The Last Frontier


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Published: October 17th 2009
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DAY 343


Today is our last morning at the gorgeous Lake Tineroo, the campsite is actually called Fong-On Bay, we have come to love it here.

Caroline was up before me which is usually unheard of, but with the promise of a cup of tea, I got my lazy back side out of bed. For the next couple of hours all we had to do was pack up, as we needed to be back in Cairns by no later than 3.00pm to see Julie before she heads off for the weekend.

It seems surreal, we have been up to what is classed as the “last frontier” of Australia, Cape York, for a mini adventure which we started from Julies house just over 2 weeks ago and now the circle will close for this part of the trip when we finish our Cape York trip back in Bay View Cairns!

Our trip to Cape York started on the 1st October, when we left our concerns were the huge distance we had to travel up to the Cape, most of it being off road, and not having a roof rack, to pack fuel Jerry cans, we were concerned with the availability of fuel, we have total fuel capacity of 145 litres.

Still we set off, feeling upbeat looking forwards to our to our task in hand, and headed into Daintree and stayed at Noah’s beach for our first night, which had been recommended to us, but of course this particular campsite must be booked in advance which is the more common practice for Queensland National Parks camping.

For our trip preparation we had made and frozen a lot of meals and put them in plastic bags so they didn’t take up much space in the fridge, which lives in the back of our Nissan Patrol.

The Patrol we are absolutely sure of being more than capable of doing the job that is required of it, being Turbo Diesel we knew that it has plenty of grunt and happily pulls the trailer along, containing all our gear and our bed for the night.

From Daintree we headed off to Cooktown and stayed at the Big 4 caravan park, just so we could make sure all our batteries where charged and we were ready to go.

Our third day somewhere not far north of Lakeland,
Ready to pull outReady to pull outReady to pull out

Ready to leaveour camp spot at Lake Tineroo
the road turned from the bitumen to the “Red Dirt” which will take us all the way to the tip with spells of bitumen in between for some of the populated areas of the Cape York Peninsula, using the word populated fairly loosely as this may only mean a short stretch outside of a station. This remote peninsula contains some of the last remaining wilderness areas on earth, which people are now trying to protect from development and mining.

The road in places is rough a guts, but there is plenty of repair activity periodically all the way up. Our journey up commenced over a weekend so we did not see any roadworkers at all for the first part of our journey.

Periodically we top up the main tank with diesel, no matter how much it cost, it is more important to know that you have a full tank. Arriving at Bramwell Junction, we are OK for diesel having filled up the day before in Coen, the Patrol is quite economical on the bitumen, but on the rough tracks with the truck is being shaken around the fuel economy drops through the floor.

Bramwell junction has fuel, but if you need to pay for it using electronic methods then you are going to be disappointed as the Satellite Signals they use for communications were down, perhaps a little reminder that cash is much needed on the Peninsula, as you cannot guarantee everything to be in working order. It sometimes takes months to get things fixed.

The lady behind the counter asks us which way we are heading to the Tip we tell her and she asks if we are taking the old telegraph track, commonly known as the (OTT) which is where the telegraph cables used to run.

We had been earlier advised that certain parts of the Old Telegraph Track would be to difficult towing the trailer, and indeed a chap called Michael that we met at Bramwell Station went through the map with us and gave us the heads up on which parts of the track that we could take, and the lady at Bramwell Junction suggested also that we could do parts of it provided we were comfortable driving in some extreme outback conditions.

This lady amongst many others have all said at all costs we want to go and visit Gunshot Creek, which is a Mecca for 4x4 adventurers but it is difficult, or impossible to get over it going North to South but its well worth going to have a look at and without question there is no way we would even consider tackling it with a trailer (which I believe some people have but trust me on this one, they have the right ball hitch for the trailer which will allow that kind of movement and again we are probably talking very experienced in 4wd).

We took the bypass track round and then took the track in toward Gunshot Bypass (a smaller bypass track for those that don’t want to tackle Gunshot Creek) we did not meet any other vehicle on that track and all in all when we got to Gunshot nothing came through in all the time we were there).

The parts of the OTT that we completed were not too bad, deep gully’s formed on some parts of the road that you had to take care not to drop into or indeed had to be careful in manoeuvring the trailer around.

We knew a few weeks back that the best way for
Huge BugHuge BugHuge Bug

Cutting wood, we found this is a wooden round
us to cross the river was to take the ferry, costly but worth it, there are those that have had to be towed out of the Jardine River at a heavy cost, but then if you are serious 4wd’ers then you are prepared to take that risk.

All in all the drive up to Seisia was tough but exhilarating, something we would do again, but maybe not for a while, we are a little bit over the dirt thing at the moment!

If you are expecting going to the Cape, for restaurants, café’s, shops and anything cosmopolitan then forget it. The journey to the tip is just a small selection of aboriginal communities that are no more than very small towns that have a shop and possibly a police station, an airstrip and a fuel pump. Ok so there is a souvenir shop called the croc tent not far from the tip, Caroline bought a mug as a souvenir, she was not happy to go all of that way and not get a small souvenir for the pain.

We headed to Seisia to make base camp, which was just beautiful our pitch was right on the beach, where we could sit and listen to the sound of the Coral Sea, although mostly it was very calm and you had to listen very hard to hear the small waves break on the shore.

We obviously made a trip to the tip to see the very Northerly point of Australia but sadly only 4 days before we got there some one stole the sign telling you that you were at such a point, fortunately some one with a bit of common sense had made a great card board sign and attached it to the post for everyone else to use. It may not last long though, probably one storm and it will disappear, but until someone makes a new one, that is good enough!

We felt that the tip seemed to have been a bit neglected, there was a board walk through the rain forest, which either needed repairing, or removing. We just felt that for such an important place it just seemed that no one really cared. I think the problem is that a cyclone hit the campsite a few years ago and although someone has offered to invest some money in rebuilding and making the tip good again, there is some argument as to who will own it. The land I understand has already been given back to the aboriginal people up here but from what we have heard they only want someone to rebuild this area if it is handed over to them to run, so while that argument goes on, nothing is going to happen.

We were lucky enough to visit Thursday Island which is a short ferry trip, just over an hour from Cape York, it was a great jet boat ride over to this tiny island with only 3500 inhabitants, it’s a tiny place and is only 3.5 square kilometres, a fascinating place that we both thoroughly enjoyed. If you don’t have high expectations you wont be disappointed. Prices are high on Thursday Island, land prices and building prices are a premium.

Our stay for the final couple of days at Seisia was just blissful and relaxing a real experience that we both enjoyed just soaking up the atmosphere of this remote, yet tropical paradise. After such a long dusty journey it is worth it just to do nothing and enjoy it.

Our journey back down was somewhat different from the journey up, we free camped out in the bush which is a great experience, first at Sailors Creek then at Captain Billy’s landing, then arriving back in Coen (still a long way to go) we stayed at Charlie’s Mine, which was an experience in itself, Charlie Spitteri, is a true eccentric but he had his heart in the right place.

Finally arriving at Lakeland where the dirt truly does turn back into Bitumen, and we both breathed a sigh of relief at being able to hear each other speak and not have to hold onto everything to stop it from rattling to pieces, and the campsite at Lakeland had green grass, a sight to behold amongst red dust!

So all in all the mini expedition to the Cape was well worth it, we both concur on that one, would we do it again, oh most definitely but we just need time to get over the corrugations.

The total distance starting in and end back in Cairns was 2392 Kilometres, or in UK miles its was 1486, as a reference we looked at the distance between our home in Southampton England and Aberdeen in Scotland which is 555 Miles in length, so our journey would have been from Home in Southampton to Aberdeen, to Southampton and nearly back to Aberdeen and we both agreed that 85% of it was “off road” so no wonder at the end of a days driving we were both shattered, although the driver is the one that has to concentrate, the “navigator & co pilot” eyes can be vital so we both have to concentrate. Caroline says map reading is not easy when everything jumps around in front of you!

We only had one dodgy moment, when we nearly lost control of the truck, but managed to get a hold of it before it all turned in to a drama.

We are now just pulling out of lake Tineroo we have had a couple of days winding down from our trip and from this afternoon will be back in Cairns for a long weekend as Julie is going away with Sen for the weekend and has let us have her lovely Rain Forest pad to enjoy and relax before getting back on the road further South on to Townsville.

Before we get out of the Dambulla Forest area we again see the sign for “Gillies lookout” and decide to go and see what it is all about. The sign tells us its only 4k but “NO” caravans and trailers, as the road is not suitable.

Caroline opened the gate and we went through, with a trailer behind us, its not that we are belligerent, we just thought we would check it out a little way before we un-hooked, we knew that we would be able to find somewhere just to drop it for 20 minutes while investigating the top.

Well the 4k track was up and down like a “fiddlers elbow” and really steep, we had to put the truck into 4wd to get it up the hills but she made light work of it and we all ended up at the top including the trailer.

On arriving at the top we park, grabbed our camera’s and walk the little way to the lookout wow, is all that we can say yet another stunning view in this amazing country. You never really grow tired of the views, they are all different and have their own feast of delights to look at.

We guide the patrol back the way we came, with Caroline on gate duty, and in no time at all we are back on the bitumen and heading back down the Gillies Highway to Gordonvale then on into Cairns.

At about 2.40 we arrived back at bay view heights, Julie welcomed us like long lost friends and she sat us down with a cup of tea and we told her about our mini adventure to the cape.

Soon we again had the house to ourselves, we both needed a shower and get some clean cloths on, I don’t know anyone who can stay clean camping as lighting fires, cooking on a camp oven and the like is a dirty game but excellent fun, not to mention just about everything is covered in dust anyway so even if you wash and put clean clothes on it is not long before you are covered in dust!

I skyped my sister and we both caught up with e-mails, we soon realised that we had not had any lunch and it was nearly 6 O’clock, so as a treat we went out and got a take away.

It is our intention not to do much in Cairns whilst here, we will prepare our gear for what I suppose will be the final leg of the trip, or possibly the beginning of our “settling down” process here in Australia, unless of course by some quirk of fate we win the lottery and go round again!

We are going to sit and watch a movie tonight, and we had 3 options, James Bond with Pierce Brosnan, Love actually which Caroline wants to watch and the Shawshank Redemption which I want to watch, we have seen them all before, so it looks like we are watching Love Actually then!

We retired to bed about 11.00 o’clock Caroline went to bed first as she was worn out and I soon followed.

I will bid you all a good night.

KJ


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19th October 2009

... and?!
Glad to see you are both fit and well after your adventure. Looking forward to catching up with you both soon although the wilderness we keep finding in WA might make it a bit hit and miss. We seem to have a family of ants somewhere in the caravan so Id better go and see if I can persuade them to move on!! Love to both WW x x
19th October 2009

Great summary
What a great summary of your trip to The Cape. Should give anyone who is thinking of going, a lot of great information. Maybe that will be us. Maybe not. One of the main reasons, I suspect, that you have so many readers, is that you do such a great job on your blog. I will be keeping up with your journey. And please let us all know how your 'settling down' goes.

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