Sunday, June 14, 2009

The track!

I'm back in Cairns after about a month's journey up to the tip and back. I've already posted about Iron Range and I'd probably still rate that as the highlight of the journey.

Spent a couple of days in Weipa - resupplying etc. Sunsets over the gulf sea... bauxite... mining haul trucks...

Another interesting experience was doing the old telegraph track. This is one of Australia's best known 4WD tracks, and has a reputation as being pretty difficult. Originally I wasn't going to attempt it, but everywhere I went, 4WD enthusiasts encouraged me to give it a shot. I 'had to do it'. I met up with one fella in a Nissan Patrol which he'd converted into a tractor-like vehicle and decided that doing the track with him was a pretty safe bet. It turned out to be a really fun couple of days. There are several interesting creek crossings, some of which feature some rather large holes that one must endeavour to avoid.

The Belafonte performed magnificently, taking me through deep water, around big washouts and ruts, up and down slippery slopes... the only places where she faltered were two muddy bog-holes, the tyres just spinning ineffectually. Luckily the Patractor pulled her out effortlessly. Hey, at least it gave me a chance to use that snatch strap that's been sitting in the car gathering dust! I heard of one other bloke who had to get pulled out 18 times on the track!

Part of the track passes through Heathlands - an interesting area dominated by, you guessed it, heath. The creeks here looked really fantastic. Heath grows on really infertile sand, and as a result, the runoff into the creeks is basically the purest, cleanest water you can imagine. About half-way up the track are the falls - Fruit-bat, Elliot and Twin Falls. These are simply spectacular. After travelling up the Great Dividing Range as I have, a waterfall has to be pretty special to rate anything more than a nod... but these falls were real standouts.

Fruit-bat Falls

Climbing pitcher plants and sundews grow beside many of the creeks in the area - carnivory is an adaptation to low soil nitrogen.

Climbing Pitcher Plant

After the falls I headed back on to the bypass road to reach the tip.

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