Ussher Point – Sun 27th to Tue 29th Sep
A short drive out from Bamaga lies the airport, a strip of tarmac at the end of a long slash through the forest. Also here are a couple of crash sites from the second-world -war – in bad weather, without modern instruments this would have been a terrible place to fly into.
The first and best preserved is a DC3, en route to New Guinea when it crashed with no survivors.
Further out are the remains of a Bristol Beaufort, although much less remains of this one.
Plane wrecks aren’t the only things left in the bush, presumably the large dumps of rusting 40 gallon drums also date back to the war.
Ussher Point according to Hema is 60km of paint stripping, overhanging and almost impassable jungle track. It must be hard keeping up to date, the road has seen work in the last 12 months and is now a relatively simple drive – although you wouldn’t take a large van down there. It is fair say this place is remote, there are no facilities and no phone signal; this is not somewhere to break down alone, we travelled in with Fifty Toes.
There are only 4 sites here, all booked through Queensland Parks. The first is a scar in the bush a couple of km from the beach. The second, ours, is large enough for two cars and trailers and enjoys some shelter from the wind – the beach is a 5 minute walk away. The other two sites are laughable, one is just a sandy patch behind the beach whilst the other is perched on the edge of a cliff – no sleepwalking now….
Also along the cliffs are some great termite mounds, although a couple of them may soon find out about coastal erosion.
As with all the beaches around here it’s a tease, too many crocs about to enjoy a long swim. We did not see any, but did see several tracks – the zig-zag here is its tail heading down the beach from the lagoon.
The beach stretches north and south, uninterrupted aside from a few rocky headlands. To the north rise some wonderfully coloured cliffs, whilst to the south the coast is lower and the beach wider.
All along the beach the cliffs have large clay bands with some wonderfully different colours, great fun for the girls to get messy and make things from.
At the far south end of the beach there are a few coconut palms scattered around. It is incredible how hard the nuts are to dislodge, but they do make a good camp oven cake.
If there is a negative to the area it would be the amount of rubbish pushed onshore by wind and tide; innumerable bits of plastic, thongs, shoes, ropes and other flotsam, much of it coming from Asia. It is incredible what a bit of imagination can do though, the kids had hours making billy carts. Also incredible how much embodied energy there is in the waste, burning may not be the best disposal but is too far to cart it all out and better than leaving it on the sand.
At the end of a side track, to the north of Ussher this is more remote. With a couple of sheltered campsites a few hundred metres from the beach it is a spot to get away from everything, with the bonus of a freshwater lake a few km up the road. There is no booking for these sites, so whilst free it could be a long drive to find them occupied.
Moreton Telegraph – Wed 30th Sep
Originally the plan was for a couple of nights at Vrilya Point. Sadly it was closed. Seemingly last year it was wrecked by idiots leaving rubbish (and worse) all over the place, plus there is an ongoing dispute between the mining lease and local community over who should maintain the log bridge. Such a shame to see it closed off, too many places are already locked out.
An alternative further south is Captain Billy’s landing, however this is back on the east coast and open to the wind; not what we wanted after Ussher. The next west coast area is north of Weipa, with Moreton handily half way there.
Whilst it is possible to drive North / South along the Old Telegraph Track it is not ideal, as much of the traffic heads north – which leaves the Development Road. Aside from a few places where the road traverses Heathland NP this was a pretty good drive, not too rough and leaving Ussher just before 9am put Fruit Bat Falls as the perfect lunch spot and a long overdue swim
About 40km before Moreton the Development Road passes where it all began a few weeks before, Bramwell Station and its rego tree.
Pennefather Coastal – Thu 1st to Fri 2nd Oct
Weipa, servicing Rio Tinto’s bauxite mining lease, is a reasonably sized town on the west coast about 135km from Moreton. The week before saw it host the annual pig hunting convention, whilst there is a Woolworths it is no to a Haighs chocolate but yes to fishing tackle shops.
Heading into town the first thing you come across is the haul road for the mine. In case you are tempted to jump the lights, although the trucks are rather slow moving their tyres stood taller than the Land Rover – there is a photo in town of an impatient station wagon, its engine is flat to the deck under the truck.
Pennefather Coastal is a loose collection of camp spots along the back of the beach to the south of Pennefather River, which splits the coast about 50km north of Weipa. Once at the beach you can drive either behind the dunes or along the beach, neither is overly challenging but if towing its best to stay behind the dunes. Every few hundred metres there are small stands of trees, providing shade plus a gunbarrel view of the sunset.
A great feature is how people have taken stuff washed up on the beach and turned them into adventure activities for the kids; an old tyre into a swing, a net into a hammock etc. A bare tree trunk towed up the beach made a great wobbly climb addition to the fun and games.
Techically a camping permit is required from the local land office, but given they weren’t answering the phone and no ranger came by, getting a couple of night’s free camp was a bonus.
Mapoon – Sat 3rd Oct
Whilst there are fish cruising the beach at Penne-father they were immune to anything we could put in front of them; live bait, lures, perhaps the best way would be to just spear them……
Between no bites and the rampant flies (there is no stock for miles, so the only reason for them seems to be people unable or too lazy to bury their waste properly) a couple of nights was enough –time to move on and great things had been said about the fishing at Mapoon.
At the tip of the headland where Port Musgrave joins the ocean, Mapoon is an aboriginal community. Many of the original inhabitants were displaced when the area was opened to mining, hence the settlement of “New Mapoon” up at the tip, but many have apparently since returned.
There are a couple of places to camp here, Cullen Beach to the east of the headland or Back Beach to the west. Back Beach offers better shelter from the wind plus great shade under towering paperbarks just behind the beach; a good place to also watch the local horses wander by or see the sun rise.