WEDNESDAY 15 JULY CARDWELL
The alarm went off at 7.15am, half an hour later than I’d set it for. It was getting old and unreliable – or maybe it was just out of practice? So we started the morning in a bit of a rush and thus John forgot his camera, but we were at the office at the marina by 8.30.
It was a nice surprise to be told that today was half-price deal day, so we were to get a refund credited. ( I’d already paid by card, back before we had to postpone due to the fridge trip to Townsville.) So, the day trip only cost us $59 each, and that included $10 for lunch.
There were 39 people on the big cat boat, including four from WIN TV, who were going over to film a Postcards segment, and two hikers who were being dropped off to walk the Thorsborne Track from north to south. One of the other women on board was a housekeeper, off to work at the Eco Resort.
It was a really lovely trip across the bay, past Garden Island, which was the island in the film Nims Island.
There were great views of the coast to the north, after we left the Marina. The mountainous nature of this part of North Qld was very obvious.
For once, we had a perfect weather day for our adventure.
We were not alone on these lovely waters, passing several yachts. I could – almost sense the attraction of exploring places via this medium. There was certainly no shortage of sheltered anchorages.
The boat went straight to the Eco Resort, at the northern tip of Hinchinbrook Island, at Cape Richards, which we went around, to view that and Orchid Beach beyond it.
The Eco Resort was just visible, tucked in amongst the vegetation of the hillside. It was certainly unobtrusive.
We pulled up – briefly – at the resort dock, where the driver fed a couple of fish to a huge grouper lurking there. It obviously knew the boat well! The housekeeper got off, another man got on, and a small boat was attached to the back of our boat.
We motored back and around to Missionary Bay.
The mountainous spine of the island was very obvious and its highest peak, Mt Bowen.
Missionary Bay and Mt Bowen
Also obvious were the mangroves that thickly lined the more sheltered shores of Missionary Bay.
The mangrove lined inlets off Missionary Bay provided a sheltered anchorage point for yachts – but I thought the sandflies must be fearsome at nights. Not sure there could be much dusk sitting out on deck in places like that.
Our boat entered a channel in the mangroves and we followed this narrowing waterway for some distance.
Eventually, we came to a point in the mangrove channel where, due to depth, the cat boat had to be moored. Now the purpose of the smaller boat we’d been towing became obvious. Half the party were offloaded and went off in this. Ten minutes later, it was back, and took the remainder of us further upstream, to a landing where we disembarked.
We had an hour to explore, before we were to meet the little boat again at the landing.
Once, we were told, there used to be a five minute walk from here, across to Ramsay Beach, but a “ladder” that protected the dunes had been damaged in the last Wet. So now it was a 20 minute walk that took us along the part of the Thorsborne Track.
The others who set out with us took a short cut across a sand blow to the beach, but we had a very pleasant walk through the bush, to where the trail emerged at the far end of Ramsay Beach.
The long sand expanse of Ramsay Beach was superb, and peopled only by our fellow day trippers.
Being time limited, we couldn’t spend too long on the beach. I hoped I’d taken some photos that did the place justice – it was seriously beautiful.
Then it was back the way we’d come, with the final part of the walk on the built walkway across the mangroves that bordered the channel we’d motored up.
We got to go back to the big boat in the first group. The little runabout ran out of fuel part way, but he had spare fuel. We waited on the big boat for the rest of the party, then motored back out the mangrove channel to Missionary Bay and back to the Resort.
Lunches were given out on the way back to the Resort, for those of us who had elected to pay for this, rather than BYO. It was good, too – a well-filled meat, cheese and salad wrap, muesli bar, apple, bottle of water, box of fruit juice. John ate his immediately. I kept mine for later, wanting to keep looking around and not be distracted by food.
We all got off at the Resort jetty and were directed to the dining deck/bar and pool side area.
It was all very tropical and seemingly low key. There was a view through the surrounding trees and bush, to the sea.
The pool was very attractive looking, but there were too many people around looking on, for me to want to venture in.
I sat on the open air dining deck and had my lunch, relaxing with the laid back ambience of the place.
John and I walked down the steps from the Resort, onto Orchid Beach and walked along this small beach to the big rocks at its far end.
We could see schools of little fish in the water and I saw a dugong surface briefly, a few times.
We spent over an hour, wandering along the beach and back.
Eventually we meandered back to the pontoon jetty and sat watching the guy who had driven the small boat show some of the kids from our group how to jag small fish – which he then released back.
The Resort was closed to overnight guests because of Wet Season damage to some of the paths to the accommodation units and water damage to some of the “tree top” units. The place normally had three cabins for guests and fifteen of the elevated units, tucked in amongst the trees. It seemed rather strange to me that the damage from back then hadn’t yet been fixed, if it prevented having overnight guests which would have to be the main source of revenue.
Parts of the place looked a bit tired, too. It doesn’t take long in the Tropics! The pontoon jetty had been resurfaced for day trip use, but apparently needed completely replacing. In short, the place needed a substantial injection of funds. Someone said it was for sale. It would be sad if it did not open again as a resort, because it really was a very attractive place and the environment was superb. It also had the advantage of being not too far from the mainland, so didn’t need a long boat – or helicopter – transfer, to get to it.
We left the Resort at 4pm, and were back at Port Hinchinbrook Marina just before 5pm.
The whole trip was excellent value. I felt privileged to have been able to visit Hinchinbrook Island. It was certainly worth the effort we made to – eventually – get here!.
On the way back to camp, went to the organic place again and bought some more of their yummy pasta, and bananas.
John decided we would have take away fish and chips for tea. The nearby shop that we went to was a bit poky and old-fashioned, but the fish and chips were very nice, and reasonably priced.
This morning, while waiting at the Marina to get on the boat, John phoned his Land Rover man in Townsville. He booked Truck in with him again, for Monday next. The man told John that the brakes were not likely to fail altogether on the way back, though I could not be totally confident about that. I didn’t like the thought of the “altogether”, particularly in combination with the Cardwell Range. Hi-ho, it’s back to Townsville we go!
John thought we should go back to Rollingstone. It was by the sea, and he knew I loved the pool there. I tried to call them at 5.30pm and only got the answering machine – a bit sloppy, I felt, at the height of the tourist season. Left a message saying I wanted to make a booking from tomorrow and asking that they call me back.
I had some doubts about staying at Rollingstone, anyway. John had already phoned his friend S and arranged to play bowls on Sunday, and he also wanted to play on Friday. So that was already three drives into Townsville. I said Rollingstone was just too far out. It would also be a problem if work on Truck was not finished in one day. We couldn’t agree. I thought The Lakes would be more central if there were transport issues. John did not like it there, he said. So nothing was settled, this night.