Friday, August 26, 2011

Still heading south

We have now completed seven weeks on the road and what experiences we have had. To wake up on the river bank at Coen and enjoy the scenery is something many people would never have the opportunity to do. We did it and enjoyed it! We have lived very basically in the tent. We were well prepared with a good quality Black Wolf tent which is advertised to take 30 seconds to put up, but that must be with an expert. It takes us about ten minutes but we are happy with that. We also ditched our older stretchers and bought new deluxe stretchers before we left Melbourne. Peter's has extra length which he enjoys. On top of these we have mattresses which automatically blow up, and then sleeping bags. Peter uses his as a duvet as he hates being restricted when he sleeps. We have slept like babies!

In addition we have had two camp tables, a gas stove and chairs. We have been most comfortable and it just proved to us how basically we can live for a number of weeks. The only thing we didn't do well was lighting and our small lights haven't been the best as it gets dark quite early in the evening. We will look at other options when we get back to Cairns.

We packed up again (we are getting good at that!) and headed into Coen where we stopped at the cafe and store. We bought some bananas - we have really missed these and although they are still $12 a kilo it was nice to have some of them.
Met up with a road train, fortunately it was tarseal
Soon after leaving Coen we came to a very steep descent which was signed posted "low gear for all trucks". The road was tar sealed fortunately as we followed a road train down the hill. Peter called the driver on the radio and let him know that he had a flat tyre on the rear trailer. His response was "thanks mate, are you going to change it for me?". He didn't pull over so clearly he wasn't interested in changing it either. As we neared the bottom of the hill the truck driver called over the radio for us to pass as he was "going to let it go". I was a tad dubious as we were on a double white line but nevertheless we passed as he co firmed that the road was clear to pass.

We passed Musgrave Station (where we stayed on our trip north) and took the direct road back to Laura rather than the Lakefield National
Park route to Cooktown which we had previously taken. We had planned on staying at a freecamp just north of Laura but when we looked
at it, it was pretty run down and although there was another couple there we decided to continue south. We stopped at Laura for diesel and
had a late lunch. There is a restored gaol in the picnic area - it is hard to believe that once it housed eighteen, although they were
apparently chained together.

When Peter was filling the car with diesel he asked the guy how much further before the tarseal and believe it or not he said only a further 6-
8 kms. This was sufficient to encourage us to continue on south. As we joined the main road leading into Cooktown there was a public truck
wash. The vehicle we were following pulled in so we didn't want to miss the opportunity to try and get rid of a bit more dust so through we
went through - not once but three times!

We travelled a little further south to a camping ground we had had recommended to us at Mt Carbine. This caravan park is out in the middle
of no where (it was originally a mining area but since closed down) but was really pleasant to stay at. The owners provide stocks of firewood
and so we were able to have a campfire the two nights we stayed (it wasn't cold but just pleasant to sit around). Peter took the opportunity to cleans the car again trying to get rid of a bit more red dust now that we were on tarsal. He even scrubbed the inside of the back doors to
try and stop us getting dirty every time we opened the back door.

We woke up to a flat tyre this morning. To think we had travelled on all those gravel roads and now get a flat when we are in the safety of a camping ground! Peter found a spike was in the tyre so tried pumping it up with the compressor to see if it would retain sufficient air to get us to a repairer. His other suggestion was if that didn't work he may even ring RACV (the equivalent of AA). I am not so sure that they want to drive out into country Far North Queensland just to change our tyre.

There was heaps of birdlife and I saw the first locust - it was sitting on the tent and I had to remove it before Peter could finish packing up the tent.

From our campsite we could hear the road trains heading north overnight. They appeared to be travelling in groups of three or four and were possibly those transporting the houses to Weipa. We were so pleased we didn't meet any of them on the road.
View of road train
 Road train south of Coen
 He told us to pass before he opens it out - note double line
Laura historical gaol
The restored gaol which housed 18
Going through the truck wash down near Laura
Built just for us!
Three trips through but the water was very dirty so didn't
make much difference but good for underneath the car
We are getting good at the Aussie campfire Mt Carbine
Campfire Mt Carbine
We woke to a flat tyre at Mt Carbine
 Another wash to try and remove the dust - Mt Carbine
Even inside the doors
Locust at Mt Carbine on our tent
 Locust on our tent Mt Carbine
We thought he was big

 Locust removed from the tent to a stick
Last night in the tent at Mt Carbine - we will miss it

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