Sorry guys! I got a little bit behind with blogging. Where did I leave you?
The last few days have been a blur of mechanical issues and travelling. We set off to travel from our campsite at Loyalty Beach heading south with a quick detour to see the mouth of the Jardine River and old radar at Mutee Heads. Well, that “quick detour” turned into a half a day issue! Here’s a hot tip – always drop your tyre pressures when driving on soft sand! No excuses like “it’s only a quick look then we’ll be back on the main road” are going to stop you from getting bogged! Here’s another tip – always keep tension on the snatch strap when you’re getting snatched out of that soft sand you’re bogged in, otherwise you will break something if it wraps around your wheel! Ok, so we’ve got the newbie tips out of the way? Great!
The mouth of the Jardine is a lovely spot. But please be very wary of the incredibly powder-soft sand on the north bank at the beach. Even with appropriate tyre pressures in our Patrol it was still tough going! We’re all experienced enough to know better but as I hinted at one of our group did get bogged and did get a snatch strap around the front wheel when getting snatched out. One bent tyre rod end later and we were left having to perform some bush mechanic style roadside repairs up near the old radar at Mutee Heads.
We managed to perform a make-do wheel alignment using a piece of string and a pen to measure so the afflicted car was drivable to get to Weipa for actual repairs. We stopped for the night at the Bramwell Station after kilometres of corrugations and a quick swim at Fruitbat Falls again. We pulled in late to the smell of diff oil leaking from the rear diff of our Patrol – sign that the diff gasket has had it thanks to the corrugations. Tightening up a few bolts seems to have stopped the leak, so fingers crossed it’ll hold until we’re home where we can fix it properly. The showers at Bramwell and a dinner of pizza cooked on the Weber was a welcome relief after a stressful day, that was for sure!
We made it to Weipa for a late lunch the following day. We stayed there a few days to sort repairs on the car with the bent tyre rod end and once again catch up on the boring things like laundry and grocery shopping. The highlight would have been “coconut hunting” near the Weipa port. After trying various methods, we found the best way to wrangle a coconut from the tree was to lassoo one using a length of rope with a rock tied to the end to help with the accuracy of throwing it. De-husking the coconuts was achieved with a small axe we had in the car with our camping tools. We sat there near the Port snacking on fresh coconut and coconut water. Was it worth the effort? Probably not, but it did provide a few hours of free amusement and quite a few laughs!
We left Weipa bound for the east coast, making our way towards Elim Beach. We camped another night on the road at a free bush camp at Morehead River between Musgrave Roadhouse and Laura on the Peninsula Development Road. It’s a great spot that we had all to ourselves for the night. I experimented for a while with photographing the night sky – my camera has its limitations when it comes to astrophotography but I have seen amazing shots others have pulled off with similar Olympus models so I’m determined to master it!
This morning we stopped in at the Old Laura Station. If you’re heading past this way definitely stop in for a look – its impressive to see all the old station buildings as they are now and picture how they would have been in their heyday.
The drive through Lakefield National Park was picturesque. Views out over vast valleys, winding roads (in surprisingly great condition compared to the Peninsula Development Road), easy river crossings – it had a little bit of everything. If we had a little more time I would love to explore this area more!
We arrived at Elim Beach early afternoon after buying our permits from the Hopevale service station. Do yourself a favour and add this place to your to-do list! We had a lot of fun exploring the old fishing huts and the sandy 4-wheel-drive tracks up towards Cape Bedford. The Coloured Sands are also beautiful but James and I opted to admire them from a distance as the beach was quite wet and we didn’t want risk corrosion from the salt water by driving on it.
We elected not to camp at Elim Beach as there was a bit of rain about. It was a good excuse to make the most of the daylight and push on to Cooktown. We’ve camped the night at the Cooktown Peninsula Caravan a Park and I highly recommend it! The tent camping area is nice right down the back of the park, the amenities were clean, and it was one of the cheaper options in town, too. We had a night off camp cooking and headed to the Bowls Club for dinner – great value for money serves of typical “pub style” food.