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CAIRNS TO WEIPA
Monday 14 August 2000
We leave Cairns at 9 am and head towards Port Douglas along the Cook Highway. We have a quick look around before heading north to the Daintree River, arriving there at 11 am. It costs $8 to cross the river on the ferry and there is a bit of a queue. The ferry takes 21 vehicles and we get off the ferry at 11:40 am.
At 12:30 pm we arrive at Cape Tribulation. We do a few walks, have lunch and generally relax. Our holiday is now really underway.
We leave here at 2:46 pm and at 3:43 pm we arrive at Bloomfield Falls (Wujal Wujal). These are quite nice. After a quick look around, we head off again and arrive at Ayrton at 4:30 pm. We book into the Bloomfield Cabins and Camping. It costs $18 for our camp site.
We have only travelled 201 kilometres today.
Tuesday 15 August 2000
We leave at 8:30 am and at 9:15 am stop at the Lion's Den Hotel. This is just north of here and even though it is very early, we have a beer in this very interesting hotel. At 9:43 am we are back on the road and at 10 am we stop for morning tea at the Anin River. We arrive at Cooktown at 11 am, having only travelled 66 kilometres.
We book into the Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park which is very centrally located. It costs $14 per site per night. Here we run into a group that are Vietnam veterans. They were in the 5th RAR. We will run into them many times over the coming weeks.
We do a bit of sightseeing, including visiting the Captain Cook Museum (pretty good) as well as the Cook Lookout.
Daryl and I go to a local pub for a few beers after dinner and it is quite interesting.
Earlier, we refuelled, taking 25 litres at a cost of $23.49 at 9.0 litres/100 km for the 279 kilometres since Cairns.
Wednesday 16 August 2000
We leave Cooktown at 8:30 am and we miss the turnoff that goes to Old Laura. We are back on the right way 15 minutes later and at 11:50 am we arrive at Old Laura.
We stop here and look at the ruins of the old homestead. It is a place you should stop at and explore.
We stop at 12:35 pm for lunch at Six Mile Lagoon. This is a fantastic lagoon with huge amounts of birdlife. After lunch and a bit of bird watching, we are soon back on the road and after paying for our camp site at the ranger station, at 2:30 pm we arrive at Kalpowar Camping Area in Lakefield National Park. We have travelled 197 kilometres.
The camping area is right along side a river which is banked up like a dam behind a causeway. The camp site is excellent, a flat beautiful grassy area right next to the water. It is a very steep drop to the river and this is not a place you want to spend too much time close to the water's edge. The water is brown and likely home to saltwater crocodiles. We go for a walk to the causeway and there is no way I would walk across, given that a croc could easily come out of the nearby deeper water and get you.
Daryl and I later try some fishing but we do not get any bites.
The camping costs $7.50 and that night Ray puts on a karaoke show with his portable outfit that plays through our car radios.
Thursday 17 August 2000
We leave at 8:30 am and at 9:20 am reach Hann Crossing. Ten minutes later we have to stop to check Les's car as he is having problems. For the past few months in Sydney he has been having intermittent problems, where his engine suddenly cuts out and later restarts. Despite having it checked, no problem can be found by mechanics (much later it turns out that it is the fuseable joint which when it gets hot, it expands and creates a break cutting off electrical power - when it cools it works again).
At 9:50 am we are back on our way and 10 minutes later we stop at the Moorehead River for morning tea. We leave at 10:25 am and at 10:50 am we are at Low Lake. This also has some great bird life. We leave at 11:18 am and at noon we arrive at Musgrave Station. Fuel here is $1.08 ULP and $1.03 diesel (we do not need any). We have lunch here. There is accommodation, a bar and you could also have some take away food. Outside the shop there is a runway for light aircraft.
We leave at 1:15 pm and arrive at Coen at 2:50 pm. Coen calls itself the most northern town in Queensland as it considers Weipa a mining town does not qualify and Bamaga also not to be a town.
We have a few beers at the Exchange Hotel. This is a very interesting pub, with the painted sign on the roof modified to read SExchange Hotel. There are a lot of Aboriginals drinking here and it is a bit depressing that many, if not most, are very drunk and it is only just after 3 pm.
At 3:34 pm we leave the hotel (some get fuel but we do not need any) and drive a couple of kilometres out of town to a spot beside the Coen River where we set up camp. It is not a fantastic site, but it is not too bad.
We have a great night of satellite spotting and we see quite a few as well as many shooting stars.
We have travelled 229 kilometres today.
Friday 18 August 2000
We get up early at 7 am and Daryl has a swim in the river (it is very shallow). We are ready to go at 8:15 am but Les's electrical problems continue. His fridge is running at 100% but it is not cold. When he turns his water pump (for his water tank and hot shower) on, the fridge goes off. While the problem is investigated, Ray washes his lights and wonders if he can set up a washing bay on the Peninsula Development Road and charge everyone who comes along $2 each to clean their lights. We tell him that we would not pay.
Julius opens Les's radiator (not sure what this had to do with the problem) and sprays everyone with water, luckily it is cold. Daryl and I are the first ready (only twice does this happen on the trip as most days we help Brian pack up as he is along - his wife was coming but she has to stay at home and work on the Sydney 2000 Olympics preparations).
At 8:40 am we leave. The road is tar then gravel and then tar to the airport turnoff (I think it is now tar all the way). At 9:35 am we arrive at Archer River. We stop at the roadhouse and then the river. We have morning tea here. There is a causeway across the river and unless the water is really, really high, you will not get your tyres wet. We leave at 10:20 am and at 11:02 am we are at the start of the Old Telegraph Line Road (OTL). This is also near the Portland Roads/Lockhart River Road.
We follow the Peninsula Development Road to Weipa and we arrive here at 12:50 pm. We book into the caravan park for $35.20 for two nights. We have travelled 258 kilometres today.
Brian and Les go looking for a UHF aerial as Brian's has fallen apart. Les needs a new battery as this is the cause of his fridge's problems and we hope his engine problems. Daryl and I have problems opening the rear door of the Discovery. It is jammed shut and it takes a lot of effort to open it (at least 30 minutes). Once we get it open, we clean the striker mechanism and this seems to fix the problem. After this Daryl and I have a swim in the pool.
Even though we are right on the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria, I would not enter the water for a million dollars as the water is brown and crocodiles are quite common.
After dinner, Daryl, Brian and I walk to the local hotel and have a drink (or seven). We are home at 10:35 pm, our latest night of the trip so far.
Saturday 19 August 2000
We go for a mine tour in the morning (cost $18.70). This is to the bauxite mine (bauxite is the raw material for making aluminium) and this is the biggest mine in the World. The tour takes 1.75 hours and is pretty interesting, although a bit expensive considering it is mostly a PR exercise.
A few of us go fishing at the Weipa Wharf at 3 pm. I catch a large batfish which I let go. I hook two other fish but lose them both. I also get a few bites.
We refuel, taking 63 litres at a cost of $60. The tank is not full as we will be back in town tomorrow and will top up then.
A few of us go to the golf club for dinner. It is pretty cheap, a steak sandwich at $6 and middies of beer $2.20.
Sunday 20 August 2000
Some of the group are going out on a fishing charter today. The rest of us head off to Stones Crossing. This is north of town and is an alternative route back to the Old Telegraph Line Road if you are heading north. We were going to leave this way but the road crosses private property and we have learnt that access is not being permitted at the moment.
It is 70 kilometres to Stones Crossing and we are not really sure that we are on the right road as there are no signs. We use GPS and compare this to a map and finally get there at 11:45 am. This is the Wenlock River. To be honest, I do not think that I would have crossed the river here as it is very deep, the river is running very strong and it is a quite rough entry and exit.
A few of us have a fish and I catch an archer fish. This fish sits on the bottom and squirts water at insects sitting on the water's surface, stunning them and then catching them. I let it go.
By the time we leave at 2 pm, the water has dropped quite a bit and it probably would be okay to drop. The water is not tidal but at high tides, the flowing water builds up and does not flow away as quickly.
We get back to the campsite at 3:36 pm. We go to the supermarket (Woolworths from memory). It is probably the worst example of a supermarket I have ever been in. there are no fresh meat at all, everything is frozen. I have been to far more remote locations, including places later on this trip that have fewer people, far less money but have better selections of meat, vegetables and fruit. We have travelled 143 kilometres today.
Some of us go to the bowling club for dinner, it cost $8 but I cannot remember what I had.
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