First days drive – Cooktown to Old Laura Homestead. We’d received some intel from the local fish man (Nicko!) that the main road, the Penninsular Developement Road (PDR), was not in great condition and Battlecamp road was a good alternative. So with this advice Ken planned and booked our first four nights up the Cape staying in various camp in Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL).
We were looking forward to our first ford crossing (the Normandy) and it was fantastic but we made a rookie mistake. With me in the drivers seat and Ken on the banks filming us with the drone. All went well until we were across and realized Ken was left on the wrong side.
Crocodile Ken being more focused on the shot and not the practicalities was just going to walk across. Never one to be too worried about the rules, I was putting my foot down, “nar mate, not this time. Stay put.” We’ve got these rules, not in the water, not near the water, not over the water, and I can see I’m gonna have to remind him a few times.
With there not really being anywhere to turn the van around and never having backed the van before, some kind folks packed up their lunch preparations and went and picked him up. Note to self – fly drone from the car.
The remainder of the drive was pleasant but bumpy. Corrugations pretty much all the way with a few more smallish fords and a number of dust bowls (large sandy holes in the otherwise hard corrugated compacted gravel). These can be really tricky to spot and to hit at speed can do some serious damage.
Arriving at our camp spot by 1400, we first drove on and checked out the Old Laura Station which operated form the late 1800 till 1946. It was only a kilometer down the road but it was hot and dusty and this is winter! The dust is noteworthy, as you first touch earth from the car and every step thereafter a cloud of fine powdery dust engulfs you foot before settling again. Immediately your mind goes to imagining this may be what moon dust is like and you start taking slow large moon walking steps. Or maybe that was just me.
Entering the van after the days travel, there was few causalities, upholstery edging on lounge seating, kitchen draw off runners, kitchen window blind retracting spring gone. We had let our tyres down to 25 psi but after seeing this carnage I was convinced we needed to go lower and we did the next day, down to 20 psi.
Our camp site was shaded and lovely. Camp was made, wood was collected and fire was set. Then the kids enjoyed a bit of down time reading and doing puzzles while Ken, Lulu and I explored the nearby dry river bed of the Laura River.
Evening brought out the stars, camp fire and the wild life. After dinner Ken got up to light the fire only to be spook out of his wits by an owl jumping out of the tree nearest him to grab its dinner of the ground. It landed only a meter from him and with a thud and flurry of flapping feathers took of again while we all went, WHAT THA!
That wasn’t the only wild life, Roos at dusk are a given but in addition in the complete dark with a torch you could scan low to ground and spot a million reflecting eyes peeping back at you. Spider eyes and then we had the company of some largerish animal rustling the bush for hours but not revealing itself. Maybe goat, wild pig or cattle. We heard it push over a few small trees so something strong but not the slightest bit interested in us.