WEDNESDAY 5 AUGUST SEISIA
Today was another hot one.
Tomorrow is the “date” anniversary of John’s hip replacement, last year, today is the “day” anniversary. Last year, when he was so ill and in hospital, we promised ourselves to go stand on the northern tip of Australia in a year’s time! I am superstitious that, if we wait until tomorrow to go, something will go wrong, so after lunch, we decided to go today.
Got fuel at Seisia – 93cpl.
Drove back to Bamaga, then took the track north. The way from Bamaga to Lockerbie ruins is VERY rough. At Lockerbie, there is a Croc Shop – a tent – with a very gregarious operator with a BIG dog. He has to pay Cairns-level rental to the Injinoo, to be here, and is definitely less than impressed with the locals. He says the Badu and Murray Islanders are the really bad ones. We got the impression the dog was for more than company! He caretakes the resort at Punsand in the Wet Season, so is up here year round.
Also at Lockerbie are the remains of the old homestead, made of corrugated iron. Lockerbie homestead was established by Frank Jardine, the Cape pioneer, in the 1860’s. The Holland family lived here from about 1930, until the land was handed over for the aboriginals in the 1960’s. The local main elder is building a new home on the site now – a political statement, we wonder?
North of Lockerbie ruins and the junction with the Punsand track, the way goes through the Lockerbie Scrub. This is definitely not scrub, but a rather unique area of rainforest. It is very different from the usual savanna woodland up here – dense, green, tall trees, vines – lovely. It made the final stretch of driving to the Top, very pleasant.
We parked at the end of the road, at the Pajinka camp area. I am very glad we did not try to camp here! The Pajinka Wilderness Lodge – only 500metres from the Tip – was a luxury tourist venture built in the mid 80’s, by Bush Pilot Airways at a cost of over $1million. As The Top of Australia Wilderness Lodge it passed through ownership by Ansett Airlines and then Qantas, offering a really unique and beautiful place to stay, go on fishing trips – and access the Tip. There was a campground there too. In 1992 it was bought with government funds for the Injinoo people to run as a tourism venture that would earn them money. It is now very run down, verging on derelict. The campground toilet is totally grotty – a very long time since that has been cleaned! The shower is locked up – that also looks awful. We wonder what standard the rest of this one-time luxury resort is in, under this Injinoo management? Another waste of taxpayers’ funds?
We set out to walk the 600 or so metres to the Tip. The first 400 metres was through rainforest, on a nice, newish boardwalk – obviously part of the Resort infrastructure. There were numbered signs by some features – but no interpretative pamphlets to show us what the numbers referred to.
We saw a huge spider hanging in a web across part of the track – by almost walking into it!
We chose to go via Frangipani Beach track, rather than straight along the low ridge track. After emerging onto the very pretty beach, we walked around a stand of mangroves at the end of the beach – it was low tide – and then up a track onto the rocky promontory that is the Tip, and along to the end.
WE DID IT! It is excellent to just be here, after the trauma of a year ago.
However, the place is not as I envisaged. Instead of standing here, looking out across the ocean towards Asia to the north, the view is across a fairly narrow channel to a couple of large islands – York and Eborac Islands – that block any further view. However, we stood and gazed north for a while. Some other people there said they had seen a croc cruise by, below, not long back. We did see a large turtle putting its head up, at intervals.
We took photos. Apart from the sign about standing at the northernmost point of the Australian continent, (just in case someone got here without realizing it) the coastal views to the west are brilliant.
We walked a little back from the Tip, along the more eastern side, to where there is a cairn pointing directions and distances to main places. As the crow flies, we are a tad over 3000kms from home, here.
There were similarly great views from up there, along the top part of the Cape.
Walked back along the ridge to the rainforest boardwalk and thus back to Truck.
It would have been rather special, in the days when the Lodge and camp area were functioning, to be able to walk from there to the Tip, at sunset and sunrise.
So – main goal for 1998 achieved. It feels good.
We drove back to Seisia, stopping again at the Croc Tent, where we bought cards, a car sticker (must boast sometimes!), a t-shirt each, and icy poles. The man there told us that the direct route to Seisia that leaves the main track south of the Tent, is not as corrugated as the main track, but slow because it is narrow, winding. We decided, as it was getting late in the afternoon, to go back through Bamaga on the way that was familiar.
At our camp, the views out to the islands, and the colour of the sea, is always changing and different. We spend a lot of time just gazing out at it! The stretch of water between the top of the Cape, here, and Prince of Wales Island is called Endeavour Strait. Captain Cook certainly got around.
Tea was fried rice.
In the evening, we played Scrabble with R and another, young, guy, who is also camping nearby.
We drove 92kms today.