(still catching up from the lack of internet over the last week!)
“Dingo!” Paul cried as we passed through the 260 million year old Black Mountain area which is now a National Park. Kirstine swore, having missed it as she studied a guide to Cape York. Paul has an affinity with dingoes, and spots them before anyone else.
We found a “hidden” BP in Lakeland, and refuelled everything! There are no other BP servos between Lakeland and Bamaga up north. This roadhouse is a coffee shop located off the main road, and is well worth a look with its range of souvenirs and food/beverage options.
Whilst Kirstine organised breakfast, Paul chatted with a couple at the bowsers. Returning with bacon & egg sarnies and coffee, Paul retold the story of this couple with their children.
Both are military members and have served overseas. They also lost their home in the Black Saturday fires in 2011. Paul was working then with the Country Fire Authority. That night, Cooper was born, so there was joy for Paul after a day of tragedy for so many. This family had lost everything, and the emotion was still raw for this lady. She told Paul that everyone had been so focussed on the losses they suffered, that they hadn’t thought of the effect on firefighters’ mental health after working through those horrific fires. They are going to follow us on Facebook, and we hope that they share this with their friends and know how much we appreciate their support!
Just out of Lakeland we passed a watermelon farm. Not something we were expecting to see there, after all the bananas, sugar cane and avocadoes!
The Peninsula Development Road is a mixture of smooth black top, dirt road with various levels of corrugations to shake your fillings loose from your teeth, and dust holes to bury your wheels in. It’s planned to have this road completely sealed by 2019. There are mixed feelings about this. Whilst it will make the trip much smoother for the transport of essential services to the area, and far less brutal on the vehicles travelling it, it will likely also increase the traffic to an area not suited to 2WD or caravans. Talking to locals, there are enough “muppets” that drive up to the Cape, without making it easier for more to do it.
We pulled up at Coen, everything shaken and not stirred, with Paul exhausted after four hours of intense driving and concentration. He has the skills (4WD instructor from way back), but you still have to have your eyes on the road every second, particularly when towing.
The Bend is a free camp on the Coen River, and we arrived in time to get a lovely spot only a short walk for the kids to the drop toilet. The kids were wary of the water, as parts of the Coen are known to have crocs of the saltwater variety. At this camp, however, the water was ankle deep and crystal clear. Low risk, but the kids have been rightfully cautious of water since we reached the more tropical climes of Far North Queensland. Waterways are usually marked with warning signs, but as we’ve been saying, if in doubt, stay out!
Poring over maps while the kids played dominoes, poker or snap, we watched the wee fish jump, and birdlife settle down into the evening. It was hard to sleep though, knowing that the next day we would be arriving at the Cape!