CONTENT: Australia / Cape York Peninsula / Frenchman’s Track / Far North Queensland/Wenlock and Pascoe river.
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Part 12 of our Cape York Trip covers the area between Peninsula Development Road (PDR) and Portland Road. When coming back south from the Tip of Cape York, it’s a shortcut to Chilli beach and known under the name of the Frenchman’s Track.
After turning into Captain Billy’s Landing on our way south, we arrived to Bramwell Junction Roadhouse and picked up a bush-mail with the instructions to meet at the evening of 17th September at the beginning of Frenchman’s Track by the Wenlock river. As phone signal on the Cape York Peninsula is very limited, we had to rely on our UHF radios or leaving bush-mails to significant locations.
Before arriving to Moreton Telegraph Station, we had a refreshment at Dulhunty rockpools (not to mess it up with the crossing on the Old Telegraph Track but a short turn off from the PDR). As we had time till the evening and the guys were keen to fish, we headed to look for a good lunchbreak spot by the Wenlock river.
By the early evening we hit the Frenchman’s Track and a moderate bush-track took us to the agreed meet-up location. After exploring the Wenlock crossing on foot, our radios started to pick up conversation from the group who had taken the Old Telegraph Track north to south. We had a convoy of 4 cars together, but one vehicle was missing and did not respond to the radio-call. We decided to set up a camp on the northern side of the river.
It was a lovely bush camp on the sandy shores of a shallow creek. After the second time getting lucky, Wolf didn’t dare to come back empty-handed – so, we had his sooty grunter for dinner. The next morning, Paul decided to pull out his drone and spotted a billabong nearby. All of us had decided to grab our fishing rods and took off for a ‘bear hunt’: wading across the river; climbing up the sandy shore; making our way through the tight bush. When we finally reached to the billabong, it wasn’t exactly an angry bear waiting for us but the shores of the billabong where so heavily overgrown, that casting our lures was not very efficient. Despite of not getting lucky with the fish, it was a very interesting morning exercise.
To find out if the missing vehicle wasn’t waiting us on other side of the Wenlock river, we packed our camp up. Yes indeed, after crossing Wenlock river we found an empty camping spot with a message – they had camped some 15km from us but tackled the Frenchman’s track by now.
Previous traffic with the combination of weather had eroded a narrow tunnel-like passage, just enough for a vehicle to pass, but not to open the doors. The Clay Creek offered an excellent opportunity to give the winch a little bit of tension, as one of our vehicles got stranded in the clay rich soil. Wolf had a lot of fun getting out the winch rope and keeping himself on his legs.
The track itself was picturesque and landscape-wise we felt it being more diverse than the Old Telegraph Track. It had parts with washouts; flat sandy heath-drive; ascents and descent covered with rocks and loos gravel; few parts filled with muddy low water, the Clay Creek and for sure the bloody Pascoe river crossing.
Like lazy crocodiles, basking in the water, were the two victorious boys from our missing vehicle – they had just successfully crossed the Pascoe river with a trailer and were up to see some fun to happen.
Hilde smoothly slalomed between the cliffside and boulders fallen onto the track; rolled herself over the muddy part and like a steady steam-engine locomotive, puffed through the creek. The steep ascent, caused no extra manoeuvrings, slowly and steadily Hilde climbed up the shore in one go and rattled over the bumpy part paved with countless little pebble-rocks.
After all the vehicles made it safely across, our crew of 5 vehicles decided to push forward and camp at Brown Creek Crossing at the entry to Kutini-Payamu NP.
Before crossing to Portland road, we noticed another landscape adding even more diversity to Frenchman’s track – a water-eroded rocky country. To be honest, that landscape hit us with total surprise and felt the highlight of the track. The dried up water-ways would offer hours full of exploration but the night was pushing in.
Our explorations follow Portland Road and take us to Lockhart River Community and Chilli Beach.
If you want to see some photos and get to know locations shown in the video, have a look on our Instagram page. https://www.instagram.com/sweephorizon/
Filmed with IPhone 7