Cape York - Top of Aus

Trip Start Jun 27, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Tuesday morning I got the Airport shuttle bus at 06:30 to the airport to start my 5 day Cape York Expedition. Cape York is the big Peninsula north of Cairns, the tip of this amazing place is the northen most point of the whole country/ continent. Most of this place has un - paved and corrugated roads and there are only bitumen roads around the tiny settements that dot the cape, this most definitely addes to the feeling of isolation and wilderness one experiences up here.  It is the largest unspoilt wilderness in northern Australia and one of the last remaining wilderness areas on Earth. My expedition involved flying up to the top of the cape and then making our way back to Carins overland over a 5 day period. My propellor plane flight from Cairns Domestic Airport took me to Horn Island. This is one of the many islands contained within the Torres Straigh the area of sea between north Australia and Papua New Guinea. Upon arrival I was met by a local bus company which brought us across the island to the ferry terminal for transfer across to another island Thursday Island. Here we were given a few hours to explore. This island is only 3.5 squared kilometers so gave me ample time to explore it. Along the centre the island was raised with two notable viewing points that I trekked to Greenhill fort and Millman point. The views of the surrounding ocean and neighbouring Torres Islands was quite special. In the afternoon I returned to the ferry pier to travel the 39 Kilometers back to main land Australia. The crossing was quite bumpy but this was negated by the pleasent views. After arriving at the pier I met my Guide Andrew ( who was very knowledgable, informative and possed a very relaxing characterisitic, he thought us all about the first trips by the "white man" up through the Cape from the Kennedy Expedition to the amazing story of the young Jardines herding Cattle up through the dense forrest) and the rest of my group ( 9 Aussies, 2 Germans and myself). We immediatly drove to the nearby Bamaga Settement to the bottle shop to take care of some high priority business, get our beer supply for the week. Being in Queensland 4X was my obvious choice. After a short drive we reached our camp site for the first night at Liberty Beach on the north eastern side of the cape. The camp sight was located on the banks of ths most amazing isolated beach. I went for a short 1.5km walk up the shore to find a ship wreck that had founds it new resting place on the beach. The sunset over the beach was amazing as the group got to know each other over a beer and a beautiful steak dinner cooked by Andrew.

The next moring we rose at 6 am for a 8 am departure. The efficency of the group in packing up the camp ment we departed at 7.30 am for the hour long jouney to the top of the cape called "Pajinka" in Aboriginal language or simply the tip in English. The journey to the tip took us through a splendid bit of rainforest called the "Lockerbie Scrub". After parking the 4X4 we had about a 15 walk along the tip of the headland to reach Pajinka itself. After another group had left we had the place to ourselves for a few minutes for some photo time. It was an amazing experience and the goal of the trip to hold the Austalian flag at the top of this most incredible country had been achieved. It was all downhill form here :). Returning to Liberty Beach for lunch we passed quite alot of oncomming traffic so the early start had been very beneficial. After luch we headed south crossing the mighty Jardine River and stopped briefly at the sight of a famous plane wreck on Cape york ( all six passengers had been killied in May 1942, incredibly they were only 1 km from their intended landing place and the mystery is why they didn't make it) and driving down the start of the very rugged old Telegraph track to reach our campsite for day 2 at Elliot Falls. This place was the highlight of the whole trip for myself. A very short walk from the campsite we were presented with a beautiful spring of fresh cold water from the earth's surface flowing down stream over varying sizes of rugged rock with the most copious and clear water one could imagine. The place was magic and to jump into the water after a day of sweating in the humid heat was amazing. To make things even better there were two more viewing points to visit and we were totally alone at this slice of perfection.

Day three started at the same time as day two and so would the last two days. After packing up camp we headed to Fruit back Falls. This place was very similar to Elliot Falls and we enjoyed a lovely early morning swim here.After this we headed back down the the Old Telepgrah route to the main road to head towards our lunch time spot at Palm Creek ( Palm Creek is at the end of the old telepgrah section we had been on that morning so we had joined the final bit of the track from the main road) . Palm Creek is a very impressive creek crossing and it looks like it would be impossible to pass. We were enjoying our lunch at this site hoping that someone would attempt the crossing. A few people arrived, investigated the crossing and immediately returned down the track they had came clearly not taking the risk of destroying thier 4X4. We had actually departed the area when 3 4X4's approached and to our joy they were crossing. A very quick U-turn by Andy and we were all in place cameras at the ready to witness this most amazing creek crossing. Andrew later admitted that he has a 100% strike rate at Palm Creek so his perfect ratio was almost no more. After lunch we headed for our camp site at the Archer River. Here we set up camp and before dinner a few of the group headed for a stroll along the river banks. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a very rare bird of the Cape York Area the Palm Cockatoo. I was lucky enough to get a picture of three birds in one picture. Andrew had advised that he very rarely sees this bird and after talking to the boss of Andrew Tom, he said one particular guide had never seen this bird so I was extremely lucky to get this photo.

Day 4 same drill as usual and we head south to the town of Coen where we had some time to explore the town and visit the most impressive museum with plenty of interesing facts. In the afternoon we headed into the most impressive Lakefield National Park ( nicknamed the Kakodoo of Queensland) which possesses 1.25 million acres. We saw a croc about 5-10 meters from a creek bank just eerily waiting there for some dinner, we saw a Dingo on the road, plenty of different types of birds, amazing scenery and just overall wildnerness. We were ten Kilometers away from Camp when Andrew suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. The Trailer at the rear of our Vehicle holding all our food supplies and sleeping equipment was no longer attached, it had completely snapped in half crossing a rugged, rough dry creek. We were stranded 10 km's from camp, at a croc and snake infested creek and with no toliets. We had no choice but to set up camp. Myself and Barry set up our two tents at one side of the road while the rest at the opposite side. There were constant jokes of hungry crocs and night time rainfall that would flood the creek ( during the wet season most of creeks are impassable) among the group. Andrew using the Satelite phone ( no mobile phone coverage up here) put the call back to base who would need to drive up ( an 8 -10 hour trip), they would arrive during the night to repair the van. To convey the isloation of this place we were here for about 16 hours and with the exception of the boss who arrived during the night to fix the van only one other van passed us as we were stranded there. However the group thought this was fanstastic and we were very content sitting around the camp site enjoying the last of the beers and telling stories.

The next morning the boss and Andrew had fixed the van and we set off on time. We travelled to Quirkan Country and through Laura, We also stopped at an old cattle ranch home near Laura, it was very interesting. After Laura we arrived at Split Rock to view ancient Aborigianl Rock Art dated in excess of 13,000 years old depicting traditional activities and culture. The start of this climb was quite steep and demanding so the impressive rock art at the top was a nice reward for this trek. We then crossed the Palmer River and had lunch. In the afternoon we crossed the amazing Great Dividing Range and hit the coast road that brough us all the way back into Cairns. This brilliant expedition was now over and I will remember it and the brilliant expereince for a long time.
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