Cape York – an Adventure to Top them All

The caravan has gone into storage, and we spent a day packing and repacking the truck for two weeks of camping. It was with great excitement we started heading northwards up the Cape York Peninsular to the top of Australia.

Our friends, the O’Callaghan’s, had also caught up with us after their diversion trip to the red centre, something we are leaving for another trip. Apart from the wonderful company, we thought that teaming up again for this trip would be a great idea. Safety in numbers, and Chris had a winch to pull us out should either vehicle get into trouble.

We spent our first night at Lakefield National Park. As Chris and Jayne had been living in a tent for a few days already, they set up camp in record time. Mike and I needed a few days practice. We caught the tail end of the Queensland school holidays, so the campsite was busy with families. The boys all had a spot of fishing, but came back empty. We looked with envy at some fellow campers, who managed to pull in a respectably sized barra for their family feast. This lack of fishing success was becoming a too common theme.

A couple of long driving days through some small, aboriginal communities, and we made it to Weipa. It’s another mining town, mostly driven by the largest bauxite mine in the world. There were plans in place to expand in the near future. There are plenty of jobs and opportunity around here, but nowhere to live. It’s becoming a common theme in mining town.

Weipa RioTinto Mine TourWe spent a morning on a mining tour, learning about the practice of surface strip mining, and processing the ore to get aluminium. It was all very impressive, and different to the open cut mining we had seen in other areas of Australia.

Our stay in Weipa was also well timed (arguably) to coincide with the AFL Grand Final. As our travel companions are fans, we all sat in air-conditioned comfort at the Bowls club to watch the game.

Old Telegraph Track startIt was after Weipa we started to traverse the Old Telegraph Track. This was our most challenging road of the trip, with difficult creek crossings and washed out sections. Mike couldn’t wait. Daniel and Emma had been studying photos of some of the precarious crossings in a Cape York 4WD magazine, gearing us all up for the trip. But since 4WD is Mike’s domain, I’ll let you read all about our Old Telegraph Track adventure in Mike’s Page. Our journey makes a good story and there is a link to the video of Mikes deepest creek crossing yet.

Loads of people we have met on the road recommended Loyalty Beach to us, so we decided to camp there for a couple of nights. From there, Mike, I and the kids took a ferry to Thursday Island for a day. This is the central administration base for all the Torres Strait islands. We had a great tour around the island, learning about the history, and some of the culture of the Islanders. They consider themselves very different to Australian Aborigines, as they were not nomadic hunter gatherers.

Last night Sunset Loyalty BeachAustralias Top Pub. Thursday IslandThursday Island is also home to Australia’s most northerly pub. We stopped there for a nice lunch, and a relaxing drink. It was a hot and windy day, much like the normal climate for seven months of the year.

Back at Loyalty Beach, the guys treated Jayne and I to a cocktail, as the kids played together and the sun went down for another spectacular sunset.

At the TipSunset off the tip of AustraliaThe next day we made it all the way to the tip of Australia. Unbelievably, we had the place to ourselves. It was a lovely afternoon, with a gentle cool breeze. We had been saving the sparkling wine and posh cheese for this occasion, and had a feast and a toast. The boys all threw in a line, so they could say they have fished at the top. The sunset was one of the most beautiful of the trip, and one of the most satisfying, as it had taken so much effort to get there.

A day later, we said our goodbyes to the O’Callaghan’s again. The difficult parts of the trip were over, and we wanted to do different things on the way back down.

 Sunrise over Chilli BeachChilli BeachWe ventured off to Chilli Beach in Iron Range National Park, and enjoyed two days on a pristine and virtually deserted beach. Rainforest came all the way up to the coast, and our camping spot had shade all day long. Coconut palms lined the shores, and we ate the fallen and ripe fruit. Definitely could have stayed here longer.

Having experienced the highlights of Cape York, we travelled back to Cairns so I could catch a plane to Melbourne. Find out why in my next post.

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