|Queensland 2 - Cape York
Campground at the Archer River Roadhouse. Mainly, we stay at the roadhouse to try the famous Archer River Burger. It's quite good but not extraordinary. Much nicer and free campspots can be found (low water level provided) a couple of hundred meters north of the roadhouse directly at the Archer River. About 38kms north from here, you are leaving the Peninsula Developmental Road towards Cape York.
At Bramwell Roadhouse (that has now moved to the main road) the corrugated Southern Bypass Road turns right, while a small track turns left, the Old Telegraph Track. Now, the real Cape York adventure begins. First we reach Palm Creek. The scenery immediately gives you an idea of what is waiting for you in the next two or three days. The whole trip it's sort of a procession. For several days you always meet the same people and vehicles. I hope these folks don't mind if they will ever read this, we called them "the dirty ones".
Steep, narrow and sometimes slippery, creek crossings are the main challenge on the OTL. Although our vehicle generally is very capable, its high centre of gravity combined with the deep washouts on the track, sometimes made it a "sphincter tightening ride", at least for the lousy driverreporting this story. You don't actually get anywhere near to the point, where it would roll over, but you think it might do it and that's enough. Anyway, this is our lucky day, since we meet Regina & Karl, they are on their honeymoon travelling around OZ with their Troopie, and we take the trip to the tip together.
Guide books always give two directives concerning creek crossings at the top end:
The side tracks are partly overgrown. Larger vehicles don't get through.
Nice campspot on the Dalhunty River.
You don't have to take this exit of the Dulhunty, but some do.
At Bertie Creek you are following the bank for about 30m and then turn north avoiding the deep potholes.
Along the Gunshot bypass the scenery changes completely.
Karl at Gunshot Creek. Before they went on their trip, a friend told him that as a real Aussie, he had to go and get that stubbie holder labelled "I Drove Gunshot". Now he really deserves it.
There are several different tracks leading through Gunshot Creek. We took the bypass, as all the pictures we had seen before only showed a seemingly vertical drop and we didn't want to destroy our vehicle. There are easier options (at least when we've been there as conditions change constantly), anyway we've been quite impressed how many Aussies we met who passed the creek just like that.
Still, Gunshot Creek sometimes takes trophies from travellers.
This couple from Victoria goes the hard way (North to South) on the OTL. Without further ado, he asks an oncoming bloke from Tassie to tow him up Gunshot and as everyone would expect (Tasmanians are friendly, I think I mentioned that before) it only takes a minute or so until everything is arranged. "I'll go and get the car" he says to his wife. She replies "or what's left of it". By the way they were both in their later 60s at least. We love this country, but I'm afraid I mentioned that before, too.
Ample discussions concerning the best path through Cockatoo Creek.
Carefully we're approaching Sheldon Lagoon. Instead of hungry crocs there are only curious little turtles.
Fruit Bat Falls is a beautiful place. You can take a swim and even a shower in warm water without being afraid of crocodiles. "Wages of fear" we are joking, thinking about the movie from the 50s with Yves Montand.
Near Fruit Bat Falls there's lots of Pitcher Plants. They are a real marvel of nature, since they are feeding on flys and MOZZIES! Good on ya, mate!
That's not a creek crossing, just a harmless "ford" near the start of the northern part of the OTL between Fruit Bat and Twin Falls.
Twin Falls is another good spot for swimming. The campground nearby has to be booked ahead a couple of days in advance at Heathlands Ranger Station. But if you don't arrive to late in the day the bush camp at Canal Creek just a couple of kilometres north from here, is an even better option and it's free.
Early next morning Canal Creek looks like an offroad exercise area. There's heaps of "boys with their toys". Even from the Army, and the ranger is closely following them, since they accidentally spoil some of their fuel due to a leaky petrol tank. The friendly tour guide with the camera on his broom stick advises us not to take the first side track back to the bypass as we planned to. We do not want to take the second one as well, as we're afraid of the log bridge, since our vehicle is at least one ton heavier than the other ones usually travelling here. He tells us that the track is overgrown and we would get trouble because of the height of our vehicle. "It's not made by the government, you know, people cut it by hand. It's a road that shouldn't be there." so he says. Actually it is the first time we appreciate that the "road" we are currently on, obviously is made or somehow serviced by the government. This sounds strange to us but anyway he's right. Life is different in the bush. He really was a nice chap and we would like to thank him again for his advice.
Telegraph pole on the OTL. Their parts continuously make their way into souvenir collections of enthusiastic four wheel drivers.
To cross the Jardine by taking the Jardine River Ferry has become mandatory in recent years. Some travellers still claim, that locals sometimes excavate the riverbed, to make it impossible to cross it with a 4wd at the old crossing point east of the ferry. We do not really believe these stories. Still the crossing is expensive, the distance of travel provided. But if we consider the effort it takes to get to this point at all and the satisfaction and fun you receive on the trip and in reaching the tip, it simply doesn't matter. Besides, it's their land.
One of three aircraft wrecks of WWII in the Cape York area. This is a DC3 that came down near Bamaga in 1942. Bless them.
Sunset at the Seisia Jetty. The locals are catching fish with hand lines - no bait required. We are absolutely stunned by the amount of fish in these waters.
Yes, you have to walk the last few couple of hundred meters to the tip.
View over to Punsand Bay.
Incredible, four month ago we've been to Hobart. Now we learn that meanwhile we drove half the way to Beijing, and definitely not in a direct line.
Dunnit! A popular T-shirt suggests we survived 9,658,002 corrugations since Cooktown. IF you ask me, it must have been more! A nice stitch made by Regina & Karl.
Back from the tip, we take the shortcut to Punsand Bay. Probably my best advice to travellers not yet accustomed to the Aussie standards, is NOT to take shortcuts. In this case it was fun, although it did take quite a while and I wouldn't recommend it for a small 4wd.
A lovely beach, a shady spot, a moderate breeze and good seafood, in short the ideal place to relax for a couple of days.
We are camping directly at the beach. We only swim in the pool though, because of crocodylus porosus.
Sunset at Punsand Bay.
We never saw this sign anywhere else in Australia.
On the way back we camp again at Archer River. Shortly before, we had part with Regina & Karl. They continue their journey to Weipa first and then towards the Territory where we came from. We listen to the sound from Karl's CD. A sad evening, but anyway we are happy that we made new friends and we are sure to meet them again.