The drive out along the 130km Portlands Road (which is what the road to Chilli Beach is formally known as) to the Peninsular Development Rd did not seem nearly as ragged as when we drove in! Familiarity breeds contempt they say! It was then another 40km or so to the Archer River Roadhouse where we had decided to stay the night. It is all bitumen so a pleasant change from the gravel.
The Archer River is another one of the significant waterways that the PDR has to cross. The bridge here is more of a causeway so it gets flooded quite early in the wet. The Roadhouse has a pleasant campground beside the river but well above the water line, except in major floods. There is also a clever use of relics from the old Telegraph line infrastructure, the clothes line. Apparently, they periodically have some of the white porcelain cap things pinched as souvenirs by tourists. But they have plenty in stock to replace them, having raided the poles themselves when the line was closed down!
On the way back we stopped for a series of one night stands at the various roadhouses down the Cape. The next stop along the way south from Archer River was our ‘favourite’ spot of Coen, this is where we had the flat van tyre and discovered the problem with the fridge. No dramas for us this time. But, it was our turn to help someone else. A couple traveling to Weipa had pulled in for a lunch stopover in the van park and when upon restarting their car, lo and behold a flat battery. Allthego’s jumper leads got them going ok. He was an RACQ guy, just like the fellow who helped us a few weeks back. Coincidences!
We are not yet in ‘real time’ with the blog because we are actually considerably further south than Coen, Sarina (to the south of Mackay) to be precise.
After Coen we had a night at the Musgrave Station Roadhouse, another one of the former repeater stations like Moreton Telegraph Station. A bit of light entertainment here with the crocodiles in the dam beside the campground. They get fed daily by the station workers, probably left overs from the Roadhouse. They are the ‘harmless’ freshwater crocs, pretty snappy still though!
We topped up with fuel and the chap advised us to go through Lakefield National Park to Laura, which we had done when we came north. Same reason, road from Musgrave to Laura was terrible, road works and corrugations a plenty. So we did, saw some brolgas and magpie geese. The road through the park is really quite good, some pretty scenery.
We finally hit a landmark coming into Laura, THE END OF THE GRAVEL.
It was now all bitumen to Brisbane. We made for Port Douglas for some R & R after all the red dirt and corrugations!