Cooktown to Cape York (Written 29/8/17 & 31/8/17)

Cooktown was supposed to be a short stay for us, two or three nights, we said at first. It is a place that kept our attention and intrigued us more than most places do. It is a smaller town than what we had imagined it would be but you do have access to all of the essentials and it is not too remote.

The vibe that Cooktown gives off is interesting to say the least. There is a great small community feel. It holds what appears to be a very even mixture of indigenous people, other Aussie’s, working travellers and tourists and seems to balance them all very well. You see the same faces in the shops and streets as you do in the pub and at your accommodation so the place feels familiar and comfortable quickly.

The fishing off the wharf is probably the best pier based fishing we have seen thus far. The locals tell us that it is the quiet season for fishing but they are still catching Spanish Mackeral, Queenfish and big Trevally off the wharf. Ben was up early most mornings, joining the locals on the wharf with a line or two in the water. He caught a 6kg Spanyard and a nice school mackeral and also a queenfish for eating. There was also some smaller fish and some travelly, which he put back.

Cooktown’s main area has The Lure Shop (bait, tackle and hunting store, very helpful staff), IGA, two bottle shops, a butcher, a camping store, a couple of aboriginal art and history places, The Croc Shop (souvenir and gifts) and a budget variety store. There is a couple of pubs there plus the RSL and Bowls Club. The one pub that we visited almost daily was The Top Pub, it was literally across the road from Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park where we were staying. This old hotel is like a heart that beats at the centre of Cooktown, feeding blood and life to the rest of it. You will find that most of the locals spend a little or a lot of time here each week.

If you know Ben and me, then you will know that we both enjoy playing pool. It is, in fact, how we met each other in the first place. The Top Pub in Cooktown allows the locals to showcase and hone their pool skills like no other pub we have seen. The pool table is in great condition and in a perfect location. Tourists are more than welcome to join in and try and beat the locals. Pool competitions are held not once, not twice but three times per week at The Top Pub. Everybody seems to play. There is a mesmerising type of interest and respect for pool in that pub that we have not seen anywhere else. The table brings people together. When there is no competition on, you simply write your name on the chalk board and the winner of each game plays the next person on that list. The system works well, it allows anybody (whether they know the people on the table or not) to try their hand at beating the current game winner and stops people from having to wait too long to get a game. All of the locals have their own cues and some of them even go as far as having pool gloves. It is just $10 to enter the pool competitions and prize money is normally $200 for the winner. So if you love a game of pool and fancy yourself against people who can actually play, add Cooktown to your places to see before you die, you will not be disappointed.

Alby and his 10 year old son, Jackson are two locals that really stood out. Alby taught Jackson to play pool and for a 10 year old he has an incredible amount of focus. He takes shots that most kids would not even see and plays better than a lot of adults who have been potters all of their lives. It is a common site to see his and his dad’s name on the chalk board on competition nights. Harry, the local builder, is also around most of the time, he is a tall man and a good player and is hard to knock off the table on a good day. His current girlfriend, Robyn, is a free spirit and loves a hit on the table. Brian and Stan, two older gentlemen, that are rarely seen apart, often take their seats on the stools beside the table. They will observe quietly for a while but it won’t be long until they too add their names to the chalk board and pick up a cue. The local indigenous people, Les and his sons and friends are seen often and in the pool comps. Vinnie, an ex-commercial fisherman, lives upstairs at the pub, he knows the town well, maintains and cleans the pub and is a keen player. Loud Dan (“Keno”), is somebody who is hard to forget, he is a large guy who loves Keno, hence his nickname and cheers loudly for his numbers. He is a handy pool player and is intense but fun to be around. Michael the current publican, likes to sit around and have a beer with his locals and gives off a welcoming vibe without being too forward. The girls behind the bar are very good at their job, they are helpful and complete The Top Pub nicely. You will get great smiles and good conversation from most of them.

In the couple of weeks we were at Cooktown I ended up doing a few shifts at The Top Pub to try and top up our funds a little before we headed for Cape York. I worked behind the bar for three shifts and then did housekeeping for three shifts. The experience was really good. It let me get a feel for hospitality. The bar work was a sink or swim sort of experience, I was told to just jump in and see how I went and that is what I did. Pouring drinks and learning the till wasn’t too bad but putting through Keno was a little stressful at times. Housekeeping demands attention to detail and is physically challenging but gives your mind a chance to breathe and relax.

Ben took the Prado to Tyrepower in Cooktown to get the wheels aligned and the tyres rotated as we still have the same tyres on the front that the bulbar fell onto while we were in Corryong. After they looked at it they told us that the bearings needed doing, as did the bushes and the ball joints and all of this, with the parts shipped in from Cairns was going to be around $1500. This kind of money was really going to put a dent in the money we had saved to do the Cape. It would have been foolish not to get it done before hitting the rough roads though. Ben chats to people, especially locals, while he is out and about and while he is fishing. This is a very good thing. A local at the pier told him to try a different mechanic, about 10 minutes out of town in Martin called Dion. So, Ben took the car there. He looked at it and told us that everything looked good besides the back brakes, which were squealing because the brake pad was almost gone. He ordered the pad for us and fit it and fixed a shocker for $180 cash, saving us the $1500 that Tyrepower quoted.

We made friends with our neighbours at the park we stayed in. Carol and Wayne, who are in their sixties, they are both lovely, they love to travel, to have a chat and they love a drink… so needless to say we got along well with them. We exchanged some of Ben’s fresh caught fish with them for a couple of loaves of their fresh baked bread. We had some happy hours at the pub with them and some drinks in camp. We could not have asked for better neighbours, thanks guys!

By this time, we had spent around two weeks in Cooktown, we were spending more money than I was making in my few shifts at the pub and the longer we stayed the less money we were going to have to do the Cape. So, finally, we made the decision to leave. We left reluctantly, we could have very happily stayed much longer. Generally, we tend to spend a lot less money while we are moving than when we stop in one place for a while.

Back on the road, headed North again, knowing that we were slowly but surely running out of road that continued North. The road we did have left, lead us toward Cape York. Although the kilometres on the map looked short compared to the distance we had already travelled, the roads are rough and rugged and our travel would be slow and more risky than anywhere else we had been thus far.

It isn’t long after you leave Cooktown that you start to see the redness of the land pass by the car windows and then after that the road turns red as well. The road is exactly what you would expect if you have done your research. They are red, dusty with loose sandy gravel covering patches of corrugation, rocks, dust holes and smooth patches. There are some breaks of bitumen in between the dirt, which are a welcome site, but then sure enough the dirt patches return and the car shakes again. The ant hills seem to get taller as you drive and the trees and dry grasses change all of the time.

It took us three days to drive to Seisia, which is where we currently are. Our first stop was at Musgrave Station. A well set out outback service station that sells food, drinks and alcohol with a large grassy campground to one side of it. At the back of the campground, there is a small, still waterway, which is home to a number of turtles and fresh water crocs.

After Musgrave we drove six hours, through Coen (where we saw wild dogs), making it to Bramwell Junction Roadhouse. This place does not sell alcohol and although it has food available they may stop serving food early when it is quiet. The campground is large, grassy and pleasant, as are the amenities. The ant hills surrounding it are very tall and very red and by the time you reach Bramwell everything else will be red too… your car, your camper, your clothes, your dishes, everything. Even the trees and shrubs that line the road cannot escape a light but obvious covering of red dust.

To get to Seisia from Bramwell Junction you must cross more corrugation, more sand, more red dust and then the Jardine River. It was $130 for ourselves, the car and the camper to go over the Jardine on the ferry. The ride takes just a minute or two on the small open ferry. The $130 covers your return ride on the ferry also and gives you a permit to camp on the grounds above the Jardine. It is an impressive river, wide and clear brown in colour, it is the longest and largest in The Cape.

We were nearly at Bamaga, which meant we were only minutes away from Siesia when a back tyre on the car blew. As Ben lay on the red road jacking up the car, I watched for passing cars and trucks. Most of the main road is quite wide but the part we had to change a tyre on was a little more narrow. The changing of the tyre went fairly well, then as we pulled into Bamaga there was a rubbing noise coming from the front end of our Prado. After a visit to one of the local mechanics up here we learnt that out front bearings had gone on the car.

Seisia is truly beautiful, it is remote but still you can find what you need if you look hard enough. It is around 30km from The Tip of Cape York. Life is simple here. Compact red dirt, mango trees, coconut palms and dry grass make up the caravan park we are staying in and just beyond it the red dirt merges into white sand and then into aqua water. It looks fantastic and you could not blame anybody who did not know any better for running into the water for a refreshing swim. If it were not for all of the crocodile warning signs I may have even been tempted myself. When had only been here a couple of hours when we saw our first croc on the opposite beach. Ben is happy because the pier is basically next door to the park so he can go fishing whenever he likes but at the same time he is tired of waiting to get the car fixed.

The parts for our car need to be shipped or air freighted in and even though we ordered them days ago, they still have not arrived. We cannot wait for the Prado to be fixed so that we can explore more and look for our next work and money source. We will be staying in Seisia at least until Monday, we will go to The Tip and then head to Weipa. The tip of Australia, it is an achievement in itself and is worth the effort to get here.

There are more photos to come of the wild dogs at Coen, Bramwell Roadhouse and Seisia but internet reception is really bad here and so it is not allowing me to upload anymore at the moment.

The Daintree, The Lion’s Den & Arriving in Cooktown

At my last blog on Saturday, I left you when I told you Ben was going on a fishing trip in the Daintree. He had a great day and more importantly finally landed his barramundi. He caught 5 decent barra’s that day in the beautiful Daintree and almost pulled in a massive one but it got attacked by Giant Trevally on the way in so he ended up getting some of those as well. He got a small Mangrove Jack and got to see some crocs. It was a magical day and a once in a lifetime experience. That night it was fresh barra for dinner and mash for dinner, which we shared with our neighbours at the park Chris and Greg.

On Sunday, we spent the day exploring Mossman Gorge and did a Daintree River Cruise together. The gorge is fantastic and worth the effort if you are in the area. You can catch a bus (which we did) to the gorge from the information centre then walk the gorge tracks or you can walk the entire way. The water of the Mossman is as clear as it can be and the rounded pale boulders are most impressive. The trees of the Daintree and at Mossman seem ancient and are an incredible sight. The large fig trees make you feel tiny and mystify with their curling, thick ribbon like roots. The walk is a fairly tricky one with lots of roots crossing the track and a few narrow, rocky stairs but it is worth the walk.

If you are not up for exercise and the thought of battling the narrow tracks of the Mossman Gorge doesn’t sound like you then a cruise on the Daintree may well be up your alley. You simply sit back in a spacious, clean, open boat and let your guide tell you all of the interesting facts about the river and the fauna and flora of The Daintree. We learnt about the different tree and mangrove species and how they filter the salt from the water. We saw birdlife, some small crocodiles and were even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of two wild pythons. It was truly an amazing day!

On Monday, we left Mossman Riverside Leisure Park and headed north again. Three hours later we arrived at The Lion’s Den Hotel. The Lion’s Den is a historical pub 20 minutes South of Cooktown, which was built back in the 1870’s. It offers a great country pub feel, cold beer, decent meals and pizzas and also a camp area. We paid $15 per person ($30 total) for the night (unpowered, extra $10 if you want power). They provide showers, toilets and coin operated washing machines and dyers. The camp ground is clean and spacious and the creek that runs alongside it is apparently croc-free. Most pubs that we have camped at have offered free camping or we have paid a very small donation to stay and they also tend to provide showers and toilets in hope you will come in for a beer and a meal… so I will let you guys decide whether The Lion’s Den is good value or not. In saying that, it is historical and it is a good stop-over in a fairly expensive area of Australia.

We had a great night at The Lion’s Den, we met some locals, the bar staff were great and we chatted with a few people who had already been to The Cape and were on their way back. We happened to meet a couple, Tanya and Kev, who we had dinner with. Unfortunately, they lost their two dogs to 1080 just the day prior to meeting us and they were kind enough to give us some supplies for our dogs as they no longer needed them. We could not help but feel for these two as we knew how sad we would be if it had of happened to us. After many beers, Canadian Clubs, rums and scotch’s we stumbled down the hill into our camper and slept the rest of the night away.

Tuesday came and it was time to move on. We packed up again and off we went to Cooktown. On the way to The Den and Cooktown, you notice two things in particular… the first is that the rainforest and greenery slowly but surely disappears and the landscape turns to browns and oranges. The foliage on the trees is no longer bright and they are spread out over the dry grasses and rocky soil. There are ant hills protruding from the ground. The second thing you notice is that there are many other campers and travellers coming the opposite way on the road, most of which are covered in red dust. At the moment the site of red dust covered vehicles is exciting for us. It means we are getting closer to The Cape York Peninsula and this is something we have really been looking forward to.

Cooktown is smaller than what we expected but still has all of the necessities. We are staying at Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park and it is pretty good value at $36 for powered camping per night. It has a nice camp kitchen, pool, clean amenities and is within short walking distance of the main street and pubs. We have a really nice shady camp spot and here we will prepare as best we can to head for The Cape. Yesterday, after we set up, we had a look around and checked out the pub. We had a fish off the pier this morning and tonight we will head back to The Top Pub for a beer and a hit in their local pool competition.

Arriving in Cooktown gives you a great feeling, after just over nine months of travelling, here we are in the Far North, preparing for even further North. What a historic place and an unforgettable experience!

On The Road Again – Mission to Mossman

The last week or so has been exciting and full of travel, we have been moving onwards and upwards and have experienced some amazing things along the way. It has been nine months since we left Hampton Park and it is now time for us to see what the tropical north has to offer.

Leaving Townsville

We lived in Townsville for two months and when it came time to leave we did it reluctantly. It wasn’t because we weren’t ready or excited to see other places, trust me, we were… it was just that we had made some good friends and had enjoyed working and living in the area. We would miss the people we had been working with and the people at Coral Coast Tourist Park. We cannot thank them enough for making our stay so homey and easy.

We left Townsville on the Sunday but the Friday night before we had some going away drinks with Marijka, one of the wonderful staff members at Coral Coast. We started off drinking by the campfire and then ended up getting Uber into Townsville city. We spent the night in an Irish bar listening to a decent cover band, playing pool and drinking the night away. We played on a round pool table for a bit and once we decided that it was only something an Irishman could figure out properly we resigned back to playing on the traditional rectangle shaped table.

There was lots of games of pool, lots of drinks and we even met up with Daniel there, who lived next door to us at Coral Coast. After a visit to the kebab shop, it was well past 3am and time to jump in the taxi rank line and go home. It has been a while since we have had that many drinks in one night but it was well worth it and was a great way to say goodbye to Townsville. Hopefully one day we will be back.

We did the slow hungover pack up on Saturday and the staff at Coral Coast helped us out with booking a spot at our next destination, Mission Beach, and set us up in a dog friendly Cabin for the night so that we could pack up completely on Saturday and leave early Sunday morning.

Here are some final Townsville photos… just for the sake of our memoirs. These are of the Bohle River, where Ben was trying out his crab pots, and some of our most favourite times in Townsville.

 

Misson Beach

It took us around three and a half hours to get to Mission Beach on Sunday. While we were in Townsville we barely saw a drop of rain and this, they tell us, is very normal, the rain tends to split when it gets to the mountain ranges and because the city sits on an indent on the coast, rain is a rare and much needed luxury for them. Almost as soon as we were out of Townville a light smattering of rain came down and the green colour of the country side suggested that it had, in fact, seen much more rain than poor dry Townsville.

The first things you notice as you are driving in to Mission are the Cassowary signs and the thick green jungle-like bushland. Nestled on the coast is the small, hip and very cool little town of Mission Beach. The main street is within walking distance of accommodation. It offers good food, live music and a great pub. When you get to the beach it made us think we were back in Fiji. A tropical jungle with palms and coconuts lines the firm sand. This place is one of the closest things to paradise that we have experienced. It is away from airports and the hustle and bustle that many of the coastal towns now have and because of that, it still offers a quiet tropical getaway feel. We hope it never changes, because it is perfect the way it is. We spent our first day there at the pub, which was great value… $1 pool tables, $4 schooners at happy hour (every day 4pm – 6pm) and nice meals. That night we ventured over to a place called The Garage where we chilled out to some live music and had a small but very tasty meals and a couple more drinks. The atmosphere was beachy and relaxed.

 

Our campsite was at Cassowary Coast Regional Council Caravan Park, it was cheap enough at $21 per night (unpowered) and it was affectionately called the ‘bat cave’ as it was under a few large trees and saw no sun at all. We were camping on the edge of the jungle and the amazing beach was just a few meters from our camper’s steps.

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We fished the local pier one night, only getting a few small fish. We took a drive up to Paronella Park one morning. Paronella Park is up in the hills at Mena Creek. It is a castle built in the early 1930’s by a Spanish gentlemen. The concrete work is alive with moss and creepers and it is set in a beautiful part of the forest with natural waterfalls and creeks running through it. It is $45 per person to enter, which Ben and I initially though was fairly expensive but this fee does cover unlimited access to the park for 2 years and a free night of powered camping there if you wish. The park itself is definitely worth a look, it gives you a glimpse of what it would be like living in a jungle surrounded castle and the old buildings blend well with nature. The trees that were planted by Jose in the 1930’s are tall and strong, they create a path that makes you feel so tiny.

 

The next morning Ben and I collected some coconuts as we walked the dogs along the beach. He then became creative… chopping them open with his hatchet. We drank fresh coconut water, ate fresh coconut (the dogs included) then Ben made a bowl out of the coconut shells and a monkey face.

We could have stayed in Mission Beach for much longer than we did but after three nights and a few visits to the pub we thought we had better move on. We had not yet seen nor heard a Cassowary. We knew that they were quite endangered and the tropical habitat that they need is getting less and less so we were not surprised to have not seen one. Then out of the blue… as we were driving out with the camper hooked up, one wandered out onto the road in front of us. We were going slow at the time and were able to get these pics.

Atherton Tablelands & Cairns

We headed for the hills again. The tablelands has been a highly recommended site for us to see and it is beautiful. It has a totally different climate to the coast, it is cooler and damper. The days are still warm and sunny but it is a couple of degrees cooler than the coast. At night it cools right down and by morning the foliage is wet with dew. The forest is lush and green and is home to our endangered tree kangaroos. A two hour drive into the hills bought us to a place called Genazzano. It is a camp ground on the Tinaroo Lake, which also has a conference centre and some cabin type accommodation. The camp ground pristine and very large, it has great grass, clean amenities and a decent camp kitchen. It is right on the lake and should, in theory, be the perfect place to relax and have a fish. When we got there we were greeted by the caretaker, it is true to say that it is the people that make a place great. In this case, unfortunately, the caretaker was hell-bent on reiterating rules and telling us what we could and could not do during our stay. Straight away, this cast a dark shadow over the place for us. While we were setting up, we were, literally the only campers on the many acres of land and so we let the dogs have a run… only to have the caretaker rush down and ask us to put them on a lead immediately.

We spent most of the next day exploring Cairns. It is a great town. They have great public swimming areas, play areas for kids and it is very lovely there. It is greener than Townsville but has more high rises and a bigger focus on tourism. We walked the board walk with the dogs, got to see some of the local birdlife, then we stopped in at a modern little bar-like eatery called Howlin’ Jays for lunch. This place has a great view of the water from the outside seating area and served up the tastiest and most enjoyable fried chicken we have ever eaten.

We were fortunate enough to get to speak with the manager of the Genazzano the next day, who was lovely and very down to earth. If he had of been our first impression of the place our view of it would have changed dramatically and we would have stayed for longer. Never the less, we spent just two nights in the tablelands before we left and headed to Mossman and Port Douglas. In saying that, the tablelands are stunning and are well worth a look if you are up that way.

Port Douglas and Mossman

Port Douglas is a place we have heard a lot about and so we were very excited to see it. Once we had checked in at Mossman Riverside Leisure Park, which is about 15 minutes from Port and only 5 minutes from one of the main attractions here, the Mossman Gorge, we jumped back in the car and headed to Port for a look. Port reminds us a little of Noosa. It is full of hip boutique and designer type shops and eateries and there are expensive properties and lots of cashed up people.

The city moderately busy for its size but very interesting and inviting at the same time. The coast line is breath taking, it has mangroves and emerald water and everything that you want to see when you are this far north. The people seemed friendly and it was not hard to see why some of them continue to return to Port year after year. It has everything you need for a relaxing holiday.

We will stay in Mossman until Monday and move north from here. Mossman is nice in that it is not as busy as Port and it is still very close to the coast and to The Daintree, which I am looking forward to exploring with Ben tomorrow. Ben is out in the Daintree today with a fishing guide hunting his barramundi. I expect that he is have the time of his life and cannot wait to hear about when he gets back. There is a very important footy match on today between the Tigers and the Cats and I will be watching this while chilling in the caravan park with the dogs.

GT’s in Townsville

Come Sunday this week we will leave Townsville, hit the road again and continue north. We are planning to get to Mission Beach or at least somewhere near it. It has been a long stay here in Townsville and I have to say the place has grown on both of us.

Ben has been enjoying working with his bricky crew up here and even though it is a commercial site and long sleeves and pants are required, the guys he has been working with have been really good. I have enjoyed my emergency nursing shifts at JCU Vet Hospital and I have been lucky enough to meet some great people there. Some of which I hope to keep in touch with as we move on.

Townsville has produced perfect weather for us and has provided us with everything we have needed. The staff at Coral Coast Tourist Park are amazing and we could not have asked for more laid back or more helpful people to have stayed with. The Wednesday night burger nights in the park have become a routine for us and we will miss sitting by your fire, eating your rissoles and getting involved in the raffles.

Yesterday, Ben took a day off work and he went fishing on one of the local fishing charters up here AFS Sports Fishing Charters. When he came home from his charter, he had a huge smile on his face and I knew immediately that he had had a great day. When he showed me the photos and told me that he had finally caught his GT (Giant Trevally) I was just as excited for him as he was for himself. The GT has been on his bucket list for years. He also got same good sized Spanish Mackeral (also a first for him), some nannygai and some grassies. The guys he went out with were great and it was an experience he will never forget. He got to see sharks, whales and lots and lots of fish. What a great day! He loved getting out there and doing the things that he used to dream about doing when we were back home. Woo Hoo!

AFS Sports Fishing Charters are run by Adam and are well worth enquiring about if you happen to be in Townsville and you are looking to go out for a fish. Look him up on FB… https://www.facebook.com/Afs-Sportsfishing-Charters-Townsville-219416168393849/ and check out the awesome photos and vidoes of Ben’s BIG GT!

We had a delicious meal of fresh Spanish Mackerel last night and we are eating it again tonight. There is no wonder why the Townvills locals love pulling in these awesome fish. Our freezer now has a nice stock pile of fish fillets and it is almost time to hit the bitumen again!

List of Things We Loved About Townsville:

  • Glen and Amanda’s visit
  • Night Out at A Touch of Salt with Glen and Amanda
  • Magnetic Island with Glen and Amanda
  • Ben catching his GT and Spaniards
  • The Taphouse
  • The Strand, the pier and the rock wall
  • Paleranda
  • Discovering land based fishing spots and catching live bait
  • The staff at Coral Coast Tourist Park
  • The weather – never less than 24 degrees and never more than 29 degrees (mostly 26 or 27 degrees) in the day and cool enough at night to sleep
  • Meeting people and making friends through work

Ever thought about visiting Townsville? DO IT!

Magnetic Memories with Glen and Amanda

The weekend and our four days off work has come and gone. Glen and Amanda came up to Townsville to visit us on Thursday and left yesterday. Just prior to them arriving we took our dogs, Brock and Chev, to a close by but well reviewed boarding kennel. We knew that while Glen and Amanda were here we were going to be out a lot and we preferred to know they were being taken care of, rather than sitting in our annex on their own. This also meant that Ben and I had some freedom for a few days!

We greeted Glen and Amanda at Townsville Airport. It was great to see their missed, familiar faces coming down the terminal. We then met up again at their accommodation, The Ville, which also happens to be Townsville’s one and only casino. We had lunch there and a good chat about what had gone on in the seven or so months since we had seen them. The night time, like all of the other nights they were here, were then filled with walks along The Stand and main streets of Townsville City. Townsville has numerous themed and interesting little bars and restaurants to explore. The Taphouse is one of them. Ben and I had been to the Taphouse previously and this was one place we were sure they would enjoy. It is a trendy bar in an outdoor arcade area, they specialise in craft beer but they do offer self-pour beer taps. You just get one of their cards, put credit on it and then pour whichever beer you like the sound of into your glass. They charge per ML and so you can pour as little or as much of each beer as you like. As you can imagine, Ben and Glen took hold of the self-pour novelty with open arms.

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The next day we took a trip to Magnetic Island, affectionately called Maggie Island by the locals. It is a short ferry ride from Townsville’s shore to the island. When you arrive your eyes are taken by the massive boulders and rockiness that graces its points and its shore line, then the thick greenery that covers the rest of the mountains that make up most of the island. We hired a mini moke (not an actual one), which was basically a tiny, topless, door-less, manual car to drive around the island. Ben and Glen had a great time pushing the little cart to its limits, which were not very high, while Amanda and I sat back and enjoyed the ride. We visited a pub over there for brunch then went to Horseshoe Bay, which is a picturesque area of the island. It features a wide beach with, clean aqua waters and beautiful palms. We found a pub in Horseshoe Bay where we could stop and quench our thirsts. It is around 12km from one side of Maggie to the other, keeping in mind that much of the Island is inaccessible via road due to bushland and rocky mountain. There were lots of bushwalks and National Park areas to explore but these were not on our to-do list this time. After a bit more driving and seeing Picnic Bay and a few of the other places Maggie has to offer we stopped at the breakwater for a bit. We were surprised when we saw rock wallabies coming from caves in the rocks and stopping to take a look at us. We returned to Townsville and to top it off, we had ourselves an amazing dining experience at one of Townville’s most popular restaurants called A Touch of Salt. Everything there was great, the food was decadent, the drinks were cold, except for the cognac, which was rightfully served warm and the service was fantastic. What was even better was that everybody had a great time there. It was a late night, more drinks were had and some time in the Casino was spent. What a great day!

There were many, many more drinks and food and every night was a late one. I think Ben and Glen tried just about every unusual whiskey, bourbon, scotch and rum on the rocks that Townsville had to offer. Amanda and I had a few too but there was no way we were keeping up with the boys pace. We visited an Irish bar where Glen graced the open mic stage with his presence at one stage. A different night they had a great live band there that drew us in. We laughed every day and had an absolute blast while they were here.

When we said goodbye to them at the airport yesterday we could not believe that our time with them had already passed. We had definitely made the most of it though and we cannot wait to see them again. It is truly special when great friends make the effort to come and see you, especially when you are so far from home.

Although we miss our friends greatly we were glad it was not us having to get on the plane and go back to chilly Melbourne. We are enjoying our time in Townsville, despite how much work we have been doing, and plan to stay here for at least another fortnight before we move up the coast. We wanted to visit Castle Hill while they were here but this

We wanted to visit Castle Hill while Glen and Amanda were here but this did not end up happening due to a fund raiser they had here, which required road closures in that area but Ben and I did visit Castle Hill when we first arrived in Townsville. Here are the pictures we took from the look out. They give a good overview of the spread out, chilled out, country-feel city we currently reside in. I have also added a few random Townsville fishing pics! Enjoy.

Talk About Townsville

It’s blog time! Many of you may be thinking… finally… another blog from Ben and Leah’s Camper. I would like to apologise for the wait on this one. Townsville has now been our home for around about one month. We are staying here at the Coral Coast Tourist Park and when you read that, you may think… ohhh, that sounds tropical. It is really just a regular, well maintained little park. It is not the fanciest caravan park we have seen on the road and it is situated in the suburbs next door to the R.A.A.F. base, which makes it a pretty noisy place at times. The thing that really makes this place special is the people who run it. They are absolutely lovely, they are laid back and ready to help if they are needed. They make everybody feel very welcome and at home here. They even hold a burger night at the camp kitchen every Wednesday, for a gold coin donation (money goes to motor neuron disease research) you get as many homemade rissoles as you like, bread, salad and sauce. They also light the campfire and everybody sits around, chats and eats together. It’s a good night, they do a couple of raffles and for us, it is a chance to have a cheap meal and have a mid-week relax.

I would like to tell you that we have been out on the town here, going to the beach every day and exploring all of the nooks and crannies but if I told you that I would be lying. Ben has been working flat out for a bricklaying mob. They normally do a lot of block work around Townsville but they happen to be building a school out of bricks at the moment. There is many bricks to lay and Ben has been working hard at it almost every day.

I have been locum vet nursing for a veterinary emergency hospital, most of my shifts have been night shift and weekends and so if I am not trying sleeping during the day then I am caring for the dogs. I can tell you now that sleeping in a camper trailer during the day, when the sun is beaming down on the canvas, when you have the R.A.A.F. base next door and other caravan park users just outside is no easy feat.

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to catch up with Zac, Katie and their two kids, who we first met at Workman’s Beach in Anges Waters. They happened to turn up in Townsville and happened to be staying at the same park as us. It was good to see them again for a few days. Ben got to go fishing with Zac and they were so close to landing a large threadfin salmon that it made the hairs on the backs of their necks stand.

For the first week or so that we were in Townsville we did not have jobs yet and so we did do some things. We went up Castle Hill, which is a large rocky hill in the middle of Townville. From it’s look outs you can get a unique 360 degree view of all of Townville and is well worth a look if you are in the area. We visited Reef HQ, which is the aquarium here and it was fairly average. In the first couple of weeks Ben did do quite a bit of fishing and bait catching with his cast net. We went around Townsville and discovered many of the local fishing spots, but unfortunately we haven’t been lucky enough to get a keeper here yet.

The fun times that we did have here now seem like a distant memory with all of the work we have been doing but thankfully there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The light is in the form of Glen and Amanda, who are coming to see us later this week in Townsville. We have been looking forward to seeing them since the moment they told us they were booked in months ago. While they are here we hope to get in some well-earned drinks, some great meals and do a bit more touristy stuff. Can’t wait to see you both!

Mackay, Eungella and Arriving In Townsville

MACKAY

We left Stanage Bay (‘the middle of nowhere’) early last Thursday morning and headed back out along the dirt road and then to the Bruce Highway again, it took us around five hours to reach Mackay. We had heard a lot about Mackay but had not ever had the chance to go there and so we were interested to take a look around. We decided to go to a place called MyCowAccommodation. MyCow is not exactly a camp ground as it had all of the amenities but it is not exactly a caravan park as it does not cost a fortune to stay. It was a flat rate of $20 per night for a powered site (caravan parks can be double this cost and more sometimes), which included full access to their camp kitchen (which was an interesting little place), hot showers, toilets, town water, power and unlimited WIFI. There was also a coin laundry there and clothes lines. It was simple but comfortable enough and the amenities were clean and well maintained. There is some work going on there at the moment and so there was a bit of machinery noise during the day and some sites are fairly close to the road so it was a little noisy at night but for the price, this place offers really good service and good value for money. The staff there are very casual and are basically happy for you to do as you please as long as you are not causing problems.

On our two day stop in Mackay we took a few drives, focusing on looking at the breakwater and the town itself. Mackay is well equipped with most of the shops and big outlets that you would need but, for us, it did not have the ‘wow factor’ that so many other places have produced.

We cooked a couple of meals in the camp kitchen at MyCow, finding out that it is a common place for backpackers and other Aussies who are working in Mackay to hang out in. There is a television in the camp kitchen so people tended to gather and eat in there and chat about where they are from and what they have been doing.

Positives of using the camp kitchen:

  • There is a proper oven and a microwave and so you may be able to cook meals you otherwise couldn’t with the camp stove and barbeque
  • You can use all of the pots, pans and utensils provided by the place to avoid dirtying your own
  • You’re not using your own gas and let’s face it, you are paying for the camp kitchen whether you use it or not, so you might as well use it
  • You have a full size sink to wash up in, you can use their cloths and their dishwashing liquid, again saving your own
  • It is a good place to meet people who are staying at the same place as you

After two nights at MyCow we decided to move on. After much deliberation and after hearing how pretty the hills in the area were we decided our next stop was to be a bush camp at Eungella Dam.

EUNGELLA DAM

It took us two and half hours to tow the camper up the hills and to the Eungella Dam. Upon arrival we could not stop commenting on how beautiful the place was. It felt homey… fresh water, camping right on the bank, no crocodiles, thick bush, rolling hills and peace and quiet. There were a few other campers about but there was a good selection of great spots to set up camp to choose from.

There were some comments on WikiCamps about the road being a bit treacherous to get in but we did not find any part to the road that made us think twice. Yes, it was a dirt road and parts of it were quite gravelly, but it is wide enough for two cars and as long as you take it carefully nobody should have trouble getting in there. It was mostly flat and well maintained and there were no big ruts or any other obstacles to speak of.

We set up camp on a beach like area where Ben could easily drag the tinny into the water and the dogs had plenty of room to run so they did not need to be cooped up. Looking directly across the dam you have a view that is hard to top… tall, tree covered mountains that line the far side of the water. The thick bush covering the mountain is home to a lot of animals including dingos, we could heard their eerie howls at night as we sat by the camp fire but did not see any. One night we had a heard of curious cattle grace with their presence as they came to the water’s edge to drink. They had a good look at us and us at them, then they peacefully moved on. The bird life at Eungella is amazing from birds of prey to coots and ducks to shags and herons. It is very easy and relaxing just sitting and watching the herons walk slowly through the shallows and the shags dry their wings on tree roots.

We fished the mornings and the evenings at Eungella Dam in the tinny. There is a thick weed and lily bed that rings the shallower outside of the dam. This was slightly annoying as Ben had to keep pulling the motor up and cleaning the weed from the prop, but once you are through the weed and into the deeper water it is less of a problem. We putted through the skeleton like, grey trees that protruded from the water trolling lures and we even tried some bait one morning. After fishing the right times of day, with the right lures and the right bait we were starting to wonder why we had not yet seen a fish or even got a bite. It was then that Ben’s rod buckled, I took hold of it while Ben slowed the boat and thought this does not feel like the snags we have been getting. I handed the rod to Ben and in a minute or so he had his first good sized sooty grunter in the boat. He was a dark, hefty looking, lazy fish, despite the locals telling us they were good fighters. We have a freezer full of fish at the moment and so we took a few snaps and put him back in the water to fight another day. There is supposedly barramundi in the dam but we did not see any, locals tell us that the water is a little cold for them at the moment but hopefully they’ll be back on the bite when they acclimatise to the conditions.

The day before we left we took a drive down to Finch Hatton Gorge, it was around an hours round trip of walking through thick but stunning forest to get to the gorge. The force of the water falling down into the emerald green gorge was a site to see and was definitely worth the walk in. You can swim there if you like but these mid 20 degree days are getting a little too cold for us to be considering swimming at the moment. Plus, the water running down the mountain looked just as fresh as I am sure it was cold.

Eungella is a place we will remember and maybe even return to one day. We left it behind on Tuesday morning of this week and tracked just over five hours to arrive in Townsville.

ARRIVING IN TOWNSVILLE

For the last couple of weeks our final destination on our minds has been Townsville. It has been on our minds because we knew it was a place where the chances of us finding work were high and at the moment we are in need of some extra funds. It is also going to be our home for the next 5 to 6 weeks as we are very excited to have Glen and Amanda coming to visit us here in mid July.

On our way to Townsville and upon talking to people we kept getting this vibe that people thought that this place was pretty average. Upon having a drive around yesterday and today and also having a fish off the pier last night we are unsure why people are not more excited about this place. Townsville is a flat city, it has everything you need with no traffic problems. The Stand and the beach areas are amazing and absolutely breathe taking. The people of Townsville that we have met so far are friendly, outdoorsy and laid back. They have a main street where some nice little eateries and breweries are and they say the weather is great here for most of the year. There is around three months where is it too hot and sticky and is a little unpleasant but hey, the other nine months are great, which is more than what can be said about a lot of other places.

Today we visited Reef HQ, which is the aquarium here, it was okay. The big living coral reef is really cool to look at and the turtles were super cute. The Melbourne Aquarium is way better and is much bigger. We then went to a place called The Taphouse, they have craft beer (self-pour option available), tantalising tapas and a great open plan area to chill out in. The Butcher’s Block was the name of the dish we ordered and was basically a selection of chicken skewers, steak, lamb kofta and pork belly pieces served with some delicious dips and sauces and ciabatta bread, it was brilliant.

I had an interview at the emergency vet clinic here in Townsville yesterday and I have another interview at a different vet tomorrow so hopefully I will get some locum shifts up here soon and Ben has been in touch with a local bricky who is keen to get him on site. So, if all goes well we should have our funds up and be ready to enjoy ourselves when Glen and Amanda arrive in a few weeks. We are looking forward to discovering more of Townsville and looking forward to seeing our mates soon!

Workmans Beach Camp Ground, Raglan Tavern and Stanage Bay

Dear Diary,

It’s Wednesday 31st of May… Just kidding, it is May 31st but I’m not going to bore you with a sappy diary entry. This is a blog.

WORKMANS BEACH CAMP GROUND

Two Sundays ago my family left Anges Water. We had sent off our hot water service to be fixed and they had posted it back to Anges Water Post Office for us. We couldn’t pick it up until the Monday and so we had to stay in the Anges Water area for at least another night. This didn’t upset us too much as Anges Water and the Town of 1770 is a really special spot and we were more than happy to hang around a little longer.

We had enquired at the local caravan parks and upon learning that it would be around $40 per night to stay at those, we drove into Workman’s Beach Camp Ground, which was just $9 per person per night (it is $25 per night for a family pass if anybody is interested). There is no power but they do provide clean toilets, a cold shower, bins and fresh tap water. We were really glad we decided to pull in there because it turned out to be one of the best camp grounds that we have come across thus far. It is less than a five minute walk to Workman’s Beach, which is an absolutely stunning and secluded little beach and only a 5 minute drive to the local Agnes Water shops.

We met lots of friendly campers at Workman’s Beach including two lovely Canadian girls, a young family who were also doing a big trip, an ex-diesel mechanic travelling alone and a friendly fellow fisherman called Jake who we may catch up with further down the road somewhere. You do need to watch out for snakes at Workman’s, the habitat is perfect for them and we did see a couple. You would think that given the location midges and mozzies would be a problem but thankfully they were few and far between.

Ben ventured back down to ‘the catwalk’ a few more times and picked up some nice school mackerel and got some bull shark from another fisherman down there. The Canadian girls, Chantelle and Shaye, joined us for our sweet ‘n’ sour bull shark meal, which turned out great. We had a few games of cards and a good chat. They even bought us a few gifts to say thank you, which wasn’t expected but was lovely.

We took a day trip out to a well talked about area called Eurimbula, just out of Agnes Water. It is a national park and the area is gorgeous. It is secluded and quiet and the water is warm and full of life. We saw fish, a turtle and what we thought was some type of small whale (possibly an Orca). It was there that we met Jake, he just happened to be camping at Workman’s as well. Ben got a lesson from him on how to throw his cast net properly and is now using it like a champ. The bait fish were in trouble after that. We loved Eurimbula so much that we decided to go back and fish it the next morning, Jake joined us again. When I wasn’t lure fishing I helped keep the bait alive. Ben was loving his fishing, he caught his first Queen fish and a good sized flathead, which we were very excited about. He also caught some nice bream, which went back in the ocean.

By this time, our two day stop at Workman’s had turned into a five day stop, we just didn’t want to leave. The owner, Aaron, and his family were lovely and the place was buzzing with other campers and backpackers. Everyone was out to enjoy it. We sucked it up and made the decision to go, otherwise we never would… so, after our last fish at Eurimbula Friday morning we hit the road again.

RAGLAN TAVERN

After leaving Workman’s we drove two and a half hours to a tavern with good reviews called the Raglan Tavern. You can camp in their large gravel car park for free and they have free hot showers and toilets there. They do encourage you to at least come inside and pay for a beer before using the amenities, which is fair enough. The staff are laid back and the managers are absolutely lovely. Everybody was very accommodating and friendly. The meals were reasonable but we were there on a busy night and so the wait time on food was fairly long.

The staff allowed us to play free pool for our entire stay, which was great and the cold beer and cheap Canadian Club and Dry wasn’t bad either. We met a trucky called Matt there who stops at the Raglan fairly often. We had a great Saturday night there playing pool with Matt and one of the bar girls.

On Sunday night, after the sun had gone down there was just us and some English backpackers in the bar and one other local. It was quiet and the owners were happy as it was looking very likely that they were going to get an early night. They closed the kitchen down and had most of the lights off… when out of the blue, truck after truck drove into their large carpark. There was about eight trucks, they were carrying heavy loads of brand new caravans and the truck drivers were weary and hungry. Seeing so many trucks and so many new caravans all together was something you just don’t see every day. As soon as the owners saw them, they sighed, but a country pub like this has a reputation to keep and they weren’t about to send the truckies away hungry. The truckies entered, sheepishly asking if the kitchen was still open. The lovely bar lady made them feel welcome, turning the lights back on in the meals area and offering drinks. She explained that the deep fryer wasn’t on but they could make them steak and salad or steak and veg or lasagne or curried sausages or a mixed grill. I thought it was awesome to see a country pub belt out eight meals, just like that, no complaints, after they thought they were done for the night.

There is one small downfall, which has nothing to do with the pub itself but the location. It is near a waterway, so the midges are very friendly and bitey. It is beside the highway and very close to the train line where noisy coal trains squeak back and forth on the metal lines at all times of the day and the night. So, you may not get much sleep at the Raglan but you are guaranteed a hot shower, clean toilets, lovely staff and a good country pub experience.

STANAGE BAY

Information:         Name: Stanage Bay

Population: 52 people

Location: 3hrs off the main road, 2hrs of dirt road driving, one road in/one road out (otherwise known as ‘the middle of nowhere’)

Early Monday morning we headed to a spot recommended by some people at Workman’s called Stanage Bay. It is free (donation of no set amount encouraged) to camp and you are right on the beach. It was going to be a long drive to Stanage and so we drove through Rockhampton and did not stop there, thinking surely there will be fuel and a supermarket on the way. What we didn’t realise is that Stanage Bay Road is three hours of unsealed road through cattle farming country with no towns or shops along the way. There is one road in and one road out and so we were forced to wait to get fuel and supplies until we arrived in Stanage Bay. Luckily, there is a general store there, which also happens to be the local take away store, pub, petrol station and post office. The only other shop in the quiet main road, facing the ocean, is the fishing, boat and tackle store, which is run by Von who is very welcoming and helpful.

The camp ground is average, though the location is desirable. It is right on a point where you can enjoy seeing the tide come in and out on the beach and it is an easy drive to the river mouth where cloudy aqua water sits calm and the mangroves grow thick. Despite the locals telling you repeatedly that it is safe to swim, there are crocodile warning signs at the boat ramp, at the beach and river entrances. There is only one local (the lovely owner of the tackle shop) who admitted that she had seen a crocodile a few times whilst walking her dog along the beach. Most people said they had never seen one or if there was some they were way up the river and not near them. In any case, Ben and I were not prepared to take any chances, the water wasn’t clear enough for us to know if a croc was lurking close. We went fishing at the river mouth but stayed back from the water’s edge and kept our eyes peeled at all times. We were only lucky enough to pull in one small fish that we thought was a sooty grunter.

We spent one night in the local pub (aka general store) so that we could watch the State Of Origin. As most people know, the Northern people of this country are just as crazy about their rugby as Southerners are about AFL. It would have been a shame not to watch it with the locals. Most of the twenty or so people who attended the pub that night were going for the Maroons and Ben was one of them. I, myself, quite enjoy watching it but I don’t really mind who wins. The Blues ended up smashing the Maroons, much to the horror of most of the people in the pub. The other good thing about the camp ground is that it is an easy walk to the pub from there, so we were able to walk back with the other campers once the game was over.

The local pubs are always a good place to meet locals and get a feel for the people of a town. The owners of this particular business really have it all going for them, they sell the only groceries, grog and petrol within 3 hours of where they are, they collect the campers donations and have the business of all of the campers who come through. The thing about being in a business like that is that you have to be nice to customers and give them value for money so that the locals use your service and the visitors feel welcome and are happy to go back to you. It appears to be a family owned business and the males that man the shop and the bar are actually really nice, the lady, on the other hand, does not seem to care much for good customer service and could do with a little bit of lightening up. We would not recommend using the showers at the general store as it is $2 for less than 30 seconds of warm water. We don’t mind paying for a shower, but when you can barely wash yourself even after putting $6 in the machine, it gets a bit ridiculous.

We took a look at what the locals call Beverley Hills at Stanage Bay, which is a gorgeous lookout. It allows you to see over the rock formations and secluded beaches at a height and is picturesque especially in the mornings.

 

 

COMING UP… Mackay, Eungella Dam and Arriving in Townsville (sorry I’m a little behind due to lack of reception in the sticks).

Family at Anges Water & the Town of 1770

Over the last two weeks, Ben and I have been staying in a house for the first time in 6 months. We were very excited as we got to spend some time with my parents, Lyn and Gary, my brother, Barney, his missus, Tracy and our little niece Jasmine. They also have one little boy on the way (due in August). The house we stayed in was just a short walk away from Anges Water beach. It was a double story and large, so it allowed everyone plenty of space. It was strange abandoning the camper and going into a house for a couple of weeks. When we changed spots today and opened the camper again, it felt like coming home.

While our family was here we did lots of fun activities. We spent the second night of their stay at the Agnes Water tavern, we had a few drinks, a few games of pool then we all went into the bistro and had some dinner. There just happened to be a local poker competition on that night at the pub and so Ben, Barney, Dad and I joined in. A few beers and many deals and hands later Barney and a man called Jeff were the last two left at the tables. Ben, Dad and I had all been eliminated but we watched from the sideline hoping Barney would beat Jeff, the local serious poker bully. When the last hand came up and Jeff produced pocket Jacks and Barney produced two low suited cards. Jeff went to take his winnings, then Barney piped up… “Do I get the flush?” he asked casually. The adjudicator looked again and apologised, pronouncing Barney the winner of the $100 prize!

We spent time at Anges Water Beach, 1770 Beach and at the beautiful TreeTop Bar across from 1770 Beach. Barney, Ben and Dad were keen to fish of course and so they spent most mornings and some evenings doing that. Ben and Barney braved some big rocks and big swell to get out to some of the spots. There was one, in particular, the locals call ‘the catwalk’, they had to be part bloodhound to find it and part mountain goat to make it there but the rocks, when you eventually reached the spot, allowed you to cast into very deep water. They pulled in school mackeral and mack tuna off the rocks and saw locals hook up to sharks. Ben even hooked onto a black marlin but was unable to get him in. What an exciting spot! Ben and Barney really got to try out their lures, different baits and different rigs. They got to learn about some of the Queensland fish species and had a great time doing it.

Ben, Barney and Dad also went on a fishing charter for a day, they had fun fishing with livies and bottom bouncing on the reef. Ben caught a large Cobia, travelley and some coral trout along with some Nanagai and lots of smaller fish. Barney caught a nice coral trout and a Nanagai. Dad hooked some decent fish too and enjoyed seeing the boys pulled in their big ones. They all had a great day and also got a chance to see what Queensland’s tropical waters have in store for fisherman.

While the boys were fishing Mum and I went stand up paddleboarding (SUP-ing) for the day. This was my second time paddleboarding (1st time was in Noosa). Tracy and Jasmine joined us at the beach and I got to take Jasmine out on the board for a paddle! Loving life! Mum did really well on the board, after being a little rocky at the start, she was going like a pro by the end of our two-hour session. We figured after all that exercise we had ernt a drink and some lunch back up at the beautiful tree top bar.

We spent some good times at the stunning beaches up here. We had quite a few nice dinners all together including home made cobia and chips, coral trout baked two different ways (one in a salt crust and one with tasty stuffing) and we even had a roast one night.

Yesterday, we all went to the Captain Cook Festival at 1770. There was a parade, food, rides, a market and most importantly at beer tent. It was fun watching some of the local talents.

Ben and I were happy to get to spend some time with Jasmine, who is growing up fast. She is cheeky but absolutely adorable and loved going to the beach and playing in the sand.

It was sad to see our family leave today and two weeks seemed to have gone way too quickly. Thanks so much for coming up guys, it’s so special for us to be able to see our family while we are on the road. Agnes Water is so beautiful that Ben and I have not left yet, we have set up our camper at Workman’s Beach Camp Area, which is just down the road from where we were staying in the house. The camp area here is great, it’s sandy and bushy and you just need to take a short walk on a gravel pathway to get to a gorgeous surf beach with rock pools and sandy areas. The campground offers running water, toilets, a cold water outdoor shower and bins and is also pet-friendly, not bad for $9 per person per night. Thanks again to Mum and Dad, Barney, Tracy and Jasmine for coming up, loved seeing you guys!

Baffle Update

Well, the last couple of days at Baffle Creek have been a really wonderful experience. We have had some lucky and some unlucky things happen but all in all we have really loved this spot. We got to enjoy one of the absolute best meals we have ever eaten. It was so good in fact… that I need to tell you all about it. So, Ben caught a fairly big mud crab the night we arrived here. We also caught a small mulloway and a small diamond travelley that night… but back to the mud crab story. He was feisty and we kept him in a bucket overnight. After some research on YouTube we learned that putting a feisty mud crab in the freezer for an hour or so will subdue him and send him peacefully into a death bringing sleep. This method is the most humane and also keeps the crab from getting stressed so their meat stays tender and they don’t drop their legs. We also learnt how to clean and gill the crab.

Once prepared we made a sweet chili sauce by adding a tablespoon or so of hot chili sauce to two or three tablespoons of honey and shook a little cajun spice over the crab. We then added the chili sauce and marinated him in the fridge for a couple of hours. I say ‘him’ because we know it was a male, YouTube also taught us how to tell the difference between a male crab and a female crab.

We then melted a large knob of butter in a pan, added sliced onion, frozen peas and corn and a small amount of cooked rice. Once cooked through, Ben added the sweet spiced smelling crab with all of the sauce.

The rice took on the flavour of the crab, the chili, and the honey. It had a gentle burn but the sweetness was enough to make it very pleasant. The crab meat was sensational, soft and sweet and cooked to perfection. All of this we enjoyed on the bank of Baffle, with a nice cold glass of Bundy Banana and Toffee on ice to take it a step higher. Most perfect lunch EVER!

Yesterday we had some good luck and some bad luck. We spent most of the day concentrating on fishing. The tides here are fast and the current gets quite strong so there were a few trials with rigs that Ben tried.

Ben caught some fresh bait (small fish and a prawn in the opera house and cast net)… good luck.

We got a few bites on out frozen baits and fresh baits but no fish… bad luck.

As it got later it started to get windy and there was some light rain… bad luck.

The people camped next to us left and we were able to take the opportunity to use the wood they left behind to make a lovely warm fire… good luck.

We are in need of warmth now when the nights drop below 20 degrees. The weather waxed and waned but we stuck it out and it turned out to be a pretty good night.

On dark, a man approached the bank in his tinny and asked if we wanted some fresh bass yabbies as he had finished finishing for the night… good luck.

He nudged into the bank to give us the yabbies and as he took off in his boat again, his motor grabbed the line of my pink fishing rod, making it fly out of the rod holder and pulling it into the murky Baffle creek waters… bad luck.

It wrapped around Ben’s little Diawa rod too but thankfully we saved this one before it fell into the drink… good luck.

Ben caught some more bait sized fish with the bass yabbies… good luck. This gave him the ability to set up some good live bait rigs on his big rod.

We were sitting by our toasty warm fire with Ben’s big rod and big bait about 50 meters away in the water. It was dark, so we had a lamp on the bank lighting the rod and had three sets of bells on it, we were still a bit nervous about losing another rod after seeing the last one fly into the water. Ben started saying that he was considering leaving the warm fire so he could sit right next to his rod as he did not trust the rod holder and his bait and rig was big enough that if he was going to hook up, the fish was going to be of a decent size. As he spoke, and as if the fish had been listening to our conversation, we heard the bells ringing frantically and saw in the light of the lamp a large bow in the rod. In less that a second Ben had left his chair, dogded the hot coals on the ground and sprinted toward his rod, doing a plugger in one thong on the way he abandoned it halfway an effort to get to his rod as rapidly as possible. The fish ran downstream with strength and determination but when Ben turned him the bait slipped from his mouth and away he swam, free to fight another day. Ben got three big bites and two good runs on the big rod but was unable to pull in the big fish he had been hoping for… bad luck. When you are fishing from the bank here you are pulling hooked fishing towards a stump and towards mangroves and sharp rocks, so landing them is a challenge, to say the least. He got one large fish almost right to the bank but it anchored itself against a big stump and was able to break off the hooks and the bait before we could get him up. We would have loved to have seen what was on the end of that line, a mangrove jack or a mulloway or something angrier perhaps? A swarm of biting midges came through and attacked us… bad luck. One of the last times Ben reeled his line in he bought with it another fishing line that was coming out of the water. He grabbed a hold of it and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, the line just kept coming out of the water.

Eventually, we could see that the line was attached to my pink rod and reel that we had lost earlier that night in the water, he pulled it back onto the bank and we regained the lost rod and reel… good luck.

At the end of the day, we found ourselves standing by the warm open fire pit, in our waterproof jackets and pants, in 19.7 degrees, talking about the monsters that could have been on the end of Ben’s fishing line. With our bellies full of Continental Sidedish and Nutella sandwiches. What a day and what a time we have had at Baffle Creek. Today we move to Agnes Waters and are very excited to spend the next couple of weeks with Jay, Tracy, Jasmine, Mum and Dad! See you soon.