Friday, October 5, 2012

To The Tip & Back Again...

So apparently the key to blogging success is consistency. If that is the case, than I am the world's worst blogger - and to think I used to be so dedicated!

That deafening silence coming from over here has been due to the fact that I lost (or left behind somewhere in Cairns) my camera's cord and I don't have a card reader with me. Disaster! So all my precious photos have been stuck on my memory cards until I could get to Katherine to buy a new card reader. Anyway, where did I leave off...

After crossing the Jardine on the ferry (the world's most exorbitant and ridiculous ferry ride, honestly if you had another half a ferry it would be called a bridge) we camped on the north banks of the river - a beautiful grassy spot on a sandy beach. We had a fire and kept a look out for crocs but didn't sight any.

Camp on the northern banks of the Jardine

The next day we continued north towards Bamaga, near the airport are some plane wrecks from WWII which we had a look at. Some were flying from Brisbane or Cairns to Papua New Guinea and crashed on the tip of Australia, some where barely scraps of metal hidden in the bush and there were hundreds and hundreds of 44 gallon fuel drums from the war rusting away in the bush, remnants of a bygone era in Australia's northern history. After checking out Bamaga, having lunch on the Seisea wharf and taking a back track to Umagico we settled in with a beer on the beach to watch the sunset over the Torres Strait - quite a moment after our journey from our wedding in Victoria almost eight months prior.

Sunset over the Torres Strait

After all the rigours of the Tele Track, Luxie didn't come out unscathed - a visit to the Bamaga mechanics, a new CV joint later and our bank balance a bit worse for wear. We drove out to Punsand Bay for the night staying at the campground there, almost to the tip! 

The next morning we checked out some more war and telegraph line relics around Punsand Bay. We ran into another young couple who coincidentally were from Healesville and worked for a owner of a farm in Yea where we used to live, we knew a lot of the same people, small world when you're traveling. We continued out on the very VERY corrugated road to The Tip. There is nothing actually at The Tip - just a rocky outcrop and a sign! We walked around the beach and mangroves and finally staked our claim of sitting on the northern most point of mainland Australia.

The rocky walk to The Tip

Made it!

It was windy. And rocky. And the seas looked shark and croc infested, treacherous! But oddly enough we had phone reception?! So we sat and called as many people as we could think of to say we were sitting at the tip of Australia. We did it!

From The Tip we headed to the old settlement of Somerset, not much there now but gravesites of pearl divers and early explorers. We met a couple from South Australia and together we did a 4WD track we probably otherwise wouldn't have done by ourselves. Luckily we did do it with another vehicle because sure enough Matt got stuck in some sand. Out came the MaxTrax (a wedding present we hoped to never have to use) but we'd spun too deep into the sand by then so our friends in the Defender had to pull us out. The beach along this east coast of The Tip was very open, exposed and barren. 

Somerset Beach - reminiscent of Papua New Guinea we thought

Luxie in a spot of bother in the sand

We headed back to Loyalty Beach campsite for two nights, time to do some washing and Matt to get the mother of all horse bites from a feral nag wandering the campsite! Then we boarded a boat at the Seisea wharf to take us over to Thursday Island for a poke around. A very interesting place - 3000 residents but only 60 rate payers due to the government owning the majority of houses. After having a look around the main street, going to the beautiful Catholic church where I said a little prayer to keep us safe on our travels, we had a beer in Australia's most northerly pub, we boarded a taxi tour of the island. It took us around the island and to the very top where the fort is - built to protect Australia from the Russians in the early 20th century! Good work. 

Me at the fort lookout on Thursday Island

The fort on top of Thursday Island - back off Russians!

The beautiful waters of the Torres Strait

Beautiful Catholic church - world's smallest 'cathedral' on Thursday Island

The local kids on the Seisia wharf

Back on mainland Australia we headed to Mutee Heads for the night where an old radar station was positioned on the hill from the war. We also drove out to the mouth of the Jardine River, nice camping but hot the day we were there walking out on the soft sand! Ugh.

Do I look hot and bothered? It was hot. I was bothered.

Back across the ferry and heading south to Vrilya Point on the west coast of the peninsula which a lot of people had recommended to us. A really slow, corrugated track in, followed by a drive along the beach past a rusted ship wreck to where we camped for the night. The tide was out in the morning so we took a walk out, collecting shells and watching the pretty sand patterns. 

Next day we headed back along the corrugated track, down the PDR a bit further and then turned into to connect back up with the Tele Track, camping the night at Sam Creek. Continuing south on the Tele Track we headed for Fruitbat Falls again - this time not so lucky with getting it to ourselves. Still a beautiful spot for a swim and freshen up!

Captain Billy Landing on the east coast of the peninsula was our next port of call. This was where the ships would dock to bring supplies to the Heathlands Station, and where the cattle would be droved to send to markets in Weipa. A large cleared area before the dunes we thought would have been a holding paddock for cattle, a ranger confirmed. Captain Billy Landing had no shelter, very exposed beach and windy. Oh my goodness, the wind! We positioned the ute to block most of it though, rolled down the camper walls and it wasn't too bad. Not much sleep that night though.

Coral washed in to Captain Billy Landing from the Great Barrier Reef 
Campdog just kicking back awaiting his coffee

Bit windy!

Onwards and upwards - well downwards, south to start the Frenchman's Track. This track connects Lockhart River to the PDR and crosses the Wenlock and the Pascoe Rivers. We had no trouble with either crossing, or along the track itself, and made camp for the night just on the east side of the Pascoe. Saw a big dingo near camp that night. We continued on to Lockhart River, which is an Aboriginal community within the Iron Range. Amazing scenery, unlike anything we'd seen on the cape - mountain ranges and open heathland.

Matt walking the Pascoe River before we cross it

Pascoe River crossing

The Iron Range

The Iron Range

The Iron Range

Beautiful native grevillia and Chilli Beach
We booked a campsite at the popular Chilli Beach and found ourselves next to fellow Victorians who we had a beer and gin and tonic with. The next morning we continued on the road south, going through the Batavia Goldfields. We came to the PDR again and as we gathered speed we were hearing a strange noise, sounding like a rock stuck in the wheel perhaps? After stopping and starting and stopping again and rattling and shaking and Matt driving whilst I listened and me driving whilst Matt listened and ran alongside the ute we finally deciphered that it could be a rear wheel bearing. Some liquid was coming from the rim - which was hot! Luck of all lucks we had literally just come into mobile reception, only 20km north of Coen. Scratching our heads we called my best friends husbands who is a diesel mechanic. No answer. Scratched our heads again as to another diesel mechanic we knew - and called trusty Thorpy who told us it more than likely is a rear wheel bearing, for God's sake don't drive it anywhere. After a few phone calls back and forth between the RACQ/RACV and them telling us the nearest tow truck could be Cooktown, some 6 hours to the south, we finally discovered that there was a RACQ tow truck in nearby Coen. He arrived soon after, poor Luxie was loaded onto the truck in the dark and we were put up for the night in the lovely guesthouse. Hot shower and breakfast, thank you very much.

Matt on the phone to Thorpy shaking poor Luxie around a bit :(
The next morning the mechanic was able to fit a new wheel bearing and we hit the road, again heading south and thanking our lucky stars we were so close to a town. We had ordered a satellite phone from Matt's brother-in-law which was awaiting us in Cairns - not soon enough!


  1. that water. oh my how gorgeous. Matt @ the Jardine... I reckon that one will be framed by your bedside one day. It screams honeymoon husband and is sublime. Happy Trails. x

  2. Wow just like Christmas ... beautiful photo, looks like quite an adventure.

  3. Beautiful pictures. There will be a lifetime of stories from your honeymoon travels!

  4. Love all of it, Emma. Great pics, glad you could get that card reader!

  5. am so enjoying your adventures (well the good bits, rear wheel bearings not included) aren't you lucky that parts were available, wouldn't think that Bamaga nor Coen would have overnight delivery service!

  6. I have been following your adventures since Cinderella at Brindabella. From before your gorgeous wedding to your amazing honeymoon. I have been to the tip of Australia when I was 10 years old and reading about your travels and seeing the stunning photos bring back great memories. Can't wait to read about the rest of your adventures! :-)