We had heard a little about the drive into Lockhart River but in reality it smashed our expection. The road was excellent in some part but awful in others. However by far the most difficult or frustrating part was the constant undulations.
With the dips often being a very sharp and rocky washout we were always needing to be on the breaks to carefully get the drawbar through without incident and keeping things smooth for ‘Goldilocks’ the van and her contents. Not being able to sustain any kind of momentum and having to continuously judge your breaking and the nature of each dip, made for a challenging drive.
Beautiful though! Eventually the Iron Ranges come into view and you suddenly realise the vegetation has done one of its spectacular costume changes again, seamlessly without you noticing. By the end of the day we will be setting up camp in the Rainforest of the Iron Range National Park. The largest remaining area of lowland rainforest in Australia and home to some unique species of plants and animals.
We were excited to experience a night in the rainforest. Imagining the sights and sounds to be different from that of our usual camps. But a little of that excitement waned as we faced a couple of the steepest and challenging river/creek crossings. Not unlike what we had done on our day on the Old Telegraph Track, accept this time we had the van hitched on. Yikes! It certainly cause a pause for thought ……. , then with breath held we edged through and Audrey pull Goldilocks up that hill. Love that beast of a car, she’s a total star!
At this point I have to acknowledge the amazing job Ken had done in getting the vechile, (Audrey) and van, (Goldilocks), set up for doing this rough and tough stuff. The amount of research and extra work Ken has had done on the Cruiser may have seemed excessive for a couple of novices. However when we have found ourselves in need of a little more specialized performance; Kenny twists a few knobs, pushes a few buttons (all of which I have know idea what they do) and viola! Beast and van lap it up.
Camp # 42 – A Night in the Rainforest, Iron Range National Park
Hot and Shitty! Obvious really, but I think we both had this romantic notion of it being adventurous, cool and noisy, teaming with wildlife. Humid and draining with too much shade (funny that in a rainforest) to run the a/c. No matter, the show must go on. Set up, camp fire, a delicious dinner of fish curry and a freaky night time walk through the forest looking for a green tree python 🐍 made it memorable but this little travelling family has learnt we are more beach people than rainforest folk.
Camp # 43 – Nirvana!, Chili Beach, Iron Range National Park
Again another one of those spots vans the size of ours, raise eyebrow’s at. And you know what they are thinking, because I’m thinking it too. How are we going to get that van into there. Kenny always full of confidence never seems phased and true to form, he nails it. WOW! What a spot. Just meters from the beach of white sands and turquoise waters (shame we cant swim in it). A quick set up as we’re busting to explore the beach a little more.
The kids are straight into building a cubby with palm frond and coconuts and i’m keen to try my hand at the basket weaving i’d seen on Thursday Island. The feeling is relaxed and delight. We are going to be here for three days and have the sense we are just going to chill at Chili Beach. A lovely feeling and somehow seems to lasts despite, reality being the usual rhythm of no time to stop.
There is always more bread to be made, dished to do done, washing to hang out and the next load to go on, firewood to collect, snacks and meals to prepare, toddler and big kids to love, nourish and cherish, school work to be prepared and done, planning and research into where and what’s next, oh and musn’t forget to make the time to say ‘f#*% it’ to that never ending list and go and enjoy the sublime piece of the planet we find ourselves in. Amen!
We just loved our time here, and to think it was touch and go if we had the time to make it. Beach walks revealed treasures like gnarly trees to climb and hide in, coconuts at variant stages of their life cycle, kooki coconut faces and views views views. A drive on the beach took us to a great pool to swim in (YEAH!!!!) And the surrounding forest provided ample wood for the magic of camp fires and pizzas too.
We did make one little outing to nearby Portland. In the past it had been a harbour/supply port during the war. Now however, it’s a tranquil spot with delicious little cafe. The last thing you are expecting to find which makes it all the more exciting. Views, cold drinks and a scrumptious prawn roll. It really doesn’t get much better.
Chili Beach is also famous for its wind, and it certainly did pick up during our stay. We had jagged a fairly sheltered camp site and with the van we had name bother. For the campers in tents, it did reek havoc and finally they abandoned camp and moved on.
There is a magic to this place, a feeling or energy that just slows you down. Definately a happy place for our tribe.
Lockhart River Community
Before leaving we wanted to pay a visit to the aboriginal art centre and did so before continuing our journey south down the cape. We knew it was a dry community and after planning a couple of other visits into the town for supplies this time we had forgotten about the one bottle of bubbles I had been carrying for a special occasion. After debate we decided it wasn’t worth the risk of the fine (max $75,000) and decided to empty it on the road side.
The art centre was super and we left with a few lovely pieces that will hopefully adorn our walls as a reminder of these magic lands.