Medical emergencies aside, our first stop was the shopping centre where we paid an absolute fortune for a couple of coffees, a cake and a wrap in in the only café in town. We were determined to find a room with air-conditioning where we could let Katie relax and watch some TV, chill for a couple of days and recuperate.
We called everywhere from that little café, but there was no room at the inn. Oh well, off to the only camp site in town, and as we were walking out I saw Wolverine from X-Men, but bigger. This guy really was a beast. Jesus. Welcome to Weipa.
Built by a mining company in the early ‘60’s, Weipa exists because Matthew Flinders spotted some red cliffs as he circumnavigated Australia in 1802. The red hue was eventually identified as bauxite, which is used to make aluminium, and it’s now the largest bauxite mine in the world.
Hence the burly, Wolverine sized blokes. Everyone has beards up here. I’ve paired mine down a little so I don’t look like such a plonker anymore, but I think the bushy beard would have been fine in Weipa. Hipsters would have their top knots ripped off and shoved down their throats up here. In fact, I don’t know why that doesn’t happen everywhere.
Anyhoo. Weipa’s a nice enough wee place, but it’s still a bit like the wild west. It’s 200 km in a direct line from the tip of Australia. 804 road km from Cairns. And in the rainy season you get completely stranded, for months on end.
We set up pronto and took Katie to hospital. They gave her a full check-up, confirmed it was just a bad case of croup, gave her a prescription and offered Erin a job. Really! They don’t have a radiographer so were desperately trying to talk her into staying for a while. Hmm… maybe a locum further down the track, who knows.
Now, let’s have a look around. The lady at reception told us the beach was lovely to walk on, but only do it when the tide is out, and you can see quite far. You can walk right down to the end she said, but be careful when you get there, there’s a creek where a big crocodile lives, and he frequently takes dogs.
She got out a little map of the area and pointed out the highlights.
“Over here is a nice spot too, but again, wait for low tide as large crocs patrol the area.”
“And if you want a good fishing spot, right here by the bridge is very good. There’s a lot of Crocodiles in the river though, so be careful. Now and again they’ll throw carcasses off the bridge, and the crocs will fight the sharks over the meat.”
“Jees, who wins those fights?”
“Well they’re fairly even until a big croc comes in, then the sharks disappear.”
Fucking fantastic. Get me to this bridge, now. Erin did the mine tour the next day, which meant I was on my own with the girls for a few hours.
“Fancy going to see the sharks and crocodiles off the bridge girls?”
“Yes daddy!” was the unanimous response.
Unfortunately, we didn’t see anything except for a handful of kids and a crusty looking fella throwing lines into the estuary. With a firm grasp on the girl’s hands, I wandered down to talk to him.
“Alright mate? Having any luck?”
“Nah, just feeding the buggers. I caught a shark here the other day.”
Oh, great. He reached towards Skye and picked up an enormous, rusty looking knife.
“I’ll just move that out the way. Made it myself out an old chainsaw blade.
Not got enough leather wrapped around for the handle yet.”
“Oh. Very good. Well good luck mate. See you later.”
We wandered back up to the road, checked out the flattened lizards and cane toads, then stopped for an ice cream on the way home. A Weipa daytrip. Lovely.
We were almost ready to leave, and then Skye got the same freakin’ cough!
Another two days went by, which wasn’t so bad as we got to catch up with our friends from Charters Towers.
They were on their way down and they’d had a great time up the top.
Finally Skye seemed a little better, and now we only had one day to get to the top.
Okey dokey, strap in folks, we’re off!