With the northern most compass point of the mainland behind us there was still plenty to do. We explored a 4WD track from the tip that crossed to Punsand Bay. A fairly tight and rugged track but not too difficult. The old telegraph terminated at a concrete bunker located just behind Cable Beach. Further on little side tracks around Roonba point took us to isolated beaches and mangrove forests, where corkscrew palms spiralled their way towards the sky. Amanda stopped to investigate orchids growing amongst the tree branches, a few flowers starting to show.
One track led along a beach offering camp opportunities all over the place. We even stumbled, almost literally over what was arguably the best “Loo with a view”, a concrete construction, seat but no surrounding privacy. Just sit down and enjoy the view.
There are also a few historical remnants from WW2 in the area and to explore these we moved to Alau Beach as a new base to explore. Firstly we visited two plane wrecks, a DC3 bomber and a Bristol Beaufort, both having sufficient remnants to make them out. There are references to 3 other wrecks but without further information we couldn’t seek them. We drove down to Jacky Jacky creek on a increasing derelict track to a local camp that must be used for collecting mud crabs and mud clams amongst the mangroves.
Another road took us out to Muttee Head, and beyond to the mouth of the Jardine River. An old derelict and severely rusting radar tower stands forlornly in the forest, covered in vines, a stark reminder of the proximity of this part of Australia to action in the war.
Around the sleepy towns of Seisia and Bamaga it was impossible to miss the large numbers of horses wandering around untethered. Roaming along the roadsides, grazing through peoples gardens, some of them looking in very fine condition. Every now and then youngsters would trot past on their unsaddled steeds, all very adept in the art of horsemanship no matter what age.
We moved to Alau beach for a few days and Oscar and I took time out to fish from Seisia Jetty, once the weekly barge had been unloaded, reloaded, and departed. A large group of locals played in the water next to the jetty and a group of youngsters brought their horses for a swim to cool off in the searing heat of the midday sun.
The teenagers led their horses into the water, then stood on their backs and performed backflips into the water, in an effort to entertain the younger boys watching. Once cooled off they mounted the horses and cantered up the beach and back to the crowd swimming and frolicking behind us.
I felt a large tug on my line then suddenly the water surface erupted with a pirouetting shark, over 2m long. It performed this action 3 times, its entire body clearing the water each time, as it stripped line off my reel, then thankfully snapped it. A laconic comment from an elderly local fishing nearby suggested this was why no-one was catching anything. Another fishermen barked a call in local tongue to the crowd in the water and a mass exit, that any lifesaver would have been proud of, took place in seconds. Apparently crocodiles are not scary but big sharks are!
Back at our beach camp in Alau, the local trees acted as magnets for the birds and we were treated to Palm Cockatoos, yellow bellied sunbirds, frogmouths, kingfishers and many more.