Day 44 Saturday July 19th 2014 Port Douglas to Endeavour River
There’s not a cloud in the sky as we run the van through the car wash for a much needed scrub. It’s an easy drive up the winding rain forested Rex Range then join the Mulligan Highway. We have 220kms ahead of us and we’re more than excited, at last we’re on a road we’ve never travelled.
There are dry grasslands and spindly gums and ant hills, lots of ant hills, no they’re termite mounds. We even see an ant hill dressed in an Aussie flag and with reflectors for eyes. At Mt Carbine there is a large tungsten mine cut into the hillside and large stacks of the grey metal.
We climb steeply up to Bob’s lookout and there are expansive views to the mountains of the Daintree National Park and the tablelands to the south. The terrain changes again and the odd pandanus tree starts to appear even the ant hills have changed. There are thousands and they are short and sharply conical. The other ants were builders these guys are artisans. Brahmans loll about in the scrub.
We cross the Palmer River but miss the roadhouse as it sits on a sharp uphill rise on our right. Maybe next time. At Lakeland there are several kilometres of banana plantations and other unidentifiable crops which give way to grasslands and white trunked gums. We pass through Black Mountain which is a mountain covered in black rocks and little else. There is a causeway over the rushing Little Annan Gorge.
Cooktown is charming and unspoilt. In fact, it is the complete opposite to Port Douglas. There is a well worn pub, an even more worn pub that has lost its roof to the last cyclone and a handful of shops as the road winds down to the waterfront. The harbour is just inside the mouth of the Endeavour River. It is a river of wide mud flats and sandy shoals and one glance explains why Cook chose this place to repair the Endeavour all those years ago.
There is an RV free camp behind the main street which we can use if we can’t find other accommodation. We’re hoping to meet G & S while we’re in the Cooktown area. G keeps trying to ring us but his phone cuts out. We drive out to Endeavour River Escape just north of Cooktown. There are a few kilometres of dirt road and a very narrow bridge and then we’re greeted at the homestead by our host Leanne who leads us to the camp in a cut down and dusty Suzuki. Walking down the track towards us is G trying to get phone reception. Their offroad van hasn’t been washed since they left home in May and is covered in orange dust from their trip via the Birdsville Track and Cape York.
There are about 20 camp sites about 400 metres from the homestead hidden in the rainforest. Each site is actually big enough for four vans and most have the privacy of tracts of bush around them. The camp is well mown. It has good water and clean showers (heated by woodfire) and toilets. There are no powered sites. There is an open air camp kitchen.
We walk to the Endeavour River where a tourist was eaten by a crocodile just after G & S’s last visit here. Poor bugger was just checking his crab nets. You can’t be too careful in croc territory.
I am trying to photograph the lagoon when Leanne picks me up in the cut down Suzuki and takes me up to the homestead for a close look at the ‘baby’ crocodile that lives in the house lagoon. The homestead overlooks the water lily filled lagoon and the croc suns itself on the opposite bank. He’ll eventually move on when he needs more food than this lagoon can provide.
The mozzies are bad but they don’t dampen our ‘first night excitement’ and along with another Woody and Babs who also own a Patriot, we sit up drinking and catching up until 10:00pm. That’s really late for grey nomads!
Towing Kms: 266Kms
2020 Note: Endeavour River Escape is a Farm Stay and although it is hard to compare farm stays as each one is so different, this is still one of our favourites.