Jun 29 Hired a tinny for the day and headed up the Endeavour River. Had some great fun but, unfortunately, the camera missed the barracuda and the king salmon … honestly ! Even tried our luck with a crab pot for a muddy – good job we had a booking at the Italian for the evening.
Jun 23 to 27 Invested in a new led light to help at the BBQ at night … did some fishing from the wharf (not quite the barra I was looking for !!) … saw a huge groper come up and steal hooked fish from other fishers – it was the size of a bus – really … also visited the museum which gave the history of Captain Cook’s first visit to Cooktown in 1770 – fascinating.
Jun 22 The Bloomfield Track is an unsealed track which is suitable for 4 wheel drive vehicles only with many creek crossings and steep mountains to negotiate. It meanders through lush rainforests and links Cooktown with Cape Tribulation, 100 Kms south. Take a look at the state of the car when we returned. Also there were some unique road signs on the way.
Captain Cook named the cape as Cape Tribulation because, as stated in his ship’s log, ‘This is where all my tribulations began’ (when he ran foul of the Great Barrier Reef and seriously damaged the ship’s hull). To avoid sinking over 50 tons of stores had to be off-loaded to free the Endeavour from the reef. The closest river he could find to save his ship was the Endeavour River which he named after his vessel whose life it saved.
Jun 20 We join Willi, a Nugul-Warra elder, on a tour to see the Nugal rock art sites hidden high in the hills above Hope Valley. Willi explains the meaning behind the art and gave us a unique insight into aboriginal spirituality and survival. (Note the unique way the local police station has been decorated.)
Jun 15 to Jul 3 Cooktown is as far north we can get in Queensland without travelling on dirt roads. Even so, we are still 2,150 Kms north of Brisbane and the average daily temperature here so far has been 26 degs, some 8 to 10 degs warmer than the Sunshine Coast.
Cooktown is a small town located at the mouth of the Endeavour River, on Cape York peninsula in far north Queensland. It is where Captain James Cook beached his ship, the Endeavour, for repairs in 1770. Cooktown’s population is approx 1,400. Both the town and Mount Cook (431 metres or 1,415 feet) which rises up behind the town were named after James Cook. It is the northernmost town on the east coast of Australia and was founded on 25 October 1873 as a supply port for the goldfields along the Palmer River. It was called ‘Cook’s Town’ until 1 June 1874.
We plan to stay in Cooktown for about 3 weeks so we choose a large camp site and get comfortable. There is a new addition to the camp – Siobhan has created a herb garden which has already contributed to the cuisine.
Bob spends a morning fishing with a local guide. Unfortunately, the weather denied the opportunity of bagging a Spanish Mackerel, so a FingerMark Bream offerred itself for a lovely fresh seafood dinner in its place.
The local Botanic Gardens have some fascinating plants. The local botanist is focussing on growing as many of the 200 plus original plants that Banks (the botanist on the Endeavour) took back to England with him. There is a small but challenging 9 hole golf course in Cooktown which provides us with some fun.
Jun 14 We make the 326 Km trip from Cairns to Cooktown via the inland route as the direct coast route is impassable to caravans. We will show you why in our later blog when we head down to Cape Tribulation using the direct route.
About 20 Kms south of Cooktown is Black Mountain, a quite unique rock formation. The mountain’s distinctive hard granite boulders originally formed out of magma that first slowly solidified under the Earth’s crust about 250 million years ago. The softer land surfaces above the solidified magma eroded away over time, leaving the magma’s fractured top to be exposed as a mountain of grey granite boulders blackened by a film of microscopic blue-green algae growing on the exposed surfaces. Colder rains falling on the dark, heated granite boulders causes the boulders to progressively fracture, break, and slowly disintegrate, sometimes explosively, leaving the mountain of boulders that can be seen today.
Jun 9 to 11 Next stop Atherton which is the main town on the Atherton Tablelands, inland from Cairns, famous for its fertile soils, dairy farming and wonderful scenery. On the way we stop at Millstream Falls which claims to be the widest single drop waterfall in Australia. Then we pass a wind farm just off the main highway.
After a pleasant round of golf at the local Atherton Golf Club, we head up to Lake Tinaroo, which has a bit of a story as to how it was named : James Mulligan was the first European explorer and prospector to visit the Atherton Tablelands in 1875. The area is named after another explorer, John Atherton who, it is reported, upon discovering alluvial tin deposits in the area, shouted ‘Tin, Harroo’ to his prospecting buddy, hence the name.
On the way we stop at 2 truly amazing and famous fig trees, the Curtain Fig and the Cathedral Fig. The Curtain Fig is one of the largest trees in Tropical North Queensland, located just out of Yungaburra. It is of the strangler fig species. Normally these figs germinate on top of another tree and try to grow roots into the ground. Once this important step is accomplished, the fig will grow vigorously, finally kill the hosting tree and then grow on independently. In this case, the hosting tree tilted towards the next one; the fig also grows around that one. Its curtain of aerial roots drops 15 metres (49 feet) to the ground. Although these figs kill their hosts, they basically feeds from the ground, unlike a parasitic plant which feeds from the sap of the host plant/tree.