Cooktown, quicksand and recovery

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Cooktown is a lovely place to spend some time, and it’s on the list to return to when we have “free time”.. not that we know when that will be, but we can dream!

Our first morning back, Paul set up school work with the littlies, and I went for a swim in the pool with our eldest daughter. It was relaxing in so far as Kirstine didn’t have to constantly be within arms reach, as she normally is when all three kids are in the water. A chance to recoup and recover!

After visiting the Captain James Cook memorial statue, commissioned by BP Australia as a gift to the people of Cookstown for the bicentennial, we grabbed lunch from the Cooks Landing Kiosk. Super fresh fish and a suitably family sized portion of chips. We’d been telling the kids that we’d feed them seafood in Queensland, so this was once promise fulfilled! A walk on Cherry Tree Beach was a must after such a big meal, and Paul even got to fly the DJI Mavic Pro! Kirstine and the kids, in the meantime, put their toes in the Coral Sea (or rather a shallow pool left by the tides), so that we could tick that off the list. The water was beautifully warm, and it’s so unfair that these beaches are simply unsafe to swim at. The waters beckon and tempt, but between the stingers and crocs, the enjoyment would be lost to sheer primal fear.

We had a visitor at our site that evening, who was a friend of the man we met at Lakeland on the way to the Cape. A chaplain at a local school, it was unbelievable to find that word of mouth of our trip had spread, and lead to someone recognising the Legend and coming to say hello! Morgan had hoped to help facilitate a visit to the school, but a recent bout of extra curricular visitors meant that they really had to focus on the learning again. We certainly appreciated his thoughts and effort!

A visit to Elim Beach and the Coloured Sands was a morning’s day trip, and was thoroughly enjoyable. Located within Hope Vale Aboriginal Community lands, a nominal day visitor fee gave us access to go and explore. We’d already read several social media posts about visitors who ignore advice from locals and signposts, and drive on the beach off the tracks. Quicksand is not something that most people think about, and the recovery fee of $2000 is truly indicative of the danger involved in not only retrieving a stuck/vehicle before the tide and crocs come back in (if they didn’t stay in the mangroves already), but also the danger to the person who goes to effect the recovery. Please, if you visit, listen to the advice (you’ll get it if you go and pay the fee at the camp site as you ethically should!), stay high on the beach, use existing tracks and don’t make new ones.

The Coloured Sands are so very photogenics, and were it not for the proximity of the water to the cliff face, we may have enjoyed a stroll along the beach. Instead we got the Legend back to solid dry land, and Paul & Kirstine went back to fly the drone. As yet, Paul has not been able to capture any film of a saltwater croc, and it’s become a bit of a “thing” to try and find one. Paul took one step too far towards the water (and we were there at low tide), only four metres or so from the safe driving track, and sunk up to his ankle in quicksand. Obviously he stepped back and decided against going closer, letting the DJI Mavic Pro do the travel for him.

We did try and explore tracks past the opposite side of the camp, but the mud map we’d been given was very rough, and the tracks were very soft sand and slightly overgrown, so we turned around and headed for home.

We stopped in at the Cornetts IGA for some supplies. Kirstine really liked this supermarket, and had some entertaining chats with the staff. A new conversation started when she got back to the Legend, and we had a gorgeous couple chatting with Paul and the kids. This gentleman has much the same illness as Paul, his partner is his carer, and they were very interested in mental health assistance dogs. We stood talking for a good half hour, and it was almost like talking to ourselves in many respects. The pain of the person suffering the mental illness, and the abiding worry of the Carer for their loved one.

Buying ½ a kilo of cooked fresh prawns from the seafood man who visited every afternoon was a treat for the kids. As it turned out, in the camp kitchen they became quite adept at peeling the prawns, and with the number that Cooper ate, we were sure he was going to turn into a prawn! While we were there, we each spoke to members of three couples travelling together. One spoke of his travels in Africa, where he said that he has never experienced the same levels of mental health issues as we do in western cultures. Paul explained Luna’s role in our lives, and how she enables him to try and function more easily in society. We were quite taken aback when one of the gentlemen said that all of the people at the table were involved in the medical field, and Paul had educated them about Mental Health Assistance Dogs.

Every conversation we have with people, will stay with them and no doubt be discussed with others in the social circle. Most people love dogs and believe in their therapeutic value, but few understand how highly trained Mental Health Assistance Dogs are, and the demand for them.

The wildlife at the camp was wonderfully entertaining , with the exception of the handful of midgies that chomped on us. What is the purpose of those little blighters I wonder? They are far too miniscule and we only had a few. We know of people who’ve been in other locations at other times of the year and been partially devoured by the nasty pests! We even watched a spider wasp drag a paralysed spider twice its size across the campsite and to its nest. We didn’t go looking for that one! Spotlighting for bandicoots, a visit from a tawny frog mouth, hilarious brush turkeys racing through the grounds, and even a python reported near the amenities block! We didn’t see the python, but did check that our tree frog friends were safe and sound before we left Cooktown..again 

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