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

From the Banks of the Jardine

The Jardine river in the far north of Queensland is a huge body of water that starts in the mountains of the Great Dividing Range and meets the sea near Mutee Heads.

It is the largest perennial river in Queensland. For those of you who are a bit shy to look that up, it means it has continuous flow in parts of its river bed all year round. The catchment takes up the whole of the Jardine River National Park, about 3,282 square kilometres of mostly uninhabited country. So, needless to say, this river is huge!

It is also beautiful, remote, pristine and peaceful and has become my favourite place in Cape York.

Banks of the Jardine

We had travelled to the Cape with two other couples and spent some time up at Loyalty Beach near Bamaga. We then decided, on our way down, we would camp at the mouth of the Jardine to spend a few days off the grid, fishing and relaxing. Off we set, in convoy, heading towards Mutee Heads and then down the dirt tracks to some camping areas on the banks of the Jardine. Now one set of friends were towing a camper trailer (you may be familiar with them from my other blogs, yes it was the Drabbles). That camper trailer had issues! One set of bearings was almost shot, and the brakes were welded on. So, we took the Prado off down the tracks to ensure that the slopes and conditions were ok for the Drabbles to follow.

As we came around a corner we encountered some very deep and soft sand and oops, just like that, were stuck. So out we get, removing the max tracks and started digging. We radioed back up to the convoy to let them know not to take the right fork and set about extracting ourselves from the very, very, very soft sand. Now it was little eerie in that we had no response on the radio, we were surrounded by bush in the middle of nowhere and we were struggling to get ourselves out of the sand. In the distance we could hear a strange noise, a mixture of whining and grinding, getting louder and louder. My imagination was running away with me and I decided that we were going to be captured and sacrificed to some remote god in a spectacular fashion. The noise grew louder and as I looked over onto the other track (the one we should have taken) I saw the culprit! Here came the BT-50 freewheeling down the slope whining and grinding its way through the right-hand track sans camper trailer, (without getting stuck), to then end up in front of us, closely followed by the Greens in their Patrol and camper trailer. When they had had finished taking the good old Michael out of us and managed to stop laughing long enough, they hooked up the snatch strap our little Prado and dragged us out of the sand. Off we went again.

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(no pictures as the camera lady was a bit stressed, hot and bothered!)

We got to the banks of the Jardine and sussed out the camping areas. Mike and I decided that we would go scouting up to the mouth to see whether there were better campsites up there. Yet another mistake, second time in the same day we got stuck in very soft sand. Again, we had to get the Patrol to come and snatch us out. How very embarrassing! So, considering our failure, we decided to camp at our first stop, we just could not take any more humiliation.

(still no pictures of this as I was getting a bit cranky! Can’t think why)

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We made it back to the camp area only to find out that Di had photographed a map telling us there were bad sand bogs where we had just been. Thanks for the heads-up Di!!!!!! (With friends like that……. Need I say more!)

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The area was beautiful, we were camped in the next area along from the other two couples. Not that we are anti-social at all but there were some snoring issues coming from the Green’s camper trailer and I do not play nicely if I don’t get enough sleep! So, we set up our tent and then helped the others set up a communal area to cook and eat in front of a beautiful campfire overlooking the Jardine.

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We shared cooking duties for the next few days and I must admit the cooking, company, wine and views were amazing.

So, we got back to camp with tall tales of the huge ones that got away, over a few beers and a fantastic beef stew and dumplings. Wow another beautiful day in the far north of Queensland.

We stayed at this camp for 5 days in total, mainly because we were waiting for the bearings to be delivered to Bamaga for the Drabbles camper trailer, but also because it was amazing. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was great, the fishing was fantastic, and the company was awesome. But, as with all good things it had to come to an end and we had to head back to civilisation! (picture sad face emoji).

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So, on the morning of the 5th day we woke up and started packing up ready for the trip back to Bamaga. That is when I heard Di yelling, “Oi come and look at this!” we dutifully headed onto the beach in front of their camp and promptly freaked out to see the croc tracks leading up from the Jardine to just below their camp. The crocodile had obviously found something nice to eat just under the sand and then promptly wandered off back to the water again. In the immortal words of Steve Irwin “Crikey he was a big un!”

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Maybe it was a good idea to boot scoot out of there! So long Jardine and thanks for all the Barra!

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Jump, Snatch, Blow and Winch

What are friends for? We traveled the Cape last year and, because we were relatively inexperienced with hard 4wd tracks, we went with friends, the Drabbles. Friends who had done the Cape before, friends who were dinky di true Aussie blue, friends who knew how to get themselves out of sticky situations. We were told “always take a Drabble” and you would never be stuck.

Sounds like a plan yes?

There is  a rivalry between us over the capabilities of our cars, friendly rivalry but a rivalry nonetheless. We, being ex poms, cop some flack over “having all the gear and no idea” in our little Prado. Well thank goodness for our little Prado we say.

On the track we had to save the Drabbles bacon not once but 4 times! Hurrah for all the gear (we did have SOME idea).

Prado had to jump start the BT50 on the morning of our first bush camp on the OTT

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Prado had to snatch BT50 out of the Jardine

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Prado had to blow BT50 on the PDR (Mr Drabble getting told off by Mrs Drabble)

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And Prado had to winch BT50 on Gunshot

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The Prado definately got a work out on this trip (so much so she blew her alternator but that is a story for another time)

Fun was had by all! Next time we will give the “Drabble” a service before we take it as we don’t think the “Drabble” was working very well on this trip!