There are a few routes to choose from when travelling up to Cape York, and your decision on which one to take depends largely on how much time you have and how well prepared you are. We have an abundance of time but as we were not yet prepared, our decision landed on going to Cairns first via the sealed Gulf Development Road from Normanton. There are more camping spots along there too.
We decided against going to the Cobbold Gorge which was on a dirt road too far off the main road, and we’d had our fill of dirt going across the Gulf. We also didn’t go to the Undara Lava Tubes because at $60 per person it was ridiculously overpriced. Instead we walked around the Kalkani crater for free. I am getting a bit more tight-arse these days!
We stayed at the Innot Hot Springs Caravan Park for a night and made the most of the relaxing pools, with around 39C temperature, it was lovely. The creek next door also runs warm if you want to try it for free, but I’m not that tight-arse!
We got to Cairns and walked around the Esplanade, and found our favourite icecream shop. We pigged out on the 2x510g tubs for $25 special.
The Cairns Aquarium is at least as good as the one in Sydney. Beautiful exhibits including the underwater tunnel.
The Aquarium has a nice café attached where we met up with our old friends Vlad, Simone and their son Josh. We also had dinner a couple of times, and went to the Atherton Markets and Crystal Cave together. It was great catching up as we hadn’t seen them for many years.
I don’t often post food photos, but the food on our last night in Cairns at the Tamarind restaurant was pretty great and photo-worthy!
For some reason the tyres on Katya aren’t easily acquired and we had to fill in time waiting for tyres to be sent from Brisbane. So we spent a couple of days going back through the Atherton Tablelands seeing the Curtain Fig Tree, Millaa Millaa Falls and other waterfalls.
Another day was spent at Kuranda but with the lack of tourists around, there weren’t many market stalls open on a Monday, so we went to Birdworld instead. Birds absolutely love Mark, especially when he’s wearing a cap with a button on top!
Paronella Park was magical but also sad to see so much hard work done in the 1930s by Jose Paronella, being eaten away by the rainforest and the weather. There have been 3 major cyclones and a fire that have also caused serious damage, along with the general decay over time. Yesterday was Jose and Marguerita Paronella’s 95th wedding anniversary, but of course they have both passed away. Their descendants apparently do still occasionally come to the park, but it has been sold since the parents died. The place has a mystical quality about it, and we will come back when we’ve finished the Cape, to stay overnight. The entry price includes being able to come back for 2 years for free!
With Katya clean, new tyres fitted on the front and shopping at Rustys Markets done, we’re finally heading north again. Our first stop out of Cairns is at Mt Carbine, and the caravan park owner’s rhetorical comment was “Are you going to Cape York in that?”, looking doubtfully at our Katya. How dare she!