15th to 16th July 2017
Cooktown to Cape Tribulation via The Bloomfield Track 115kms
My plan today, was to get going, and maybe just get to Ayton, and stay there, then do the 36km dirt section (with several water crossings, oh deary me) the next day when I’m fresh, and then stay at Cape Trib a few days to clean up. But Will had it in his mind that we were going the whole way today. There is no stopping him when he has his mind on something, so that is it! We’re doing the Bloomfield Track today. Oh bloody hell, I’m nervous, people have been telling me all sorts of things about it, and when I say people, I mean Men! Why are there no inexperienced, scaredy cat women like me out here doing it to give me proper relevant advice?
To top it off, the sky was overcast and the air was thick with moisture. It is bloody going to rain, isn’t it? Sure is, as it started to drizzle on us while we packed up. It was still drizzling when we headed out of town, back towards the Black Mountain Range and our turn off towards Bloomfield. This first section is sealed, and winds through some very beautiful rainforest, but before we got to that bit, we had to take a break at The Lions Den. A famous old pub, that the old diggers from the Palmer Goldrush days, in the 1870’s, used to frequent. Apparently they would leave their pay checks with the publican, write on the walls what they had, and keep tally of what they spent this way. It sure was an interesting pub. We enjoyed a break from the drizzle, and a coffee and hot chocolate (too early for beer).
A great spot, just wish it wasn’t raining. You can camp behind the pub too.
Through the rainforest, the drizzle became rain, and we got a bit wet. Bugger, bum, poop, this will make the dirt track a mud track. I don’t know about mud. But as we came out of the forest, into the tiny townsite of Ayton, it became clear to me that we weren’t camping this side of the Bloomfield Track, as Will hardly slowed down, and laughed when I suggested we take a look for a camp. Right, onward then. So just out of the village, we found a little boat ramp, on the Bloomfield river, with a sheltered table. Prawn time! So we sat and got eaten by sandflies, while enjoying our lunch of prawns and brioche rolls, with the rest of our morning coffees.
A bit posh hey, but gee they were good. Last chance to relax before we hit the track.
Onward to Bloomfield, which looked pretty well kept. Quite a good size Aboriginal village, with a school, and a shop, and set in a little valley on the river. Then we reached the Track! Right, game on folks, this was it. It had stopped drizzling for now, so we could just tick along and get a feel for the track. So far so good. Nothing too drastic. It was quite compact, and there were lots of pot holes, but there is a lot of traffic on it this time of year. There were some steep hills, but they were no problem, and we got through a couple of small water crossings. Then we came to the first real challenge, at the Donovan Range. It is a 33% incline, with a couple of tight corners. First gear, and don’t stop, Will was first and giving me commentary on anything coming and dangers. It wasn’t hard, as they have concreted it, and put lots of scoring over it for traction.
A bit slippery, a bit steep, and a bit wet, but it was beautiful.
The rain started again, and the track got quite wet and a bit slippery in places. But still, it wasn’t difficult. We just took it easy, and with oncoming traffic, no one was going fast. Then we came over a rise and spotted a couple of cycle tourers. Wow, guys, great effort. They told us it was very slippery back the way they’d come, and they had walked through the big water crossing at Emmagen Creek, saying “Boo” to the crocs. Brave soles. Shortly after the cyclists, we came up and around a slippery part, onto a section deep in the rainforest. Will started whispering to me that he could see a Cassowary, and to cut my engine as soon as I could so we didn’t scare it off. I came around, and there it was, in the middle of the track, just standing there. Wow, way, way cool.
You will always find someone more crazy than you. Inspiring.
Other vehicles were coming, and it just dashed into the forest and disappeared. Off we went, happy that what ever happened next, it wouldn’t spoil the day after seeing one of those rare birds. That was until we got to the next water crossing, which looked deep and was about 15 meters wide. Will just smashed through it, but I wasn’t sure about it. So I pulled over. A car went through, and then I decided that it was beyond my capabilities (talked myself out of it). Will walked back through, and rode my bike for me. I felt a bit disappointed in myself, but the reality is, if you push too hard and hurt yourself, the trip is over. Better to know your capabilities, and to get to the other end safely. Will didn’t mind, he was loving himself sick.
Curse my over thinking brain, sometimes you should just do it before you can reason why you shouldn’t. Lucky I’ve got Will to do that, hey?
That was until we got to the “Big” one at Emmagen Creek. Holy crap. That is deep, and wide, and crocs. Shitty, shit, shit! We parked up and went down to investigate. We watched a car go through, to help assess the right line, and depth, then Will took the Mule through, like a champion. A couple of old guys on old dirt bikes arrived, and they helped to check it too. One of them walked through on all sides, he was tall and the water was up to his knees, and we all chose a slightly better line than Will had taken. They went through, feet down, slow and steady, walking and powering through. It was good to watch them and see how it was done, but to be honest, I didn’t think I could do it without issue, so Will walked back over and took Little Bubby through.
Will just got to it, and powered through. He was very happy to reach the other side. You can check out the action on YouTube.
Wiljen on The Bloomfield Track
I was really nervous watching Will, and kept giving him advise. Like I know what to do, Mrs too chicken to try, but was really relieved when he got through safely again. I walked, watching for crocs, and making sure I didn’t trip or slip on the rocky bottom. Wow, that was tricky. Will was sweating and puffing with the adrenaline rush, and after a brief rest, we kept going. Thanks Will, you are amazing.
I was happy to get my feet wet, the least I could do after Will did all the hard work. Just watching for those giant snapping lizards.
The rest of the track was muddy and slippery, but no drama for us. There was lots of traffic heading north, but before we knew it, we were back on the bitumen at Cape Tribulation in the rain. We pulled into PK’s Jungle Village, and got ourselves a $10 jug of beer (Happy Hour, from 12 – 7pm) and celebrated the adventure. We booked a room, as it was now pissing down, and didn’t look like stopping, and got another jug. After getting our wet gear off, and having a lovely hot shower, we got some dinner and a few more jugs of $10 beer. Maybe a couple too many, but it was a good day and a wet night. Hopefully tomorrow will be sunny and dry so we can dry our stuff.
Great to make it through, not great to do it in the rain, but time to celebrate.
After raining for most of the night, we woke up to sunshine! Yahoo! So we got to washing and drying stuff, and enjoying the tropical winter. We are almost at the end of Part C of our Aussie adventure, so we did more celebrating with Bacon and Eggs at PK’s. Then we just got to our jobs, did some book reading while enjoying the warmth, and wrote our blog notes. Then, feeling a bit guilty, we took a walk to the beach, and through the rainforest on a fantastic boardwalk. Good old stupid dick knee called it quits, so we stopped briefly to get a few groceries (we are cooking what’s left of our food supplies) and an ice cream. Then back to rotate the drying gear, oil my bike chain, and repack the dry stuff. More reading, and enjoying the day, we even saw two Ulysses butterflies.
Some great nature walks and if the old knees weren’t so crap, I would have liked to see more.
Sometimes Will get some right into getting “The Photo”….. or did he just fall over?
I couldn’t hold Will off any longer, so at 4:30pm we mosied over to the Jungle Bar and played a bit of pool. A couple of $10 jugs later, a few Lazy Bears (Bundie Rum and Dry, I’m going full Queenslander). I’m still crap at pool, but we had fun, before heading to the kitchen to cook dinner. We met a young couple (20 and 19yrs), doing a trip in the Uni break from Melbourne. They were very cool, just taking it day by day, using the backpackers, and seeing what they could see. Nice to meet them, and it did make us remember our early days, oh and feel bloody old at the same time. Tomorrow, we don’t know where we’ll go, we are only an hour and a half from Port Douglas, but we’ll try see what else there is to see before we get sorted to head home. Mixed feelings now.
Day 102 – 107, 13th-18th of July, 5 days & a mere 540kms.