Having reached far north Queensland it is now time to prepare to travel the 2,500km to Darwin and then the further 2,200km to Broome. There is a small Covid outbreak in the Northern Territory so we are keeping a close eye on the border situation. Western Australia publishes an online list of border restrictions and we need NT to be classified as “very low risk” before we can cross the border into WA without having to go into 14 days hotel quarantine at our own expense – which we really don’t need.
The other border we keep an eye on is the the WA – South Australian crossing. There has been a small outbreak in WA and Perth and the Peel district have gone into lockdown. Just now WA says NT is still only “low risk” (we can’t cross) and SA says we can’t enter SA from WA when we want to come back.
It looks like we need to wash off some time before making a decision although with borders shutting like clamshells at a moments notice, things are not looking good.
So it’s back to the beach for us to see what happens!
First though we have to finish exploring the Atherton Tablelands. We are currently in Kuranda and our feet and Scoot get us around to see the sights.
Time to move on and the next stop is Millaa Millaa, home to one of the most visited waterfalls in Queensland. The country is delightfully hilly with steep windy roads. Trickiest, I find, is going down steep hills, especially the ones that start with “Trucks use low gear”. Are we a truck? Better safe than sorry I guess.
Millaa Millaa is a very small town sitting on the main highway which drops down to Innisfal on the coast.
Time to leave the cold hills and return to the relative warmth of the coast. Port Douglas is full, full, full so we go 25km further up the coast to Newell Beach where we settle for a couple of weeks, with the occasional trip to Mossman and Port Douglas for supplies and markets.
It is becoming increasingly clear that our original plan to do a long lap of Australia has now been completely shredded. The chances of us making it around without getting held up at one state border or another are now very low. We have resigned ourselves to spending more time up here in far north Queensland before making our way back south to Noosa for the beginning of October.
There are good things and bad things about this. The good things are that it is giving us a chance to explore the area more, and also to get in lots of reading, which we both love. On the other hand, we will also miss catching up with all our friends in WA which we were really looking forward to. Also we are spending far too much time crammed into caravan parks which are all bursting at the seams with migrants from the southern states escaping from both the cold and the Covid lockdowns which are now happening all too regularly. Finding free camps on the coast is all but impossible and if you do find one, they too are crammed full.
We have also discovered that many southerners regularly over-winter up in these parts, spending three or four months in the same spot before going south again for spring.
Newell Beach is a very small community and it is lovely to be able to walk along the beach with Scoot getting us to town when we have need.
We have really enjoyed the birds here – they sing us awake and sooth us to sleep and sometimes just dazzle our eyes.
Mossman Show, just like the old days in Albany!
This is a real local show far north Queensland style. Over two days the whole town and all the surrounds turn out.
Mareeba and on to Cooktown
We now go back into the hills to Mareeba where coffee and chocolate is grown and processed, and then on up to Cooktown. The last time we were in Cooktown was in 2006 when the inland sealed road had just opened. Then it was very quiet. Now the four caravan parks are packed.
Lots of casual work up here, just nowhere to live … rents have gone through the roof, as they have everywhere along this coast. The places that used to accomodate casual workers are now AirBnBs.
It is now time to move on and return to the coast. We will return to a few beaches we already know and visit more that we don’t. Luckily we are both able to work as we go thanks to the wonders of the internet.
We do notice how big the travelling vehicles have got. We think our motorhome is big at eight metres but we often find that the caravan parked in the next bay is even longer … not counting the 4WD’s that pull them along which have also got bigger. The caravan parks are still the same size and so we all squish in together.
I leave you with a nest-in-progress just in front of us in the campground – such an amazing architect with just claws and a beak to work with.