So it seems like there is a lot of highs; it was an incredible year and looking back pretty much everything was great fun. From Gem Tree we tracked North East into Queensland and on to Cape York
Lawn Hill – in the middle of nowhere between Mt Isa and the Gulf, this is a fantastic oasis; swimming down the gorge to camp is awesome.
Mt Oscar – taking the back road to the Savannah Way; it is true that the road less travelled can give the best experiences, like coming across the station mustering their cattle – sure it held us up for a bit but why rush?
Leichardt River – again just a free camp, but such a location overlooking the river nestled down in the gorge below
Undarra Lava Tubes – Deservedly this place is a geological marvel, walking through the tubes left behind from ancient lava flows, underneath the roosting bats
Chilli Beach – For many this is the start of Cape Yorke, before doubling back and heading north along the Development Road or Telegraph Track. Such a tease, a white sand beach where you can’t swim; tropical paradise apart from the crocs! The bush turkeys definitely like coconut, as did the girls
Palm Creek – the first crossing of the Telegraph Track, a damn sight deeper and steeper than the Hema book makes out. The rain shower didn’t help, making the climb out slippery enough to need winching (a big thank you to Fifty Toes Walkabout).
Gunshot Creek – One of the icons of the Cape, need I say more. In the interests of common sense we didn’t drive this, one for a future boy’s trip…..
Fruit Bat Falls – just north of where the Development Road crosses the Telegraph Track, the falls are just incredible. A brilliant spot to stop and chill whether you are heading up or down the Cape.
Elliot Falls – Just a short drive to the north of Fruit Bat, just the matter of a fairly deep water crossing along the way. The falls here are not so practical for swimming, but make up for this in beauty. Early in the morning the mist over the water was just gorgeous.
Five Beaches Drive – this departs Somerset Beach, a lovely little camp on the NW tip of the Cape. The drive itself is not that hard, crossing some wonderful remote beaches – just watch the tide times.
Tip of the Cape – the most northerly mainland point.
Punsand Bay – Another beach that you cannot swim at. However it is a beautiful spot; add a pizza oven and a (small) swimming pool and this is a lovely place to relax after the long drive north. The beachside spots are the pick, book ahead.
Ussher Point – a wonderfully remote spot. However, saddening to see the amount of rubbish washed up on the beaches, one glance at more recent arrivals leaves no doubt, it is washing down from Asia. Best camp oven cake of the trip, with freshly picked coconut!
Pennefather River – top spot for some more isolated beachfront camping. Quirky DIY swings, climbing frames etc. made out of whatever has washed up on the sand. A shame the fish weren’t biting.
Mapoon – just a short drive north of Pennefather, another beachside camp. No facilities but who cares when the fish are biting and horses wander along a pretty beach.
Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary – A short drive north of Cairns, up into the rainforest. A very calming place.
Great Barrier Reef – OK, probably on everyone’s best list, but there is a reason for that, hopefully that reason hasn’t been lost in the recent mass bleaching.
The Daintree – incredible rainforest, with equally incredible 30%+ gradients, not a drive for a rainy day. The Lions Den at the north end is a top spot to pause and soak up the history.
Wallaman Falls – the loudest cicadas I have ever heard (think ear pain), the tallest falls in Australia, and the coldest shower of the trip, well worth the drive
Bowen – great fun to see the annual parade, and then some improvised Halloween games back at camp
Eurimbula – Just to the west of Seventeen Seventy (awesome name!), a lovely spot amongst the trees next to the beach
Fraser Island – the last big adventure of the trip, and just incredible. Beach driving, rockpools and creeks, inland forests and lakes; this place has it all. We will definitely return. The weather was mixed, but a bit of rain helps firm up the sand.
Noosa – a wonderful town, the waterways are amazing and a great place to paddle board. Just north, a short ferry ride from Trewantin is a wonderful campside just behind the beach – just be careful of the rips (and the wandering kangaroos)
Australia Zoo – such an icon, and outside of the school holidays such a relaxed day.
Captain Logans – on the shore of Lake Wivenhoe its commercial but get the right spot near the water and its great
Seal Rocks – less remote since the road was sealed (some places should be left a little rough at the edges), but still a great spot for a family holiday. After almost 12 months travelling it was a relaxing change to stay put for 3 weeks, even with some wild weather mid stay.
So were there any lows. Not really. Being towed out of Old Andado was unfortunate but with hindsight also probably not necessary. A major regret is not heading into Arnhem land – it wasn’t something we had considered when planning the trip, and by the time we got there it was too late. Oh well, something for next time.