Category: Far North Queensland

Fraser Island Tour

A bucket list item was ticked off today when we visited Fraser Island on the Fraser Experience Day Tour. Our driver, Syd, picked us up at 7.30am and headed off in our 17 seat 4WD bus (with only 8 passengers) for the ferry from Hervey Bay over to Wanggoolba Creek, on Fraser Island (maplink), for a 10 hour tour.

The ferry arrived at Wanggoolba Creek and we were off on our adventure, driving from the west side of the island to 75 Mile Beach on the east coast. What a bumpy ride this was as the sand tracks have certainly had a massive amount of traffic over them.

The Pinnacles & Coloured Sands

Once onto the 75 Mile Beach we headed north to check out the Pinnacles, which are apparently one of the key attractions on Fraser Island, but we found that they weren’t all that exceptional.

SS Maheno Shipwreck

Heading back down the east coast of the island our next stop was the famous shipwreck of SS Maheno.

Now you’re talkin! This is spectacular, especially since it has laid on this beach since 1935.

Eli Creek

Next stop is the beautiful fresh water Eli Creek. We could not believe the amount of vehicles parked up at the creek, but our guide Syd this is nothing and that we should see it at Easter when there are 5 times the number of vehicles (and people) here.

Central Station &

Lunch was taken at Central Station in the middle of the island. This is a beautiful spot. After lunch it was time to stroll along the boardwalk beside the near transparent waters of Wanggoolba Creek – truly magnificent!

Lake McKenzie

Last stop was at Lake McKenzie which is situated high up in the middle of the island. Crystal clear water to swim in after strolling across the super clean silica sands.

A stormy trip back

Then it was time to climb aboard our bus and have the virtual stuffing knocked out of us as Syd navigated the tracks back to Kingfisher Bay for our ferry trip back to the mainland. We watched as the clouds got darker and bigger, signalling a stormy night ahead. This also provided yet another glorious Queensland sunset though.

Hervey Bay

A lot of people have said to us “oh Hervey Bay, that’s where people go to die”. Well I thinks that’s a bit harsh; it is a beautiful spot. We pulled into the Fraser Coast Beachfront Tourist Park in Pialba (maplink) for a 3 night stay and scored site 16 which backs right onto the beach – bonus!

It’s amazing how far the tide goes out here. It’s a shallow beach just like Rosebud back in Victoria. The weather is still windy with storms building up in the late afternoon.

A walk out on low tide with our neighbours George & Sylvia saw some interesting patterns in the sand. The incoming tide sure came in quick too.

We had a fantastic blood red full moon on our last night. This seemed a bit strange as it’s also a “blue moon” (2 full moons in the same calendar month).

Seventeen Seventy

I first heard of 1770 back in 2013 on our 1st caravaning trip up the east coast of Australia. Nearly everyone we met told us how cool it is. So we put that into our “must stay at” bucket list back then. There were no vacancies when we were travelling up the coast in August and we were extremely lucky to book 2 days at this idyllic location.

Settling into our beach-side site at the 1770 Camping Ground (very lucky to get this site as well – just sayin’) we took a stroll along the beach to to the nearby Captain Cook memorial cairn commemorating the first landing of the “Endeavour” in Queensland at Bustard Bay.  It stands on the site where one of Cook’s crew carved the date on a tree near where they came ashore.

Seventeen Seventy Campground

One of the most “cramped in” places we had stayed at where people park caravans, motor-homes and tents into every skerrick of available space. Hope they do not have to evacuate this park in a hurry as there’s only one exit! BUT, we were parked right next to the beach and it was beautiful.

Our 1st sunset

With only 2 nights in 1770 we were hoping to view the iconic sunsets which it’s renowned for and the 1st night wasn’t too shabby.

Captain Cook Memorial

After circumnavigating New Zealand, Captain James Cook’s expedition sailed west for Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) but winds forced the Endeavour north and the expedition came upon the east coast of Australia, landing at this location on 24th May 1770 (hence the town’s name). They anchored in the bay and set off to find fresh water.

We found a memorial cairn just a short walk to the east of the campground.

A trip on the LARC

One of the quirky things you can do while in 1770 is to take a trip on the pink LARC – an amphibious bus come boat. So off we went to support the local tour industry and booked in for the 1 hour afternoon cruise. It was a bit of a novelty thing to do but we managed to see a sea eagle perched in a tree as well as many smaller sea birds. The trip finished with a “splash down” as the driver drives full bore into the water from the beach – pretty cool.

1770 storm and stunning sunset

Toward the end of our second day we noticed the sky darkening while we finished the LARC tour and once back at our campsite decided to pack some of our gear up as it looked really stormy.

Lucky we did some packing up as a massive storm hit the park with extremely strong wind and really heavy rain. The place was flooded in no-time at all. Palm fronds were flying through the air covering tents, cars and caravans – it was really scary. Our poor neighbours tent had so many palm fronds over it that it started looking more like a bush hut than a tent.

Our fellow campers all got together to clean up the mess left by the storm and to make the place safe again. It was then followed up by an amazing pink and orange sunset.

Keppel Sands

Keppel Sands was selected as a destination as it had a cool sounding name and the pub was within walking distance, as today was the AFL Grand Final and we had to ensure we could watch it on TV. We booked into the Keppel Sands Caravan Park (only one in town – maplink).

Well, we saw the grand final at the pub (great win Tigers), celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and that was that. The town is very quiet with not much too do, especially when you have thunderstorms and rain. We were glad to move on after 2 nights.

Sarina

We left Cape Hillsborough a day earlier than expected as we were bombarded by sand flies (AKA midges) and Merrisa was covered in bites.

So it was off to the sugar town of Sarina. Booked into Sarina Palms Caravan Village again because it was a great little park which we had previously stayed at (maplink).

The owners of the park have a collection of concrete animals placed around the park. It sounds strange but is actually rather quaint. At night the road is actually lit up like an airport landing strip LOL.

Being Friday it was fish & chip night, which we joined in with our fellow campers. What a great night, sharing a few beers and stories with fellow travellers.

Cape Hillsborough

Cape Hillsborough (maplink) came with fantastic recommendations from so many other travellers we just had to check it out.

The Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park is a top spot to stay, right on a majestically beautiful beach with wildlife all around you. It is also surrounded by the Cape Hillsborough National Park. We even had a couple of young kangaroos snoozing on the site next to our caravan – pretty cool. It was surprising to find the park was pretty empty.

Cape Hillsborough Sunrise

Up at 5:00am and down to the beach, with a heap of other dedicated campers, to greet the sunrise along with wallabies and kangaroos.

This is a daily event set up by the national parks ranger. He puts down plastic cones to separate the eager humans from the wildlife PLUS sticks Covid19 social separation signs down as well. The wildlife certainly turned up as well as a beautiful sunrise.

Townsville

Townsville was selected as a location for no reason at all, except that it was a pin on our map. Glad we chose it and also glad we had a last minute change in our accommodation selecting BIG4 Rowes Bay Beachfront Holiday Park (closest to town – maplink) for 4 nights.

Castle Hill Lookout

First touristy thing to do is to head for the nearest viewpoint of your location and Castle Hill Lookout really did impress. From various points around Townsville you see this massive red granite monolith, which you just want to get to the top of – that’s Castle Hill Lookout.

Townsville Sea Aquarium – ReefHQ

ReefHQ is a great place to catch up on some of the beautiful creatures from the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet. We spent a few hours here checking out this well designed aquarium. Put it on you “must do” list when you’re in Townsville.

Townsville Street Art

I came across a brochure (view in PDF) about the Townsville Street Art Program which caught my interest; so I spent a few hours around Townsville discovering some really brilliant art pieces.

Street art is growing more an more popular these days and it really does bring a place alive. We totally enjoyed the Mallee Silo Art Trail in Victoria last year (view the post) and it’s great to see this type of art moving into city spaces as well. One of the Townsville Artists, Adnate, also painted the Sheep Hills silo’s in Victoria.

Artist’s name are in the caption of the photos below…

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island is a short 20 minute ferry ride from Townsville (maplink) and is a great day trip to take.

I must say, that after visiting the island it would have been more fortuitous to actually book some accommodation for a couple of days so we could really explore the place – it has heaps to offer.

We took the hop-on hop-off bus for a whirlwind trip, stopping at Picnic Point and then Horseshoe Bay for lunch.

South Mission Beach

Back down on the coast again, staying at BIG4 Beachcomber Coconut Holiday Park in Mission Beach South (maplink). This is a truly lovely part of Queensland, with views of Dunk Island, and it was also great to be able to jump in the ocean again for a swim.

Our first cassowary encounter

After setting up our caravan onsite I settled down to read my book while Merrisa took a snooze inside. There was movement out of the corner of my eye and I looked up to come face to beak with a cassowary – WOW! He walked right past me, under our caravan awning, out to the front. Lucky I had my camera ready. We aslo had a visit from a local goanna as well.

Around Mission Beach South

As mentioned earlier, this is a beautiful place to stay and you can see why there’s a lot of retirees putting down their roots here.

Paronella Park

There were so many people we met on our travels who said “you must go to Paronella Park“, so we did. What a great spot with so much history.

Located on Mena Creek (maplink) it was originally opened in 1935 by José Paronella whose dream was to build castle, a picnic area by the Mena Creek Falls, tennis courts, bridges, a tunnel, and wrapped it up in an amazing range of 7,500 tropical plants and trees. He even harnessed the waterfall for his electricity by building Australia’s 2nd hydro electric system in 1933.

A brief history

José Paronella arrived in Australia from Catalonia in Spain, in 1913. For the next 11 years he worked, cutting sugar cane initially, then purchasing, improving, and reselling cane farms. In 1924 he returned to Spain and married Margarita in 1925. The trip back to Australia was their honeymoon.

José first saw this 13 acres of virgin scrub along Mena Creek in 1914. He eventually purchased it in 1929 for £120 and started to build his pleasure gardens and reception centre for the enjoyment of the public.

The earliest structure, the Grand Staircase, was built to facilitate the carrying of the river sand to make the concrete.

First they built a house to live in, then they started on the Castle itself.

Apart from the house, which is made of stone, all of the structures were constructed of poured, reinforced concrete, the reinforcing being old railway track. The concrete was covered with a plaster made from clay and cement, which they put on by hand, leaving behind the prints of their fingers as a reminder of the work they had done.

Staying at Paronella

We camped in the “Paddock” behind the Mena creek Hotel and had a short walk over the road to the park. Plenty of room with power provided but using our own water (from our van’s tanks).

After checking in to the park we drove down to Etty Beach to see if we could spot our first cassowary. With none on the beach (where they are supposed to be) we found one on the drive out LOL.

Night tour and light-show

Our 1st experience was the night-time light-show which was really impressive.

Daytime tour

This is the best part of visiting Paronella Park. The tour takes you through the park and our guide provided an extensive overview of it’s history and how much effort José Paronella put into developing his dream.

They also told us the number of times the park was devastated by cyclones and wild weather and how it was lovingly rebuilt.

Herberton Historical Village

A day out to the Herberton Historical Village is a “must” when you are visiting the Atherton Tablelands region (maplink). This attraction has been put together over the years by very conscientious volunteers and the amount of memorabilia is outstanding.

We spent the day exploring the village with our new travelling buddies, Paul & Estha along with their wonder-dog, NiggaBella.

The Village currently has over 60 original buildings that date from Herberton’s foundation years. Walking through the Village, we were given a sense of being in a real township complete with chemist, bottle collection, school, bank, grocer’s store, frock salon, toy shop, mechanic, jail and more.

There was sooo much to see I may have taken tooo many photos. Take your time to check them out as it really shows how much there is to see here. I took 156 photos but cut them back as best I could to 47. Enjoy…

Atherton Tablelands

On our way north we stopped off for a one night stop in Yungaburra (see post) and we planned to stay in the same caravan park on the way back down; but it was booked out! So we hurriedly searched for another place to stay and found Lake Eacham Tourist Park and wow were we lucky as it was a top spot; only 7 powered sites set in bushland (maplink).

We used this as our base to explore the famous Atherton Tablelands region. These photos of the caravan park have been sourced off the web (as we forgot to take any!)…

Lake Eacham

Located approx 500 metres from our campground the Lake Eacham features a beautiful 3 km walk around it’s perimeter. We discovered some turtles at one point plus two gigantic Kauri Pines, each were about 6 metres in diameter.

Malanda Falls

Malanda Falls are located right in the small town of Malanda. These falls are really beautiful with a fantastic tiled entry board created by local indigenous artists.

Yungaburra Platypus

The town of Yungaburra has a platypus viewing platform on the edge of town, over Peterson Creek. So off we travelled and there they were – we saw several of these elusive creatures drom the platform and then more along the walking trail on the opposite side of the main road. Really cool little animals who can swim faster than expected.

Yungaburra Curtain Fig Tree

The Curtain Fig Tree is a heritage-listed tree and is one of the largest trees in Tropical North Queensland. It’s one of the best known attractions on the Atherton Tableland just outside of Yungaburra.

Photographs don’t really do this magnificent tree any real justice. You have to visit it to take in the true awesomeness of this tree.

Lake Barrine

Lake Barrine Tea-house was lovely place to have lunch on our last day in the Tablelands. Sitting in this heritage listed tea-house with views over Lake Barrine was very calming and the food was fantastic.

Lake Barrine, part of Crater Lakes National Park, is a maar – a crater lake formed by two massive volcanic explosions.

Mareeba

After the big clean-up of our car in Cooktown it was off to the town of Mareeba and checking into a farm stay called Ringers Rest for a few days.

Ringers Rest

Ringers Rest is an absolutely top spot to camp for a few nights. Only $10 per night to stay – no power or water, but we’re pretty self sufficient anyway. Located about 6kms SE from Mareeba it’s easy to find (maplink)

Dave, who ran the place, was an absolute blast. He was a true bushman and had so many stories; like…

  • the time he broke his leg saving a young girl from being trampled by a runaway bull. He fixed it by wrapping it tightly with heaps of gladwrap
  • he was bitten by a Taipan snake and he sucked the poison out and survived
  • he has survived out in the bush for so long, living on bush tucker, that he is basically immuned to anesthetics and wakes up during surgery, even after having 7 doses
  • … and the stories went on for about 30 minutes – and we were only checking in at the gate LOL

Here’s some photos from around the Ringers Rest camp…

The sunsets at Ringers Rest were pretty cool too…

Mareeba Museum

Behind the Mareeba Visitor Centre is a pretty cool Heritage Museum about the town and it’s history. It’s worth taking an hour or two to check it out.

Granite Gorge Park

About 17kms SW of Mareeba (maplink) is a park by the name of Granite Gorge. If I were coming through this way again it would be a toss-up between here and Ringers Rest to camp for a few days. $13 per head to enter and explore the park.

Return trip from the Cape

After 3 fantastic days checking out “the tip” it was time to turn around and travel the 1,000 plus kilometers back to Cooktown to pick up our caravan from our new mate “Nicko”, then continue on our way south toward home.

We’d heard a lot on our travels up on the Cape about Lockhart River; things like rocks that appear to float on the ocean and the (apparently) world famous Chili Beach, so we naturally headed that way on the way back down from the cape.

So it was off down the PDR (Peninsula Development Road) AKA Telegraph Track over the Jardine River hitting those damn corrugations again..

The Greenhoose – Lockhart River

Bramwell Station was discarded as our first overnight stop (we used it on the way up to the cape) and we booked into The Greenhoose (yes folks a Scotsman came up with the name LOL). Turning off the PDR at Picaninny Plains onto Portland Road (maplink) provided us with our first experience of the famous outback bulldust. In some parts of the first 20kms we probably hit about 20 or more dust bowls where it just covers the car just as if we had driven into water (at a slow speed of course).

Finally reaching our destination at the lovely and basic accommodation we found a green oasis after all of the dust. The people who run the Greenhoose were so welcoming it made the stay even more enjoyable. They also run a little take-away food truck up on the main road so it was pizza for dinner – yummo!

Quintel Beach – Lockhart River

Taking an afternoon drive from the Greenhoose to the town of Lockhart River we found the famous rocks that appear to float on the ocean at Quintel Beach.

These rocks are pretty cool, but didn’t appear to be floating on the water as the tide was not right. Even still it was worth the drive to check them out.

Chili Beach

Leaving the Greenhoose the next morning we took a detour out to see if Chili Beach is as good as it’s cracked up to be. Well, maybe it was the really strong onshore winds or the tides were wrong here too but it was a fail as far as we were concerned. Quintel beach was a much better choice.

The only cool thing we found were the pumice stones littering the beach, which apparently, have come from volcano action in Indonesia.

Heading back to the PDR we basically drove (at about 10km/hr) into a bull-dust hole that totally covered our car so much that we had to put the wipers on the clear the windscreen.

Continuing down the PDR

Returning to the PDR we then reached Coen for another overnight stay at the same guesthouse we stayed in on the way up. It was a matter of off to the pub for dinner then bed; nothing exciting.

Hitting the road again the next day, reaching Musgrave Roadhouse we then turned off the PDR and headed down the Lily Dale Road travelling through the Lakefield National Park to reach the Laura pub for lunch. Then it was back to Cooktown, pick-up the van and settle down for a couple of days to clean up our filthy & very dusty car.

A dirty car!

The roads certainly made a mess of the car, both inside and out. Not sure if we will EVER get rid of the red!

Thursday Island Day Trip

You just have to visit Thursday Island (TI) when up on the “tip” – everyone we met on our travels were telling us this.

So we headed off to catch the Pedell’s Ferry (seniors are half price – woohoo) for a 1 hour 10 minute trip from the Seisia wharf.

Included in the fare was a 1 hour bus tour of the island, so we took advantage of this. The only disappointing aspect was the three museums (a “must see” on TI) were all closed due to the Covid19 Pandemic. So it was shorter than normal bus tour followed by lunch at the pub, then back onto the ferry for the return to Seisia. These are some of the things we got to see on our bus tour of TI…

A look around TI

Green Hill Fort

The Green Hill Fort was built in 1891 to defend the top end of Australia from possible Russian attack. The 1885 confrontation between Britain and Russia, which almost resulted in open conflict, galvanised the Australian colonies to jointly fund construction of the fortifications, and these represent an important and uncommon instance of pre-Federation Colonial cooperation on defence in the “national” interest.

An interesting fact we learnt was the fort was decommissioned after World War One and not used in World War Two – but no one told the Japs. The fort was added to the Australian Commonwealth Heritage List in 2008.

The views are fantastic from this location and pretty impressed to find the canons could fire 8 miles out to sea. The original canons are still in place.

TI Cemetery (incorporating the Japanese Cemetery)

Thursday Island Cemetery is a heritage-listed cemetery. It was established in 1887 and includes the Japanese Cemetery. It contains hundreds of graves, including between 600 and 700 Japanese (mostly pearl-shell divers), entrepreneurs and fortune hunters of all nationalities, Torres Strait pilots, sailors and ships’ passengers drowned at sea, as well as generations of Thursday Islanders.

Walk to the tip of Cape York

Today saw us taking the walk to the northernmost tip of the Australian mainland – the main reason for us coming here.

Another dusty drive with heaps of red dust from the large number of vehicles (99% were Toyota) heading the same way as us on the way to Pajinka (indigenous name for the tip).

There were soooo many people at the tip that you have to queue up for “that photo”, including some blokes who all got their gear off for a cheeky photo. There were even dogs doing the walk too.

It was also really (really very) windy with hands on hats so they weren’t blown all the way to PNG 😀.

Punsand Bay

It was then off to Punsand Bay for lunch (maplink). Lovely spot right on the beach with beautiful white sands. A couple of beers, a burger and salt & pepper calamari sure filled the spot after the walk out to the tip.

On the way back to Seisia we called into the Croc Shop and picked up a “I walked the tip” singlet to replace the Bintang singlet (which Merrisa hates)

Road-trip to Cape York

With all of the kerfuffle with Covid down in Victoria we decided we may as well extend our adventures and do a quick trip up to the nethermost point of Australia and visit Cape York. With a bit of planning and a lot of phone calls we decided on a 2 stop leg up from Cooktown with 3 nights staying ‘at the tip’ and then repeating the same 2 stop leg for our return.

We decided to leave our caravan behind in Cooktown (as we did not want to destroy it on the Cape York roads) and found a lovely guy called Nicko (the seafood seller) who stored it for us on his property for $5/day – far better than paying $49/day in the caravan park.

1st leg – Cooktown to Coen

Our new “best friend” Nicko gave us a tip on which way to go on the first leg so we’d miss the worst parts of the famous Telegraph Track. We followed them pretty well, using our new Heima map book (thanks to our son Brendan for the fathers day present 😀), but we missed the turn-off at Lotus-bird Lodge (no bloody signs!) and ended up at Musgrave (maplink). We were then on the famous track and it shook the bejeevers out of us all the way to Coen.

Booked into the Coen Guesthouse for a 1 night stay. Went to the pub for dinner and then were treated to an absolute delight with a musical presentation by 2 young performers using a Cello and Violin about Australian bird calls. I know it sounds a bit strange but it was absolutely magical.

2nd leg – Cohen to Bramwell Station

After being battered and shaken along 227km of the famous Telegraph Track Development Road (maplink) it was lovely to finally arrive at Bramwell Station Tourist Park for another 1 night stay. We met Ken the boss and he “upgraded” us from a Donga to a room with an en-suite – wow!

Dinner that night was at the free flowing air dining room (no walls here) as we were given a history talk about Bramwell Station from Ken, the owner, which was quiet amazing.

Jardine River Ferry Crossing

Arrived 20minutes too late to catch the Jardine River Ferry as the crew knock off for lunch between 12:00 & 1:00pm. The queue for the ferry grew and grew. You could purchase a ticket either as it closes for lunch too. Finally paid our $100 return fee, jumped in the car and were about the 5th crossing before we headed off again towards Bamaga & then Seisia

Destination – Seisia

After another 212km shaking and rattling trip we arrived at the Seisia Holiday Park and checked into our accommodation for the next 3 nights.

Well, at $250 per night you’d expect something special but it was quite the opposite. This was all we could find so decided to make the most of it. We were given the “lodge” which sleeps 8 people so really cannot complain.

I even discovered a green ant nest in the tree right next to where I parked our car. These are the same sort of ants I got covered in and seriously bitten after tripping into a hibiscus plant when I was a kid living in Madang, New Guinea – I have always tripped over things!

Seisia Sunset

One of the advantages of staying here is supposed to be the brilliant sunsets. Well, for the first 2 nights there was total cloud cover, so no sunset photos.

Then, on our last night we ventured down to the beach and wallah – a sunset! This young kid called Jackson wandered over to check out our photos and was so impressed he pleaded for me to take his photo – so I did (check him out below – cute kid).

Cooktown

There are 2 ways to get to Cooktown from our last location at Cape Tribulation. The 1st is 104 kms via the famous Bloomfield Track (maplink) or the 2nd is 318 kms via the inland route (maplink) which is the one we took so we didn’t end up with a destroyed caravan. The Bloomfield Track is notorious for destroying all types of vehicles let alone caravans.

Cooktown Holiday Park

We settled into the lovely Cooktown Holiday Park with plenty of room around us plus heaps of shade and soon learned that with this shade came heaps of duco destroying bird poo. They would have to have the ‘sickest birds’ we have ever come across! The plan is to return here after our trip up to Cape York but will be definitely be looking for a campsite with no overhead trees 😀.

Town Walk

A walk along the recently completed $11million (according to a local) Cooktown Waterfront Park (maplink) which was rewarding with lots of eating shelters and a fabulous water park for the kids. There was lots of info about Captain James Cook and the story of his stranding on the great barrier reef, in 1770, outside of what is now Cooktown.

Grassy Hill Lookout

Just a short drive from the town centre is Grassy Hill Lookout with its mini-me sized lighthouse. This is where Capt James Cook surveyed the reefs surrounding his stranded ship to plan a way of escaping the reefs clutches.

Point Archer

We took a 20km drive south of Cooktown to check out Point Archer as we’d heard that there is a great ‘free camp’ there (the only one near Cooktown) as well as fantastic views of the coastline. It didn’t disappoint and after a stony & dusty 15kms we found this lovely location. It also had a mini-me lighthouse too.

The Lions Den Pub

So many people had recommended we must visit the historic Lion’s Den Pub when you’re in Cooktown. Well, they were absolutely correct. Built in 1875, this very eclectic pup has so many bits and pieces; like hats, beer coasters, beer coasters, money and old miners ‘IOU’s stuck and written all over the walls.

It took us both back to the Daly Waters Pub in NT, which we visited in 2018 on our ‘half lap of Oz’ trip (click here to view that blog).

A nice lunch on the pub veranda then a stroll through the caravan park out the back – even saw another Bailey caravan there.

Cape Tribulation

We left Port Douglas for a leisurely 82km drive (maplink) up to the Daintree for a 4 night stay at Cape Tribulation Campground.

Daintree River Ferry

To get to our destination we had to cross the Daintree River on the ferry ($33 return). A no fuss crossing as you cannot get out of your car to check out the view or look for crocs. This was also our last chance to use our mobile phones as once on the other side, there is no phone reception at all.

Cape Tribulation Campground

The drive from the ferry to Cape Tribulation Campground is nothing but spectacular passing between gigantic melaleuca trees and through avenues of palms and greenery that totally encloses the road – a big green tunnel.

Arriving at our destination we checked into one of the coolest looking caravan parks (maplink) we’ve ever been in. It was so lush and green and only metres from the beach – shame you cannot swim here as it’s a beautiful beach only 1km south of the famous Cape Tribulation. A 4 metre saltwater crocodile was reportedly living on the southern end of our beach which was probably about 300 metres from other  camp ground – whoo hoo – a bit scary (hence no swimming).

As soon as we’d set-up our campsite we immediately headed off to check out the beach. A short walk through the coconut palms and you are onto a truly beautiful sweeping beach. Mangroves on one end (home of the croc) and Cape Trib on the other end. The tide was out so we got some great photos of interesting sand formations and some great shells. We also found ‘WILSON!’ plus a cheeky backpacker – see if you can spot them in our photos below 😀…

Exploring Cape Tribulation

On our second day we went for a lovely stroll out to the Cape followed by a short drive up the beginning of the famous Bloomfield Track which links the Daintree to Cooktown with 30 kms of really rugged 4wd track. We didn’t go that far but agreed that we’d have a more serious look at it later from the Cooktown end.

We then took a stroll along the Dubuji Boardwalk travelling over swampy looking mangroves with their space creature looking tree roots. It was rather devoid of bird-life which we found a bit strange; and we did not see a single Cassowary while walking along but we did arrive at a beautiful beach.

Cape Trib Snorkeling

When we were in Airlie Beach we took a snorkeling tour with Ocean Rafting (click here to view that blog) and it was soooo good we decided to do another with their Cape Trib crew – Ocean Safari and it was not disappointing at all. This company really do know how to run a great snorkel tour.

We headed out to the Great Barrier Reef from the beach at Cape Tribulation due east for 25 minutes to visit 2 fabulous snorkel locations at Mackay and Undine Reefs. It was a bit choppy but what we saw was really amazing, nemos, plate coral, sea cucumbers, clams and heaps more fish. Merrisa and I were the only people to not see a turtle (bugger) but we still had a ball.

Cooper Creek Croc Tour

We’d seen so many crocs on our half lap trip in 2018 we were a bit undecided whether to do another one or not but decided too anyway. This single man operation travels up Cooper Creek (it’s an ocean estuary about 10km north of the Daintree River).

The tour only cost $35 per head for a 1 hour trip (up and back). It was a bit underwhelming to say the least but we at least got to see one female pregnant croc on the creek bank and the eyes of another, just poking out of the water.

Cape Tribulation Sunrise

On our last day at this paradise of a location I got up nice an early to join a few other bleary eyed campers on the beach to watch the sunrise. It was fairly overcast but I still got some nice photos. See what you think…

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge is part of the Daintree National Park and definitely worth a visit. To truly experience this beautiful location you must do the 2.4km walk through the gorge (if you have a good level of mobility and fitness). There is a bus which leaves every 15minutes from the information centre to the beginning of the walk – no cars allowed and good walking shoes are a must.

Your experience begins with a boardwalk along Baral Marrjanga track which ends with views over the Mossman River; truly beautiful. There’s a great swimming hole here, which made us regret we’d left our bathers behind.

Moving along we got to Rex Creek bridge, a real swinging bridge had Merrisa holding on with both hands as it really did swing a lot. This is the beginning of the Rainforest Circuit Track which, in places, is a bit rough and ready. The walk takes you through a thick rainforest with massive strangler figs along the way which is truly beautiful.

Once we completed the walk we just wanted to go for a dip in that swimming hole – next time we will bring the bathers and towel!

Port Douglas

It was about 12 years ago that we last visited this icon of tourism in Far North Queensland. Last time we flew up and stayed in fancy accommodation; this time we’ve driven over 6,000kms and reckon our accommodation is even fancier (in our Bailey caravan).

Pandanus Caravan Park

We’ve booked in for 5 nights at Pandanus Caravan Park which is not far from the town centre (maplink). A nice park with lots of trees and spaced out sites as well.

Some car trouble

About 3 weeks ago we were travelling from Karumba to Georgetown in outback FNQ and received a large chip in the windscreen of our car. It stayed the same 1cm star for this amount of time and I was thinking “cool – I will get it fixed after we have finished our trip“. Well that did’nt happen; 5 minutes after arriving in Port Douglas the chip grew and grew and grew. The car is now booked in for a new windscreen during our stay here – something we did not want!

Around Port Douglas

After we had set up camp we had a quick look around town with a drive up to the wonderful Flagstaff Hill Lookout. Magnificent views down the coast from this location. We will definitely be doing the walking trail from here to the beach. (more photos to come)

Palm Cove

We travelled a measly 18kms from Cairns to Palm Cove (maplink) to spend a full week at the NRMA Palm Cove Caravan Park. It’s a fantastic location situated right on the beach. The park is very green, but the sites are also very “tight” and crowded (its a popular place). We had great neighbours while we were here, so that always makes the stay more enjoyable.

Only problem so far has been the wind. After four days here it’s been extremely windy (about 40-50km/hr winds) and the first three days has been wet. Apparently the Cairns Harbour was recently dredged and the spoils were dumped near Trinity Beach. The strong south-easterly winds have then been blowing towards Palm Cove making the water here very muddy. It’s sort of taken the edge off our stay at this iconic location but ‘s*#t happens’

On a more positive note the main drag (Williams Esplanade) is truly beautiful; with massive melaleuca paperbark trees along the side of the road. It almost appears that the buildings have been built around the trees and in some cases the trees actually grow through the building – pretty cool.

Kuranda Skyrail

We were really lucky as the Kuranda Skyrail had been closed due to the Covid19 pandemic and opened today! We managed to book a return trip on the gondolas as the train was unfortunately booked out. The normal thing to do is to travel one way by train and the other by Skyrail.

Skyrail is a unique rainforest experience travelling over and through Australia’s World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests. The rainforest cableway spans 7.5km and as our gondola (or as I heard one guy say – the glass bubble thing) traversed the McAlister Range, through the Barron Gorge National Park, we sat in wonder of the forest canopy below.

We caught up with some other travel buddies, Paul & Shayne (from Canberra) and spent the day checking out the 2 hop-off stations and then lunch in the Kuranda Pub followed by a stroll through the town.

Cairns

Well, we are now back onto the east coast in the lovely city of Cairns. Staying in the Lake Placid Tourist Park located about 18kms from the CBD (maplink). Nice caravan park with great amenities and a pool.

It was also great to catch up with friends Paul & Esther (from Noosa) whom we had met on our travels in Karumba.

Lake Placid Caravan Park

We really enjoyed our stay at Lake Placid Tourist Park. Great location away from the hustle bustle of Cairn but close enough to go into town.

There is also a lovely walk along the Barron River from the CP to Lake Placid, which (supposedly) has a 4 metre saltwater croc living there. At the start of the trail there’s a sign warning about crocs but it’s covered over by a palm frond – LOL.

Cairns Botanical Gardens

We spent the afternoon taking a stroll through the beautiful botanical gardens then drinks and a blueberry muffin in their great cafe.

Barron Gorge Power Station

We took a short drive from Lake Placid Caravan Park to Barron Gorge to check out the power station (maplink). It was nothing really exciting but still worth a look. The power station was commissioned in 1963 with a maximum capacity of 66 megawatts and is still operating today. It takes it’s water via a 1.6km (3m wide) tunnel from the Kuranda weir and releases it back into the Barron River.

If you’re lucky you may even get a glimpse of the Kuranda Train, as we did, traversing some of the ravines.

Crystal Cascades walk

It’s been raining for a few days now so we decided what better way to spend a rainy day than checking out the Crystal Cascades. So we packed the rain coats and umbrella and headed off to check out this location.

This is a beautiful rain forest walk with the bubbling creek running directly below the path. It is basically a series of small waterfalls flowing into large pools surrounded by large impressive granite boulders. It was a nice afternoon spent here and we totally recommend it.

New boots for the Cruiser

The car got booked in for a full set of new tyres (BF Goodrich Ko2’s) from Bob Janes in Cairns; so now we will be able to tackle Fraser Island on our way south – YAY! Merrisa also had her hair done and we stocked up on food and beverages (aka grog).

Lake Tinaroo – Yungaburra

We actually pulled out of Undara (see previous post) a day early as we felt it was time to move on. So we literally poked a finger at the map and found this gem of a location called Lakeside Motor Inn & Caravan Park situated on the shores of Lake Tinaroo (maplink) just outside of Yungaburra, in the Atherton Tablelands region. It was difficult to believe that in the 205kms from dusty outback Undara we were now in lush and green Yungaburra.

The caravan is situated right on Lake Tinaroo so the views were really great over the water.

We only had a one night stay here but had a quick look around. Directly over the road from our caravan park was this wonderful memorial called The Afghanistan Avenue of Honour which was a beautiful tribute to our troops who served in Afghanistan.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – Fantastic location with well spaced out sites and great managers. They even set-up a fire pit for happy hour
    • Cost per night – $30
    • Facilities – great – very clean & modern
    • CP Location – a bit out of town (about 3kms) but right on Lake Tinaroo which is lovely.
    • Our rating/score 9/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit?- yes
    • Activities & places of interest – plenty – we only had an overnighter but this place has potential for a longer stay
    • Would we return? – definitely
    • Overall Score –10/10
  • Summing up – we’ll be back!

Karumba Sunset Cruise

Karumba’s Croc & Crab Tours run a sunset cruise, so we thought “why not” and booked in for our final night in Karumba.

They begin with a bit of a tour up the Norman River informing us of the history which surrounds the port. They spoke of the cyclones and floods they regularly get, where a young boy once caught a 25kg Barramundi on the main road out the front of his house (half a km from the river). Another was about this massive croc which came out of the Norman River, walked down the main street and settled on the doorstep of a house. They had to get professionals out from Cairns to remove and relocate him.

More history – In 1938 a flying boat base was built in Karumba to provide a refueling point for the Sydney-Singapore legs of the Empire Air Route to Britain. During WW2 the RAAF stationed a fleet of Catalina ‘Flying Boats’ out of Karumba.

Lot’s more info was provided about the town and it’s port. We already knew about the fish & prawn part, but there was also a ship, called Wunma in town which carries Zinc & Lead Ore from the Century Mine 304kms away at Lawn Hill, via a ‘slurry’ pipeline to a Karumba refinery. After processing the Wunma takes the ore out to mother ships for export.

Following the very informative talk about Karumba’s history we set sail for a small sand island to witness yet another brilliant Karumba sunset. Drinks and nibbles on the sand as the sun went down was totally beautiful. Then it was back to the boat ramp to finish up a really nice tour.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – The trip wasn’t too bad. We learnt a fair bit about the local history, which is pretty normal for this type of tour.
  • Was it value for money? – Not sure whether the cost of $80 per head was good value.
  • Would we return? – No
  • Overall Score – 6/10
  • How do you book a tour? – try the Croc & Crab website

Karumba Fishing Charter

You must take a fishing charter out of Karumba when you’re in town. The natural choice has to be Kerry D Charters. They have been in business for ages and know all the right spots. Their price was very reasonable too at $140pp for about 4 hours.

Our trip was great with Paul (skipper) & Mick (decky) looking after us really well. The fish weren’t all that friendly. The water was just 19 degrees so a bit cool for a great catch but Paul & Mick tried so many spots trying to improve our chances.

We were about 1.5kms from shore and the water depth was about 1 metre on average. Could not believe that it was so shallow.

Merrisa was successful with 2 lovely blue threadfin salmon and I caught 4 catfish (throw back fish).

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – totally enjoyed it. The crew were really great and super friendly
  • Was it value for money? – yes – $80 per head
  • Would we return? – yes (if in town)
  • Overall Score – 9/10
  • How do you book a tour? – try the Kerry D Fishing Charters website

Karumba Barramundi Centre

The recently completed Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre is a fantastic place to visit. You must take the tour of the centre to learn more about the iconic “Barra” (maplink).

Merrisa even attempted to hand feed some of the barra but they weren’t hungry but it was still pretty exciting waiting for a 1 metre long barra to snaffle the tiny squid she was holding above the water.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – loved it. Very informative
  • Was it value for money? – yes – $20 per head (seniors)
  • Would we return? – no – been there done that, but you should go
  • Overall Score – 10/10
  • How do you book a tour? – try the Barra Centre website

Karumba QLD

Karumba was on our “places bucket list”. W were not too sure what we’d find here but “just had to have a look”. Not disappointed at all with our choice.

Karumba Gateway
Karumba Gateway

In 1937 Karumba became a refueling point for Qantas and BOAC flying boats travelling from Australia to London. During World War II the town was an RAAF base for Catalinas flying into New Guinea, Timor and Indonesia. Parts of the infrastructure still exist today.

It was a wild old town back in the 1970’s when there were over 40 prawning trawlers operating from Karumba. The local pub was known as the Animal Bar which was pretty wild. They say that everything had to be bolted down even the ashtrays, so it couldn’t be used in the many pub brawls that occurred there. Today it is still home to extensive prawn, mud crab and the barramundi fishing fleets.

Karumba Caravan Park

There were 2 main choices for caravan parks in Karumba – Karumba Point Tourist Park OR Karumba Sunset Caravan Park (over the road from the Sunset Tavern) – maplink. We selected the 1st one as we’d heard a lot of bad reports about the sunset one, which we soon discovered were incorrect. Well there’s always a chance of staying there on our next trip.

Karumba Sunsets at the Tavern

There’s one place that you must pay a visit to experience an awesome sunset and that’s The Sunset Tavern (Facebook). We paid two visits to the pub to experience the sunset and each time stayed to experience their mouth watering grilled Barramundi.

1st sunset

2nd sunset

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – pretty dusty park with lots of “rules”
    • Cost per night – $39.00
    • Facilities – clean but pretty outdated
    • CP Location – have to drive about 3 kms into town
    • Our rating/score 6/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit?- yes – a bucket list item ticked off
    • Activities & places of interest – plenty to do but you have to look around for it
    • Would we return? – no – been there & done that but still totally recommend it as a must do location
    • Overall Score – 8/10
  • Summing up – Loved our stay here and made some really great friends too.