Published: August 15th 2011August 15th 2011 Saturday 13th August 2011
Bridge over the Gilbert River
We camped beside this river. There was a very small amount of flowing water on one edge but they obviously haven't had much rain here in contrast tot he coast.
We managed to get away by 8.15am going south through Cairns continuing until just before Innisfail. The 90kms or so to the town of Ravenshoe was up and down, but nowhere near as hilly and steep as through Kuranda or Mareeba. We had no problems with the Jeep, our confidence in it slowly increasing. We stopped by the oval in Ravenshoe for morning tea where we talked to a couple from WA going the other way, and another couple headed to Normanton.
The latter couple before us but it didn't take long to catch up and pass them. Perhaps we'll see them at the Gilbert River stop-over we are headed for.
Lunch was had in Georgetown, a pretty little town from what we could see, with clean conveniences and a 'dump point' for tourists like us. This town had a “RV friendly” sign on the town boundary and we have found these generally are good for conveniences and parking.
74kms before Croydon we crossed the narrow causeway across the mainly dry Gilbert River and entered the 40 hour camping spot there. This already had half a dozen or so campers there but there
was plenty of room for all. The only drawback was that the powdery dust threw up in clouds as vehicles drove by. We chose an upwind spot and this soon became 'home'.
We placed the rubberised ground cover which came with the van, out front, and this being in the shade was a nice place to enjoy our pre-dinner drink/s. Whilst sitting there, Rags noticed that one of the van tyres had developed a flat spot, all the tread missing on one section. He had no idea how long it has been like that, but the spare will replace it before we go! Sunday 14th August 2011
After breakfast and a quick wheel change we were on the road by 9am, the road becoming the best we have come across for some time. We had been warned of the road condition by several people but it hasn't been anywhere near as bad as they made out. We have been told 85 000 kms of road was damaged by flood and cyclones over the last 12 months and this is quite believable as we haven't been anywhere where we have seen so many warning signs or roads
First stop was Croydon, now a small town but early in the 1900s was a thriving gold centre. They have a well set out visitors centre, the gentleman there making us feel almost guilty that we weren't staying in the town for at least several days to see the sights.
We changed our minds several times on where we were heading over the last 155 kms into Normanton, lunch at the Purple Pub there, or continue another 75kms to Karumba, on the Gulf of Carpentaria for barramundi and chips. The barra option won, Normanton appearing deserted as we drove down the main street.
About 40kms before Karumba we crossed Walkers Creek, this being another of the free campsites. It looked ok, with lots of spaces dotted around amongst the trees. We kept it in mind for tonight, the fact there was no phone signal being a downfall.
Karumba is divided into two, the town itself, and Karumba Point about 10kms away on the other side of the river. The town itself looked ok but as the point had been recommended so we drove there. The caravan park on the beach was fully booked, so
Fish and chips at Karumba
Apparently, the fish and chips place, Ash's is famous but Rags isn't that impressed with the Barra.
after our barra and chips lunch (ok but barra we consider, is over-rated) we rang and got a site just up the road. We booked in for 2 nights, this giving Judy a chance to make a big in-road in her marking, Rags to go fishing. Monday 15th August 2011
The alarm shattered our sleep at 6.30am, Rags wanting to catch the tide to go fishing this morning. After a quick cup of tea he was off, leaving Judy dozing under a pile of blankets. When he reached the spot on the beach he had checked out yesterday for a snag-free bottom, he found about 8 others already there with their lines in the water.
After watching for a short time and not seeing any action, he drove to the mouth of the river where he had checked out some other spots. Another couple were already there but had left plenty of room. They had a bait net and several casts gave them a good supply of live bait. They gave Rags some, which he had out in the water very quickly. The next hour or so passed without a touch on the live bait or the
prawn on the other hook but he enjoyed tossing out lures and poppers in amongst the schools of whitebait, these also being ignored. No-one else was catching anything, this apparently being the norm for the last few weeks.
On his return to the camp, Judy was about to go out on a nature walk, run a couple of times per week for the camp residents. Rags spent his time reading, outside in the balmy weather.
Judy enjoyed her walk led by a lady named Kerry who has been coming to the caravan park every year for the last 9 years. She had arrived in April this year and what she didn't know about Karumba wasn't worth knowing. Judy came back knowing the names of all the common plants and with photos of the fish others had caught!
After lunch we went into the main town of Karumba to visit the Barramundi Discovery Centre. This centre is run by a volunteer group, The Gulf Barramundi Restocking Association. This is the only hatchery in the world that breeds the Southern Gulf breed of barramundi, they release thousands into the gulf system and dams. The guide was very enthusiastic and
informative, and the tour very personalised with only 4 in this tour. She showed us different samples of fish in the area before directing us into a theatre where we saw what the volunteers did. Then off to the breeding tanks to see about 6 large fish in each tank, these a little lethargic as the water temperature was still low. When we tried feeding them they accepted the first couple of fish, coming up and snatching it out of the holder's fingers, then ignoring any further food.
We drove around the small town, lining up with several other travellers at the fuel depot for cheap diesel, before returning to camp. The afternoon was spent with a nap, reading and blogging, before Judy uploaded some grades, whilst Rags prepared dinner. We hope (or at least Rags hopes) that we can get away early and get to a campsite outside of Cloncurry, the next large town on our route. This is 451kms away with only a roadhouse about half-way to interrupt the drive.
There are more photos below