Monday, July 9, 2018

North to Cooktown

I try not to indulge in "if only"s.  But sometimes I just have to.  So here it is.  If only I were many years younger, had a 4 wheel drive and an adventurous partner.  Oh, and it would probably help if I were a male.  Never thought I'd say that!  I just have to accept my limitations and resources.  So it wasn't possible to do the Bloomfield Track from Cape Tribulation to Cooktown and then on up to the northern most point of Queensland.  Instead we went around the long way, along the Mulligan Highway, following the sealed road all the way to Cooktown where the sealed road ends.  Roads past there are for 4 wheel drive vehicles only.

It's a longish drive, took us about 4 hours and there weren't many stops along the way.   We travelled through dry savannah countryside, a total contrast to the lush rainforest of the Daintree.  The road was mainly flat and easy to drive, through cattle country with no fences so we had to be on the lookout for cattle and kangaroos.  However, we found the cattle were easy to spot from quite a distance so posed no danger.  We didn't spot a single live kangaroo, just a few which had become roadkill.  There weren't really any views until we reached Bob's Lookout, a steep incline over the Great Dividing Range. 

Looking down from the lookout the view is typical of the countryside, sparse vegetation and shorter stunted trees, testament to dry country.

But the most lasting impression of the lookout was the disgusting rubbish that had been left there.  Rubbish bins were overflowing, there were full sacks of what looked like household trash.  I'd guess it had been left by campers.  The last thing you expect to see when you are so far from the civilisation is evidence of what we are doing to our land.  I could go off on a rant!  The ignorance!

About 50 kms later we came upon The Mighty Palmer River Roadhouse, in time for a late lunch.  

This area is rich in local history, with the 1872 discovery of gold leading to Qld’s largest gold rush. By 1875 there were an estimated 15,000 miners on the Palmer, with the population peaking at 17,000 in 1877. Gold is still found here today. We found a little statue of a gold miner around the side of the building as we stretched out legs while waiting for our meals.  (I had a delicious steakburger!) 

There were also a few relics from the past to look at.

 A couple of locals were parked outside.

We ate outside under the shady trees, enjoying the green grass - and the swish of sprinklers keeping it green.

I hope I'm remembering the order in which we made our stops.  Pretty sure the next time we stopped was at the unreal looking Black Mountain Lookout, in the Black Trevethan Range. The Mountain itself consists of large black granite rocks that make up the Mountain and there are countless stories over the years of people and stock wandering into the vicinity of Black Mountain, never to been seen again, including Police and Black Trackers sent to look for the missing people, only to disappear themselves.  Pilots report disturbance above the mountain and others have reported hearing weird sounds.  

The Kuku Nyungkal people of the region have long shunned the mountain, calling it Kalkajaka, meaning “the place of the spear” and sometimes translated simply as “The Mountain of Death.”   It has a long history of dark legends and myths.  I must be lacking imagination.  All I wondered was where had all those rocks come from?  It just looks so weird!  It is composed of gigantic, granite boulders, many of which measure up to 20 feet long, and soars up 900 feet over the surrounding landscape. These boulders were formed from solidifying magma around 250 million years ago, lack any trace of surface soil and have a distinct black coloration caused by a thin coating of iron and manganese oxides. 

On our way back, heading south, not far from Cooktown, I couldn't resist stopping at a couple of the rocky streams over which the road crossed. 

I think this one is the Little Annan River

On our way south we appreciated that we were now headed in the opposite direction to most of the traffic.   Not that there was a lot of it but definitely more heading north than south.  It was early in the year for the tourist season but there were definitely more campervans and caravans than regular vehicles.


  1. Wondered where you'd been , good to see you back.

  2. I'm enjoying your travels. Keep the posts coming.

  3. Nice Pauline, ...what does being male or not have to do with your physical / financial limitations, shame on you.... the drive going the long way seems wonderful, cant imagine how much greater it would have been in a four wheel drive - off road experience. When driving Baja California last spring there were two mountains that had large unexsplained boulders, and whole mountain sides of “waterfalls of stones” that came from nowhere. The trash left by “nature lovers” drives me bonkers.

    1. Yes, I know, shame on me, Ginger! With hindsight we could have hired a 4wd just for the Cooktown leg of our journey, the Bloomfield Track was dry so we wouldn't have needed winches to cross the creeks. (I'm not mechanically minded!) I'd never dream of venturing further north, though, without 'man'power. However, I did enjoy the long way round.

  4. I, too, wondered why you mentioned being male was an advantage. I, too, get frustrated by people leaving rubbish everywhere. I was walking in the Castle Grounds the other day and there were the most odd things just abandoned on the footpath. I've now got to the stage of following your travels on Google Earth/Maps and fascinating it is too.

    1. It was a big statement for me, wasn't it, Graham? I don't like to admit I can't do things but when it comes to muscles I concede I have very few. Google Maps is a good idea. Thanks. Most people have no idea of where places are in North Queensland. I figured out how to put them in posts once. Will give it another try today. I've honestly never seen anything like the rubbish at that lookout!

  5. The total countryside of Mexico is littered in plastic sacks. The the historic center of the town of Mazatlan's streets are swept clean daily. But the countryside has plastic hanging from the trees.

  6. Yes, i’ve gotten to the time in life where i want to go on adventures, but rather like a hobbit i want it to be safe and end by teatime.

    Even if you didn’t go by the rough path, it looks like you got to see a lot.

    1. There were only a few things to see along the way, Messymimi but I did enjoy it. Yes, safety and comfort are important when you have two elderly women travelling together in isolated places. Luckily we had both.


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