Walkabout 22 – Gilled but not Gutted in Cooktown

Mt Molloy was one of those treats and surprises… a free camp with lots of space, clean toilets and cold showers and regularly serviced dustbins. It is placed just out of the ‘village’, what do you call a place with a pub, a store and a post office? the store also sold fuel. We walked along the creek with Bella

and finished up in the village, so restorative for the Monday after the market and the following night as well. I can’t even remember what I did during that time and it is only Wednesday night now!  If I think about it, we arrived on Monday afternoon, set up and cooked and went to bed then on Tuesday we ate breakfast late, had morning tea with gluten free orange and coconut cake, a late lunch and even later supper after a long afternoon nap!!  Ah yes that was when we took Bella for the walk along the creek.


– the link for more pics of the walk and other matters still to be addressed.

I also did some work on the presentation for the proposal defence.

But that is how it goes sometimes.  The time just passes.

On the way here, to Cooktown, we saw some amazing things …  Black Mountain was one of them.  A huge mountain made of jumbled rocks with all sorts of myths and Dreaming stories attached to it.  Also modern stories about whole mobs of cattle and men disappearing into the mass of rock. 

Before this we stopped at a viewpoint where there had been a display of historical information that had been vandalised and burnt and left to rot on the mountainside.  Interesting notices were posted on the poles of the shelter.   How often have you wanted to to put up a notice like this ?

I would love to know more about it.  Maybe the history was a bit biased.  There were pandanus palms and however hard I tried I could not catch a pic of one of them, amazing because the last time I saw them was on the Sunshine Coast.  Then there were the cycads, just growing wild and no one seemed to care about them being destroyed by the road’s contractors.  We also saw some new birds, a rare red as well as the usual black kites in flocks over the roadkill.  Which was remarkable for its absence, very few little or big furry corpses along this road.  Must be less traffic.

Then there was Palmer River Crossing, another place marked on the map like Belyando Crossing.  But that is where the resemblance ends… it had a cheery publican, caravan sites, and the pub.  The publican had the first sensible thing to say about the election which is that the weather will improve after the weekend because all the hot air being emitted by the politicians will have settled down!  I am sick of the sort of right wing ignorance that I have to hear and also people who don’t vote because their vote will not make a difference!!!  Oh dear, I must admit I did give that one a serve… told her that I and millions of others had risked our lives to enable ALL South Africans to have a vote and she did not know how lucky she is.  She did stop talking nonsense for a bit after that.  Back to Palmer River – it is where one of the biggest gold strikes took place and the pub has memorabilia all over the place indicating this including a grotto with statues of miners panning gold… this link has some interesting info… http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/assets/geoscience-pdf/farnorth_bull84.pdf .

Arriving in Cooktown was a big disappointment, we were led by wikicamps to believe that we could camp in the town.  Nope not us, the poor caravanners who do not have grey water tanks built into our van with shower and loo, no we have to pay to camp in a park, and the rich people with the high end rigs and the grey water etc can stay for free, or very little, on the ‘village green’.  Took me a while to recover my sense of humour.  We are sailing close to the wind financially this week and there it was, we have to pay to camp.  Anyway it is a nice enough caravan park and we enjoyed ‘happy hour’ with a few other grey nomads.  It is amazing how hearing other people’s stories helps clarify ours.

Feelings about Cooktown changed a bit after the visit to the Botanical Gardens – too fabulous…

http://www.tourismcapeyork.com/do/nature/plants/botanic_gardens is a link but there are others – the highlight was the Vera Scarth-Johnson gallery of pictures of plants that Joseph Banks collected when he visited.  Simply food for the soul and it didn’t cost us a penny – whereas it would have cost $10 each to go into the museum.  We didn’t go.  The visit to the lighthouse was also marvellous, the howling gale didn’t spoil it –

the way it is laid out was so striking with the tiles showing the Dreamtime story of  Mungurru, the python that created the Endeavour river.  The names of people and businesses who contributed to the purchase of the lighthouse are also memorialised in the tiles.  The government sold it to  the community of Cooktown for $100 in the 1980’s.  The Aboriginal population is much more evident now and that feels just right to me.  Our first stop was at the Re-enactment Society where they have a very good exhibition – we missed the History Centre http://www.cooktownhistory.org.au/ I am ever hopeful of finding some sort of sense of redress around Captain Cook but it has to be sought actively.  I did find one entry from Joseph Banks’s diary in which he commented on the ‘Indians’ lack of interest in the material goods bestowed on them by Cook and his crew.  He observed that they had no need of anything that they could provide as they had everything they needed provided by the land.

Then the results of the market completely restored our sense of humour… nice people who were prepared to spend a dollar or two at our stall.  Very nice too.

“Gill’d & Grill’d” is one establishment to miss in this town of contrasts. We had wonderful and fairly priced Indonesian /Vietnamese food at the market for breakfast and decided Fish & Chips on the water had to be lunch. Well …imagine three very tiny wafer thin, rubbery watery slices of ” Grilled Barramundi” that wasn’t .. on a bed of rice, three even smaller thinner pieces of the same in breadcrumbs and enough chips to just allow a starving refugee to survive for another hour before starvation got him. All for the unbelievable price of … wait for it ….. $32.00….  but that did include two cans of soft drink too ($3.00 each). We were both so upset we ate it and departed before the pit bull in us got loose.. or maybe we were too hungry and had to bolt back to camp for a few peanuts to top us up? Whatever it was we will not return to that place in this lifetime.

We spent another night in the caravan park – to be recommended, Cooktown Caravan Park, and then headed back south towards Cairns.  We stopped at an informal camping spot outside Mossman – very beautiful on the edge of rainforest

and were joined by three delightful young people from Germany, Holland and the UK, all on working visas and all having a fabulous time.  They had travelled… most Australians would have envied their trips

We felt invigorated after an evening spent in conversation with them around a campfire kept going by the indefatigable Bas (on left of the picture).

Now in Cairns – parked outside Al’s brother’s place and resting.


About retrocentricaussie

We are a pair of ageing 'gypsies' who find junk and sell antiques, especially objects from the art nouveau/art deco years and old and well-loved tools. We also occasionally buy antiques as well!! We haunt clearance sales, garage sales, charity shops and sometimes dumps. Lately we have even been to a 'proper' auction. The thrill is in the chase for good stuff at prices we can afford and still sell the items on at a profit sufficient to support us. We recycle what other people don't want anymore, we find new homes for nice things. We sell at markets and antique fairs, swap meets and wherever else we can find. Our clientele are mostly ordinary people who want something they can afford that will enhance their quality of life. We are especially pleased when generation Y buy from us. It suggests that appreciation of quality and good design is still part of our modern aesthetic.
This entry was posted in The Sinnies At Home and Abroad, Walking About. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Walkabout 22 – Gilled but not Gutted in Cooktown

  1. margotrm@yahoo.com says:

    Those black mounds of black rock are amazing. Apparently it is to do with the volcanic eruptions of times past – not sure when. It is like as if a whole bucket load of rock was dropped from the heavens in this small area.   Margot

  2. Thanks so much for this. – I have uploaded a YouTube video about the mountain… adds to it all. Wikipedia also has something to say, but not that much.

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