Week 7 Weekly Blog 09/07/2021 - 14/07/2021
Week 7 Weekly Blog
Last week saw us snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, drive through the beautiful rainforests of the Daintree National Park, conquer Bloomfield Track, ate the iconic pizzas at The Lions Den Hotel and finished up in historic Cooktown. Read on below for what adventures we got up to in week 7 of Allan and I exploring Oz.
We were meant to be heading off from Cooktown today, but Brian’s winch bracket had split, and he needed to see the local fabricator to see if he could make a new one. Allan took Brian to the fabricator at 8am and I decided to go for a walk to Cherry Tree Bay. The only way to get to Cherry Tree Bay is to walk, so not many people go there. I walked from the caravan park to a carpark halfway up the Grassy Hill Lookout. At the carpark is the start of the walk to Cherry Tree Bay. It started to rain at the carpark, but I kept going. It was a 1060m walk to the bay, which was through rainforest and all downhill. The track was gravel and very well maintained with some paved step sections. Once at the bay it was deserted, as the weather was not the greatest, but it was stunning. I was a bit worried about crocodiles, so I did not stay long. I walked back up the hill through the rainforest, then back to the caravan park. All in all, I walked just over 5 kilometres and it took about 1hour. Once back at the caravan park, I found out that we would be staying another night in Cooktown, which I was happy to do. We spent the day chilling at the caravan park. Allan checked over the car and the camper trailer to tighten up all the bolts that may have been shaken loose by The Birdsville Track. We went swimming in the pool and I did a bit of a hydrotherapy session with Sue (she will be very sore tomorrow). I relaxed in the camper while Allan and Brian re-fitted the new winch bracket into Brian’s car. We went to the camp kitchen to cook and eat dinner (gnocchi with Bolognese sauce). Had an early night, ready to get back on the road tomorrow.
Packed up camp at Cooktown and got on the road again. We stopped at the suspension swing bridge again to show Sue and Brian and try and spot a croc. We did not see a croc, so kept driving along Endeavour Battlecamp Road towards Isabella Falls. Stopped at Isabella Falls for a look and a paddle. The water was crystal clear and a tolerable temperature for a change. There were too many people there, so we decided against a swim. The road was sealed (bitumen) from Cooktown until about 10km after Isabella Falls. We dropped our tyre pressures down to 30psi, which was a good idea, because the road became very corrugated soon after doing so. There were multiple shallow water crossings and after a steep and windy bitumen hill, the road stayed unsealed (gravel) with lots of red dirt and corrugations. We stopped at Old Laura Homestead and had a look around. The homestead had been moved from its original spot near Palmerston Goldfields. We kept driving towards Laura through Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park. Allan had found what sounded like a beautiful free campground next to the Laura River about 1km from the township of Laura. Got to the campground and walked around it to make sure there was a site not too close to other campers (there were 3 people set up so far) and to ensure there was enough room to be able turn with the campers without getting bogged (riverbeds can have deceptively soft sand, we know from past experiences!). We decided to set up camp on the other side of the river. Allan got frustrated very quickly, because he was hot, itchy from midge bites, hangry and sick of driving, so when we could not level the trailer and I told him I did not want to sleep under a tree, he got in the car and moved it very grumpily but put it in the perfect spot. We set up the camper, had lunch (ham and salad wraps) then set up a fire for later. Allan and I went for a walk along the river paddling our feet, thankfully there were no crocs. Started a fire, cooked tea (leftover gnocchi with Bolognese in a sweet potato cooked in the fire), ate tea and sat around the fire. We spotted a couple of wallabies that were coming towards the river for food and water. We went to bed when the bugs got too annoying, but it was quite a hot night and Allan was sweating bullets.
Saturday morning was well spent, sitting having a coffee listening to the river trickling, frogs croaking and fruit falling from a tree behind us. Packed up camp and drove the kilometre to the township of Laura. There was not much in the township of Laura, but there were lots of travellers who had come from Cape York. Took the Peninsula Developmental Road (PDR) 250kmish towards Coen. The PDR interchanged between sealed and unsealed road the whole way to Coen. We stopped at Hann River Roadhouse to top-up with diesel then continued. The road condition was quite good up until Musgrave Roadhouse where we stopped and had lunch. Continued towards Coen, which was 108km from Musgrave Roadhouse, most of the road was unsealed, very dusty and corrugated road with many large potholes. There were small sections of sealed road, which lasted no more than 5km each section to allow for overtaking slow vehicles. Got to Coen at about 2pm and decided to camp behind the pub for $15 a night for unpowered sites ($20 per night for powered). Set up camp, then went to the pub. Brian and Sue stayed at the pub for tea, but Allan and I decided to cook tea (2minute noodles, with frozen veg and pork steaks). We will be spending a couple of nights in Coen waiting on a parcel and some letters to arrive.
We had a slow Sunday morning, knowing we will be spending a couple of nights in Coen with not much to do. Chilled out at camp. The sun was shining with a slight breeze which was nice, however, the birds were very chirpy, which was getting kind of irritating. Allan and I went for a walk around town and had a look at Coen Heritage House. It was quite interesting and told a lot of the history of Coen, with the house itself being an old telegraph station. We walked around the house, as there was old machinery outside, which showed how much mining equipment had changed over time. We went into the house which had old artefacts donated by different people and information boards about the history of Coen and important people of Coen and surrounding towns. We did not do a lot today and just used it for a chillout day.
Another day in Coen. We took our time with breakfast and showers and unfortunately, it was not sunny, so our solar panel was not able to charge the batteries for our fridges in the camper or car. Allan got a notification from Australia Post that his parcel that he was waiting on had arrived in Coen, although we were still waiting on letters to arrive. We went for a walk to the Coen Post Office to get the parcel and asked about the letters. The letters were redirected by Cairns Post Office by regular post, so may take up to 8 business days to reach Coen from Cairns. We walked back to camp and decided that we would not wait in Coen for the letter, but just ask them to hold it for us until we returned from Cape York. Back at camp we could smell the lunch that the pub was serving so we decided to go to the pub for lunch. Allan and I both got beef burgers and chips, as they sounded amazing and were only $20 each. When the burgers came, they were huge and had lettuce, tomato, bacon, beetroot and the homemade beef burger with relish and mayo. They were super tasty! Went back to camp and played Sequence. By the time we had finished playing Sequence, the campground had filled up and there were people camped everywhere. We cooked and ate dinner (chicken laksa). Our neighbours had music playing and had been drinking for pretty much the whole afternoon and they were getting very loud and trying to talk over the top of the music. They also had their outdoor lights on which were shining into a tent next door to them. The people in the tent got fed up and after asking the people to be quiet to no prevail, they ended up moving their tent to just in front of us. That meant the light was shining into our camper. I slept through it, but Allan was up for a while.
Today we decided we would leave Coen despite not yet having received our letter. Most of the other people staying at Coen were also leaving today to head North. Dale and Chris (our neighbours that decided to move their tent last night) were in a convoy of 6 cars heading to ‘the tip’ as well. Got final supplies, fuelled up and went to the post office to check if our letter had arrived and ensure that it would still be there in 3-4 weeks when we would be returning to Coen. The guy at the post office said that it should be fine. We left Coen on the Peninsula Developmental Road (PDR) towards Bramwell Station. The road was unsealed and corrugated in sections. We stopped at Archer River Roadhouse, then kept driving along the PDR. There were some sections of sealed road, but they were very brief. The PDR was quite rough as we got closer to Bramwell Station. We turned onto the driveway to Bramwell Station which said it was another 6.5km to the station. The driveway was unsealed, but well maintained with only a few rough corrugated sections. We got to Bramwell Station, booked 2 nights camping ($25 per night) and dinner for tonight ($37.00 per person). We also asked whether we could leave our campers while we travelled to the tip, they said it was fine and there was no charge unless we wanted to donate to RFDS. We set up camp, it was super humid and warm, but overcast, so we were all sweating profusely. We sat around the camp for a bit waiting for ‘happy hour’ at 5:30pm. Allan checked over the camper and noticed we were missing a wheel bearing dust cap on the camper trailer, so the wheel bearing was exposed to the red dust, which means it is ruined now and we will need to replace it before leaving Bramwell Station. Rather than worrying about it too much, we went to ‘happy hour’ and sat at our table for dinner. We had a couple of drinks during ‘happy hour’ while listening to a singer. The station hospitality manager then did a talk about the history of Bramwell Station which was quite interesting. Then our buffet dinner was served with BBQ meats (sausages, rissoles and steak), a variety of salads, roasted vegetables, potato bake, cottage pie, and damper. It all looked and smelt delicious, so I piled my plate high with all the food. We ate dinner, had a few more drinks and listened to the entertainment. After dinner, they swapped entertainment by doing a duet with a ukulele and electric guitar. The next entertainer made us sing ‘Home Among the Gumtrees’ all together, but he did not think we sang it loud enough, so he made us sing ‘Waltzing Matilda’ as well. He was an excellent entertainer. Brian even got up and had a dance with an elderly lady from a tour group who was dancing by herself. We had sticky date pudding for dessert, and it was by far the best sticky date pudding I have ever had! The entertainers then swapped again by doing a duet with a guitar and harmonica. The next entertainer was a comedian from Sydney, but he was also an excellent singer and did a brilliant rendition of ‘Hallelujah’. He also did an excellent impression of Joe Cocker. It was a brilliant night with delicious food and excellent entertainment. We got back to camp at about 10pm and went to bed in the camper for the last night for an unknown time.
Today we spent the day unpacking and repacking the car and camper, because we will be leaving it at Bramwell Station tomorrow to drive the Old Telegraph Track (OTT). The OTT is a 4WD track with many water crossings, such as the notorious ‘gunshot’ and ‘Nolan’s Creek Crossings’ and we did not want to take the camper through the crossings. We took all the things we did not think we needed out of the car and put them in the camper and anything from the camper that we thought we needed into the car. This included clothes, toiletries, swag, sleeping bag, pillows, food, alcohol, cooking utensils, recovery gear, spare parts, table and chairs all in or on the car. We decided to sleep in the swag tonight and pack the camper up, but first we decided to spray the inside of the camper with diluted vinegar to prevent mould growing while we were away. It was again quite a muggy and overcast today with a temperature of about 28degrees and we were sweating bullets by the time we had finished packing and covered in red dirt. We decided to have a shower and then head to ‘happy hour’ to enjoy the entertainment (same as the night before with a few different songs). We listened to the spiel about the history of Bramwell Station, then had to go back to camp to cook tea and eat (steak, caramelised onion and mixed veg). Went back to the bar to watch the third State of Origin game. We watched the game. Queensland won, but NSW won the State of Origin cup. Went back to camp, went to bed in the swag for the first time in a while.
This week we got closer to the start of the Old Telegraph Track (OTT) and had a bit of fun at Bramwell Station. Stay tuned for next week when we start the journey on the OTT to get to Pajinka, the most Northern point of Australia.