Having a fridge not charging properly necessitated an early departure from Punsand Bay. The upside to this (because Kirstine always tries to find the silver lining), is that we had an extra day to make our way back to Cooktown.
Pau had also determined that the Anderson plug on the Legend was faulty, also not helping with trying to keep the fridge functioning! Using a plug from the extension lead we carry, he was able to “Macgyver” a solution in 10 minutes at the side of the road. It helps to have some mechanical skills if you’re going to the Cape!
Kirstine drove the Legend & Cub onto the Jardine River ferry this time, and again, no crocodiles were there to wave to us. We considered drawing straws to see who might go in to let them know we wanted a photo, but as the crossing takes less than 2 minutes, we had to cut our losses and drive on .. hehe. We were super thrilled to see the photogenic little dingo from our initial crossing, turn up again to watch the humans in their motorised metal boxes with round feet, go over the water. Paul had been hoping to fly the DJI Mavic Pro over the Jardine to spy some crocs, but it was surprisingly windy, and aside from a water landing being really bad for drones in a permanent sense, there were other toothy reasons for not going near the water if Paul lost contact with the drone.
We had booked to stay at Elliot Falls, and had a surprise in store for the kids. Our first stop was at Fruit Bat Falls, a sublime freshwater swimming hole rated highly as a “must see” by all who visit. There were 3 vehicles in the car park as we arrived, but as we got organised to walk down to the falls, visitors returned to their cars and left. We had the entire Fruit Bat Falls to ourselves!! Cape York has been very good to us.
The crystal clear green-hued waters pour off a sharp ledge, and exotic ferns line the cliff face. Kirstine went in first, and it took a good ten minutes to overcome the primal fear associated with swimming in Far North Queensland, when we’d become so accustomed to staying away because of salties. Eventually logic won over fear, and we all entered the water to swim under th3e waterfalls. All except Luna, that is. She was NOT impressed at having to stay tied up, doomed only to observe, not swim. In hindsight we could have thrown her in, as we were the only ones there, but we respect the rules about service dogs in these locations, so Luna just had to deal with it! As did the kids when we sat them out with Luna so we could have five minutes of peace in this romantic location. Kiss under a waterfall? Tick!
We didn’t want to leave this serene location, but camping isn’t permitted there, and we’d booked for Elliott Falls (another safe swimming spot). We stayed in our swimmers, anticipating another swim once camp was set up.
Imagine our dismay when our short trip to the camp site was interrupted by a 50m long, deep water crossing – part of the Old Telegraph Track (OTT). Not on our GPS, maps or camp guide, there was no mention of a water crossing to get to the falls. Creeks are one thing, but this was no creek.
Three other vehicles (not towing) arrived, and we spoke about the crossing. Two decided to go ahead, and made it through the water, which was over the bonnet of each 4WD. Paul wisely chose not to put the Legend or Cub at risk. We don’t own either of them! We were disappointed to have to miss the campsite and more swimming, but erred on the side of caution for our sponsors.
We decided to go to Bramwell Junction, an hour away. Whilst otherwise uneventful, we did have a GIANT feral pig trot across the road in front of us. There were only two other vans at Bramwell Junction, and we parked next to a huge shelter as there were rainclouds above. Tea was burgers from the roadhouse, by the light of our Lightforce LED strip, a breeze moving the air to keep us cool. It was a wonderful way to end a RARE relaxing family afternoon.
Waking up to the view through the Cub Camper to the termite mounds at dawn, was sublime. A quick pack up saw us continue, destination Musgrave Roadhouse. The roadhouse food along the PDR is really delicious! Most of the prices are pretty good too. Just don’t go wanting to buy 1L of milk, or you’ll pay $6 ….
By evening at Musgrave, the campground was pretty full of interesting characters. We were chuffed to see two other Cubs! By far the highlight of the evening was the feeding of the freshwater crocs at the lake behind the grounds. The caretaker walked through the camp, inviting everyone to come and watch, and the kids (& us) were entranced as these throwbacks to prehistory, crawled onto land, tempted by the meat being thrown to them. Apparently there are 14 of them in the lake, one as big as 6ft! Watching the turtles vie for food with the crocs, and knowing that freshies are generally non-aggressive to humans, I would have been more worried about losing a toe to a turtle if I dipped it into the lake!
It was a restless night. Paul was not in a good headspace, and fell asleep early. Some of our “neighbours” thought it would be hilarious to play music and talk loudly till 10pm. This was unsurprising, considering that their entertainment involved changing song lyrics to incorporate alcohol. It is disappointing when people disturb others, including families with children, through such selfish behaviour. Thankfully it’s not been a regular occurrence – our days are long, so we need as much beauty sleep as we can get!
After breakfasting with the brahmans near the roadhouse, we left for Cooktown. The wonderful Big 4 Cooktown Holiday Park provided us with a powered site for three nights. We were weary, dusty, in need of a shower, and this park was very much a welcome sight, though we did pop in to the laundry to let the two resident tree frogs know that we were back!