09/07/2017 Cooktown to Mossman

We got up early and had a great breakfast at the hotel. We were on the road by 8.

I kept my eye’s peeled on the ride for wildlife. Luckily I saw a kangaroo. It was only a small brown/grey one but nice to see. Also as we went past a lily pond I saw a brolga (a huge crane) which was wonderful.  We did a short detour to look at a pub we had been told about-there was a camel there!

About 30k’s south of Cooktown the road takes you through an area called the Black Mountain National Park.  We had a quick stop there.  We had been riding through savannah-green trees and bush, all pretty flat, then you come across these two massive hills (small mountains) that are made up of black granite-some the size of a house-no soil in between.  There’s one on each side of the road.  There’s nothing else in the environment that resembles these black boulders.  Apparently they are volcanic and the boulders are covered in manganese and a blue green algae that makes them black

They were formed 250 million years ago by a volcanic event, and the whole savannah has dropped and eroded away leaving these mountains visible.  There are many stories of aircraft flying over them and losing their instrument readings.  Also, early on about 1920 a mob of cattle went missing, so some people looked for them and also went missing.  Then an outlaw took cover in the mountains and was never seen again.  By the 1930’s about 30 people are said to have gone missing on the mountains.  There are stories of foul smells and strange noises.

Around 1950, a caver thought he would dispel the myths and legends and entered the mountains.  After a short time he found he had lost his way.  He was aware of huge drop offs and dead ends so he got nervous, then he felt ill due to foul smells-which presumably is sulphur.  Eventually his torch died and he was left in pitch darkness.  He said it’s the only time he’s ever been scared and feared for his life.  He spent the next 5 hours trying to get out and said he would never return.  The mountains are home to a tiger that has been seen by many and massive rock pythons and Northern death adders.

I’m glad we only looked from a distance-they have an eerie reputation!

We stopped at the roadside café for a break and I got chatting to the owner. I asked him if he sees many critters where he lives-I mean it was very remote and very outback. He said they see a few things around. They get the odd snake but they are harmless and they’re not bothered by them at all. There ‘s the odd wild pig. No crocs but he said there’s a river just over the hill and there are fresh water and salt water crocs in there. He said the river has huge centipedes-about a meter long and as thick as his thumb, same with the earth worms. Maybe it’s the fertile soil…

He said you don’t need to be sleeping out in your ‘swag’ to get bitten either-his daughter got bitten on the lip by a giant centipede while she was asleep in her bed. He was told that they are apparently attracted to the carbon dioxide we breathe out and he thinks it was probably tying to get into her mouth-how nightmarish!!! Poor girl probably needed therapy after that!

I asked about spiders as he hadn’t mentioned them. He said there are spiders in abundance and many types-funnelwebs, trapdoors, orbs and bird eating spiders.   I looked these bird eating spiders up on the internet this afternoon to see if he was pulling my plonker but they are in this area-infact one on the internet that was photographed eating a bird was taken at Atherton, where we were a few nights ago!

We are almost equally distant between Papua New Guinea and Fiji up here and I know they get massive insects too-not just nasty critters but huge butterflies including the Ulysses which I would love to see.

Anyway, I’m checking my boots in the morning and the bed at night-beyond that I’m trying to put dinner plate sized hairy spiders that can catch and eat birds out of my mind!

We arrived at Mossman around lunch time and had a lazy afternoon. It’s Sunday so the town is pretty closed. This motel has a little pool so we sat there under shade and whiled away the time. Dinner was Thai food-not bad. We are both starting to miss my home cooked food a bit.

A very small ride tomorrow, back to Port Douglas for 2 nights. Our logic in staying up here was to see out the wet weather but it hasn’t come. In hindsight we would have started riding back down to Townsville today. Still, it’s 27 deg up here so we will enjoy it for two more days.