Week 32 – Crocs, birds, a fun drive and a mining town

Just out of Normanton is the last campsite of Bourke and Wills, Camp 119. It still has some of the blazed trees the expedition carved. Pretty interesting historic site, especially knowing that tree and their blaze scars will not last more than another 40 years or so. So we were pleased to visit this sitebefore they disappear.

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Info about Camp 119
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A Burke and Wills blaze tree

From Normanton we were excited about driving yet another dirt road called the Dixie track. This track is the back way up to the PDR (Peninsula Development Road). While it wasn’t technical it was nice to get onto a dirt road, however, unfortunately all but one of the river crossings were dry, so we didn’t really get the chance to get the car wet only dusty. We found a great little spot to free camp on our own beside a croc infested billabong. Lucky for us the billabong was low in water and there was no risk of the crocs climbing the steep banks, however that didn’t stop Craig from leaving his lure in the tree rather than climbing out to get it!

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Opening one of the many gates on the Dixie Track
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Careful Craig, there’s crocs in there!

Little roads are definitely more interesting. We saw more animals (mainly cows), drove past isolated cattle stations, deserted airfields and different landscapes. An offshoot of the Dixie track took us parallel to the PDR into Laura, a tiny town on the outskirts of Lakefield National Park. We filled up with fuel, water and snacks and headed into the Park to find our mates Dom, Kate and Jackson.

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Lily posing with the first car top reach the tip!

As with the way of travelling we were to spend three nights at 6 Mile Lagoon, one of Kate’s favourite spots, however the lagoon was empty and not worth staying at. So we drove on to another site called, Hanush’s waterhole, a beautiful spot on a river, high enough off the water that the kids were safe from inquisitive crocodiles. We set up and immediately relaxed, the guys went fishing or croc spotting and for no real reason I decided to weave an old sheet into a foot mat for the front door of the camper.

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The next day we set out to explore some of the places within the park. We found heaps of isolated and beautiful campsites, lagoons covered in lilies and lotus-lilies. We found a very cheeky croc (and his girlfriend), well actually he found us. Craig was pretty quick on his feet getting up the beach and well away from the water.IMG_4650 That night we had a great campfire and did some more relaxing. The next day was rinse and repeat, with only one significant difference. When we retuned to camp we had a cranky group of old blokes who only just booked the site we were on. Not a pleasant discussion was had, but we stayed the night anyway and packed up the next morning. We spoke to the Rangers who stopped by and sorted the problem out. Nevertheless you just can’t help grumpy old men.

The next part of our Lakefield adventure was to drive the track out to Cape Melville for four nights. The track out was a great 4wd, with rocky patches and heaps of soft sand and yes we got stuck!!! We basically just bogged down in the hot loose sand, so all we needed was the dig out some of the sand and use our beautiful blue MaxTrax.

IMG_4673This worked a treat and we were soon on our way again. The campsites were just off the beach and in amongst the trees, where the kids had a ball being monkeys and building swings in the trees.

IMG_4699Us adults also played in the trees too but in hammocks with our eyes closed! Out at Cape Melville, it is either sit and chill or fish. And that is pretty much what we did until the second morning when we realised that we had all been annihilated by midges or sand-flies. The kids had woken through the night screaming and crying for the itching and scratching. I counted over 100 bites and when I say bites they are actually where the insect pees on you and it forms tiny itchy blisters that get worse with scratching. Both families unanimously decided to cut short the stay and head back into non-insect biting territory. So we stayed at Kalpowar Campsite for four glorious nights in a very private and comfortable campsite.

An over nighter at Archer River was well earned, with showers and a hamburger. The kids also loved visiting the horses and the free-roaming cattle wandering past the roadhouse. And on to the mining town of Weipa.

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Tackling an Archer River Hamburger
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Pretty sure she said “I can’t fit this into my mouth!”
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Free roaming cattle
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Friendly horses wanting pats and treats

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Weipa is a great little town, predominately mining workers, but it had a great vibe. We revelled in the Woollies supermarket and the ability to buy alcohol that didn’t require the sale of our first (or second) born! One night we all went on a boat tour of the bay and some of the little estuaries off the main river. We saw Jabiru’s, sea eagles, frigate birds and many other wonderful birds. Dave the host was great with stories about the town, the mining, shipping and general area as well as providing us with drinks and nibbles.

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Bauxite loaded ship probably bound for China
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A juvenile Jabiru or a Black-Necked Stork
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Having fun with a croc skull
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Beautiful sunset on the bay

We loved our time in Weipa, fishing, relaxing, playing and hanging out with friends. From Weipa we turned left across the Batavia Downs Road towards that dreaded (or exciting) Old Telegraph Track and the northernmost point of the Australian continent.

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