Out the camp site, turn right and keep going to the top of the country. That’s about the size of it. Before long the road turns to gravel, then a sign tells you only 4WDs are allowed from here on. As if to underline the importance of this notice, there is an abandoned 2WD vehicle right next to it. OK. Point taken.
It was straight into the river crossings. Pretty easy ones admittedly, but still, very enjoyable. And the drive was beautiful. The rainforest was still hanging over the road, long vines reaching down from the canopy now and again, almost grasping Katie’s wee bike strapped to the roof.
And there was still the prospect of spotting as Cassowary at any time, so it felt as if we were on safari. Human’s trespassing into the wild, as opposed to the animals venturing into our world. Now and again you’d get a glimpse over the edge of a mountain, then it was lost as the strangler figs choked out the view.
It was a very twisty road, but not that bad to handle. And there were two very long, very steep inclines to negotiate. Perched at the bottom of the second one I put the car into low gear ratio, and waited for a series of vehicles to finish their descent. The first car slowed down and stopped beside us.
“Epicly steep my man, I’d put it in low gear now.”
“Already done, thanks mate.”
It’s actually the descents that I find more hairy. On the way up you just stick it in low ratio, and the car pulls you up the hill. On the way down however, you can feel the weight of the trailer pushing you down the hill – trying to speed you up. And on gravel the last thing you want to do is turn the wheel when you’re going too quickly and skid – especially when you’re half way up a mountain.
So, two epicly steep hills conquered, we’re about an hour into the drive and Erin says.
“OK, I’d like to have a go now please.”
“Eh..? Really? Already..?
Oh… Well, OK.”
I suppose that’s what happens when you talk your wife into doing a 4WD course. She actually wants to do some 4WDing!
I reluctantly relinquished the wheel, and after a while, settled nicely into the passenger seat. I could look around, properly for a change, take photos and keep an eye out for Cassowaries.
The road continued twisting around the mountains, and eventually there was a break in the forest. We pulled over to have a look. We were standing high up on the edge of a cliff, looking down at the bottom of a U shaped bend of a river. It was a pretty amazing view, and I thought I saw a crocodile out there in the middle. Although it could have been a log. They kind of look the same from a distance. Some guys stopped and got a drone out to have a look. Ch. We left before they figured out how to use it.
Soon after, the gravel disappeared and we were back on tarmac. And that was it! The end of the Bloomfield Track. Supposedly too steep and difficult to take a camper trailer on. Done. Pft.
Truth be told, one of the most difficult bits of the track had been eliminated when a bridge was built in 2014. You can still see the ford that used to be the only way over. It’s a fair distance, and it’s a tidal river so the timing would have been important. Crocs galore too. Not the sort of place you want to have to get out, and put your recovery plan into action. But now? Over the bridge, easy, thank you very much.
A wee stop for a coffee and ice cream, then we pushed on to one of Australia’s legendary pubs for lunch.
The Lion’s Den didn’t disappoint. It was exactly as I was expecting it to be. Lots of nooks and crannies, walls covered in all sorts of ‘stuff’. Katie wrote her name on the wall, and Skye’s, so they can stop by in 15 years from now on their own trip, and maybe it’ll still be there.
When Katie grows up and gets a car, she told me the other day, she wants it to be a 4WD. So it wouldn’t surprise me if she heads up this way on her own one day.
Next stop was the Black Mountains, which herald the end of the Daintree National Park. We stopped to have a look and read the notices. Hmm… apparently there are five-metre long pythons hiding in the boulders in front of us. Jees. Let’s get back in the bloody car, and it’s all highway from here, to Cooktown.
No doubts this time as to where the name came from. Cook’s Town, as it was called originally, was the first white settlement in Australia. Cook and his chums hit the Great Barrier Reef and tore a big hole in their ship, so came ashore here for 18 weeks to sort it out. Even the river is called Endeavour.
It was like a big country town. Quite nice. With a very tropical feel to it. We let the girls out to run around a playground for a while, then the girls let us out to climb the lighthouse and take in the spectacular view.
I would have liked to have stayed longer, but we’ve kind of got to push on now to make our booking in Punsand Bay up the top. We’ll linger on the way back.
We left Cooktown, motored along for 30kms to the Endeavour Falls Tourist Park, where we set up and settled in for the evening.
A good day’s run up to the Cape.
Thank you very much.