Day Two, Archer River to Bramwell Junction Roadhouse
After driving nearly 500km over rough,corrugated gravel roads on our first day, we decided to have an easier second day. We would drive to Bramwell Junction Roadhouse and stay the night there. It was only 166km but the road condition meant it would still take us about 4-5 hours to get there. On the way up we had noticed small ant/termite hills on the sides of the road. Gradually they were getting wider and taller. As we entered the road to Bramwell Junction, the ant/termite hills were huge. Jude, in particular, was fascinated by them and took loads of photo’s of them, from daylight, to moonlight to sunrise!
Termite not ant – Cape York certainly is full of termite mounds. Termites live in nests that are under ground. Even the mound building termites have a nest under ground, under the mound. The mound is built on the top of the nest for ventilation, so it makes sense that the mounds are built by termites that live in hot, tropical climates.Inside the mounds, there is an extensive system of tunnels that, together with the shafts that go down to the nest, create ventilation to the nest.The mounds come in different colours depending on the soil, which is used in construction.They also come in different shapes and sizes, and that depends on the species of termites (it sometimes also happens that a different mob of termites may take over an abandoned nest and it may in fact be a different species). Some are tall, some are thin, others are short and/or thick. Some are large, others are small.
Magnetic Termites. Some that are distinctive are Magnetic Termites. They build nests that are thin in one way – to avoid sun exposure during the hottest time of the day. So their mounds are all lined in the same way, usually in the south-northerly direction.
We arrived at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse just after lunch and were able to choose from a number of great sites. We chose one with an undercover area with picnic table and chairs plus a fire pit close by. The amenities were a row of ensuite cabins with separate toilet and shower. Much better than we had anticipated. We set up our tents and swags, then spent time gathering wood for the fire, preparing the evening meal and having a well earned beverage or two.
Another exciting moment at Bramwell happened when Shane went over to set up his swag and bedroll. It was relatively early but the sun had set by 6.30pm so it was rather dark by the time he went to his car. He came back and called to me, Jude, to follow him quietly. He also made sure I had my camera with me. I was so excited because sitting on his bedroll was a beautiful Tawny Frogmouth. An even better opportunity than those seen at Mt Carbine.
Day Three, Bramwell Junction Roadhouse to Umagico
We were up early and on the road by 8.30am. We had a 170km drive to the Jardine River ferry crossing and wanted to get there before their lunchbreak between 12.30-1.30pm. We had also been told the road 20km south of the crossing was pretty bad and would slow us down big time.
Yahooooo!!! We were across the river and it was only a short 50km to Umagico and the campground we were going to stay at for the next few days. The road in was pretty good and before long we were back on a bitumen road. We stopped in a little town called Injinoo for fuel and then into Umagico to find the campgrounds. We got a little lost but some workmen gave us directions. We headed down the hill to be greeted with the most beautiful sight of blue water and white sands! Oh yes, this was paradise! We checked in and set up camp in quick time!
Day Four – to the tip, Pajinka!
Pajinka was only about 40km away but again then were some unknown dirt roads to drive on. We set off in convoy with Ray and Jude leading the way. We were heading first to the Croc Tent an iconic venue when going to Pajinka. The Croc Tent is renowned as a meeting place. At the junction of the Punsand Bay and Pajinka roads, it is an ideal place to stop and get a free map and up to date advice on the road conditions before heading on to the last leg of the journey north. It also the place to pick up great souvenirs. We stopped at the Croc Tent and the ladies there were brilliant. Great sense of humour and lots of good advice about the roads. We bought some lovely souvenirs too.
So off we went to our final destination – Pajinka. Red dusty roads, through beautiful green canopied trees either side of the road. Really breathtaking scenery and lots of comments made over the radio between the three cars. We also had our first real water crossing which, although it wasn’t that deep or difficult, generated great excitement. Then finally around a bend we come into a clearing and a sign that we had made it to the beach car park. We parked up and discussed which way we would walk to the tip. It was low tide so we decided to walk around the edge of the hill. This was fine until we realised we had a bit of a tricky climb up over the rocks before descending down some more rocks to get to the sign on the water’s edge. But we were so excited and pumped that we pushed through, up and over. Then we saw the sign! There were a few other people on the hill and one of them was very kind and offered to take our photo.
We had made it.
We were standing at the northern most point of the Australian continent!