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4 days on the Jardine & to the top of Australia

Jardine River - Wednesday 17th August 1977

Sue and I decided to go in the truck again today, because we heard it was a good day. There were tons of creek crossings. The ant hills are becoming really huge - we saw a couple about 20 feet high. It's hard to believe something so small, can make something so big. I also saw a couple of kangaroos. We don’t see much wildlife in the truck, because we are last in the convoy and all the other cars have scared them away. Some of the creek crossings were a bit dangerous. The creeks were easy to cross, it was only that the banks were often steep and slippery. A car that went before us, in one of these crossings, nearly rolled so we all had to pull it up with a winch. The creeks up here are really beautiful and crystal clear. Because some of the crossings were a bit dangerous we had to get out of the truck and walk across. Just after lunch we stopped at this divine creek for a swim. It was only narrow and crystal clear with a few deep swimming holes and a little waterfall We all went swimming in our clothes. For most of the time I sat under the waterfall, letting the water pour over me. It tasted beautiful. If you put your head far enough back, you could look behind the waterfall and breathe. It was a really funny experience.

We saw lots of other nice creeks, but couldn’t stop at them all. We came to another creek with a rough bridge, with a few tree trunks thrown across, which was wide enough for the cars to cross, but not the truck. We had to find a place to tow it across with the steel cable. While everyone was working we had another really nice swim. We dived off this submerged log and just got dragged away in the strong current.

We eventually got to the Jardine after crossing savannah plains. There are tons of people camping on the south bank of the Jardine and it looks like a caravan park. I’ve never seen so many 4-wheel drive vehicles. We made camp a fair way back from the river. We had a little bush fire, when a spark jumped from the fire onto this dry grass. It spread really quickly. Luckily it didn’t go near the fuel. They then burnt off a section around the fire and put the fuel there. We had a quick bath in the river, before it go too dark, because of crocs. The Jardine isn’t like previous creeks as it is really wide - over 100 ft. However, it is only fairly shallow all the way across. One good thing about the weather is the length of the days. It is still hot around 5.00 and doesn’t get dark until past 7.00. We had a yummy dinner of steak and then made hot chocolate all night and listened to cassettes.

Jardine River - Thursday 18th August 1977

Today we stayed at the river, because we were unable to cross because it was too deep. It was about 3-4 feet deep. Some cars attempted to cross. This car from the north bank got towed across the river. When it got over to our side you should have seen all the water pour out of the car. Then this car tried to drive across from our side to Bamaga. It got about ¾ of the way across and ran off these wooden rails and got stuck. It was tilted right over one side. They tried to tow it forward, but it wouldn’t move, so they had to tow it over to our side. Water just poured out of it and the engine was stuffed from being under water so long.

Bob Marshall hitched a ride into Bamaga to see if he could arrange some vehicles to take us for a day trip. The trip to Thursday Island is definitely off. Everyone was really disappointed that we couldn’t cross the river. Sue and I went to a beach near and river and sunbaked. We then moved camp to a really nice spot right by the river. We are all sleeping outside under the stars again and there is no crocodile watch because there are so many other campers around. All day we just lay in the sun and sunbaked. Bob came back fairly late and he has arranged for 5 vehicles to take us to the camp tomorrow. He also told us how the locals said it was only a matter of time before someone using the river crossing was taken by a crocodile. After dinner I caught up my diary and then we made damper. It was beautiful. We made a big one and I made a little one on a stick. You get it off the stick and then cut it open to pour in butter and tons of syrup. I’ve eaten so much today, as I’ve also had damper after lunch. It’s really nice sleeping under the stars. The sky looks more beautiful up here than it does in Brisbane.

Jardine River - Friday 19th August 1977

I got up early this morning to wash my hair before breakfast. We had spaghetti for breakfast and then walked across the river where the vehicles from Bamaga were meeting us. Lyn, Bruce, Millsey, Kevin, Pete and Sue and I went in Jeff’s Toyota. It wasn’t a bad road to Bamaga. It’s quite a big settlement, but it’s not aborigines, but Islanders. They look completely different and are really nice looking people. There is a canteen, general store with nothing much in it and really expensive prices, a baker and a butcher that hasn’t had meat for 3 weeks. I also got 3 letters - 2 from Brad and 1 from Dad. We then set off for the Cape.

It was a pretty rough road and about 25 miles from Bamaga. We saw some absolutely giant ant hills and drove through some tropical rainforest. It was the roughest track that we have been along. We eventually got to the tip of Cape York and it was the most wonderful feeling. Everyone was really happy and acting really mental. It was really beautiful up there. The water is crystal clear blue and straight opposite the tip is York Island and another island with a lighthouse. There is a big hill on the mainland and you get a beautiful view. It was really exciting just to be standing on the northernmost tip of Australia. We didn’t go swimming because of the danger of stingers and sharks. We then had a nice lunch of bully beef sandwiches and lollies. I took lots of photos. We then drove back and stopped to take photos of this enormous ant hill. We then stopped again at Bamaga to buy some stuff. The general store ran out of drinks. Everything was really expensive, but we bought a whole lot of rubbish anyway. We then went up to the canteen and Sue and I were talking to these two beautiful little boys called Eddy and Floyd. Eddy started to cry when we took his photo and dropped his meat pie, so we had to buy him another one. We then drove back to the river and walked across. We went swimming and had piggy back fights and then did some washing. I’ve also lost my makeup bag with Mum’s watch and I feel really bad. We had a yummy dinner of stew and fruits and rice pudding. I went to bed early because I was so buggered.

Jardine River - Saturday 20th August 1977

Today we had another rest day by the river. I didn’t get up until pretty late (about 7.00) the then had breakfast. After writing in my diary and writing some letters I sunbaked by the river up until lunchtime. I was on cooking, so had to go to help prepare lunch of a salad. After lunch everyone was going to float down the river to this fishing spot and then walk back by the road. I didn’t go because I was too scared of crocodiles. Instead I sat under a nice shady tree to copy out some songs from Mike’s book. Then Dave, Will, Gronky, Thonno, Joe and I went up to this Tarzan rope about 100 metres up from the crossing. I was too scared to go very high. Then we had this fight on the muddy slippery banks. It was great fun. Stan told us a 13 foot crocodile has been sighted in the past couple of weeks and has taken 2 dogs.. Everyone went back to the rope, but I couldn’t because we had to cook dinner of steak. Before dinner we also cooked this beautiful raisin damper on sticks. It was beautiful with lots of butter and syrup. At the meeting Digger decided to try and get the truck across tomorrow.

Jardine River - Sunday 21st August 1977

We got up fairly early today and prepared to cross the Jardine. A whole lot of guys had to stand at the other side of the river, either side of where the ramp began. The rest of us all had to stand at the very back of the truck. Then we started to drive across and made it all the way without stopping. It was really exciting and everyone was cheering because we were the first vehicle to make it across the river, under our own steam. Everyone was feeling very proud and congratulated Noel and Digger. All 40 of us, amazingly enough fitted on the truck, even though it was a bit squishy.

We drove up to Somerset, where this old house is surrounded by hundreds of coconut trees. I’ve never seen so many in my life. The house overlooks this beautiful Albany Pass on the east coast of the Cape called Red Point Bay. We then drove to this nice beach that had hundreds of puka shells. We walked a fair way around all these mangroves and basalt rocks to this little beach with aboriginal caves. They were made of sandstone and all hollowed out underneath by water running down them. Inside were all these paintings, but they weren’t as good as the ones at Laura. I then climbed up this cliff a little way and sat there for awhile. It was really peaceful and there was a lovely view over the inlet.

Opposite us was this little pearl culture village on Albany Island. We went back to the beach we started from called Rockingham Bay. There was a monument there and a lot of graves. The monument was to the explorer, Kennedy, who landed at this beach to explore the Cape and who was speared nearby. There were also graves of the old Jardine family. We then had our lunch of sandwiches and a cup of tea. We then left Somerset and drove to these plane wrecks. They had crashed in 1942, during the war because they ran out of fuel. Most of the wrecks were just scattered pieces, while this one Bob Marshall’s father had been in was nearly whole, with the cabin and wing gone. Fifteen had died and 12 lived, including Bob’s father. We then went and had a look at Bamaga airport at Higgensfield and there was a monument to Jack Jacky, Kennedy’s friend as he passed along there. We then drove back through Bamaga and stopped at the graveyard. It was really interesting as they put a lot of work into their graves. They are really big and most are made of bathroom tiles. The islanders come from Sabai Island and they write really nice things. We then drove back to the Jardine and crossed again successfully. We had a bath in the river and did some washing. We had an early night after listening to the cassette.

Tip of Cape York Peninsular

Tip of Cape York Peninsular

Cape York

Cape York

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in Australia

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