Monday, August 8, 2011

Moving north to Archer River Roadhouse (07.08.11)

We had a great night with no wind and slept with only the fly net closed on the tent.  With no power it appears that everyone goes to bed as soon as it is dark.  Around 8 pm Peter (of all people) said he was going off to bed.  This must be the earliest night he has had in 30 plus years.  I stayed outside reading with my headlight on (another new experience for me) and at about 9 pm decided to call it a night.  By that stage I think there were only one or two other people still up and about.  It was deadly quiet!  Of course early to bed means early to wake, and I woke to see Peter leaving for a shower and I had no idea of the time.  Decided I may as well follow him, and when I got back to the tent it was still not 7 am.  Where have my 9.30 am starts to the day gone?

We had a leisurely breakfast and watched most of the campers pack up and move on.  We are getting pretty good at packing up ourselves and it didn’t take us long to have the tent down and the car packed. 
The road north was again red dust or brown dusty gravel with huge dips in the road built to take the rains during the rainy season.  These dips are quite severe and have rock in the base and then a severe climb out again.  Often these are only a couple of hundred metres apart.  Occasionally there is a short distance on bitumen and this is such a relief from the corrugations.  We travelled about 112 kms to Coen which mainly is a small Aboriginal settlement.  We visited the historic Cape York house which provided an interesting insight into the early settlers of the area.  These were mainly white station owners who employed large numbers of locals as farm hands.  The house is well set up with photos and booklets made up of various families providing the history.
We bought fuel in Coen - $1.77 litre for diesel which isn’t too bad when you consider how far it has to be transported.  The hotel and the fuel stop, which is also the general store and the local vehicle repair shop are about the only businesses in town with a few other shops now closed.  We did see the hospital base and I have to say I couldn’t recommend to Andrea unless they are paying her mega bucks.  It would certainly be an experience.
Peter’s mobile suddenly had reception which is quite unusual for this area.  We collected some messages as today is my birthday.  Who would have thought I would spend my 59th birthday in this part of the world. 
We travelled on a further 66 kms to Archer River Roadhouse.  Again the roads were rough and we had to continue to engage 4wd.  There is a reasonable amount of traffic going south mainly and the dust forewarns us.  The roadhouse offers food ($10 for spaghetti on toast and $26.00 for a chop, chips and salad) and there was a large group of Aboriginal people sitting on the veranda enjoying their Sunday when we arrived.  One of the ladies asked us where we were heading and I said next stop Chilli Beach and she was delighted as that is the area she is from.  We have booked into the camping area for one night, again $10 per adult.  There are hot showers and toilets, and also a laundry if you are so inclined.  There are now about 30 other campers set up and it is quite peaceful.
During the afternoon we wandered down to the Archer River and we weren’t inclined to stay around.  There were a number of groups of locals sitting around relaxing with fires going and their radios turned up loud.  We were disappointed to see that they were disposing of their rubbish direct into the river – this is their land and they are spoiling it.  I wonder how many of them will be counted in the census on Tuesday night.
Peter offered to take me out for dinner tonight to celebrate my birthday.  For the record, I have politely declined as the fillet steak and salad I had planned sounds much more appealing that the blackboard menu in the roadhouse.  We will keep the dinner out for another night.  Again it has been a beautiful day with temperatures in the high 20’s but there is again some wind which is a bit annoying, but fortunately no rain.  Saying that, a short shower would cut the dust which would be quite good but the roads dry again very quickly so the relief would be short lived.
Cape York Historic House, Coen
 Cape York Historic House, Coen
 Main Street, Coen
 Cape York Peninsula National Parks information
Cape York information
Road Coen to Archer River Roadhouse
Road Coen to Archer River
Redder dust now north of Coen
One of the many dips with shingle base
Camp site Archer River Roadhoouse
Archer River
Archer River
Archer River Roadhouse
Side of road north of Archer River

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