Our original plan was to get as far as Cape Tribulation before a gentle amble back South. My trusty co-pilot poo-pooed that idea and pointed us back North. A gentle 4 hours later we find ourselves in Cooktown. Seems like little has changed here since Captain Cook tried parking his boat on the Barrier Reef 250 odd years ago. The local fellas get on the piss nice and early, before falling over for a morning siesta waiting for the bottle shops to open. No cask wine available before 4pm, so bottles of vodka get tipped into one of the morning’s beer bottles with a dash of orange cordial. Ice and a slice with that Sir?

Away from the pavement style sleeping facilities, we found a campsite and plugged the horse in for a couple of nights. We spotted a walking loop around the town on the local map. Not much of a scale to go by, so whacked on the sandals and headed off. First obstacle was a cheeky creek by the botanical gardens. Given the quantity of crocodile warning signs in this part of the world, we took the slightly underpant filling crossing on a dodgy plank and scampered into the relative safety of the park. An hour or so later around the walk, sandals were proving a less than ideal choice where the nice gentle looking dotted line failed to indicate an iron man style challenge around most of its twisty inclines and descents! Fortunately, a full camelbak was a more sensible choice and we duly arrived at ‘grassy hill lookout’ where Captain Cook had a long think about his driving skills and pondered his awkward situation in 1770. Gentle hike back down to town and the campsite for a well earned dinner.

Took a waft around the museum the next day, pretty awesome reading some of Captain Cook’s log. Bumped into a couple of other grey nomads in the pub before grabbing some steak from the local IGA and heading back. ‘Steak’ was about 1.5 kilos of FNQ’s finest which was introduced to Mr Weber for our enjoyment. The grey nomads from the pub wafted in a couple of spots away from us and invited us over for pre dinner drinks. Drinks turned into dinner, chef’s jacket and hat came out, much cow consumed! Dinner morphed into drinks again. #vanlife

Took a gentle detour to the iconic Lions Den Hotel about half an hour out of Cooktown. Didn’t fancy the mud bath in the powered sites, so snuck into a dryish looking patch under the trees further away, perfect. Lions Den Hotel is well known to most who have ventured up here. The place looks like an old mining town bar with the walls plastered by stuff left by far more modern travellers. No WiFi, no phone reception. All day bar, all day pizzas, don’t mind if we do. Surprised but happy to find my local ginger beer from Brookie on tap, perfect for washing down seriously cheesy pizza! Bed beckoned before safely steering Fergie past the mud traps and back to the safety of the road.

Off to Mossman to do the water in/out thing then Palm Cove about 300km South. Off we go again!

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