The trip began eight days ago when I (slightly hungover) threw (literally) a tent, sleeping bag, random clothes and food (anything perishable went into the esky and came with me, rather than going in the bin – where it would have made more sense to go) into the car and started driving. North was the general direction, Chillagoe and Cooktown were two key places I wanted to see. How to get there and what to see in between – chance played a big part in that one.
I won’t go into too much detail of what I did and where I went. I started to think myself quite pathetic when something would happen or I would see something and I’d think, “I have to blog about this.” Of course, I can’t remember half of the things that were “blogworthy”, but there were a few, like the Espanol Pub in a 2-dog, 1-chicken, 1-house, half-train (no joke) town of Lappa, where booze was BYO!! Actually, there was no-one in the “town” – except said dogs and chicken – so services were very limited.
There was also the observatory in Chillagoe – one of the reasons I took this trip when I did was to get away from light pollution so I could check out the stars and such like. The campground had an observatory and that’s why I stayed there. I didn’t count on the fact that the owner just “didn’t want to operate the telescope” on the night I stayed. So I took a beach chair out to near the observatory and lay in the breeze and watched satellites and shooting stars and constellations that were there – though I couldn’t identify them (I can pick out the Southern Cross and the saucepan!). I also went through a couple of caves at Chillagoe – amazing!! The bats, native (read: protected) cockroaches and snakes thought so, too. We all thought the heat sucked.
The drive to Cooktown from Chillagoe was LONG. Though there was a coffee plantation, a tea plantation, and a mango winery to stop at along the way (too much money was spent, but I’m on holiday). Cooktown was windy. But cooler than Chillagoe, so I didn’t care a bit. I didn’t realise it was such a small town. Captain Cook landed (read: crashed into the reef) the Endeavour here on his first voyage this way. While people repaired the boat, Joseph Banks was documenting the plants along the river and getting his artists to draw the weirdest looking kangaroos anyone has ever seen. And Cook kept climbing Grassy Hill (which isn’t really grassy) to find a passage out of the Coral Sea. I climbed Grassy Hill once and that was enough for me. The view, however, was more than spectacular.
After Cooktown, I headed to Mossman (to Mossman Gorge) and swam in the river (no crocs, this time) which was stunning. Then headed across the Daintree River on a car ferry to Cape Tribulation. Which is where the rainforest meets the reef. And is just too beautiful for words. I drove the car as far as I could – until I got to the Bloomfield Track (scene of tree-huggers vs Sir Joh (the then-Premier) back in the early 80s when the virgin rainforest was bulldozed to pave a road from Cairns to Cooktown) and the sign said 4WD only past this point. It was just in front of a river – with a sign warning me about crocs.
After Cape Trib I headed south again – to Port Douglas (because I was driving past and it was there). My verdict: seen it, never have to go back there again. Then I went on to Cairns (to go shopping!!) and then came home. Between Port Douglas and Cairns I saw a croc in a river (no signs here, though… the irony) and saw a cassowary by the side of the highway. These are rare events and I felt very lucky – no need to go to animal parks for me! Though I didn’t manage to snap any pictures of the cassowary.
Got home Friday night and have taken the weekend to recover. And have just had all three seasons of Arrested Development delivered to my door, so I have some serious vegging out to do now.There are STACKS of pictures on Flickr. Go see ’em.