Australia, Weipa, Queensland, 16 – 18 June 2021

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.

Perth to Weipa

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Australia, Cooktown, Queensland, 13 – 15 June 2021

Cooktown – This is where Captain Cook spent seven weeks repairing his ship in 1770 after it struck the reef. And it is also where the word Kangaroo originated,

“Joseph Banks met and spoke with the local people, recording about 50 Guugu Yimithirr words, including the name of the intriguing animal the natives called gangurru (which he transcribed as “Kangaru”). Cook recorded the local name as “Kangooroo, or Kanguru”

I first came here in 2001 when it was a village with a dirt road leading to it and I was riding a GTR1000 a big touring bike hahaha, still I made it back to Cairns in one piece. The road is now paved and very nice which means there are Hotels and Resorts and four caravan parks, all full. If you want to visit now you need to book ahead of time. There was also a festival of some sort going on but there did not look like there was much activity.

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Australia, Queensland, Ingham, 12 June 2021

Townsville to Ingham and then Wallaman Falls took 2:15 hrs on a cool and overcast day. The drive from the highway to the Falls is quite steep and shrouded in mist on a narrow winding road. Arrived at 10:45 am and the Falls were completely obscured by mist. There were a few other people there and many of them left, I nearly left as well but having nothing else to do decided to wait and see if the mist would disperse. I checked a couple of times but still could not see a thing and then to my great surprise the mist cleared at 13:00 to reveal the Falls, magnificent, all the more so because I thought I was not going to see them. They are the tallest falls in Australia at 269m.

Next stop was the “Pub with no Beer” made famous by Slim Dusty, an Australian singer and icon, a fun stop.

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Australia, Queensland, Townsville, 10 – 11 May 2021

Mackay to Townsville was through sugarcane country. There are special minature and very long trains that carry the sugarcane around and there are many road crossings.

Townsville – the biggest city in the North of Queensland, it is quite modern and it has Parking meters and signs. I wandered around following the Street Art trail and I also visited the Army Museum. Townsville was a hub during the Second World War and has the largest Army Base in Australia.

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Australia, Queensland, Mackay, 07 – 09 June 2021

Mackay – surrounded by sugarcane fields and known as the sugar capital of Australia, population 80,000 which is a metropolis in regional Australia. Two unusual features of the city are the many Art Deco buildings and the mural on the Levee wall showing the history of the Mackay region, it took five minutes for me to walk along the wall making a video. There is a dark side to Mackay’s history when Blackbirders were used to enslave Pacific islanders to work in the sugarcane fields.

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Australia, Queensland, Bundaberg, 05 – 06 June 2021

Bundaberg – famous for that clear brown alcoholic liquid made from sugarcane. I naturally went on the Brewery tour. Before the tour you visit the museum and a short film, very interesting more so than the Tour itself where you basically see very little and no photos. At the end of the tour you get two free drinks at the bar which was the best part of the tour hahaha. I also visited the Seaside at Bargara and the Botanical Gardens. The Mon Repos Turtle Centre has turtle viewings starting in November when they come ashore to nest and lay eggs.

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Australia, Queensland, Brisbane, 28 May – 04 June 2021

Byron Bay – I stopped here on the way to Brisbane because it is the Easternmost point on the Australian mainland. It must be a popular spot because it was fairly busy, can’t imagine what it is like during peak periods. There are a few parking spots near the lighthouse, the fee is $8 and you will probably have to wait for someone to leave before you get a spot. After you park and walk up to the lighthouse its a 300m walk down steps to the Easternmost point.

Brisbane – big city, population 2.6 million or 3.8 million if you include the sprawl. The river winds its way through the city and the CBD is squashed into one of its S bends with no place for roads which have been built on stilts over the water. The city is located in a flood plain and gets flooded regularly, the last big one being in 2011. Overall a nice place to visit, organised with good facilities.

South Bank, Queen Street Mall and Coot-tha Lookout

I visited the Queensland Museum, Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art all in one area. And a walk through the city.

Brisbane Museum, Casino, River Cruise and West End

Governor’s House and Parliament. The Lamington was named after Governor Lord Lamington or his wife but it should have been named after their chef, “the French-born Armand Galland, who was called upon at short notice to feed unexpected guests. Using only the limited ingredients available, Galland cut up some left-over French vanilla sponge cake baked the day before, dipped the slices in chocolate and set them in coconut. Impressed by Galland’s creation, Lamington’s guests were said to have later asked for the recipe. This version of events is supported by Lady Lamington’s memoirs. Coconut was not widely used in European cooking at that time, but was known to Galland, whose wife was from Tahiti, where coconut was a common ingredient.

On my last day in Brisbane I went on a River Walk, this is one of the best things to do in the city. I started at New Farm and walked all the way to the Queen Street Bridge, just over 6km.