13th to 14th July 2017
Port Douglas to Cooktown 280kms
The plan was to get up early, pack up and clean up for Taryn and Geoff, and get going about the same time they go to work, 9ish. Funnily enough, we stuck to the plan, and rode off about five minutes after the hard workers, and stopped at the servo to fuel up. The morning was nothing short of glorious, clear skies, sunshine and a slight breeze. Perfect riding temperature. We start the ride today by going back up towards Mt Molloy, that lovely winding road up the range. Super! It was great fun, again, even though it was busy, and we got stuck behind a couple of caravans.
Another fabulous day for riding, and we were lucky enough to catch a cane train loading, and a few slow vehicles heading up the range. Didn’t matter.
We turned right onto the Mulligan Highway towards Lakeland. This will take us all the way to Cooktown on a good quality sealed road. We’d been told by other travellers that is was a boring road, so we weren’t expecting much. Right from the beginning, though, we loved it. Ever changing terrain, with views of distant hills, walls of good Aussie gum trees, and a huge variety of grasses. It was not a straight road either, with lots of enjoyable sweeping bends, and never flat. We are actually riding along the top of the Great Dividing Range. Around one bend, we see a sign telling us of a steep ascent. Woo hoo, ripper! At the top, is Bobs Lookout, and wow, what a great view, looking back to where we had come from. Amazing surprise.
When we spotted the McLeod River crossing, we decided it was a great spot to have a break and a coffee. Very nice.
Bob’s Lookout, what an awesome view. We spotted some fellow west Aussies too.
Of course, when there is an up, you get to go down, I think we were at over 400 metres, and that too was full of sweeping corners and chiseled out rock walls. Very nice. Then we got to Lakeland, which is where you turn left to head to the top of the country, Cape York. Not this time, it is a real 4WD adventure, or serious dirt bike trip. Way above my current (or future) level of riding. So we carried on towards Cooktown. More great Bush, and some tough station country. And then another surprise, as we rounded another bend, heading down some more. We came to Black Mountain Range. It’s only small, but super impressive. Whole mountains of bare black boulders. Just like something from a movie set. With a cool view of the valley towards Cooktown.
Another lookout, to spot Iron Range, and we discovered the red area we thought was red dirt, was actually fields of grasses in seed. Pretty.
The hills of black boulders were a pretty stunning, and they were big big rocks.
20 minutes later, and we are rolling through the historic town, where Captain Cook was run aground in the Endeavour. From this to the gold rush in the 1880’s, and then to tourism. It is a fairly quiet place, even though it is full of tourists. We decide on the Peninsula Caravan Park, which is set back onto the natural bush, and was recommended by a couple of blokes at one of the lookouts we stopped at. The lady at reception had a very dry sense of humour, and said she’d had enough after 40yrs (it’s for sale…you wanna buy it? Nope!). The campsite was nice, the facilities limited and rundown, but not a bad place. No camp kitchen, but a free range BBQ, just plonked randomly in the bush. That’ll do us. We have steak and salad. Before we got to cooking, a bloke selling fish (Nicko, was his name) came round and had a chat, and then another camper, Paul came and had a chat and actually gave us a big fillet of Barramundi. So steak can last till tomorrow, and we had Barra and salad. Thanks Paul.
Cooktown, the furthest north we’ve ever made in Qld, and it’s all history, monuments and guns….oh and fishing.
Pitter patter, pitter patter, for most of the night. Bugger! What is that all about? It’s the bloody dry season people! But in the morning, it was sunny and nice, and we were happy that everything was dry. We relaxed and ate our cereal, and had coffee, and watched more people coming in. One group of two cars, four guys, a boat and a trailer, was interesting. The youngest guy, Peter, had a chat with us, telling us he was on a 5 week trip with his Dad and a couple of mates. Fishing and camping, and a lot of tall story telling, I’ll bet. We decided to head through town again and check out a couple of things. First was the heritage listed Lighthouse on top of Grass Hill Lookout. It had great views of the area, and some nice walks. Next was a few of the old buildings, and lastly the famous “Top Pub”, the Cooktown Hotel. It is necessary to have at least one beer here, and we shared some lunch.
Lovely old Lighthouse, and great views, better on a day with less wind, we nearly blew off.
We took a look at Finch Bay, which was nice, but with a Creek flowing out to it, we’re on the lookout for crocs. They’re here somewhere.
The Top Pub was pretty good, and there are plenty of old buildings and a great museum, which we didn’t go to, as this place has so much history.
A little bit of shopping, then back to camp for more relaxing, and planning the next couple of days. The weather apps tell us, a slight chance of some rain over the next couple of days, but only about 2mm. Shouldn’t be a problem. Nicko came round again, selling fish, so we bought half a kilo of frozen cooked prawns, and decided they’d be lunch tomorrow. We ate our steak and salad, and went to bed early, after cold showers. Ugh, not nice, but something had gone seriously wrong with the electrical system, and they called in the big guns. Too late for me though.
WHat do you do when you want a cold beer but don’t have a fridge or eski? Use your old folding bucket, that’s what. Everything needs more than one use.