Frank Jardine was able to buy Somerset from the British authorities, as the administrative centre had moved to Thursday Island, where there was a better port. It’s now the main island of the Torres Straits, and only an hour and a half from Seisa by ferry. I would have loved to have visited, but it would have been $600 for the whole family to get there :/
Maybe next time. Also for next time, a visit to one of the many pearl farms, the mouth of the Jardine River, the Five Beaches Drive and a good bit of Barramundi fishing…. there was too much to do, and not enough time.
I felt a wee bit sad packing up, getting ready to leave the next morning and begin the long drive back down. Then Erin met a new friend waiting for the dryer in the laundry, and by the time evening came along, we were all drunk around a camp fire outside our tent! Not the best way to prepare for a long drive back into civilisation, but it was a good laugh.
The next day we made it to Bamaga, which was only about 40 minutes away, and we checked into a room for the night. Ha! The girls lay around watching TV all afternoon, and we lounged on the bed snoozing. Lovely.
The day after we reached the ‘top’, it had started raining. And it had rained on and off ever since. This was extremely unusual weather for the Cape at this time of year, and as we set off from Bamaga it was threatening a downpour.
Our plan was to drive to Fruit Bat Falls and go for a swim, then camp for the night at Elliot Falls, or Sam’s Creek – both of which we had heard were beautiful. As we got further down the road however, it started raining again. The road got slippy, and after our experience on the way up, I was more than a little cautious.
We went for the swim and then we pressed on to Bramwell Station instead. I didn’t want to push my luck in this weather. I felt as if we had achieved so much just by making it here at all. Now the road back down was ahead of us – and it was even more dangerous in the rain.
Bramwell Station turned out to be a real treat, however, thanks to the resident entertainer, the Bagman.
He started off with a few Motown tracks, and a Neil Diamond number – he knew his audience this fella – then he recited a few Aussie bush poems. And they were fantastic! I’d never heard of anything like them before, hilarious!
Then he got stuck into some Aussie classics, True Blue, Islands of Oceans, it was the most Australian evening I’ve ever had in my life.
Sitting out under the starts with a hundred or so total strangers, all connected by the journey they were on. Heading up, heading down, didn’t matter.
“We are now together. The rock is in our blood.
Free as an eagle, strong as a river flood, proud as a coolabah
As fresh as the ocean breeze.”
Everyone had made a serious effort just to get to this remote part of the country, and now they were all unexpectedly thrown together for a shindig.
“You’re my inspiration. It’s a song for you.
Under the Southern Cross with people old and new.
With roads that go forever, through the land of the kangaroo.”
People from all walks of life. Farmers, doctors, retired folk, families, miners, librarians you name it. Oh my god I actually felt like an Australian for the first time in my life! It was bloody brilliant!
“ Through the spirit of a nation, whose aren’t afraid to sail alone.
Island of oceans, red, ochre, gold & blue.”
Go for it big man!
“You give my heart the power to make my dreams come true.
And I will bring you glory, with everything I do.
Bonza! You beut! Dob in a hoon! G-day!
Cooked chook! Straya mayt! Stray mayt!
Straya! Straya! Straya!
Ahem… Katie absolutely loved it too. I had to drag her back to the tent eventually, then she and Erin wandered back to listen to the end of the show, while I sat outside listening from a distance.
At the end I heard him say goodnight and wish everyone well on their trip. He said that a bloke who was there a few weeks ago had just died on the Bloomfield Track, and that we should all take care whichever way we were heading.
Well despite a few power issues with our trailer battery, we made it back down without incident. This time we branched off the PDR at Musgrave, travelling south through Lakefield National Park which was much more picturesque, and a much better road too.
In the wet season it’s completely submerged, but now, in the dry, there are only a few watering holes left. So all the bird life is concentrated there, along with the crocodiles which is why, as the sign said, there are crocodiles in every bit of water you see around here.
We stopped at a few lakes, saw lots of lilies and birds, saw a massive Jaibiru take flight in one of them, and then we drove through the Nifold Plain, which was stunning.
The low lying trees and scrubs disappeared, leaving long grasses and termite mounds extending as far as the eye could see. It was such a contrast with the landscape we had gotten used to.
The termite hills are there all the time, of course, but the surrounding vegetation hides all but the closest mounds. Take the camouflage away however, and the result was spectacular. It actually reminded me of Africa, the savannah plains in the north of Tanzania and Southern Kenya.
We stayed in Kalpowar Crossing for a night, and would have stayed longer if we could, as it was so peaceful. Lots of birds, a river with a Crocodile warning sign, again, of course. Except this one said there was a ‘recent’ crocodile sighting. Never seen one like that before.
It was our anniversary that night too. A fact that had eluded both of us until only the day before 😀 And what did we do for our anniversary? Had a few glasses of wine with our neighbours, this lovely couple from Sydney, then Erin went to bed and I got on the whisky with the bloke! Happy anniversary 🙂
An hour or so the next day, and we were back at Laura. Instead of retracing our steps down Battle Camp Road this time, we travelled directly South on the PDR – which was bitumen from this point on.
Setting off on a road that wasn’t corrugated, covered in rocks, gravel, or dust holes was actually a bit sad. The trip to the top was over, and it felt like the adventure was over. Tarmac seemed so boring. So easy.
But there was a little bit of the Cape left. Just outside of Laura there’s a place called Split Rock, where you climb up the hills to see some Aboriginal paintings.
We trekked up and got a great view over the valley, and the rock art was incredibly well preserved, especially considering it’s been there for 13,000 years. Amazing!
Fuck you Dulux with your big shaggy dog 😀
These guys have been at it for fucking ages!
Back down the hill and we got into our extremely dirty Prado, which was now parked next to a pristine, white Landcruiser. Obviously on their way up. Good luck to you mate, you’ll have a ball 🙂