Day 1-Saturday Brisbane to Calliope:-
Before we left Dad purchased a GPS & promptly named it Roger. On Saturday the 23rd June we set off on our trip to the Daintree. We were going to visit with Natalie, one of Merv’s many Grand children. Dad & Mum set off a day earlier so that they could visit with some friends who lived in Gladstone.We were to meet up with them at Calliope for an overnight stay. We arrived late in the afternoon and had to setup in the rain (it hadn’t rained for months) & mud.The participants of this trip were Mum & Dad, Barry and myself & Tegan, Steven, Coral and their 3 children; Shane & Sarah and we were meeting up later with Barry’s brother Trevor, Alma & their 4 children.
Calliope Cap site
Day 2-Sunday Calliope to St lawrence:-
Up early the next morning and we headed for St Lawrence, still raining and setting up in the rain & mud again. Because the canvas of our trailer was wet when we packed up that morning, when we opened it up our bed & bed linen were wet. Try drying sleeping bags & bed linen under the awning of the camper. But at least we had hot showers – 2 minutes for $1. Shane, Steven & Dad decided to go and explore St Lawrence late that afternoon, well as boys will be boys they found a mud patch and promptly started playing as those who have four wheel drives do. Apparently Dad with a few expletives, hard to believe, told them if they got bogged he wasn’t pushing the vehicle. This camp are is free and has toilets and $ for showers.
St lawrence Camping
On the road
Day 3-Monday St lawrence to home Hill:-
Up next morning and for those that had to fuel up drove to the Service station at Illbillbie. Hard to find a Woollies or Shell out here. Next stop was Home Hill, so off the convoy went. We pulled up just outside Bowen opposite the Big Mango and had afternoon tea, and made contact with Barry’s brother Trevor whom we were meeting at Bowen. As Dad had his trusty GSP and it was getting a little late and we still had a few kilometres to travel we left the group and departed for Bowen and would meet up again at Home Hill.
We headed into Bowen where Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackson were filming their Movie. As we drove into town and on top of the hill was a huge water tank with the word “BOWENWOOD” painted on it. Barry travelled into town and up & down some streets trying to get a glimpse of Nicole. (It was her birthday and she was actually on an Island with husband Keith Urban).We met up with Trevor and continued on to Home Hill. We arrived just before dark and all the way in we could here Merv on the radio trying to give us directions. If you haven’t stayed there before, it is in the back street alongside the rail line. Believe me when he said it was beside the rail line that is literally where it is. Ever been asleep only to be woken by the sound of a train that sounds like it is coming through your van. Needless to say not much sleep happened that night. The town was set up to cater for travellers (except for the trains) there was a clean, tidy camp kitchen, hot & cold water showers (free) and of course the mandatory toilet. These are cleaned daily by the council and kept in excellent condition. This was a fee camp area.
Day 4-Tuesday Home Hill to Murray Falls:-
Next morning, off we go towards Ayr where Dad found a Woollies Petrol Station and decided to fill up. Then it was on to Murray Falls (still raining), this is a National Park a few kilometres off the highway. It is a beautiful spot when it is sunny and not bad when it rains either. But kids being kids & with the waterfall flowing strongly they decided to get out the air mattress and ride the rapids down stream a little. They had a ball, but boy I don’t think kids feel the cold even when wet. This area is not a free camp, but has toilets and a cold outdoor shower.
Day 5-Wednesday Murray Falls to Cairns:-
Up next morning and headed for Cairns, and a camping ground for some washing and serious showering. After much to do about who was camping in which direction, we hit the laundry and did the washing. Took us most of the afternoon & night, but at least we had a dryer as it was still a little wet. While the clothes were drying it was time for a little retail therapy, the women hit the shops for some much need supplies and a few bit & pieces. (Barry had programmed Violet the pilot so we wouldn’t get lost).
Day 6-Thursday Cairns Area:-
We spent a couple of days in Cairns, doing some tourist things and boosting the economy. First day each went their separate ways, some to Kuranda going by Sky rail and returning by Railway, others decided to do the sky rail both ways, others Drove up to Kuranda. Mum & Dad decided that since they had Roger they would go explore the centre of Cairns. It had been a while since they were last there. Barry & Tegan decided to do some horse riding not far from Kuranda, so they dropped me off in Kuranda and I wandered around the Markets until they returned for the return journey home.
Day 7-Friday Cairns to Daintree:-
Next day were off to the Daintree via Port Douglas of course. We drove down to the Marina, parked the vehicles and some of the more energetic walked down the main street, mainly looking for a coffee shop for a Cappuccino. Dad decided to stay with the vehicles on a seat in the shade under a tree. We returned later with some lunch (Dad just wanted a pie, at nearly every stop) with Natalie & her husband Terry by the Port, it is such a lovely area. Natalie gave us directions on how to get to their property across the Daintree River.
Off we go through Mossman, via the Mossman Gorge where we went for a stroll down to the water. Dad, much to my surprise walked the gorge route. He had to rest a few times as this was an exhausting walk even for the fit and healthy, but he refused to give up. After manoeuvring out of the car park (we all had trailers attached to the vehicles) we headed for the Daintree ferry. Because Natalie lives in the Daintree she has passes for visitors to use. Across we go looking eagerly for Crocodiles, but we could see any plenty of Logadiles. The access to Natalie’s place was on bend in the road going up a hill.
We took first position and in Low range we started up the incline, which was muddy and slippery due to rain. Oh no, the diff lock wouldn’t engage and we were going nowhere. After much deliberation and thought, it was decided that Shane who was behind us in his rodeo would bring his car up to the back of the camper and Barry would drop the trailer and go up ahead. Not sure of the reason, must be a bloke thing. I think he was trying to engage diff lock on level ground, didn’t work anyway. He re-hitched the trailer and again didn’t move. Shane then made his way round the Disco and drove to the top, dropped his trailer off and then proceeded back down the driveway. Next thing I know Shane is coming back towing the Disco and trailer with his rodeo. Back down to retrieve Dad whom also had to be towed up as Barry had chopped up one area quite a bit. Trevor followed – also towed. Steven not to be outdone planted the foot of the Jackaroo and made it up under his own steam.
The area that was to be our home for the next few days was a flat piece of land that looked out over the Daintree River towards Low Isle and the reef. It had a two Bay shed equipped with a toilet, shower, washing machine and a kitchen bench & sink. We also had a water tank that we could use. The shed hadn’t been used in quite a while so the men set about hooking up the water to the shed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be quite that easy as some creatures had chewed through the electrical wiring and he tripped the cut off switch. The switch was behind a locked door that Natalie had no key for. With a little input from all we were able to hook up water. Tape and hose are good for something.
Day 8-Saturday Daintree to Cooktown :-
Natalie & Terry’s home was situated above this piece of land. The property is quite a few hectares and has views to die for. The day after we arrived was set aside for a drive to Cape Tribulation, which ended up being a drive to Cooktown via the Bloomfield track. Due to the wet weather there were quite a few slippery windy tracks and creek crossings to navigate. The first one was flowing quite rapidly, and as always a photo opportunity. As it was a fresh water crossing I waded to the other side and nearly ended up in it, as the rocks were quite slippery
Lions Den Hotel
Barry had no trouble navigating the crossing neither did Elma (Trevor’s wife did all of the driving), or Steven. Then it was Shane’s turn in his trusty Rodeo Ute (the one that towed the vehicles and trailers up the driveway), half way across he became stuck and couldn’t get out under his own steam, so Dad hooked up the towrope and dragged him back. Shane tried again to cross and got to the same spot and with wheels spinning could not get a grip. Someone in the group yelled out “put it into four wheel drive”, and sure enough he drove straight out (red faced) as he states he was certain it was already in four wheel drive having to drive on the wet slippery dirt road. Dad came across quite easily.
Lions Den Hotel
Arriving in Cooktown was like taking a step back in time. The town was quite small and old historic buildings lined the streets. Because we got there quite late, due to the fact we weren’t expecting to travel to Cooktown, we didn’t get to spend a lot of time exploring. We drove up to the lookout and the views were breathtaking. No wonder Cook got stuck; you could see where the reefs were situated from this lookout. Lots of picture taking, but not much park area.
Some people need to pick up some supplies from the shop and as there was only the road into Cooktown and another road leading to the Cape. As the women were on their way back to the vehicles, a couple of us left the convoy and headed out of town expecting the others to follow once they were back in their vehicles. We were maintaining radio contact with each other; we assumed they were not far behind. When all of a sudden they seemed to be getting further and further away. We slowed up, but kept driving as far as the Bloomfield track turnoff.
Shane & Terry
We waited for a little while trying to make contact with the rest of the convoy. It was decided that Barry would back track to see what had happed to them. We drove as far back and Black Mountain before we made radio contact with the rest of the group. It appears that they took the Cape road instead and didn’t realise that they were on the wrong road until they passed an airport. One of the kids said that they didn’t remember seeing an airport on the road in. Three vehicles did a quick U turn and headed back towards to Cooktown and out the other side. It wasn’t long before everyone was back together. Dad & Mum decided to return along the bitumen road and through Mossman. The rest of the convoy returned via the Bloomfield track. All was going well except that it was getting quite dark and as everyone knows things look different. All went without mishap and arrived back quite late. We then started to calculate how long it should take Dad to arrive back. It was about ½ hour later that we heard the familiar sound of the diesel engine coming up the drive. It was then time to eat and shower to get the dust off the weary bodies.
Day 9 -Sunday:-
The next day was a new adventure; we were off to Low Isle leaving from Port Douglas. The weather was fine and the sea crystal clear, it was the first clear day that they have had for sometime. We went on the boat Wave rider that was a catamaran, but had to use the engine due to problems with one of the masts. This day was all about swimming, snorkelling, glass bottom boats and exploring the island. Lunch was served onboard the boat, snorkelling gear was provided free to use and for those less adventurous there were the glass bottom boats. There was a biologist on the island to explain and some us some of the creatures that live in the water around the island. There were sponges and worms, coral and molluscs. There are some Biologists that live on the island and also a lighthouse that is no longer working. We were all back on board approximately 3 pm for the trip home. They did a head count before departing to make sure everyone was on board.
Day 10-Monday Daintree Touring:-
The next day was a lay day, people could do anything they wanted. We had booked a crocodile cruise along the Daintree River for the afternoon, so we were all meeting at this site after lunch. In the meantime Barry, Natalie and I went to the tree top walk. This is a rainforest which has a raised boardwalk, so that you don’t disturb any foliage or wild life. There is also a tower which you climb to get an overall view of the rainforest floor and canopy. After this adventure Natalie took us for some homemade ice cream. You don’t get a choice of flavours, you get 3 scoops in a dish of the most amazing flavours the area offers.
Natalie and Barry
Whilst we were visiting this spectacular feature and eating delicious ice cream the others visited the bouncing rocks. These are black/gray flat rocks that when thrown onto each other bounce in all directions. Apparently there were a few close calls with people being hit. Mum and Dad decided to drive to the start of the Crebe Track which was still closed due to the wet weather that they had recently had.
Mum and Dad decided to drive to the start of the Crebe Track which was still closed due to the wet weather that they had recently had. Whilst Barry, Terry, Natalie and I went to Daintree village at a small restaurant, which just happened to serve Barrumudi much to Barrys delight. We finished our meal and headed off to the designated meeting point. We all arrived about the same time. Dad took a liking to some of the plants that were growing, so ended up at Sandstone Point.
With our group and another couple we boarded the flat bottom cruise boat and proceeded along the Daintree River. It wasn’t long before we spotted our first Crocodile, and it was quite a large reptile. Our guide was quite knowledgeable about the area and where to find all the crocs. If he didn’t there was always the two way and a few other cruise boats that would relay the location of various point of interest. We saw all different sized crocs, even one that was only a couple of months old. The guide advised that a cow had been taken down stream whilst it was drinking, and that it was found later by two jet skiers. Who is there right mind would ride a jet ski on the Daintree River which is inhabited by crocs. The boat arrived back and a group photo was taken before departing. We went back to camp for a bit of R & R after such a busy day.
Day Day 12 Wednesday:-
– We left about 8:30 am to begin our travel home. We decided to travel back along the inland road via Mareeba and Atherton and hopefully stop overight at the Lava Tubes. Unfortunately, due to being school holidays and the lateness of our arrival we were unable to book into the Tubes, so we decided to press on as far as we could. We decided to press on towards the Oasis Roadhouse, The Lynd. The caravan park was attached to the petrol station, but there were facilities available, so we settled down for the night
Day 13 Thursday –:-
Next day we continued on down more dirt road with a strip of bitumen down the middle toward Belyando Crossing where we would be staying the night. On this road there were quite a few road trains and of course they have right of way. Unfortunately on one of these strips we were hit by a rock in the middle of the windscreen. It didn’t crack but left a tiny hole in the windscreen and was starting to shatter. We had to pass through Charters Towers on our way, so we found a windscreen place, but they couldn’t help us and advised us to try Rockhampton. We advised they that we wouldn’t be passing through Rockhampton. We found a cheap shop and purchased some see through duct tape to help stop the shattering. The place we were staying was also attached to a service station come hotel. Fortunately for us it was the third state of origin and they had set up a Television and arranged nibbles for all those who would watch.
Day 14 Friday –:-
Up early and heading for our next overnight stay at Dululu. On the way we passed through Clermont, Emerald, Blackwater until we finally arrived. Dululu was just a tennis court, a small convenience store and an area set aside for campers. There were toilets, and you could pay the convenience store and they would let you shower.
Day 15 Saturday :-
-Dululu to home. We set off next morning to go home. We would be travelling via Biloela and a quick stop at the shops to Monto. Mum and Dad decided to look up relatives in Monto that they hadn’t seen for a long time. They visited with Dads, Mums Sisters, who were living in a nursing home and a nephew whom they had met previously. The rest of us continued on our way. All were travelling well until Gympie and road works slowed us down considerable. We arrived home late afternoon. We were under the assumption that Mum and Dad would be spending the night at either Monto or a caravan park. It was a surprise when Mum rang and told us that they got home late that night.