TI Times: Troppo Tripping to the The Tip.
Over a weekend, the TI tribe were able to take time off with us to explore a bit of the top end. A brief catamaran ride, a 21.9 km trip over amazingly shallow seas from TI to the Cape York Peninsula, had us starting out at the crack of dawn – packed, supplied and ready.Once deposited at Seisia, a tiny hamlet of a place with a resident, permanent population of about 100 souls, we picked up our 4 wheel Toyota Land Cruiser and headed for the Tip. By Top End standards, the roads were straight and in good nick – and red…….……….as were the red-stained rivers we crossed as we headed towards the first township on the map, Bamaga. After a brief re-stock at the local supermarket, we pressed on towards the Tip, or Pajinka as it is traditionally known as – we did the mandatory stop at the Croc Tent, a tourist stop off in Lockerbie that offers some of the tackiest of souveniers (think cane toad wallets and croc printed underpants!) as well as some surprisingly good quality ones as well as lots of local travel advice and weather updates.
Onwards and upwards……….…………till we reached Somerset, where we stopped for a brief break……..………and were intrigued by the fruits of the pandanus palms – a traditional indigenous bush food though hard to harvest by all accounts.Then onto Nanthau Beach………..……….where, amongst the mangrove swamps, were strangefruits of another kind…….………..including what appeared to be a honeycomb of bees suspended from a low hanging branch – bush honey?
Finally, we arrived at the Tip, or Jalinka in time for lunch and headed straight onto the beach…………..……….and got stuck into some more TI cray and champers – lord – life’s a beach.Then onto Punsand Bay for an overnight stay where there was just enough daylight for a quick fly over in the resident chopper, a torchlight rendezvous with some newly hatched turtles and finally to bed.
Up early the next day, and a timely reminder that the sea and rivers up this way are dangerous and should be treated with the greatest respect……..………….especially as we were crossing the Jardine river, part of this vast, remote wilderness. Much of the catchment of the Jardine River, is rich in Aboriginal as well as European cultural heritage and the Aboriginal Traditional Owners are comprised of the Atambaya, Angkamuthi, Yadhaykenu, Gudang and Wuthathi language and social groups.Brunyfire and Little Miss cool off at Fruit Bat Falls – a popular watering hole fed by the Jardine – trying to look unfazed by the fact that this is croc country after all.Termite mounds were dotted throughout the bush and are amazingly complex structures. Soaring up several metres high, these forms are like cathedrals. Inside, there exists an extensive system of tunnels and conduits that serve as ventilation shafts for the underground nest and the developing larvae as well as passageways.
Then – sadly – homeward bound.