Trip to the Tip (no, not the rubbish dump)

The Tip

Well I guess any blog about Cape York would not be complete without a story about our trip to the Northernmost Point of the Australian Continent.

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We set out from Loyalty beach and took the back road (dirt tracks) up through small creek crossings and the beautiful Lockerbie Scrub to the Croc Tent. The Croc Tent is a unique souvenir shop situated at the junction of the Punsand Bay and Cape York roads. It sells absolutely everything you could possibly want as a souvenir of your trip to the top. We stopped in to pick up some t-shirts, stubby coolers and other assorted paraphernalia to prove we had been there.

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Now Linda, who is a shopaholic, had a field day in there, we had been without any shops or stores for about a week now, so she was intent on getting her fix! When we had finally managed to drag her away we continued on the Pajinka road on the way to the Tip. Pajinka, is the Aboriginal name for the land at The Tip, the lands traditional owners are the people of Injinoo.

On the road in we saw the ruins of the old Pajinka Wilderness Lodge. This was originally opened as a five star resort for pilots in 1986 (called the Cape York wilderness Lodge) and had several owners throughout the years. It was sold to the Injinoo Aboriginal Cooperation in 1992 and renamed the Pajinka Wilderness Lodge. It closed in 2002 never to be opened again and now is a curiosity of derelict infrastructure in the middle of nowhere, rapidly being overtaken by tropical rainforest.

We arrived at the car park for the short walk to the tip. It was then that we found out we had a short walk over the headland to get to the tip itself. Now it is worth mentioning that we got there quite early. We did not really want to spend time queuing to get our photo taken so we thought we would try and beat the hoards and coach loads by arriving early.

As we started the small climb over the headland. The view from the peak was amazing, looking out over the pristine waters of the Arafura sea to the York and Eborac Islands.

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At the top of the climb, before you start the descent to the tip, there is a monument that makes you realise just how far away you are from the rest of Australia.

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On this disc are the distances for places around the world and it makes you stop and think that at this moment you are closer to Papa New Guinea (Daru, 190km and Port Moresby, 320km) than Cairns (770km) or Brisbane (2120km). Just wow!

It was about this time that we realised one member of our party (Linda) was carrying her very large handbag with her. Hmm, bit of a strange item to lug all the way to the tip (unless of course it is filled with beer). This was the stage that we found out something very unique about Linda. We always knew she liked to wear branded clothes and put great store in the finer things in life (well why wouldn’t you). We were unsure however when she would be wearing her diamonds and pearls on a trip to the Cape. You see the reason she had brought her handbag with her on the trek was because it contained (yes you have guessed it) her jewelry. Instead of leaving these items at home in her safe in her alarmed house she had felt safer bringing her expensive jewelry with her! Unfortunately for Linda we did have a good giggle about this for the next two weeks (and longer).

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Once down the other side we did the obligatory photos and beer at the tip. We were very lucky to have the area to ourselves for quite a while so many happy snaps were taken whilst sipping beer and marveling at the sights.

If you like what you have read check out some of my other stories of our Pozzie adventures

Cape York – Sights, Fish and Fun

Jump, Snatch, Blow and Winch

Henrietta Creek Camping Adventure

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Cape York – Sights, Fish and Fun

We traveled on a three week adventure from Townsville to the tip of Australia and back with two other couples, the Drabbles and the Greens. We set off very early one  Saturday morning in convoy, all very excited. We reached the breakfast stop (in Cardwell) and all popped into the servo for hot bacon and egg sangas, well all except one team member, Linda Green, who was fast asleep in the car (maybe the excitement was too much for her).

So, now I take writers licence and skip to the bit where we have finally reached the top of Australia and roll into Seisia. I will fill you all in on the bits in between (like the old telegraph track etc.) but that will be a different blog (too much to cover in one). We had decided that we would spend the first few days at Loyalty Beach camp ground, so we could use it as a base to explore the top. So we rolled in, found our spots and pitched our tents. This was a lovely ground with adequate facilities, good sized pitches and a view to die for.

Loyalty Beach

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Sunset at Loyalty Beach Camp Ground

The campground covers about 13 acres of beachfront prime site. It also has an abundance of wildlife in and around the campground including palm cockatoos, green tree frogs, dingoes, kangaroos, green tree snakes, pythons, wild horses, crocodiles and the beautiful Ulysses Butterfly. We saw quite a few wild horses, that would come into the campground of an evening and search for food in the bins and peoples tents etc. We had a couple of restless nights where we were awoken by horses rummaging around bins and walking through people campsites looking for food.

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After settling in with a few cold beers we began to plan our next couple of days. Obviously we wanted to drive to the tip, we also wanted to do a bit of  fishing and just generally unwind and chill out after a hectic few days getting here. Admin needed to be done (such as washing and general camp cleaning) and we all needed to recharge and Linda needed to catch up on her sleep.

The beach went for miles and miles and Mike and I took off to explore. After walking a long way down the beach we eventually came across what I liked to call “my new reef boat”! Upon closer inspection we did decide that it probably needed a little bit of work so I decided to stick with the tinny.

The Greens also went exploring from the campground and, true to form, found a pub just down the beach. This was lovely place to spend the afternoon (and the Greens spent many afternoons there). One evening we decided to all go down as they had traditional dancers from Thursday Island putting on an amazing performance, showcasing their traditional dancing and costumes.

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The stage was set for the performers with an amazing sunset in the background. The dancers ranged in ages from very young kids of four or five to older teenagers and they were amazing. They were all in traditional costume and performed several different dances with spears and headdresses. At the end of the evening they invited the audience to come and join in with one of their dances. Well, when they invited the audience to join in guess who got up and into the spirit of the evening? No, not me! Drabs of course. He could not help himself and I must admit he did bring a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the proceedings.

Fishing (of course, you surely knew there would be fishing!)

My fishing husband (Drabs) had brought his roof top tinny along on the trip so he very kindly offered to take me out for a mornings fish in the beautiful waters just off Seisia. We got up early and trundled down to the boat ramp. I was very excited to get my fishing fishing trip in the far north of Queensland and was looking forward to bringing home dinner.

The waters around Seisia are full of small reefs and islands which hold hundreds of fish of all different species. The weather wasn’t too great (little windy for the small boat), but we battled on and had a beautiful morning out on the water. We also landed a few fish, but nothing of note and definitely nothing that would feed the six of us for dinner!

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Happy Girl

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Cute coral

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It’s a cuda

As a side note I guess I should be totally transparent with my readers and let you know that if I had to survive on the fish I caught I would be a size zero and very hungry. I start every fishing trip with a pure excitable optimism, which, if truth be told, is only occasionally warranted. But, in saying that, I am forever the optimist and some times I do bring home dinner (like the beautiful Barra I caught in the Jardine).

We went for a fish off the famous Seisia Jetty a couple of times (while the Greens went to the pub). This place was amazing, you can look over the edge and see the fish all swimming around in schools, absolutely amazing. Of course that does not mean that you can catch them even when you dangling an enticing lure in front of their noses.

Some great catches have been had from the jetty, including huge mackerel, giant trevally and others, but we had to just satisfy ourselves with some small, but cute ones.

 

Sight Seeing

Just in case fishing is not your thing, there are plenty of other things to do whilst staying at Loyalty beach. One day we decided to explore the famous Five Beaches loop track which starts at Somerset ruins and goes through to Vallack Point on the eastern side of Cape York. The track does go further than Vallack and actually encompasses about seven or eight beaches before it rejoins Somerset Road, but we just stuck to the five. The track itself takes you across rugged headland with coffee rock and down onto beaches with beautiful white sand and pristine waters.

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Start of the Five Beaches Loop Track

The track conditions change depending on the weather and wet seasons, but we did not find any of the area too rough and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. The coastline is spectacular and rugged. Beautiful stretches of sandy beaches with hardly another soul in sight.

 

On our way back we decided to explore the World War II wrecks that are scattered around the area. The area is full of history. In Bamaga there is a monument that commemorates the local Torres Strait Islanders (TSI) who enlisted in the Northern Peninsula Area Light Infantry. By 1944, almost every able-bodied TSI man had joined up, ready to repulse the Japanese from the Cape should they invade.

 

The area is dotted with wrecks of planes and abandoned radar installations and buildings. Seeing how many plane wrecks there were around the area surrounded by tropical jungle was a surreal experience. It was very thought provoking end to another wonderful day in Cape York.

If you want to read more about our trip to Cape York, including the beautiful Jardine River and our mechanical failures along the way, check out my other blogs

From the Banks of the Jardine

Jump, Snatch, Blow and Winch

On the Hunt for Sooty Grunter

Bivouac Junction Holiday Camp is just outside of Charters Towers in North Queensland. The Drabbles and ourselves decided we needed to go for a weekend of camping and fishing so we packed up the tent, camper trailer and fishing rods and off we went.

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It was very dry and dusty when we arrived, but we were assured there was water in the river and creek systems around the area, so we were happy enough.  Once our camp was set up, we got the fire going and started our own dinner prep. After dinner, with a few beers round the camp fire we planned the following day’s exploration and fishing.

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We were after some sooty grunter in the surrounding creeks and rivers and Drabs was the authority on where, how and with what to catch them. So, we woke early in the morning, and after a bit of brekky we found out that Di did not sleep very well last night. It seemed that the peacocks and snoring generally kept her awake. Well we could not do anything about the peacocks but we move dour tent away from their camper trailer to try and eliminate the snoring noises (just anote to say it was not me snoring by the way).

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Once we had cleaned up our camp and loaded our respective vehicles with fishing paraphenalia and lunch, we set off to find some not so dry creek beds down which we could drive in search of the elusive sooty.

Now there is always a lot of banter between Drabs and Mike, Patrol vs Prado, whose 4wd is better, who knows more about off road driving, who is the true blue “Aussiest”! This makes for some light entertainment for Di and I listening to them and their growing list of over exaggerated claims. Mike and I were relatively new to the whole 4×4 driving thing and I always deferred to Drabs on the fishing front (after all he has been doing it most of his life and I have only been fishing for about 10 years).

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Following the Drabbles we pulled off the highway onto a dry creek bed and promptly came to a halt. Drabs had got his Patrol stuck in the soft sand and we hadn’t even gone 200 yards! Well we laughed and laughed, cracking some jokes about Patrol’s vs Prado’s (like you do), as he pulled his Maxtraxs out and let his tyres down. We also reduced our tyre pressure and set off down the creek bed in search of the elusive sooty.

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We fished a few of the deeper areas of the creek and Drabs caught a couple of good sooty (I got nothing, but it was not for lack of trying). The area had narrow bands of water running over rocks with low hanging trees and good shaded areas where the sooty hang out. Perfect fishing country. After a big wet out here the creeks and rivers are in full flood, water rushing over the rocks, uprooting trees and flooding up to the banks. Unfortunatley the area had been in drought for quite a while and the creek beds were mainly sand with the creek running shallow and narrow in many places.

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Now Drabs is a diehard fisherman and he decided the other bank was the place to be so off he went, walking and swimming across the creek with rod held high out of the water. This was bit too hardcore for me, even though we were in fresh water I was still concerned about crocodiles and other nasties lurking unseen. He got to the other side with only a few little mishaps such as falling down a couple of big holes and almost losing his hat in the water, but his rod was kept dry and above his head at all times (told you he was diehard).

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As we sat on the bank relaxing and keeping an eye on him over the other side (to make sure he did not disappear down a hole or become croc bait) we heard a big whoop and he was on. He got a couple of nice sooty for his troubles. I looked on, enviously, but still not game enough to venture over. I was a bit chicken I suppose but even though I love fishing there are just some lengths I would not go to get the elusive sooty.

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After a spot of lunch, we ventured further down the creek bed and reached an area where we needed to cross the creek. Like a true blue Aussie Drabs took one for the team and went first. It took him a few attempts to get across, going backward and forward, trying not to get bogged in the middle. It was not deep but the sand was very soft (apparently, although the Prado made it in one go!). Maybe the Patrol did not like getting its feet wet!

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So off we set again and to find another likely fishing spot. As we were driving I looked out of my window to see the Patrol struggling to get up a very, very, very, small bump of sand. I pointed this out to Mike and we had a bit of a giggle. Reaching for the radio I asked if the Patrol would like a little push from our Prado to assist with the massive obstacle it was facing. For some reason Drabs did not find that too funny, although I am sure I could hear Di laughing in the background! After a few attempts the Patrol managed to climb Everest and we got back on the route down to the creek.

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Drabs caught several sooty grunters that day and I even bagged myself a little on. Unfortunately, I cannot find the picture of it, but I did catch one (honestly!). But truth be told it was a lovely couple of days spent in good company and exploring different scenery and having a few laughs along the way.

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Check out Bivouac Junction Holiday Camp and the surrounding creeks for your own sooty adventure.

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