Drivers are always inclined to overstate the abilities of their own choice and design but I would have to say we were heartily pleased with Isabel as we sailed and staggered over the challenging corrugations on the Bamaga Road bypasses. Tony is pretty happy with her clicking over between 5.5 to 6 km to the litre and most of our teething problems have been minor. A couple of doors just don't want to stay shut but we are working on it.
Isabel's parabolic suspension, remote adjustable air over oil shock absorbers and Stratos suspension seats give us as smooth a ride as we could reasonably expect. Ross, the machinery magician following behind in the man magnet Troopy Trailer, says the suspension was a joy to watch, with the wheels jigging and bobbing but working independently of the house which swanned along steady as.
The legendary Jardine River ferry is a bit controversial because the council has almost doubled the cost of crossing but we paid $129 for a five-minute ride without complaining. Towing Troopy Trailer cost Ross and Heather another $10.
Fuel was $2.30. It was $2.35 at Bamaga but a little cheaper in the Aboriginal communities of Injinoo and Umagico. We don’t mind. It’s remote. You know you will pay more and it’s cheaper than towing your own tanker.
We head for Punsand Bay, the most northern camping spot on the mainland. The idyllic setting on the beach facing out to New Guinea had been calling to Ross for 16 years. Then, on his first and last time at the Cape, he was catching enough fish to give it away. To his intense disappointment he cannot get a bite. Neither can anyone else. Tourists are everywhere but fish are not.
We head off to do the pilgrimage to the Tip. At the carpark it seemed almost written that we should meet the Boof Brigade from South Australia. Low tide allowed us to walk around the beach almost to the signboard.
A steady line of people traipsed down to get their photograph taken at the sign saying this was as far as the Australian mainland juts north. About 60 metres away a young woman sat on the rocks watching her man fish. He was, she said, trying to catch the most northerly fish that would be caught off the mainland that day.
After a bit of pole dancing, kissing and posing around the sign we headed back over the rocky headland in the buffeting south-south-easterly that hurled the occasional shower at us. The lonely fisherman was still trying.
We said goodbye for the third time to Chris, Geoff, Karen and Boof, vowing to meet in South Australia or Maryborough. We saw them half an hour later at lovely Somerset Beach, where white ants and tides in the late 19th Century aborted a plan to make it a base to take ships through Torres Strait and the inner barrier reef.
Ruins of the homestead of hardy pioneers are there as is the road to Fly Point. We explore and back out. Fly Point and a coastal track would reshape and scratch our beloved Isabel a little too much right now. Next time. She needs seasoning.