008.18th June 2005. Our first big trip…

Now where do we start this entry? When we left home? when we left our first overnight at Bluewater free camp site? On arrival in Cooktown. Ok.Ok. I will start it from somewhere in the middle. How about Rifle Creek free camp site at Mt. Molloy near Mareeba? Good. For some reason we left home without any sort of map. I knew that after I left Mareeba  there was a free campsite and somewhere after that was Cooktown. I also knew there was some rough dirt road. I had no idea what lay in between. At Rifle Creek we joined a few other MH people sitting around a campfire for happy hour. One entertaining lady with guitar and a collection of her self written songs told us it was not worth going to Cooktown as it was unfriendly. She also mentioned 32 Klms of rough dirt road which becomes impassable after rain. Or was that impossible after rain? Hmmm. Looks like we may have to give up on Cooktown.

It rained overnight.

We met Don Eldred the next day. Don does some work for the CMCA. I thought he was the same Don Eldred who was a client for some years. Seems not. Anyway he suggested people will always tell you not to go somewhere because of their own experiences. Trick is to ignore them and do your trip regardless. If it turns out OK thats good. if not, chalk it up to experience. It was still raining so I felt  a bit of unease about that dirt road.

Much to my surprise and chagrine there were a few places along the way where we could get, fuel, water, food. The next town is Carbine – goes with Rifle Creek I suppose. Then Archer River Roadhouse. Site of the gold diggings from more than a century ago. Some interesting photos and artifacts.  The road is quite good and passes through some dry and sparsely vegetated country. We travelled over a mountain range and the view of the valley is spectacular. So much so I have seen many photos in other peoples collections taken from the same place this photo is taken.

Mountain Range on the way to Cooktown looking back towards Palmer River.

Then on to Lakelands. I should mention that shortly after we left Rifle Creek the rain stopped, the sun came out and by the time we reached the dirt road it was dry, dusty and corrugated.

After what seemed an intermidable age there was a sealed road agin and we got our first sight of Black Mountain.

Black Mountain near Cooktown

Years ago I had seen a TV documentary by the Leyland Brothers and remembered the story about this mountain. The reality is the same as the story. I felt an eerie presence but at the same time I had an urge to climb over the steel barrier and go exploring. Good sense prevailed, Cooktown was still calling.

The first Caravan Park (hereinafter known as CP) as we entered Cooktrown, describe themselves asa bush camp and sandfly free. Does us on both counts. We only stayed one night. Not because there was anything wrong it was just that we had no idea of what we would see and what other options were open to us. Next day we drove around looking at various attractions and we did not see them all by any means. The one which really pleased us the most was the Grassy Hill Lighthouse.

Grassy Hill Lighthouse - Cooktown.

and Lookout

 

From Grassy Hill overlooking Cooktown and the Endeavour River.

I guess what I enjoyed the most was driving our 7m MH up the steep, narrow, winding, boulder strewn dirt road to the top. It sure was a challenge especially on some of the corners which were very sharp and had boulders and large rocks to negotiate. I was curious why most of the vehicles at the top were 4WD and people asked me how I got there. It was not until we reached the bottom we found a sign saying not suitable for MH!

After viewing attracftions and enjoying the enticements of the local bakery – I enjoy a good meat pie – and sharing Donnis weakness – a vanilla slice – we moved out of town to Endeavour Falls CP. To get there we drove along 20klms of even worse road than that coming into Cooktown. We decided to stay two nights, mainly because I could not face that road again in the morning. Pity because we would have seen more of Cooktown rather than more of the CP.

Next day we took up the challenge of the road and back into Cooktown for another look around, lunch then head back to Mareeba. The trip back was much quicker so we found ourselves in Mareeba late in the afternoon and decided to camp the night at Atherton. Along the way the co-pilot and sometime Navigator, Donnis (she is good at finding signs pointing to places we have not been) saw a sign to Granite Gorge. So we turned around and headed to the CP at Granite Gorge, arriving in the dark. Having paid our overpriced fees we found a campsite with water and power and the showers were hot although the ancient cobbled floor and spiderwebs in every corner was a bit of a put off. We sat around outside talking to a German couple until the cool night air drove us inside. Next day we explored the area and what we found put the cost of entry and below average conditions to the back of our minds. Pity we were on our way home. This place is huge and the supplied map helps to find your way around. Good thing too as without the map it would be too easy to get lost even following the coloured dots on the rocks.

Granite Gorge

The little Rock Wallabies are very friendly – at feeding time – when the tourist buses arrive. What a sight!

We could have spent another night here but we were on a tight schedule and as we have found out we always seem to be on a tight schedule to be somewhere by a certain time. Bugger!

We had time to stop off at Mungalli Dairy near Milla Milla. This is an Organic farm making their own dairy products of milk, cheese, yoghurt and Quark a kind of cheese made from Water Buffalo milk and the taste is rather salty, a bit like Fetta only soft and fluffy. We had a cheese platter lunch and we got a large variety of cheese, fruit, dried fruit, sun dried tomatoes and crackers. What a lunch!

From Mungalli it was less than an hour to the Qld Parks and Wildlife camp at Henrietta Creek.

Campsite Henrietta Creek, Palmerston Range above Innisfail.

From here there was a walk through the rainforrest to Nandroya Falls

Nandroya Falls near Henrietta Creek.

Next Day. Somehow I managed to pick up a leach when we were packing up. I was only wearing sandals. The wiley leach found a way to get underneath between the big toe and the next toe and latched on and started feeding. It was not discovered until we arrived in Innisfail and went looking for a place to have lunch. My sandals felt wet and upon looking found lots of blood and a very big, fat, slug like, well fed leach.

A relatively short drive down the highway brought us to Murray Falls, another Qld Parks & Wildlife campsite and popular local camping & picnic spot. Although it was mid winter we could imagine what it might be like in Summertime, swimming in the crisply clear waterholes below the falls.

Murray Falls

By now we are beginning to get used to living in and around the MH every day.

From now on it should get easier & easier to plan a trip to include, equipment, clothes, food, bedding and entertainment. Murray Falls is worth another look and worth staying longer.

Now we are on the home stretch. Overnight at Rollingstone then a staright run through to Airlie Beach to unpack, empty black water cassette, wash the bus and then relax before returning to work.

Yeah sure! The co-piolt still had a few tricks up her sleeve. Stop in Townsville to do a bit of shopping for things we will need on future trips. Lunch in the carpark then straight home.

Umm. Not so fast there with making plans. As we drove down the highway somewhere South of Gumlu the co-pilot spotted a sign, Molongle Creek. “whats there she asked”, “dunno” I quietly replied knowing what is about to happen. “Lets go and have a look” she asked and being me and learning to accept these departures from the plan until I will one day relish them, I turned off and headed to Molongle Beach. Its a CP most likely used for the most part by people from say Home Hill, Ayr and even Bowen. Lots of caravan, lots of big 4WD and lots of big fishing boats. After a long walk around the creek and campgrounds in the hot afternoon – yes hot in the middle of June –  and a cup of coffee and I was too tired to drive so we opted for a nap right there in the car park with a delightful breeze off the water coming through the open doors and windows. Awakening from our nap the shadows were lengthening so the rest of the trip was home with no deviations. This time we left the MH parked up on the front yard and we could empty and clean later in the week.

What a trip. We arrived home tired but with great memories and we know we can do more of these trips and improve with each one.

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