It was a relatively short drive from Laura and we arrived in Weipa around lunchtime. Everyone split up to do their own thing and met up again later in the day at the caravan park.
View from in front of our campsite …. plenty of crocs out there!
Weipa is a relatively big town …. well very, very tiny compared to say Sydney!, but for the townships on the cape, it’s a relatively large town with most facilities available. Weipa sits on the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula, on the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The region in and around Weipa is very rich in bauxite and this has led to Rio Tinto operating the Weipa bauxite mine for many years. They are in the process of extending their operations to another site in the area aswell. There is some big money being spent on infrastructure in the area and some big money coming out of the mines. The first thing you notice as you get closer to Weipa is that the condition of the road significantly improves! Then you see the traffic lights and the boom gates as you cross the mine access road to enter the town.
We had all booked on a sunset cruise with Western Cape Eco Tours. We had done this exact cruise when we were in Weipa 5 years ago and it was such a great night we couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Everyone took our recommendation and we booked on for a couple of hours of relaxing, history and crocodile sightings.
You’d think being a ‘sunset cruise’ I would have mentioned that we watched an amazing Weipa sunset aswell, well think again! We didn’t even come close to getting a sunset that night, very disappointing, but what can you do! At least we saw plenty of crocs.
Here’s what the sunset should have looked like! (taken on our cruise in 2013).
The cruise itself runs for about 2 hours and takes you around the Embley River to see the wildlife and of course the sunset. The price of the cruise includes beer, champagne, soft drink and yummy antipasto platters.
Western Cape Eco Tours are a small family owned company who love their town and love showcasing its natural beauty. They had only just started out when we took our first cruise with them and we are so glad business is going so well for them. If you are ever in the area, you really must look these guys up.
After all surviving our first night of camping in Laura, some headed off in the morning to visit the Split Rock Aborignal Rock Art site. We then set out for the days drive, only about 350km, but as it was the start of dirt roads it wasn’t a quick drive.
We stopped in at Hann River roadhouse to relive that day Stewy’s 4WD broke down and to visit the resident Emu, who kept us company last time when we were doing the oil change in Stewy’s 4WD!!.
Next on the list was a stop for a beer at the (S)Exchange Hotel in Coen. Legend has it that in 1976 the Exchange Hotel in Coen was renamed. Apparently a group of plumbers were in town and they put an ‘S’ up in front of the sign on the roof. Other rumors are around but all are fairly similar as to what happened. It was left there and the pub has since been known as the ‘Sexchange Hotel’!
Last night we stayed at the Archer River Roadhouse and you can’t stay here without trying one of their famous Archer Burgers! These things are HUGE!
Today we arrived in Weipa, where we will be spending the night. Weipa is a mining town and is the largest town on the Cape York Peninsula. Rio Tinto basically own the town, they mine and export bauxite, with exports of over 30 million tonnes of bauxite per year. We did a mine tour in our last visit to Weipa and it was very interesting.
Tonight we are all booked on a sunset river cruise with Western Cape Eco Tours, we did this cruise with Stewy and Kristy on our last visit to Weipa and it was amazing so we weren’t missing out on this again. I’m sure there will be plenty of photos for us to share as the sunsets up here are spectacular.
Tomorrow we head off to Bramwell Station for the night, before an early morning start the next day …….. Tackling the Tele track!
We have recently been reliving part of our trip to Cape York with our Instagram and social media followers, it was great to go back over the photos and be able to share them with others. It was just one small part of such a great holiday we had.
Weipa Eco sunset tour
For those that don’t know, back in 2013 we embarked on our honeymoon, a 7 week trip from Sydney to Cape York and then to the Northern Territory, South Australia and back home again.
Now 7 weeks of camping and 4WDing around Australia is probably not everyone’s idea of a great holiday, but for us it was perfect. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Below is a basic outline of our itinerary
Archer River Roadhouse, Qld
Bramwell Station, Qld
Eliot Falls, Qld
Thursday Island, Qld
Captain Billy Landing, Qld
Chili Beach, Qld
Musgrave Roadhouse, Qld
Kalpowar Crossing, Qld
Lions Den Hotel, Qld
Cape Tribulation, Qld
Innot Hot Springs, Qld
Mt Isa, QLD
Tennant Creek, NT
Wycliffe Well, NT
Alice Springs, NT
Palm Valley, NT
Kings Canyon, NT
Coober Pedy, SA
Port Augusta, SA
Broken Hill, NSW
We had our share of drama’s though, our mates who were meant to join us on part of the trip had to pull out after their engine died in the first few days. All that hard work and planning was gone so quickly. Luckily we managed to meet up with them for a few days on the way back from Cape York before we headed over to NT.
We had a frantic phone call from Weipa to our mechanic back in Sydney when the 4WD wouldn’t engage in our car and he instructed us over the phone as to how to fix this.
At different times throughout the trip we also had a badly cut hand, a dislocated thumb, a bad case of heat stroke and a few episodes of car sickness!.
We had our alternator die about 400km out of Alice Springs and we limped our way there watching the voltage drop in our batteries. We watched as the radio, lights, taco, speedo all started gradually shutting down one by one! Luckily by the time we car eventually stopped, we managed to coast into a servo in Alice Springs, just 5 min from our pre-booked accommodation. We also had a few suspension issues and this all required us to be stranded in Alice Springs for a few days while repairs were done.
Even with all of this, it was a great trip and we made it and that’s all that matters! If anything, we learned exactly what type of people live in Alice Springs, the most friendly, helpful, genuine people. We couldn’t have been happier with the service we received there.
Here is a small extract from our previous blog posts about this amazing trip.
Fruit Bat Falls, Cape York
So what can we say, what an amazing holiday. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend our honeymoon. We are so privileged to have been able to spend time in some of the places we did, it truly is a blessing to have been able to travel our great country. The people of outback Australia are some of the kindest, laid back and most genuine people you could ever meet. It really is a totally different world out there. You could not get any further from the hustle and bustle of Sydney if you tried. We met some amazing people on our travels, both in the towns and our fellow like-minded campers. To think that we set up camp and then spend the whole day out exploring, leaving to tent unattended, unlocked, suitcases and belongings inside, chairs and table outside and you come back at night and everything is how you left it. There is a mutual respect and no-one would even think to touch your belongings. Yet at home we close the windows and deadlock the door before driving to the shops for 5 minutes! It really was refreshing being able to live in a world where everyone looks out for each other and respects others and their property …. even if it was unfortunately only for 7 weeks.
Sunset over The Olgas (Kata Tjuta), NT
Camel rides at Uluru
Everyone is amazingly friendly, you rarely pass a car without getting a wave (even from the truckies and coppers!). We even had a truck driver stop his truck and get out to warn us about a huge pot hole on one of the dirt tracks we were travelling on. The road train drivers are equally courteous of fellow drivers, a quick chat on the CB will often let you know if its safe to overtake or warn of any upcoming traffic/road issues. It really does remind you that there are still good people in this world, unfortunately in the city many people are just too busy to worry about anyone else but themselves. Each day we would set up camp and there was always someone walking by, beer in hand, ready to have a chat! Always someone who has been where you are heading and ready to answer questions or give advice and always someone waiting to hear stories of our adventures.
Inside a lava tunnel
We visited some wonderful places, saw some amazing things and experienced so much. We stood on the northern most point of Australia, drank beer in Australia’s most northerly pub (on Thursday Island). We stayed in a refurbished train carriage and went on a tour through million year old volcanic lava tubes at Undarra Volcanic Park. We stayed in an underground motel at Coober Pedy (where 80% of the population live underground), we toured the Rio Tinto bauxite mines in Weipa, learned the history of the gold mines in Tennant Creek and explored an opal mine in Coober Pedy. We saw the sunrise over Uluru and watched the sunset over Uluru and Kata Tjuta from on top of a camel! We travelled in the footsteps of some of our early explorers, we followed the Old Ghan Railway line and we had the chance to drive some of the 4WD tracks on every true 4WDers ‘must do’ list. We drove through bushfires (and even had one surrounding our campground), survived gale force winds and major storm at Captain Billy’s Landing and 120km winds at Port Augusta.
Coober Pedy mine tour
We ate camel burgers at Kings Canyon and Crayfish pie at Thursday Island! We felt the magic and beauty of being at the Devils Marbles and we were overwhelmed by the sheer size and presence of Uluru. We saw more wildlife than you could ever imagine, birds, eagles, crocodiles, emus, camels, dingoes, lizards, cows, snakes, goats, horses, dogs, sheep, kangaroos. We even had the awesome opportunity to hold and play with a baby orphaned wallaby at Wycliffe Well.
We swam under waterfalls, bathed in the 43 degree natural springs at Innot Hot Springs and drove through many croc infested rivers.
We were covered in red dirt, went days without a shower, toilets were few and far between at places. We encountered more flies than you could ever imagine (even one in George’s beer … nice surprise!). We got used to eating the odd bug in our dinner and having sand and dirt throughout the car, the tent, the sleeping bags and your belongings was just normal. We encountered a 2 degree night and 40 degree days, wild winds and torrential rain, had dingos stalking us for our dinner and we had spiders living on our chairs. We wore the same clothes more than one day each and washing with baby wipes was the done thing. But we loved every single part of it, it is all part of the adventure! And at the end of the day, every single person you meet is in the same position as you so no one even comes close to caring! So to say that we enjoyed our time away is an understatement, we loved every minute of it and cannot wait to get back out there again.
Palm Valley, NT
So here is a bit of a summary of our trip.
Total KM travelled 13,367 km
Total time away 49 days (7 weeks)
Total amount of money spent on petrol $4,240.20
Average overall L/100km 18.49 (combination of weight, a batch of bad fuel, low & high range off road driving, highway driving, few days of bad headwinds)
What we missed the most while away The kids, the dogs, family and friends
Best Chips n Gravy Archer River Roadhouse, QLD
Best Coffee Cobar, NSW
Best Burgers Archer River Roadhouse, with Musgrave Roadhouse a very close second
Best Pizza Outback Pioneer Kitchen, Ayers Rock Resort & Alfrescos, Broken Hill
Best meal Loyalty Beach. Not just the food, the whole package …. Food, location, atmosphere and service
Biggest surprise How much we loved Alice Springs, could totally see us living there. Also the sheer size of Uluru.
Most Scenic Flinders Ranges, SA and Finke Gorge National Park, NT (Boggy Hole in particular)
Favourite campground (remote) Bramwell Station and Chili Beach
Favourite campground (city) Cairns Big 4 Coconut Holiday Resort – amazing service and awesome caravan park.
Most expensive petrol Jardine River and Bamaga (Cape York) – $2.55 / litre for normal 91 octane unleaded petrol
Most expensive beer $56 for XXXX Gold cans in Weipa
Most expensive place in general Ayers Rock Resort
Most expensive campsite Kings Creek Station ($19 per person).
Cheapest Campsite any of the National Park camping in Queensland ($5.45 per person)
Biggest rip-off Jardine River Ferry Crossing Ticket & Permit ($129 to cross the Jardine river – about 40 meters wide)! don’t have much choice though as the crossing is too deep and dangerous to attempt, and infested with crocodiles!
Biggest Adrenalin Rush Palm Creek, Old Telegraph Track (Cape York)
Best 4WD Track Old Telegraph Track, for its diversity. With the slightly damp CREB track a close second
4WD Tracks driven Old Telegraph Track, Frenchmans Track, Battle Camp Road, CREB Track, Oodnadatta Track (in part), Ernest Giles Road, Mereenie Loop (in part).
States travelled to NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia
What exceeded our expectations Boggy Hole & Uluru
Strangest place Wycliffe Well, NT. Did enjoy our night there, but really is quite a strange little caravan park!
Where we wouldn’t go again Captain Billy’s Landing – the corrugations to get there were back breaking and the howling wind, crashing waves and pouring rain made for a not so fun night! Also the Pebbles (Kunjarra) outside of Tennant Creek – if you’ve ever been to Devils Marbles and also seen the Pebbles, you will understand!
Biggest disappointment That Stewy, Kristy and Rori couldn’t complete the Cape York portion of our trip with us, due to their car problems
What we wouldn’t take with us again The kitchen (our smaller table was sufficient and we never took the larger kitchen bench/table out at all!), the toilet/shower tent, so much food!
Best Purchase before the trip Our satellite phone, SPOT tracker
Best 4WD modifications that have made our lives easier for off road travels Rear ARB Air Locker, custom made shelves to replace rear seats, CB radio, Raised King Springs/Bilstein Shocks on Bridgestone tyres & new touring seats.
Scariest Moment Camping at Captain Billy’s Landing – gale force winds, didn’t sleep at all! The severe weather warning of 120km/h winds while camping at Port Augusta, Palm Creek crossing on the tele track!
Nicest people Alice Springs in particular, but Northern Territory as a whole. Although while travelling we had many great encounters with people everywhere!