Julie and I were supposed to be hiking the 5,000km Continental Divide Trail in the US in 2020, but COVID-19 derailed that plan. Instead, we will have an adventure in Australia, circumnavigating the country on our bikes, a distance of about 16,500km taking approximately five and a half months. We will use minor roads where possible and occasionally catch ferries across rivers and inlets to avoid busier inland routes. We will camp some of the time and stay in motels, hotels, etc, at others. There will be stretches of up to five days with no accommodation or resupply available, so we will need to be self-sufficient.

Day 029

Day:  029

Date: Thursday, 30 July 2020

Start:  Cape Tribulation

Finish:  Cooktown

Daily Kilometres:  106 (Click for Julie's Strava and photos)

Total Kilometres:  3051

Weather:  Warm and sunny in the morning, partly sunny in the afternoon

Accommodation:   Motel


  Breakfast:  Muesli bars

  Lunch:  Egg & lettuce sandwich/Ham & salad sandwich, ice-creams

  Dinner:  Fish & chips/Hamburger & chips, ice-cream

Aches:  Nothing significant

Highlight:  There were skeptics and people who thought we were insane in the Cape Tribulation campground when they learned we were planning to ride from Cape Trib to Cooktown along the Bloomfield Track in one day.  We were starting to doubt our own sanity and carefully reviewed my blog from when I rode the same route 15 years ago.  It didn't fill us with confidence.  But we did it …. not comfortably, but in good time.

Lowlight:  Multiple hills, some with grades up to 31%.  We had to drag our heavily-laden bikes up with brute force, pausing every 50 metres with brakes jammed on, to regain our breath and composure.

Pictures: Click here

Map and Position: Click here for Google Map


We knew we had a big day in front of us, and were apprehensive (see above), so made sure we got a good start by rising at 5:30am, quietly packing up in the darkened campground and hitting the road soon after 6:30am in the pre-dawn light.  We had the road to ourselves, as we pedalled through the dark rainforest, first on sealed road, but soon on dirt road with signs warning that 4WD was required for the road ahead.

The hills got steeper and longer as the morning went on, as we climbed over several mountain ranges, but there were relatively flat rainforest sections in between, some creek crossings where we got our feet wet, and a brief stop at the picturesque Cowie beach.  The worst of the hills were dramatically steep, paved in concrete to prevent erosion, and we struggled to make forward progress as we pushed the bikes up.  The downhills weren't much fun either, because rough road, loose gravel, and unwieldy heavy bikes, had us sitting on the brakes to maintain a manageable speed.  But it was also satisfying to overcome what the famed Bloomfield Track challenged us with, and to prove the doubters (see above) wrong.  A few vehicles passed us during the morning, and gave us a good cheer, and in one case, applauded as they went past.  We finally reached the Bloomfield River, signalling the end of the track, after taking four hours to cover 32 kilometres.

We passed through the small aboriginal town of Wujal Wujal at the Bloomfield River.  It was much changed from the last time I visited, with many fine new homes and a well-cared look.  We were now back on sealed road and after a few more kilometres stopped for an early lunch at a small roadhouse, eating at a table in their lovely flower-covered outdoor area.  Only five kilometres further on, we came to a small grocery in Ayton and treated ourselves to part two of lunch, an ice-cream and a flavoured milk. We felt we had earned a treat.

The hill challenges for the day were not yet over as we had to climb over yet another mountain range on our way north to Helenvale from Ayton.  Although the road was sealed, the hills were relentless and we found ourselves pushing the bikes again in a few places.  It was a warm afternoon and we were sweating big-time.  On the other side of the range, we enjoyed some really long high-speed downhills, but there always seemed to be a short granny-gear climb after each descent to keep us honest.  Our legs had had enough.

Although there were still pockets of rainforest, the country had become drier and more open with some cattle grazing.  Eventually, we reached the main road to Cooktown, the Mulligan Highway, and shortly after took our last break at a lookout over Black Mountain, an eerie seemingly massive pile of black forbidding rocks.

From there, we had only 23km to Cooktown.  It was mostly gradual downhill with a following breeze, so we made good time and felt we deserved an easy run to our destination, though there was a sobering climb over the shoulder of Mount Cook before the final descent into Cooktown, where we reached our motel at 3:45pm.

Later, we walked into town and the peaceful and scenic Endeavour River foreshore, regretting that, if we had only been exactly 250 years earlier, we would have found Captain Cook there repairing the damage his ship, Endeavour, had sustained on a reef just off Cape Tribulation from whence we came today.

On the way back to the motel we bought some dinner and supplies for tomorrow.  We leave the east coast now and begin our journey across the top of Australia.  We had hopes of riding all the way to the tip of Cape York, but have decided we simply don't have sufficient time if we want to be home before Christmas.  It was always doubtful that we would have time after our start date was delayed by the closed Queensland border, so it's not a big deal.

1 comment:

  1. "from whence we came today", classic! You are even talking like Captain Cook! Well done on getting this far.