Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pt Douglas to Laura Races

2003 in a Landy Discovery Mk1
We took off from Port Douglas toward Mossman then headed up the range towards Mt Molloy, and then cut off to Mt Carbine, a 1 horse, mining town. Scenery is semi dry fabulous mountains and valleys. On to Lakeland (no idea where it got its name), past Palmer River Road House!!.

Past Mt Carbine..can see forever..
Topped up the tank and on to Laura.
Soon ran out of tarmac but surface not bad. It was just being in the queue….and dust.
Stopped off at split rock to see cave art and a good climb and lunch. Really was worth the stop. Bit spooky as one cave we were not supposed to take pics…they didn’t turn out on my digital camera anyway!! Pity as the figures looked like spacemen.

Split Rock

Split Rock Reserve

Aboriginal Rock Art (why all upside down?)
Laura is a really funny little town. Almost missed it when I blinked, but out the other side of town another 20odd km for the 106th race meeting at the Laura races.
Terrific…... Got stopped for breath test on the way in and it was only11.30am. They came by car, Ute, truck, horse, plane and chopper. (2 huge chopper parking areas) Didn’t win anything but had a great time.
More spooky things. Saw 2 tall girls walking around, one wearing what looked like a shirt I used to own. It was a tailor made formal batik shirt KC made for me in Malaysia, and as I can no longer fit into it, we gave it to the Macksville Salvation Army in January 2500km away. Couldn’t help myself, so went up and asked about the shirt. It was indeed my old shirt and she had bought it in a Cairns op-shop for $35. How the hell did it get to Cairns in just a few months?

D’ shirt (you can see why it didn’t fit any more)

….oh and there really was horse racing there

….Grand Stand..& beer tent..
Didn’t stop for the nights barn dance and bash, as the Ute loads of station hands were starting to arrive in waves and the number of cops increased to match it. You know your getting too old when you opt to move on rather the join in and get totally written off!!
My beaut birthday 4wd book showed a dotted line trek from Laura to Cooktown the hard way, so off we went. Off through Lakefield National Park on a dirt road 6 lanes wide of bulldust sitting on a ton sideways in the corners. Real hoon stuff. OK until we hit the corrugations. There are 2 alternatives. Go at 2kph over each bump, or 80kph and fly over 4 out of every 5. Fast is better, fewer bumps per KM!
Off through Battle Camp Station (where there had been a rather big misunderstanding between black and white a long time ago), opening and closing gates. Well KC needed the exercise anyway.

Lakefield National Park
Sort of ran out or track, or even hint of a track for a while, but ploughed on and finally saw some pushed down grass marking something a bit like a track!! Finally hit brand new tarmac on the Hopevale/ Cooktown Road and pitched camp in the dark in Cooktown.

Camping in Cooktown (pretty basic)

Main drag Cooktown
What a great town is this. They proudly boast the town’s establishment in 1770 when Cook camped for many months to fix the Endeavour, (after hitting a reef and putting a rather large hole it the bottom) do some mapping and Joseph Bank’s botany work. Its only a small town, but is reeking in history, with the best museum we have ever seen. Opened in 1970 by QE11, its built in a disused monastery and we were spell bound for half a day. The shops, the streets the harbour are really worth the trip. In its hay day it had over 60,000 Chinese goldfield workers and China had a consulate there. Still quite a good Chinese cemetery there as well and worth a look.

Nonya’s”…wot more Malaysians

Gold miners monument

James Cook Museum

Chinese cemetery

Cooktown Lighthouse

Endeavour River Valley

Endeavour River mouth
Off again to travel down the Bloomfield track to Mossman. Started well on tarmac past Black Mountain then turned off (from the world). Road became more and more a 4wd road through jungle, creek crossings and straight up and down single lane tracks. Fun when ½ way down you meet a “cruiser man” coming the other way. Proves the Landy is better ‘cause I was able to get off to the side. The “cruiser man” couldn’t….or wouldn’t…bastard.
It’s a good idea to check the tide before crossing creeks,,,they are tidal and full of snappy handbags (old salty croc’s)

Black Mountain
By the time we got to Cape Tribulation we had met civilization again, with jungle resorts on the beaches and tucked among the trees. Cross on the Daintry River ferry and made dash to Mossman past some of the oldest sugar cane fields in Australia (set up by Chinese when the regions gold played out) and onto Pt Douglas.
Map picture

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