Cooktown to Weipa about 650km of which 200km is gravel. It alternates between paved and gravel. The first 200km to Laura is paved and the roughest bit is between Laura and Coen, after that the gravel is quite smooth all the way to Weipa. I bypassed the “Tip” of Cape York having been there in 2006 on my bike. I could not believe how many vehicles came past me the other way most towing trailers or boats and one or two towing caravans. The last time I was here I would have been lucky to see half a dozen cars a day, now hundreds. This means driving through clouds of dust and overtaking can only be done on the paved sections. Once again book ahead or you will be camping in the bush.
On the way there I saw a Goanna crossing the road so I stopped and took a video, it followed the road and then crossed back again. On the way back I saw the same guy and he waved out to me and I saw his brother who was careless and got run over. Next I saw a fairly big black pig (looks small in the video due to the distance) crossing the road and then a family of Emus.
Weipa – this is a mining town, it has one of the largest deposits of Bauxite in the world and it is owned by Rio Tinto. An unusual feature of this mining operation is that the conditions of the mining lease specify no fly in, fly out workforce. If you want to work here you must live here which has led to it being the biggest town in the Cape York Peninsula. All supplies are brought in by a weekly ship from Cairns. Another condition of the lease is that 50% of the Bauxite ore must be processed into aluminium in Australia.
I went on a mine tour and basically all they have to do is scrape off a top soil layer of about 300mm and then under that is a 3000mm layer of Bauxite which is scooped up, there is no blasting. The Bauxite pellets about the size of a pea are separated from the soil they are embedded in by washing them through a seive and then shipped out. The top soil is replaced and reforested.
Apparently the company prefers women drivers for their huge machines because they report faults with their machinery more readily than men therefore leading to fewer breakdowns on site.
Most visitors come to fish as the Gulf of Carpentaria is closed to most commercial fishing and there is a catch and release policy during certain seasons so the fish are plentiful.
From this point on I will start heading back West after I have the 15,000km service done in Cairns.