Thursday, April 17, 2008

DAY 175: Home Rule to Cooktown

(Day 3 on Bloomfield Track)
Weds 16th April 2008
43 km at 15.6 km/hr
Distance to date 10249 km (6406 miles)

PLEASE NOTE:I have just (Thurs 7 April) uploaded around 90 pics dating back 7 or 8 days - have a look!

On going to the loo in the early hours I bumped into a Wallaby, then the Wompoo Fruit Doves were wompooing away at dawn, so a nice natural start to the day. The night was utterly peaceful away from any people or vehicle - bliss. Jorg and I packed up leisurely with no concept of the time and headed back along the 3km rough track back to the main Bloomfield Track. The old lady at Home Rule was telling us that during recent heavy rain the road got washed away and they were marooned for 3 months or so - wisely they were well-stocked with food for such eventualities. We both got fully immersed again in the raging Wallaby Creek again on the dangling rope before moving on nice and wet and cool. It isn't uncomfortable at all in this warm climate - even at this early hour it was around 23 deg C, and probably rises to around 27 most days lately. I expect my sunglasses are on the Great Barrier Reef by now.

The road is tarmac for a short while before returning to coarse, skittery gravel - one slip and you’re off-type gravel. It was a lovely sunny day though and quite hot - there is less shade now, and also more traffic - not what you would call busy though. Most of the vehicles that passed threw up a load of bulldust - thanks guys for not slowing down! There were some steep little climbs again, though nothing as drastic as on the first day, and as ever the descents had to be painfully slow and brake-controlled to avoid catastrophe. I have had to adjust my brakes twice in 3 days so they are clearly wearing very quickly. I think I have a spare set in the spares bag though if need be, There is a good bike shop (I understand) in Mareeba, where I'll be in about a week.

Some 3km from the end of the track we reached the famous Lion’s Den pub, but despite it’s reputation for always being open, it was closed! Thousands of visitors over scores of years have written / carved their names somewhere in the place - it has loads of Aussie character. I had planned on getting a snack and cuppa there but no go. Instead we went and sat at one of the tables outside and brunched on Jorg’s Ryvita and cheese (amazingly he carried a kg of cheddar and managed to keep it cool enough for several days wrapped deep in his big trailer bag). Shortly after this we (sadly? lol) reached the end of the Bloomfield Track and the junction with the Cooktown Development Road, which is now fully tarmacced all the way from Cooktown to Mareeba, and on which I will be returning south. The tarmac meant considerable speeding-up and we were soon screaming down a hill at 64 km/hr with a SE tailwind. We stopped for a while at the Black Mountain viewpoint - the mountain is made from weird-shaped black boulders - before steaming on quickly towards the ‘end of the road’ - well, tarmac road anyway. There was the usual sting in the tail with a long, steep hill just a few km short of Cooktown that really had me panting, before we rode into the town at around 1300. It’s an interesting-looking ‘traditional’ Aussie town, very spread-out but with only 1200 permanent population. There aren’t that many tourists here either, this place really does feel ‘off the beaten track’. There's a great sense of Australian history here too, as this is where it all started on 17 June 1770.

Jorg and I had a coffee and cake from the Kiosk (not very fresh) before checking in at the Peninsular Caravan Park just on the edge of town ($10/nt). After setting up and showering we went for a wander on the bikes and finished up on the jetty chatting to Dean and Louise (pic), on holiday from Essex, for ages. J and I had dinner and a couple of beers at the RSL (Retired Serviceman's League, a bit like British legion) (I had Barramundi, chips and salad, and mint cheesecake, scrumptious), and D and L also turned up and they sat with us for the rest of the night and we shared some of their wine lol. I was full, and tired, as we rode back in the dark to the camp, and although I didn’t really feel up to it, wrote today’s blog. So that’s the Bloomfield Track done with, and I recall it as one of the highlights of a trip full of wonders, probably the hardest ride I’ve ever done, but so good scenically and very rewarding overall. I have a load of uploading to do tomorrow as I haven’t posted pics for many days due to there being no broadband so I'll be at it half the day I reckon.

1 comment:

no ghosts here said...

Oh, you´re on the 17th already! (I wondered about the date of your comment.)
What an adventure, David!!
Just found this page, let me read more........