Having survived the Daintree River crossing, and arriving in Daintree Village looking like a drowned rat, I was in serious need of a hot shower and some chill time. My plan was to have a couple of rest days in Mossman, but I certainly wasn't too upset to bring them forward and spend them in Daintree village. Such a gorgeous place, and everyone was so friendly and helpful.
I enjoyed lazing about whilst all my gear dried out, as well as pigging out on pub meals... especially pigging out on pub meals! I also went on a couple of river cruises, which was a great way to get up close and personal with the Daintree. The tour guide, Lex, was very knowledgeable, pointing out flora and fauna along the way.
As lovely as Daintree Village was, after three days my gear was dry and it was time to go. I set out for Mossman with a stop-over at Wonga Beach. It was a great walk out of the Daintree.
Just past the turnoff to Cape Tribulation, a car pulled up along side me. It was the young chap I met on the Crebb Track. I'd planned on stopping at his place after staying at Roaring Meg Falls, but missed the turn off and was probably a good 5 kilometres south before I realised. It was great catching up with Lynosh, I'll remember his name this time, but I'm tipping I've made a hash of the spelling.
The rest of the walk to Wonga Beach was uneventful and I pulled into Wonga Beach camp just on lunch time. This was great, as it enabled me to set up my bivvy with a mozzie net, and then hit the beach for the rest of the day.
It was great lazing around the beach, charging up my devices on my little solar panel. There was also great phone reception, which turned out well, as I was able to join the live Facebook feed of my 30 year school reunion - class of '87, Doncaster Secondary College. I was a little dissappointed I couldn't make it in person, but was thrilled to feel a small part of it with my virtual attendance, well until I drifted off to sleep. I blame fatigue, nothing to do with age. 30 years since leaving school, oh the trouble I used to get into....
I hope you like these shots of Wonga Beach as much as I loved seeing them first hand.
From Wonga Beach it was a gentle 20 kilometres to Mossman following main roads. Walking along the black top is generally easier, except when having to constantly step off into the long grass to avoid cars and trucks in some sections.
I arrived in Mossman a little after 1:30pm and the first thing I did was to stop in at the local Mossman Hotel to knock the froth off a few cheeky ones. It was great having a good old yack to some of the locals, who were all very interested to hear what I was up to. They started off by hanging it on me about my "ski poles", but I just rolled with it. "Yeah, I am heading south, but don't expect to hit snow for a while. Like most of the gear I'm lugging around, it needs to serve multiple purposes: these double up as my tent poles, pit bull wackers, and, more recently, they came in handy for croc defence crossing the Daintree." This was the ice breaker, with a young girl who was in the pub with her dad chiming in, "I bet they'd make great fishing spears too." I replied, "I like that, I bet that'd work a treat! I was going to pack fishing line and a hook, but in the end I didn't". "You didn't pack fishing gear? You crazy bastard!", another local offered. I sat there chin wagging for a while, and got some good local advice from the bar tender about the next stage of the trek. "So you'd be heading up the Bump Track then, look out for the cassowaries, a good disembowelling is sure to wreck your day." "Thanks for the heads up," I replied, "I think we've found another use for my poles...cassowary kebab sticks."
After three schooners in fairly quick succession I was starting to feel a bit of a buzz. "Time to go", I said "this Trail won't walk itself." I confirmed the directions to the show grounds and off I went.
I slept well that night, on top of my bivvy and under my mozzie net, under the pavilion at the sports oval. Did I tell you the mozzies are ferocious up this way?
I packed up early, keen to hit the road. The plan for today was to reach the camp by the Mowbray River, about 22 kilometres away,
About half way to Mossman I developed a pain above my ankle on my left leg. It felt like something was stuck in the top of my boot and pressing uncomfortably against me. I had a few rests and pressed on. I didn't give it a second thought until it flared up again at about the 5 kilometre mark on the way to Mowbray River. I stopped and gave it a good rub with my magic magnesium oil. Unlike other times with muscle cramps and soreness, it eased it but didn't cure it; I pressed on.
The going was slow as the weird above ankle soreness was playing on my mind. Around lunch time I passed the turnoff to Port Douglas and decided to rest up a bit. I pulled off the highway, perching at some table and chairs outside of the IGA supermarket there.
I got to chatting to the lady that was running a little coffee stall, and, as is that a case with most people I've met so far, they're intested to know where I've come from and where I'm going; this nice lady was no exception. "I started out in Cooktown and I'm walking to Healesville" I said. She gave me a funny look, so I then elaborated "It's in the Yarra Valley, just outside of Melbourne". "I know Healesville, I've lived there my whole life" she said. We chatted all things Healesville and the story about her escape to the warmer climes of Port Douglas about 12 years ago. I countered that as much as I like the warmer weather up this way I like the variation we get down south, the snow, being able to put a fire on and drink red wine by it. Nah, that didn't wash with this Healesvillian escapee. She asked me if I was heading into Port Douglas and was flabbergasted to hear that I was pressing on past. "What? You are going so close, and not going to have even a quick visit - it's a gorgeous place."
I would like to have visited Port Douglas but there will be lots of Port Douglas' along the way I guess. By that I mean great places that I simply walk on by.
I had a good lunch break but unfortunately the ankle niggle was still with me; oh well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger I thought (not all that convincingly). Just before I pulled off, though, I saw this sign and it tickled my fancy. Most drivers are really good, but there are a few knobs that, despite a dead straight road with no other traffic, like to see how close they can get without actually hitting me. Maybe they know this sign and think "get on a bike, idiot."
It was around 1:30pm when I came across the Big4 Glengarry holiday park. My plans were to stay by the River about a kilometre further on, but the allure of a hot shower and swim was too strong. I also remember the lady in the coffee stall outside the IGA saying "oh there are big crocs in the Mowbray, too" when exchanging croc stories. That settled it - plans are made to change I thought, as I walked up towards reception. I slept very well - fuck you crocodiles!
I set off at daybreak knowing the day's 25 kilometres to Mount Molloy included some big climbs up the Bump Track. Good plan, until I missed the turnoff and added an extra 6 or 7 kilometres to the day's tally by the time I circled back. Just a warm up I told myself before getting on track again.
I loved the Bump Track - very steep climbs but the views from certain vantage points, scenery along the way, and sense of history, were truly magnificent. What's even better was the ankle niggles of the past two days didn't return after yesterday's swim, and I was seriously working it with both Voltarin and magnesium rub.
I hope I've done some of the views justice with these shots.
I arrived at Mount Molloy, promptly checked in to the local pub for a couple of nights, and said "Beer me up, Scotty". Plans are made to change, I figured I'd earnt a break, and I knew I'd be sore as yesterday was probably the biggest day on the Trail so far. Funny how things work out. I had a call this morning from Leslie, a BNT board member, who let me know there was a BNT shindig happening in Mareeba tomorrow and wanting to know, seeing as I was in the neighbourhood, whether I wanted to come along. My new motto... plans are made to be broken... "Sure, will you be picking me up and dropping me back to Mount Molloy? I'm in, sounds great!!" I exclaim.
"Another night please, Scott," I say to the publican "And can I have some coins and washing powder?" I ask, handing over a fiver.
At 47 years young, Chris Anthony, who is married with 3 wonderful kids, tried his hand at being an adventurer for the 12 months tackling the BNT.