Up early, say my goodbyes to Bruce and Tony, fill up with fuel and then ride up to the Captain Cook lookout. Great views and a reminder how astonishing a mariner Cook was. Cooktown was where he careened Endeavour on the sandbanks at the mouth of the river to effect repairs after the ship struck the reef that now bares its name off Cape Tribulation. It took 48 days make the repairs and wait for favourable winds so he could navigate a safe passage out through the reefs. Cook made many trips to the top of this hill at low tides to check out possible routes. All this without charts, and modern navigational aids.
Out on the Mulligan Highway – a super highway after the Bloomfield Track. 110Km limit, sparse traffic, good surface, surprisingly interesting scenery and only the occasional cattle on the road.
Made Mareeba (Coffee Works) in time to have lunch with Bridie N who happened to be in town, before taking some of the scenic back roads of the Atherton Tablelands through Herberton and Ravenshoe (via Queensland's highest road). Ended up at the pub in Millaa Millaa after 400km of excellent riding for the day. The Atherton Tablelands at this time of year is a motorcycling paradise.
Pub fish and chips then early bed. Woke up to mist and drizzle and decided to give myself the day off. Not a lot to see in Millaa Millaa – an old logging and dairy area that has seen better days. Visited the local museum and pondered the photographs of the early settlers. Tough times and apparently little respect for the environment. Only small protected pockets remain of the huge stands of gigantic Kauri Pines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agathis_microstachya) that once grew here. A sad reminder can be found behind the local museum where a cross section of an 870 year old Bull Kauri quietly rots away, eaten by ants.
The railway was closed in the early 1960's and the town has been slowly fading away ever since. Typical of many country towns in Australia as agriculture is taken over by corporations using more efficient less labour intensive farming methods and the young people move to the cities for work. Such is life.
Finally some good news. Spoke to Marco about tomorrows plans, and discover that the replacement part for his bike had arrived early and had just been installed. He should have is bike back before close of business today. I plan to head off to Undara Volcanic NP tomorrow and M & U will follow on – albeit a few hours behind.
It may still be grey/misty/drizzly up here tomorrow, but the weather will clear a few kilometres inland as we head out along the Savannah Way!