Daily Archives: October 13, 2015

Back to Lakefield National Park – Oscar bags a barra!

Oscar's big barra!

Oscar’s big barra!

We bade 100 Around Oz a farewell as they sped towards Cairns to pick up schoolwork. We headed for Oyala Thumotang National Park to try to catch some Barramundi in the Archer river. When we arrived a large sign explained that the park was closed due to pig shooting, feral animal poisoning, fires, fallen logs and more. I think plague and pestilence would have been added if the notice had been bigger and I must say it was disappointing that none of the four horsemen of the apocalypse were there personally to deliver the message. Needless to say our plans hastily changed and he headed for Coen again where we met up once more with Simon, Hilary, and the girls, all of whom were somewhat surprised to see us. After a night camped behind the sExchange Hotel (yes, the sign even says this) we finally parted ways at Musgrave to head back to the Lakefield National Park.

These signs are everywhere

These signs are everywhere

Well Oscar had given it a good go so far but still hadn’t bagged himself a barramundi. With my recent change in fortune I was confident that Lakefield National Park was the place we could catch him one, so we returned to Twelve Mile Lagoon. After two hours he had lost three decent sized ones and he thought I had caught his one, a very respectable 64cm specimen.

Dad's even bigger barra

Dad’s even bigger barra

He had almost given up when I lobbed a bait out for him in a likely spot and witnessed a large fish go for it. Another cast and five minutes later he was on for the fight of his life (the fish and Oscar). With an initial tug he handed me the rod complaining that he was snagged again. I took it, felt a fish and quickly past it back to him. The noise levels increased as Oscars cries together with the fishes splashes threatened to attract a big crocodile that we had already witnessed in this area. What was worse was the prospect that I had to climb down the precipitous bank to land the fish before Oscar broke his tiny rod trying to lift it up. With Oscar sufficiently calmed down and me nervously standing inches from the water level a couple of grabs saw it landed safely on the bank. Oscar pounced on it and got stabbed in the leg by a sharp spine in a fin, temporarily distracting him from the catch. By the time he got back to camp his leg was covered in blood but it no longer mattered as he had caught his first “keeper”, a 60cm one.

Old Laura Homestead

Old Laura Homestead

Leaving there next morning we paid a visit to the Old Laura homestead where the relatively well preserved buildings give you a pretty good idea about life on the land up until the 1960s.

At this point we were planning to go to Cape Melville but it sounded like a lot of soft sand work to get out there and fishermen coming the other way had not seen much action so we skipped this and kept heading south.

Butcher's block at Old Laura Homestead

Butcher’s block at Old Laura Homestead

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Fishing, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, National Park, Natural World, Offroad, Photos, Queensland, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Usher Point, Cape York

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With the Tip thoroughly explored we decided to take a 50+km track with Simon, Hilary and the girls to Usher Point. The road condition and distance is sufficient to deter all but the hardened traveller, and from the Hema guide the track was going to be tough. We had heard reports of 5-6 hours travelling time required with bush tracks so tight you would be relieved of paintwork along the way. Parks and wildlife don’t encourage trailers either but we were up for a challenge, the first, and by far the hardest, booking one of the four campsites. Once again we wrestled with a ridiculous booking system, being told only one site was available by a second operator.

The drive out was actually nothing like what we expected. It took two hours and the road must have been cleared in recent years judging by the size of the track and regrowth rates. No paint scratching on this track and very few challenges other than a couple of sections of soft sand. The Camprite trailer cruised through as it has done for the last 11 months without a hiccup.

Camp fun with beach flotsam

Camp fun with beach flotsam

Our campground greeted us piled with flotsam and jetsam salvaged from the beach, a blessing in disguise as whilst unsightly it did provide hours of entertainment for the kids. The coastline was rugged and exposed to the strong onshore winds. The four campsites are spaced across 2+km of track, one in the rainforest, one in deep soft sand behind the beach, another perched precipitously on a totally unsheltered overhung cliff (not good for sleepwalkers), and ours, nestled in low-lying bush, very slightly sheltered.

A lot of beach combing yielded more chambered nautilus shells, and a surprising source of multi-coloured clay that the kids insisted on bringing back to camp to play with. Much of the cliff was clay, however large islands protruded from the sand in places, with thin layers of many colours.

Go-karts made from beach rubbish

Go-karts made from beach rubbish

Gunshot Creek re-enactment

Gunshot Creek re-enactment

The kids used their imagination with items of rubbish found on the beach and from home-made go-karts made from fishing floats, raced down the track, to re-enactments of the Gunshot Creek crossing on the Old Telegraph Track, a lot of fun was had by all.

Turtle embryo in shell

Turtle embryo in shell

A broken turtle shell washed up one day with a dead embryo with features fully formed and clearly visible, including yolk.

The drive from the camp to the beach was the biggest challenge requiring lowering tyre pressures to handle the soft sand track and campsite. This sandy camp was separated by a murky but shallow creek, but fresh tracks indicated that it was inhabited by a small crocodile.

Sadd Point panorama

Sadd Point panorama

We stayed for three days, exploring the beaches, driving to Sadd Point nearby, and pushing an extremely scratchy track towards Escape Creek, where at times we were pushing over saplings higher than the car that were growing in there middle of the track.

The road to Sadd Point

The road to Sadd Point

I found a new favourite bird, the aptly named Magnificent Riflebird. Having heard its call I managed to coax one in close to see its beautiful metallic green collar, and hear its rustling feathers as it chased a female through the treetops. It eluded my attempts to photograph though.

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Around the campfire on the first night we were interrupted by the erratic flight of a nightjar fluttering past several times. Following the frog-like sounds I found two sitting on the track every night. A Woompoo fruit dove allowed a close photo too one evening and once Simon’s very successful coconut lemon cake, cooked in the camp oven, wafted into the air we got regular visits from the local bandicoot.

Despite insistences from the booking consultant that campsites were full we saw no-one for three days at Usher Point. As we drove out a fallen tree across the road might have explained why, but four adults could move it aside quite easily, before we needed to reach for winches or saws.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Natural World, Offroad, Photography, Queensland, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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