Nothing like a bit of rain to add spice to the first off-bitumen drive of the trip. After a reasonably short wait for the ferry to cross the Daintree River, we made a stop for a rainforest stroll on the Jindalba Boardwalk, but not before a siting of a cassowary and her youngster.

Other sights included the Daintree Tea Plantation, paperbarks along Thornton Beach and three decent water crossings.

My personal highlight was the beach at Cape Tribulation where the rainforest meets the sea.

We are in Cooktown for a couple of nights hoping to see the clouds clear tomorrow.

The Dalrymple Pass gave us the first siting of the rainforest landscape that’s ahead of us further north.

Otherwise it was more sugar cane and Walsh’s Pyramid.

We lunched at Tully, the wettest place in the country, where it was – yes – raining on this winter day.  In other news, the Giant Gumboot was shrouded in scaffolding and undergoing restoration.

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Cairns, visiting family and friends and taking the train up to Kuranda to rediscover our hippie selves.

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We are at the beginning of the mother of a road trip, destination Cape York.  Our first  few days, before we reach Cairns tomorrow to rendez-vous with our travelling companions, have been spent visiting family members along the way.  Here is a taste of Days 1-3.

Thursday 22 June

Cool weather and a fine day for the first leg. Just south of Maryborough we spotted the first sugar cane fields. We made a coffee stop in Childers on the main street that boasts many heritage buildings.

Our destination for the night was Moore Park Beach just north of Bundaberg,  where we made an obligatory stop in homage to a big user of sugar.

It is a rare thing these days to see any cane fires. There was a big one burning as we approached Moore Park, with smoke blowing across our path as the late winter afternoon sun lit up the fields.

Friday 23 June

This morning it was strawberry fields forever as we took off to meet an old friend at the Fingerboard Roadhouse where shutting the bathroom door is a necessity.

Today’s other landscapes included Brahman cattle, coal trains and lagoons.  The many newly-ploughed fields played host to egrets, hawks and crows sharing the spoils.

We pulled into a rest stop at Clairview near Blue Rocks before lobbing into Mackay for the night.

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Friday 24 June

Today’s lunchtime stop was Bowen, where from Flagstaff Hill we were treated to some stunning views of the offshore islands. Bowen is the capital of mangoes, tomatoes and salt, given the big low tides that stretch out from the town.

Due to a major traffic accident on the highway about 40 minutes south of Townsville, we had to back track and take the road near Guri across to the A6. Some vehicles got a bonus wash from the irrigation sprinkler.

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