Down the Far North Queensland coast

Where are we now ? http://goo.gl/maps/9Lkgc
Distance covered so far = 17,221 Kms
Days on the road so far = 70
Friday 14 June 2013
We left Cooktown this morning on a beautiful crystal clear morning and a comfortable 22c to retrace our 150 km ride back to Mount Molloy. We then turned east for the coast again headed for the sugar cane town of Mossman. We passed lots of cane fields then got a spectacular view of the coastline as we rode over the lush green coastal mountains down to Mossman. After lunching there we turned south again along the coastal highway which ran right beside the ocean in places reminding us of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. We passed through the very upmarket resort town of Port Douglas then wound our way along the coastline to Cairns riding a total of 370 Kms for the day. We struck considerable traffic on the run down from Port Douglas, a far cry from having the road to ourselves as we have become accustomed too. We plan to stay here for a couple of days and are taking the tourist train up to Kuranda in the morning.

Crossing the Great Divide headed for Mossman in the distance

Crossing the Great Divide headed for Mossman in the distance

Resort row at Port Douglas

Resort row at Port Douglas

Saturday 15 June 2013
We spent the day taking the tourist train to Kuranda then returning on the SkyRail. A spectacular day culminating in a delightful visit to the family of some close friends who live in Cairns and very generously invited us to dinner.

Sugar cane and the Great Divide

Sugar cane and the Great Divide

Descending back to Cairns

Descending back to Cairns

Cairns Skyrail

Cairns Skyrail

Winding up the hills to Karanda

Winding up the hills to Kuranda

Sunday 16 June 2013
Today we stayed in Cairns again and took a cruise out to Green Island to sample the delights of the Great Barrier Reef. Ros went under the water for the first time in her life as we marvelled at the reef and sea life through the windows of the semi-submersible submarine.

Cairns from our room

Cairns from our room

Keeping us company

Keeping us company

Fish feeding frenzy

Fish feeding frenzy

Underwater Ros!

Underwater Ros!

Monday 17 June 2013
The countryside from Cairns to Townsville was lush and green with bananas, pineapples, mangoes and sugar cane alternately growing for almost the entire 390 Kms. We rode with the mountains of the Great Dividing Range on our right all day which were equally as green as the rest of the countryside making postcard type scenery for most of the day. The day was sunny and a little cooler at 24c making for a more comfortable ride. We took a detour out to Mission Beach which was a lovely spot with equally picturesque scenery. One of their claims to fame is the colony of Cassowaries living in the area with signs everywhere alerting motorists to watch out for them. The general area is known as the Cassowary Coast but, unfortunately, we did not sight any.  We passed through Cardwell which was the coastal town which copped the brunt of cyclone Yasi. A huge civil reconstruction program was well advanced along the waterfront to repair the enormous damage caused. We were slowed somewhat during the day by a continuing succession of road works together with fairly heavy traffic in both directions taking the edge off the otherwise enjoyable ride. We enjoyed a pleasant night hosted  by some friends in Townsville from our OZSTOC  motorcycle network.

Mission Beach Qld

Mission Beach Qld

Tuesday 18 June 2013
The ride from Townsville to Mackay today took us through mostly sugar country with sugar cane growing virtually the entire 400 kms. Almost every little hamlet we passed through featured a sugar mill, all of them puffing away well into their current crushing season. The area was cris-crossed by the narrow gauge railway network used in this part of the world to take the harvested cane directly from the fields to the nearest mill. We were held up once as an incredibly long train of wire cages each loaded with harvested cane, trundled across the  road. We passed through well known sugar growing towns such as Ayr, Bowen, Proserpine and our overnight stopover at Mackay. The sugar handling and shipping facility at Mackay Harbour is huge. The omnipresent Great Dividing Range kept us company again all day, sometimes close and sometimes forming a blue silhouette off in the distance. The ocean was on our left and we got occasional glimpses of the coastline often comprising large tidal flats and views of the nearer islands of the Whitsunday group. The riding was better today with less traffic and road works to interrupt our travels with flat and gently sweeping bends through cane fields, many right beside the road, most of the day. A very pleasant ride.

A coastal glimpse near Bowen of the Whitsunday Passage

A coastal glimpse near Bowen of the Whitsunday Passage

Off to Rockhampton and Rosslyn Bay tomorrow.

Bye for now
Ros and Dick
 

 

 

We reach the east coast

Where are we now?http://goo.gl/maps/rDUsJ

Days on the road = 65
Kilometres travelled = 16,057

Tuesday 11 June 2013
We bade farewell to Karumba this morning as we backtracked about 85Km through Normanton to pick up the Savannah Highway to turn due east toward Cairns. The countryside was predictably savannah type although it continued to changed subtedly and was always interesting with lots of missed photo opportunities due to the lack of places to stop. The local industry in the region is clearly cattle with lots of Brahman cattle wandering along the roadside and on the road. We stopped beside two triple trailer road trains packed solid with young Brahman cattle apparently headed for export at Townsville. It seems the local cattle industry is so depressed due to the problems of live cattle export to Indonesia that we were told “you could not give away a local cattle property”. We stopped midway on our 390 Km ride at the historic mining town of Croydon which was a quaint little village which boasted the oldest operating store in Australia and was the eastern extremity of the famous little motor rail train the Gulflander. We rolled into our destination Georgetown  around 3pm and, after inspecting our booked digs at one of the local caravan parks decided the dodgy room we were allocated was not habitable and relocated to the local pub.

Cattle enroute to market

Cattle enroute to market

The Oldest Store in Australia at Croydon Qld (Or so the sign says anyway!)

The Oldest operating Store in Australia at Croydon Qld (Or so the sign says anyway!)

Wednesday 12 June 2013
We set off due east again this morning from Georgetown heading out along the Savannah plains as we have more or less done for the last few weeks. We passed through the very small town of Mount Surprise with the temperature hitting a very warm 30c in the morning. The road was sealed all the way but included substantial sections of single lane tarmac requiring us to get off in favour of large vehicles coming the other way a number of times. After travelling about 150 km before we came to the major Kennedy Highway and again turned north toward Ravenshoe, Atherton and our next overnight stop at Mareeba. The change in climate and landscape was dramatic and almost instantaneous. Within a space of about 10 minutes the temperature had dropped to 19c and we finally left the Savannah Plains behind in favour of hills, winding roads and lush green countryside. Check out this little YouTube video >>>http://youtu.be/u8hjo-1fhyo The other major change we experienced was the immediate feeling that we had suddenly left the remote and isolated country we had been travelling through since leaving Perth over 5 weeks and 8,000 Kms ago and were well and truly back in “civilisation”. To add to this dramatic change, we were forced to stop at Ravenshoe to dig out our wet weather gear for the first time in almost 5 weeks. The windy wet road through the Atherton tablelands slowed us down somewhat and provided a different pace to the almost constant maximum cruising speed we have enjoyed for the majority of the trip. We encountered a group of four bikers at Mount Garnet who were doing our trip in reverse after starting from the Central Coast of NSW and were just heading out into the “never never” following our tracks almost exactly. It was nice to be able to play the “experienced outback traveller” bit with them telling them where they will have trouble with fuel, roads and overnight stops. They marvelled at the fact that we had done the trip “on our own”. We are off to Cooktown tomorrow before turning south for the final time for our run down the coast.

Out come the "Wetties" at Ravenshoe Qld (first time for five weeks)

Out come the “Wetties” at Ravenshoe Qld (first time for five weeks)

Wind farm in the Atherton tablelands

Wind farm in the Atherton tablelands

Thursday 13 June 2013
Our comfortable 270 Km run from Mareeba to Cooktown today took us North to Mount Malloy before sweeping inland to skirt around the coastal mountains again reaching the fringes of the Savannah country. Yet again we were treated to some wonderful scenery with Savannah one side and mountains the other then some great views as we climbed over the mountains into the delightful Cooktown. On arriving in Cooktown we finally reached the East Coast 23 days and 5,800Kms after leaving the West Coast at Broome. Tomorrow we start our long trip South down the coast towards home. Our day culminated with “drinkies” on the lawn in front of our motel room overlooking the Endeavour River yet again watching another beautiful sunset but this time over the mountains instead of the ocean.

The Savannah meets the hills enroute to Cooktown

The Savannah meets the hills enroute to Cooktown

The hills around Cooktown

The hills around Cooktown

Yet another sunset this time on the East Coast at Cooktown Qld

Yet another sunset this time on the East Coast at Cooktown Qld

James Cook watching over his landing spot at Endeavour River Cooktown Qld

James Cook watching over his landing spot at Endeavour River Cooktown Qld

Off to Cairns tomorrow for a three night stopover to check out some of the tourist hotspots.

Bye for now
Ros and Dick