Elim Beach

You would imagine the Cape York Peninsula to be quite small – perhaps 20 miles by 10 miles but in fact England would fit very comfortably into it. It also has (according to the Lonely Planet Guide) one of the wildest tropical environments on earth. It is very much for the experienced 4WD adventurer and we have neither the skills or the equipment to go too far from Cooktown.

After an afternoon with Willie Gordon we decided to stay in the Aboriginal Reserve (a vast area) as we have a permit to travel through there and try to visit Elim Beach, a remote camping spot some 50kms from Hope Vale. It is a 4WD track but we were told we should be OK as it hadn’t been raining recently. First we drove through the Aboriginal township of Hope Vale. For some reason there are no signposts of any description so after a bit of guesswork we picked what happened to be the right road out. Some 20kms later the track split. This time we took the wrong one and it was many kilometres later when fortunately we came across a 4 × 4 full of Aboriginals. They were very helpful and said to follow them and they would put us back on the right track. When we reached this point they stopped, all jumped out trying to talk at once and pointed us in the right direction. They said to keep going until we reached the mango tree and then turn right. It seems that they use trees instead of signposts in this part of the world.

By the time we reached the mango tree it was dusk and the track was now soft sand which is not good for Geoffrey. We eventually found it and Eddy the Aboriginal campground host told us where to park right between some trees on the waters edge. It was just the perfect setting. There was only one other couple there. To find places like this you have to put in the hard work but the results for us are fantastic, a small beautiful beach, shady trees to sit under, a warm breeze and the stars at night touched the water in the distance.

It’s places like this that stay in the memory for years to come and it’s probably what keeps us returning to Australia.

NB. Alcohol restrictions apply in Queensland and are very strict in Aboriginal reserves. You can only bring in 750ml (one bottle) of wine per car or a few bottles of light beer. Penalties are severe. Just before we got to Hope Vale we were stopped by the police and Alan breathalized. We admitted to having more alcohol than permitted so were refused entry. The policeman seemed bemused when we asked if we took the booze back down the road and hid it could we could come back. He smiled and said ‘Yes’ so we hid it behind a well marked tree in the bush. This meant we only had one bottle of wine to last us 2 days and 2 nights. Help!

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