a big 18 footer lives up here and recently he has been coming up next to the boats fishing. As 'Origami' is only 12' 6" we decided discretion was the better part of valor and packed up again. Our croc hunting skills have improved since then and we get
much closer but thats another story for another blog.
On the 2nd June we set off from Hayley's for Cooktown just a couple of hours away, we had breakfast at the iconic Lion's Den Hotel, stopped at the wonder of the Black Mountains and enjoyed a stroll around Keatings Lagoon just South of Cooktown. This is a marvelous part of Australia, rugged and isolated and beautiful and we enjoyed every minute.
Next time Cooktown and our first ventures up the Cape York Peninsula.
Steve, Jen, Zan and Will
There are more photos below