We got to the Jardine River ferry early and got straight across – the river is all of 50metres wide and the ferry operators have the market wrapped up so you have no choice but to pay the $100 ferry fee for the 90 second ride across. Don’t forget that ferry operators get peckish too and the ferry shuts down for their hour lunch break from midday.
We drove through the town of Bamaga and grabbed some basic supplies at the small supermarket. Punsand Bay seemed to be the camping destination that many people were talking about as they planned their final stages towards the northern tip of Australia. We decided to play it by ear – as much as a pool sounded great for the boys to play in – the photo we’d seen was of a pretty small backyard pool that was hardly going to fit the influx of kids as a result of the current school holidays.
We wanted to check out Wroonga Point which was a few kilometres away from Punsand and we weren’t disappointed – a long stretch of beach with uninterrupted views out to Horn Island and Thursday Island and great informal camping spots.
Best of all it was free and casual and not chocker-block with people. As it turned out Punsand was booked out anyway according to one fellow camper who had been directed to Wroonga Point by Punsand when they couldn’t fit him in.
We camped here for four nights and used it as a base camp to explore the area and, of course, make the final short trip to “The Tip”. Once you are up the top of the cape past Bamaga, it’s a fairly small, compact area that can easily be explored.
The Tip is pretty rugged with the wind blowing strong and the deep water rushing past with incredible currents – not to mention the sharks and other big fish that can be spotted which makes it all a bit awe-inspiring. A few people brought their fishing lines to have a go but the wind, currents and fish that were much too big for their lines ensured no one caught anything.
A good day trip was a loop along the western coast passing by Loyalty Beach campground, the small port village of Seisha which has the main ferry/barge wharf, a stop in at the Bamaga Tavern for some lunch.
Over on the eastern side of the peninsular there is some windy, rugged coastline with some nice spots to stop and take in the view, nice patches of rainforest and a bit of history about the area.
It’s burning season of course, and while most of the fires we’ve seen in northern Australia have been pretty tame, the fire that was burning around us for the days we were here was intense with police patrols and even a chopper monitoring it’s spread towards Punsand campground.
We had no luck fishing but like so many other places we didn’t see anyone else pulling in anything in either! Our spectacular, uninterrupted view out to the Torres Strait also meant we picked up mobile coverage from Thursday and Horn Islands – Telstra was good and even Optus – after very little coverage overall on Cape York – popped up a few bars if you stood on the right blade of grass.
A new avian sighting for our bird list was the Torresian Imperial Pigeon which occurs in large flocks that fly from the islands to the mainland and back.
Near Bamaga airport there are some WWII plane wrecks which are a reminder of how central this very northernmost part of Australia was in the war.