Cooktown, QLD – Day 1

Thursday 29th July, 2021
Well, we are slowing down for a couple of days, a bit of rest, a bit of Olympics and a bit of sightseeing. Day one in Cooktown, we started the day with a quick hike up Mt Cook, 431m elevation over 2.5km, then 2.5km back down over a 431m descent. It was a tough 1.5 hrs up. I am struggling a little with the ups at the moment but as we headed down I realised why. It was a continuous up fro the start to the finish. The first 1km was gradual and the next 1.5km was steep, steep, steep. We stopped at a couple of lookouts along the way, one looking over Cooktown, the second over Quarantine Bay and the final lookout out from Quarantine Bay to Annan River and Walker Bay to Grave Point. It was a beautiful view. The initial part of the walk was through open eucalypt woodland and the upper section through rainforest but a much drier rainforest than down on the Cassowary Coast. It was very beautiful. The way down was only about an hour 10mins but was a little technical on the steep section.

We then headed home for lunch, Olympics and a rest. Yay!!

Late this afternoon we went to Grassy Hill to the lighthouse which offered 360° views of Cooktown and the Coral Sea. It was a lovely view. Then we went for a walk along the waterfront of the town. We enjoyed the afternoon breeze and saw the James Cook statue, Mick the Miner statue and just enjoyed a peaceful walk along the way, watching the sunset before heading home.

Day one done and dusted. We have extended our stay here until Sunday, not a lot to do and see but time to relax a little.

Speewah to Cooktown, QLD

Wednesday 28th July 2021
Another day in Queensland with unfortunately bad news for all our family and friends who are headed into another 4 weeks of lockdown. We are thinking of you all and feeling so sorry for this terrible situation.

Unfortunately after getting organised early to hike to Turtle Rock, a tough one in elevation and distance. When we arrived at the track it was closed for aerial burning. So lucky we are flexible, disappointed but flexible, if had we gone a bit harder the last couple of days we could have done the hike yesterday. Oh well, what will we do no? We could do the Lamb’s Range walk nearby but this is a 7 hour walk and quite tough, but also it is too close to Turtle Rock and we believe too risky if the wind changes or picks up with the back burning happening today.

Instead we do a little 2km loop walk of Davies Creek in the Davies Creek/Dinden National Park, which once again had a lovely view, beautiful waterfall and amazing trees. The walk was through lovely savanna bushland, a big difference to lush rainforests of the last week. This walk also had recently had burning in some areas.

Then on to Bunda Dibandji Rock Art in the Dinden National Park. This was a little 2km return walk uphill to some amazing rock art. At least we managed a 4km walk today, not as tough but it was pretty all the same.

Then with nothing else to do in the are we headed north towards Cooktown. We stopped at Rifle Creek Camp just north of Mareeba for lunch, this is a freebie ccamp on the main highway that you can stay for 48 hours. It was very crowded with mainly caravans and mobile homes.

We saw some spot fires in the distance from what we think is back burning, as we headed north past Mitchell Lake, cotton and sugar cane fields. It looked very beautiful with the foreground changes and the fire smoke in the mountain range. Showed us how dangerous it would have been to do the other hike we could have done on Lamb’s Range which was near Turtle Rock this morning.

We managed to secure a cabin at Cooktown for a couple of nights which we thought was not going to happen as there was no availability on booking.com in a motel anywhere. we were very lucky and a bonus it has its own bathroom. The ladies when we checked in were awesome and we are looking forward to the next couple of days at the most northern part of our travels this time. We think? Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell.

Take care and stay safe everyone. We are thinking of you every day.

Yungaburra to Speewah, QLD

Tuesday 27th July 2021
Today we decided to do the Lake Tinaroo scenic drive. Our first stop was at Gillies lookout which was via a winding steep high clearance 4WD track on private farmland which was lush and green, this quickly changed to rainforest and became a national park. The lookout was great but would have been spectacular if there was less cloud and mist. Oh well, maybe next time. We could here the black cockatoo but didn’t manage to see any.

Next stop was a quick loop walk (700m) at Mobo Creek crater in the Danbulla National Park. The geology of this area has perplexed scientists for many years and, despite its name, it is unlikely that is was formed from volcanic activity. We were on the lookout for tree kangaroo and platypus. It was a lovely walk through lush rainforest with a lovely creek which if lucky you could see platypus.

Next stop was Lake Euromoo in the Danbulla National Park – the unique dumbbell shape of the lake, formed from twin volcanic explosions. This unusual formation sets Lake Euramoo apart from other crater lakes as it has a double crater.

Then on to Downfall creek camp in the Danbulla National Park – this is a lovely peaceful beautiful campground on Lake Tinaroo. There were lovely grassy sites and many beautiful birds around. On the other side of the lake is the Afghanistan wall of honour which we visited at Yungaburra a couple of weeks ago..

Next stop was Platypus rock – we climbed the steps to lookout at the top of the boulderbut unfortunately the vantage point was overgrown.   We then headed to Platypus campground for lunch by the Lake, this campground was also very good too.

Our next stop was an engineer’s dream – Tinaroo Dam outlet. The noise and power was frightening, it was great to watch David’s excitement here.

Our last stop for the day was Emerald Creek falls in Dinden West Forest Reserve. Emerald Creek rushes out of the rainforest-clad heights of the Lamb Range and down into open eucalypt woodland. There the waters of the creek tumble over granite boulders, forming the picturesque falls that plunge into placid pools. Emerald creek has a series of cascading waterfalls over granite boulders. It was a lovely 3km walk on quite different walk to on the other side of the mountain. From rainforest to savannah. Beautiful falls with amazing smooth rocks and peacefulness we wish we had more time to enjoy.

Then off to our new home at Speewah. Today’s travels took us 14km closer to Cooktown. Hehehehe!!

Innisfail to Yungaburra, QLD

Monday 26th July 2021
Well we are off and running again today, how far will we get? My guess is not as far as we think.

Our first stop this morning was at Josephine Falls in th Wooroonooran National Park, we have been in another section of this national park from the Atherton Tablelands side. The falls were quite spectacular, fast moving and powerful. The slide was great entertainment for the young guys playing in it. They didn’t seem to get any injuries but we figured our paper like skin wouldn’t like it too much, so gave it a miss this time. It was a nice little 2km wheelchair friendly walk. We tossed up whether to hike to the Broken Nose section (10km return and up 800m) of Bartle Frere which is a 15km return and 1622m up hike but decided at 11.30am it was a bit late to take on a 4-5 hour hike, so we gave this a miss as well.

Following this we went to the Golden Hole recreation area which was also another lovely spot. Then moving along a bit we went to the Babinda Boulders, which was spectacular. The waterfall and torrent of water that travels down this gorge has made for amazing rock formations. We decided on a 6km return walk to the Babinda Slide and waterfalls but unfortunately a swim across the creek to a not so sure track on the other side put a stop to this hike as well. Instead we just did a hike along the Goldfield trail (15km one way) and turned after 3km. It was a pleasant 90 min walk through dense rainforest on a well defined trail. We passed lots of cassowary scats but didn’t see any.

We decided to continue on our way and leave the 4-5 hour Walsh’s Pyramid hike (6km return with elevation of 900m) till our return trip as there was no accommodation close by and we didn’t want to stay at Cairns. So we headed to Yungaburra in the Atherton Tablelands. On the way we took a side track to Cathedral Fig which was another amazing fig tree.

The temperature in Yungaburra tonight is a lot cooler than we have experienced in the last week or so as it is 750m above sea level.

Mission Beach to Innisfail QLD (Cassowary Coast)

Sunday 25th July 2021
Well once again the aim today was to head to Cooktown. Alas, it is not going to happen today either. If nothing else we are getting consistent.

First up today we are going for a coastal walk at South Mission Beach. The Kennedy Walk started out along a boardwalk then headed in to the rainforest right on the coast, around the headland, then around Lugger Bay, Mije Creek, up to Morgan’s Lookout, Tam O’Shanter Point, Turtle Bay and then finally to Kennedy Bay. A little break and then back the other way. A lovely 10km walk around the coast and in the rainforest. Mission Beach is a really beautiful place.

Then to Licuala in the Djiru National Park looking for cassowaries. Then on our way north to Innisfail where we will stop for today, not quite Cooktown. On the way we were lucky enough to see a cassowary heading in to the rainforest. It was a lucky scoop. Woohoo! This made David a little happier. After checking in to our hotel we headed to Etty Bay Beach to hopefully see the resident cassowaries and cook some dinner. We were lucky enough to just catch the cassowaries as they were heading home to the rainforest for the night. Woohoo!!

We have decided to stay in motels for the next two weeks so we can enjoy the Olympics each night as it is one of David’s favourite sporting telecasts. Go Australia!

Mission Beach QLD (Cassowary Coast)

Saturday 24th July 2021
We went for a drive from Wongaling Beach to Clump Mountain National Park where we did the Bicton Hill loop trail to summit which looked out towards a great view of Clump Pt and Hinchinbrook, Goold and Dunk islands. We then drove to Garners Beach for lunch and then a drive to Djiru National Park. It is noticeable that only tourists swim not the locals. Do you think they know something we don’t?

The coastal drive was very beautiful with clear blue waters on one side and lush green rainforest on the other.

A bit of a rest day today. We are starting to slow down. Yay!

Murray Falls Camp Girramay NP to Mission Beach QLD (Cassowary Coast)

Friday 23rd July 2021
Great sleep to the sound of falling water from the Murray Falls overnight. It drowned out all the other noise.

We drove to Tully Gorge National Park where we walked along the gorge and then did a short Butterfly loop walk. It was a lovely spot. The rainforest was lovely but there were lots of butterflies everywhere but on the walk.
We saw several of the magnificent Ulysses butterfly in the trees near the picnic tables. They are so difficult to catch in a photo as they close their wings when they land.
We then headed up to look at the automated Hydro Power station further up the gorge. Tully receives 4000mm rain a year. The area is popular for white water rafting, we saw some single rapid kayakers get ready to take on the challenge of the fast moving gorge waters.
It was a beautiful drive through tropical rain forest. We then headed towards Mission Beach and have decided to stay at Wongaling Beach for the weekend.

We went for a lovely walk along the beach in the late afternoon.

Cardwell to Murray Falls campground, Girramay National Park, QLD (Cassowary Coast)

Thursday 22nd July 2021
After a slow start packing up our home for the last three days we headed into the township of Cardwell, bought some Spangled Emperor ($31.50 per kg) on advisement as being the poor man’s Red Emperor ($47 per kilo) and then met DB at the wharf where he spent the next hour looking for crocodiles. Again to no avail but he did see a green turtle, a shark, a stingray, some jellyfish, a bait ball and some other bigger fish. We finally go on our way at about midday and headed north towards Tully. We called in to Murray Falls campground, another section of the Girramay National Park to have a quick lunch and see the waterfall and do a short walk. The campground had such a nice feel to it we decided to stay the night, enjoy a quiet afternoon and just take it easy. WOW! That was a new success I am unused to. Setup for the night by 1.30pm. Must be a record. We walked to the waterfall which had a huge volume of water cascading down the sheer cliff, we saw some beautiful butterflies along the way – a Blue Triangle and a Ulyssees, plus some red and yellow ones as well. After lunch we enjoyed some quiet time in the sunshine relaxing and reading. Woohoo!! I slowed him down this afternoon. Later in the afternoon we walked up to the lookout over the waterfall along the Yalgay Ginja Bulumi walk (2.6km return – Grade: moderate), where many information boards explained about Aboriginal Culture as we walked from open forest through to rainforest on our way to the lookout. We saw a few more butterflies.

We enjoyed some time down by the river watching some kids on the slippery dip falls and then headed back to camp. A little yoga time before dinner for me. The Spangled Emperor was very yummy. The camp was one of my favourite stays so far. Typical spacious National Park with not too many people at all.

Cardwell QLD (Cassowary Coast)

Wednesday 21st July 2021
Well we had a lovely rest day yesterday (Tuesday 20th) after our big 4 day hike. We just walked to the shops for some groceries, to the seafood shop for some fish and then drove 50km to Ingham for my 2nd Covid jab as there was a misunderstanding and the practice at Cardwell was closed. So that was the extent of activity for yesterday. Mostly rest, rest, rest. Yay!

Today we went on the Cardwell forest drive. We visited Cardwell Lookout, Hinchinbrook Channel Lookout,  Cardwell-Rockingham Bay Lookout which all just had minor differences of views out towards Hinchinbrook Island. Next stop was the Waterfalls at Upper and Lower Attie Creek, then Dead horse creek and the Spa Pool. It was a lovely drive along a dirt road through the forest.

Then on to Girramay National Park. It was very low tide and the mud flats to Hinchinbrook Island were very very soft, like quick sand you just sunk in them. We did the return Wreck Creek Walk (about 5km) through coastal scrub, crossing tidal mangrove creeks via bridges, and then onto the beach 300m south of Wreck Creek. From the beach you can see the scenic backdrop of Hinchinbrook Island’s craggy skyline. We saw a beautiful red butterfly and also the elusive Ulyssees butterfly which was its usual vibrant blue. We also saw some kangaroos on the drive our but unfortunately again their were no crocs, cassowaries or snakes.

Well today is our last day in Cardwell, we will check out the Covid situation in Cairns before deciding where to head next tomorrow.

Hinchinbrook Island QLD – Day 4 (Cassowary Coast)

Monday 19th July 2021
Well we were up early today as we still have 7.5km to hike before our collection at George Point at midday. So after packing up we had one last swim in the Mulligan Falls rock pool. It felt a lot cooler this morning and the sun was hiding behind the clouds today.

We set off at about 9am with an expected 2.5 hour hike to go. We started through the vibrant green rainforest, crossed some creeks, walked through swamp land, passed areas ravaged by wild boar, up and down a few steep rocky hills, passed some amazing trees, then we made it to the beach. We were lucky it was overcast as it was still a long walk along the beach and in bright tropical sunlight it would have been very hot and uncomfortable. It was very low tide but once again I stayed a long way from the water, I was a big chicken, David couldn’t convince me to get closer. We came to the big crocodile creek but as it was planned the crossing was at low tide so we didn’t even have to remove our shoes. There had been a crocodile sighting there within the last seven days, but unfortunately for David it wasn’t to be seen today. Some times the crossing is waist to chest deep, with crocs about that is definitely not for me. The beach was strewn with trees washed up on shore.

The entire walk was quite spectacular, the terrain and scenery so diverse, the waterfalls and swimming holes so refreshing and beautiful and clear, it was an exceptionally amazing hike. One we would recommend to anyone interested in remote multi-day hikes.

We waited for about 30 mins for John to arrive to ferry us back to Lucinda. We then enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Lucinda Point Hotel with our new friends from the hike.

After lunch and on the way to Cardwell, John had given David the GPS co-ordinates for a 4m crocodile sighted today at Hallifax but unfortunately it was no longer there. Poor David was so disappointed. We then headed on to Cardwell, a 45 minute drive north to our home for the next two nights, a comfy bed and a shower. Yay!!

Day 4 – Track Notes
Mulligan Falls to George Point (Grade: difficult)
Distance: 7.5 km Time: allow about 2.5 hrs hiking time
Use caution when crossing Diamantina Creek, particularly if the creek is swollen after heavy rain. Follow the markers diagonally across the creek before the trail continues up a short slope and descends a steep hillside to reach the base of Mulligan Falls. Camping here is restricted to one night. The vegetation in this area is typical of lowland rainforest communities found on Hinchinbrook Island. On a clear day, this section affords good views of Lucinda and the Palm Island Group. Do not enter the restricted access area at the falls. Death and serious injuries have occurred when people have entered this area. Rock pavements, including those well back from the falls, are extremely slippery and dangerous. Collect fresh water before leaving Mulligan Falls as water sources are not reliable further along the trail.

Mulligan Falls to George Point (Grade: difficult)
Distance: 7.5 km Time: allow about 2.5 hrs hiking time
From Mulligan Falls the trail follows the coast, travelling through rainforest and crossing five creeks. The last, Moth Creek, provides only seasonal fresh water and should not be relied upon. About 300m south of the Diamantina Creek inlet, a sign indicates the northern entrance to Mulligan Bay. George Point the southern exit of the trail, is a further 5 km walk along the beach. About 2 km along, Mulligan Creek flows into the bay and it is advisable to cross this creek at low to half tide. Fresh water is not available here or at George Point, at the southern end of Mulligan Bay.