We are off to Weipa to get the fridge fixed. We were originally intending to do Weipa on our return south. A call to a local electrical fridge type person had revealed that YES he could help us and that we should contact him upon arrival. Weipa is a 265 drive from Coen, through Archer River and then following the Peninsular Development (PDI) into Weipa. The road is a bit variable, sealed for a while after Coen, followed by some terrible gravel, corrugations and patches of bull dust. Some more bitumen before Archer River, then gravel, creek crossings etc. All part of the journey, one is reminded of the saying that travel ‘is more about the journey than the destination’, famous last saying!
The PDI veers west out to Weipa whilst the main road north to the Cape is called the ‘Telegraph Road’, it goes to Bramwell Junction. We head to Weipa, along the way we make a call and find that our man who can help ‘can’t for a few days’ as he is off ‘on country’. This is code for almost anything up here. So, a couple of calls later we find someone else who can help us. He will call back and make a time. Encouraging, as he is a Dometic authorised repairer, he does call back and we make a time for the next day.
Meanwhile, after grinding along a stretch of corrugations into Weipa we book into the Caravan Park fronting the beach. Weipa is a ‘Mining Town’ that is trying to discover tourism beyond fishing. Bauxite is the main game, however, and red dust is everywhere. The tourism things are closed down for COVID reasons. Numbers are obviously down and the park is about half full. A nearby camper also has fridge problems which we hear about fairly often over the next couple of days. We take the opportunity to share the love and retell him our problems as well. He still comes back for more!
There is a great spot here overlooking the Gulf where one can sit and eat cheese and biscuits, whiling away time as the sun sets. We have had two sunsets of different character, one clear and the other shrouded in smoke haze (from the traditional country burning practices).
Our fridge man shows up and diagnoses compressor problems, a snapped hose and escaped gas. Still hopeful of a fix he is to call Dometic for the part. Next afternoon Allthego is frustrated and calls him back. NO GO it can’t be fixed here. Closest spot to try is Cairns. Hmmm. Time for an Eskie, after a dry call to one shop where the best option was $600 job, we dropped into Mitre 10 and acquired their 30 can option. 27 litre job. So begins the ‘new journey’ north reliant on the eskie and periodic ice refills. Sounds a bit grim but has worked out fine. Washed a bit of the slippery slimy stuff off the bacon, cabanossi etc and the brie cheese held up well.
After three pleasant nights in Weipa we turn our eyes north to the Cape and head off back down the PDI, after about 70 km we take a short cut along the Batavia Downs Rd and rejoin the Telegraph Road 57km short of Bramwell Station, our stop over for the night. The short cut saves us about 120km of backtracking down the PDI. It was a good road! Bramwell Station is famous for it’s dinners and night time live entertainment. Hardly anyone there though. COVID has hit them hard. Instead of 120 for dinner, they can only have 30 (booked out though) and no live music. This spot is, basically, just down the road from the middle of nowhere. Management is particularly cautious the night we are there because the next day they are facing an inspection by Qld Health inspectors on COVID compliance requirements. Obviously, the bureaucrats are focused on the risky spots. Originally, we were planning to stay here for two nights but pulled back to one and rebooked for a spot and dinner in a weeks time.
Next morning we will head for the Jardine river ferry crossing. The famous ‘Old Telegraph Track’ starts a few kilometres north of Bramwell Station and whilst it is tempting the terrain and creek crossings are not suitable for caravans.
Instead, we will head along the more genteel Bamaga Bypass road to the ferry crossing. We are about 310km from the Tip! Almost there!