A quick report from my recent trip to Iron Range on 18th – 22ndOctober. This
report is more about the logistics of travelling from Weipa as Ireally
struggled to find much information on this forum or online about doingso.
Flights:We flew in from Cairns on QantasLink (the only airline that fly’sto
Weipa) via Hamilton Island were we had been for a few days prior. We arrivedin
Weipa at 6.30pm.
Worth noting is that from Sydney (where I am from) you can get a6.15am flight
to Cairns and then arrive in Weipa at 12.15pm on the same daywhich means you
can get to Iron Range on the same day. More details on the drivetime later in
Weipa as a town was good fun. It has a fully stocked Woolworths(which I was not
100% sure of so took fresh meat from Cairns). All food comesup on a barge once
a week I believe so I suspect stocks may be depleted towardsthe end of the
delivery week. I got ice from Woolworths as well (and the nearbycamp grounds
have ice also).
Next time I won’t bother doing a shop in Cairns (but I would stillbring an esky
to store perishable goods for the drive to Iron Range).
Note: Weipa Woolworths is NOT open on Sundays.
In the shopping mall there is also a tackle shop, a good butcher, caféand
fantastic bakery serving fresh bread and cooked fast food. The bakery is
stronglyrecommended. The expresso coffee at the Café cost $5 per regular size
cuphowever was very good.
There is also a bottle shop however it was not open early in themorning. We
brought up alcohol from Cairns.
Weipa accommodation:We stayed in the Heritage Resort. I booked via Qantas 3
monthsprior and when I called the hotel the day before there was no record of
mybooking however we were accommodated. The hotel had just changed hands and
wasrather dirty which was disappointing. The bar served cold beer and the food
wasreasonable (most items were not stocked however due to the hotel
changinghands). There are some nicer hotels to stay at however the location of
theHeritage resort was good (right next door to the shopping mall).
Car Hire:We hired a car with Thrifty. It was a Pajero. As it was dark whenwe
collected the car at the airport we didn’t notice a stone chip in thewindscreen
until we were on the edge of Weipa (20km out or so). It was not marked on the
vehicle report. There was alsonearly a completely bald tire on the back which
was a little disappointing.Apart from that, I did read the T&Cs after my return
and it actually statedyou could not take the car out of Weipa which I thought
was odd. I obviouslydid take the car out of Weipa.
Weipa rent-a-car was slightly more expensive so we went withThrifty however
they do rent 4WDs for people driving to Weipa however the man Ispoke with prior
to booking said it was fairly uncommon for people to drive toIron Range from
Roads:The drive from Weipa to Iron Range was fast and easy. It
tookapproximately 3.5 hours which included a couple of 10 min stops. It was
about 4hours to Portland Roads (where we were staying). With no stops, Portland
Roads is about 3.5 hours from Weipa.
There is a lot of new sealed bitumen road along the way and consideringit was
the end of the 4WD season in the north the dirt roads were in goodcondition.
Average speeds were around 90km per hour. We saw very few cars ortrucks
(perhaps 3-4 in total for the whole drive there).
The season:Having only been to Cape York once before, I was a little
worriedabout going in late October. BOM were predicting an early wet this year.
When I spoke with Greg Westcott the owner of Portland Roads House,he said that
tourism operators on the Cape do not communicate information aboutthe wet
enough and he agreed there is no information available online. He saidit was
generally safe to come to Iron Range right up until the end of December.
If there was heavy rain, Greg said that generally the watersubsides from rivers
quickly at the start of the wet.
To-date (as of today 19th December 2016) it appears the wet still has
notstarted in Cape York / Iron Range.
On a side note, the meal we had on our last night at Out of theBlue Café at
Portland Roads was superb. Greg and Sheree are also wonderful hosts.
Birds: Many of the usual suspects scene with a few new birds for me including
double-eyed fig parrot at Portland Roads and fawn-breastedbowerbird in the tree
at the front of Lockhart River Art Centre (which was atip from my uncle Michael
Hunter). Trumpet manucode also showed well for me and were very vocal, Ihad
missed it back in August 2014.
I also saw a pair of rufous owls (ninox rufa meesi) close to the famous
eclectus parrot nesting site which was a new sighting for me.
On the last piece if bitumen on the way back to Portland Roads Isaw some fresh
cassowary droppings. There are some very thick / dense patches of rainforest in
thisarea, quite high on the escarpment. What partly surprised me about the
contents was over 50% of the seedswere pandanus. If there are any cassowary
fans / researchers out there I can send you the photos.
This also explains why pandanus is scattered everywhere within Iron Range
(something I actually noticed, and now I know why).
I also dipped on the northern scrub-robin (as did Peter Kaestner who Imet
briefly in Iron Range with a birder from the Southern Highlands). Peter
Kaestner hasseen over 8500 birds: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Kaestner.
I hope I didn't send him on a wild goose chase as when asked if I had seen "the
robin", thinking he meant white-faced for some reason I said they were very
common at Cook's Hut! He gave me an odd look.
Perhaps the worst dip was the yellow-billed kingfisher. I heard severalcalling,
some within metres of me. It’s haunting call taunting me for hours.
Alas, I will return to Iron Range.
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