31.08.2009 - 06.09.2009
This email comes to you from Cooktown, the Northernmost point on the coast for our travels, it is all down hill from here. Been a busy week and I'll try to keep it both informative and brief.
Monday 31 Aug we drove to Cobbold Gorge, about 90 Km South of Georgetown with over half of it being firm but rough gravel. At our destination, which was an impressive complex, we paid for the 3 hour Gorge tour $65 per person - a bit steep. The tour consisted of a ride in a 4x4 truck with a coach make-over. Very comfortable and very capable. We travelled out to the foot of the gorge and followed the guide up to the top of the sandstone escarpment. Full commentary along the way. Then back down and into a custom-built punt to glide up the gorge. The gorge is very narrow - less than 2 meters in places - and winds it's way for about 500 meters. There are a number of fresh-water crocodiles and signs of fish. The 'cruise' ends when a large boulder blocks the head of the gorge. The 'skipper' climbs to the other end of the punt and sails us back again.
Tuesday 1 Sep we break camp and drive to Undara expecting to fill in time at Mount Surprise, we were somewhat 'surprised' there's not a lot there, so we pushed on arriving at Undara about 0930. We'd booked in for 2 nights ($60) but found we could stay for three for the same money. Third night free, what a bargain. The complex is most impressive and was built around a number of refurbished railway carriages. They are used for motel style accommodation, the reception and office, the kitchen and as dining cars. Additionally there are powered and un-powered camp sites, bunk houses and safari style 'tents'. Spent most of the day finding our way around.
Wednesday 2 Sep - We go on the 0800 two hour Lava Tubes tour. The only way to see them is on an escorted tour. Because of possible dangers you can't enter the area on your own. I was a bit sceptical about the claim that these geographic features are unique, well they certainly are in my experience and well worth the $45 per person. We booked in for their bistro dinner - $38 for three courses and all you want to eat. We both tried a small portion of kangaroo, emu, crocodile and a local gourmet sausage. Plenty of vegetables and side salad and even backed up for a serve of grilled fish (species not specified but very nice). Free tea of coffee and we pigged out on sweets and cheese.
Thursday 3 Sep - we both decided to walk off some of last night's excesses, I did about 3 1/2 hours and Jen about 2 hours early in the morning. There's 20% off any additional tours so we booked on the Sunset tour. 'Interesting' drive with Steve the guide. Saw a number of wallabies and other macro-pods - can't remember their names. Watched the sun go down over the range whilst sipping sparkling wine and eating cheese and sliced fruit. Very decadent. We then visited a cave and watched the thousands of tiny bats leave for their nightly hunting.
Friday 4 Sep - break camp again and head for Mareeba. Stopped briefly in Ravenshoe, a little town that has a lot going for it. Then through Atherton and on to Mareeba. With one or two stops and detours we were booked in at about 1100. Spent the afternoon restocking the larder and indulging in some retail therapy. Back to the van to work out a plan of attack for tomorrow. Wineries or coffee plantations or both ??
Saturday 5 Sep - did the Coffeeworks. WOW !!! So many flavours and blends and what an awesome museum !! The gift-shop was great and they do chocolates too so Jenny was happy. Can't imagine any place where they would have so many espresso machine, percolators, plungers and coffee pots. They also have a comprehensive history of coffee's spread around the world. Visited an old Italian's plantation and listened to his stories. On to a Mango Winery. Yes, wine from Mangos - tasted OK too. Very pricey but what the hell.
Sunday 6 Sep - on the move again and we head for Cooktown. Left early this morning and after 278 Km arrived in Cooktown. Perhaps we should have booked ahead. Lucky to get in anywhere. Camped at the Big 4 (Big $$) just out on the edge of town. Very nice park, very shady site. Just watched two scrub turkeys chase each other across the park. They look a bit like the cartoon Road Runner.
We're here for two nights then start heading South again.
We hope this finds you as it leaves us, in good health and remember, if the thought of reading this boring stuff for the next 7 weeks isn't to your taste, just let me know and I'll drop you from "the list".