Jardine River North June 10 - 12 2019
  Leaving Eliot Falls we reach the ford near the junction with the main road (which is called the by-pass).

We can see why it may have been referred to as "deep". We take the left fork, taking care not to slide to the right off the track.

  We assume the new ford. The one we crossed on the way in.
  The road north to the Jardine River Ferry was in good condition. A few corrugations, a crest with a couple of well rolled 4wds as a warning, a few narrower bits.

We pay our $100 fee. Discovering that it includes bush camping along the Telegraph Track (which we don't require), access to Jardine River Mouth, Somerset and East Coast, bush camping at Mutee Head and Jardine River Mouth - which resolves a permit question we had. Not sure if fishing access to Jardine and Jacky Jacky actually allows us to fish.

  A small ferry. We wonder why there is just us and one other vehicle headed north and a queue of 10 - 15 headed south. Do they know something we don't?
  The road north of the ferry is in very good condition. A mixture of tall trees and heathland.
  We turn south along the northern bank of the Jardine River.
  Stop briefly at campsite 3 which includes the old ford - with a big "STOP" sign.
  Is this bush tucker. We open up a seed to see. A nut of course. Whether its edible or not we don't know.
  Just like home. We are greeted at campsite number 5 by a couple of rainbow lorikeets.
  Walking further south we reach the end of the track. It disappears into a swamp. Some very solid looking trees, some of which have fallen over.

Also these odd palms. Most palms the leaves successively fall off leaving rings and further up the remnants of leaves. These seem to leave remnants low down and clean trunk further up.

  The grasses catch our eye.
  With a brief diversion to look at the river from campsite 3. We've heard some serious sounding engine noises from across the river and wonder if we will catch sight of vehicles. There is no accepted way across the river near us, just old fords.
  Our interest in grasses continues. Apart from realising there are several distinct grasses mingled we don't know much else.
  The form of some is quite new to us.
  There are a few shells of fresh water "cockles". Someone braver than us must have entered the river - there are reputedly crocodiles in the river.
  Campsite 5 is next to the river. Green and meadow like. We like it.
  There's a small sandbank. We push a pooh stick into the sand to tell us if there is a tide - not much rise or fall. Whether there is sufficient tidal flow to reverse the flow of the river here, or even just slow it, we don't know - height readings from gps (8m) are prone to large errors.
  Hopefully we'll see some large birds if we stay alert. This print is about 100mm across.
  Looking away from the river we see lush green grass supporting the trees.

We occasionally hear vehicles on the other side of the river. Sounds like a seriously challenging track requiring lots of revving engines and changing gears.

The 4wds hunt in packs. About 4pm a party of 5 vehicles turned up, wanted to know if the track went much further. No. Showed them a pic of the map they'd driven past, with track, campsite numbers and instructions about booking campsites. They retreated.

The wind has followed us. But much warmer than at Archer Point and weaker due to the trees. It dries the washing that was done at Eliot Falls.

  Lots of whistling, an eloquent conversation not a simple repeated call.

Though the sun is in the wrong direction for a pic.

Three palm cockatoos. Very much larger and stronger beak than other black cockatoos. And much more tuneful.


  "The Office". A good signal for the satphone. An easy target for "march flies" which have a viscious bite. So Aeroguard to repel them in the other hand and a few contortions, while keeping the phone pointed in the right direction and carrying on the conversation.
  Past our campsite is swamp. The river does a loop that turns back on itself. This is the inside of the bend. We suspect during the rainy season our campsite may be a little flooded. By the end of the dry this patch of swamp may be dry.

Our measuring stick shows the river continuing to fall.

  Friarbirds. I hear them before seeing them and manage just one pic before most flew off. Leaving a few blurry single pics. They have a distinct nobbly bit on their beaks. Which variety of friarbird is a little harder. Probably simply noisy friarbird, they have the most distinctive nobbly bit..
  We happened to be looking at the river in the evening when a heron landed on the opposite bank. It stayed a few minutes then flew on.

There was also a spangled drongo high in a tree on the opposite bank.

The kingfisher on our side was but a fleeting glimpse of bright blue as it swooped down to river level, grappled with something, then flew away.

  Another day, another walk. Back to number 6. Last night's campers have moved on.

The tin roofed shelter is a bit dilapidated.

  Beside the shelter we are a little higher than elsewhere, a different perspective on the river.
  We can see how the sand flows along the river bed, why its deeper on the other side, the outside of the bend, and why fords would change quite frequently.
  Not very frequent, but big.
  Campsite number 7.

But wait. There isn't a number 7. We've walked out of the national park. The end of a track.

A site for "the locals". There was a pleasant laminated sign tied to a tree on the way in wishing people a Happy Christmas with a reminder to keep the place tidy.

  As we walk back we can see the sand of number 6.

The sand at number 6 and number 7 whistles. Or at least squeaks, when walking on it. Its fine sand with a bit of a mixture of particle sizes. It flows quite freely.

Our sand, at number 5, is coarse. Gritty once inside footwear. Not such a sharp bend so fine sand is carried further down the river.

  Number 6 is apparently the better swimming spot. Clearer water with a sand bank in front. "We can see the crocs coming".

This from a ranger. First ranger in since Christmas rains.

  We were partway digging enough space to put maxtracks under the front wheels when four 4wds turned up with offer to pull out.

A minor misjudgement at the end of the track. The ground doesn't look boggy.

Pulling is much easier than digging. Using our truck to pull ranger's landcruiser out would be the next step. Saved us packing things away. And the maxtracks would have needed cleaning.

Its sometimes said that problems create opportunities. A different conversation with the ranger than we would otherwise have had.

  A deeper look into the bog. Its dark, and quiet. Eerie. The wind struggles to penetrate. No sound of birds. A bank on the far side makes it look like old water course rather than tributary. The fallen trees are very substantial. The dark ground is covered with rotting, soggy, leaves. I tread carefully lest my feet sink in thick black mud. The river is just visible at the right of pic. It feels like we are camped on an old sand bank. Next time we have internet we'll look at the satellite pics, we may be able to pick old river courses.
Cape York and Somerset June 13 2019

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