FNQ Safari Day 6 – Laura to Cooktown

Day 6 of the safari was a short hop over to Cooktown. But first we had to do a flypast over Johnny’s camp.

It was a clear blue sky again as we lifted off and headed south west towards Quinkan Country. It had taken 1.5 hours by car but only 10 minutes by air.

Spotting the canyon wasn’t that easy as there are just soooo many of them out there! Luckily we had the GPS co-ordinates so the GPS took us straight there and after slowing down, and extending 50% flap so we could cruise at only 115 knots, we spotted the camp on the edge of the escarpment.

We did an orbit and waggled the wings a bit then retracted the flaps, added power and climbed out to the east over the tiger country, dodging a few puffy cumulus clouds as we went. We overflew Lakeland, where there were no lakes to be seen.

Descending into Cooktown the Endeavour River was winding its way to the Coral Sea ahead.

About 15 miles out of Cooktown I heard on the radio that a Cessna 182 was also heading there and was about 5 miles ahead of us. They landed on RWY11 and we followed shortly after with a strong and variable south easterly blowing. Although it was a cross wind as we overflew the airport by the time we were on final it was straight down the runway and as a result the touch down was one of those every pilot dreams of – smooth as silk.

Tying down the aircraft we discovered the pilot of the 182 was Shelley Ross, author and travel journalist who has the “Flying the Outback” website that I’ve drawn so many travel ideas from over the past 5 or so years. They were also on a bit of a tour through FNQ for a couple of weeks.

Flying The Outback | Flying light aircraft across the Australian Outback

Ray from the Hillcrest Guest House arrived in his troop carrier to take us into town. We needed a large car to take the bikes so we’d have some transport during out stay in Cooktown. I’d rung ahead from Laura and told them and they’d arranged the troop carrier specially for us.

Hillcrest Guest House – Accommodation Cooktown

After dropping our bags we were off around town on the bikes.

At 5pm we boarded a sunset river cruise and floated up the Endeavour River while Nick the captain told us tales of Cooktown and surrounds.

No crocodiles were spotted but we’re assured they are there, just waiting for the unwitting tourist who goes for an ill advised swim.

Sunset Cruise — Riverbend Tours

It was a great little trip, finishing off with canapes and the ubiquitous sundowners amongst the mangroves, listening to nature.

On the way back to the wharf I asked Nick where the best place is to have dinner and he said “The River of Gold Motel”. Really? Motel restaurants aren’t usually the best. But he assured me they specialise in fresh fish from the locals and the chef is excellent.

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