If you are looking for a great drive and camp, then the road from Cairns across the Atherton Tablelands to Doomadgee should be on your radar. There is something for everyone. hot springs, lava tubes, caves, huge rivers, old mining towns, red dusty roads, beautiful savannah country and some of the wild life you won’t see anywhere else. On this trip we saw a huge flock of brolgas, plain turkeys (bustard), lots of kangaroos, big eagles, barramundi, a cattle muster complete with drovers and helicopter. Where else would you see such magnificent country and wildlife, right in our own backyard?
A word of warning: look out for the “grey nomads”. They populate these roads this time of the year; they come out when it gets cold down south and go home when it warms up. They are on the way back from their hideaways up on the rivers and on the beaches; the hot weather tests the old folks out.
You won’t miss them; they love to travel in convoys and it take a lot of patience to get past if you are stuck behind them. They are in their own world as they potter along the road taking in the sites.
You also need to stop the urge to jump into one of the rivers and take a cool dip, as you may have to share it with a few crocs. They are big and mean up this way, you won’t see any kids swimming in the rivers or on the beach.
If you get an early start to the day from Normanton to Burketown and Doomadgee, you will witness one of the most spectacular rare, and awesomely powerful event that you will ever see. It happens as the sun comes up. It’s the “Morning Glory Cloud” of the Gulf of Carpentaria, in Northern Australia and is a magnet for growing numbers of soaring pilots and scientists. Unique in all the world and shrouded in mystery, the Morning Glory arrives regularly each spring along with an influx of enthusiastic glider and hang glider pilots who ride the clouds for hundreds of kilometres. Gerry Pyne took this great pic above with his IPhone and check this video to see what we mean.
On our return journey we ran into a cattle muster. What a sight! There were thousands of cattle being mustered along the road by drovers and helicopters; they sent up a cloud of dust that we could see from 5 kilometres away. The bulls were awesome and the calves were cute, and the old cows, well they were just old cows and wouldn’t move off the road tl the chopper got em going.
There are a lot of road works going through the dry season, so you need to take it easy and expect long hold ups as you wait for the lights to change. It can be very frustrating waiting for the lights to change up to 5 minutes depending on the length of the road works.
So take it easy when and if you go up that way, watch out for the road works, the crocs and the grey nomads.