FNQ Safari Day 4 – Mareeba to Quinkan country

Day 4 of the FNQ trip was a big day. John drove us out to the Mareeba airport where MSF was lined up ready to fly.

We lifted off about 10am, climbing out to the northwest, bound for Laura, a small settlement on the Peninsula Development Road.

We passed over some pretty wild country on the way, not straying far from the main road, just in case!

Soon we were on final into Laura, an interesting strip that is half sealed and half gravel.

There was plenty of length in the sealed section for MSF and we backtracked and tied town next to a Cessna that belonged to the owner of the general store.

The strip is used by the Royal Flying Doctor and the terminal building has all necessary amenities.

From the strip it was a 5 minute walk into town. Laura is a small, mostly indigenous, community with a school, police station, pub with beer garden, general store and quite a nice motel. There’s also an indigenous interpretive centre but it was closed due to Covid.

We ordered a sandwich at the pub and settled down in the shade of some enormous mango trees.

Our reason for flying into Laura was to meet up with Johnny Murison from Jarramali Enterprises. Johnny is a very enterprising indigenous guy who has started a business as a guide for the rock art that is spread throughout the Quinkan or Palmer River Goldfields area to the south west of Laura. Johnny’s great grandmother grew up in the area and he is very passionate about keeping the history of the original inhabitants alive. The company has a lease over part of the land and has set up a base on top of an escarpment that overlooks a canyon that rivals Kings Canyon in the NT.

He takes private tours of the rock art some of which was made famous by Percy Trezise in the 1970s and 80s, and some of which Johnny himself has discovered. The largest example is one area called the “Magnificent Gallery”. It has an amazing array of rock painting dating back up to 20,000 years according to specialists.

Johnny met us along with his wife Erica and their three lovely children in their “truck”, a purpose built vehicle for traversing the rough tracks in the area. It was a 1.5 hour drive along a really rough track that was originally built as a stage coach route for the Palmer River gold fields. And I mean REALLY rough!

Johnny has built a little shack on the escarpment. He’s a carpenter by trade and knocked this up over the past year or so.

It’s basic but has everything they need to provide food and lodging to guests.

They all worked as a good team…

And turned out some pretty good food.

There is a variety of glamping tents on site.

We had the “Honeymoon Suite” with view directly out over the escarpment.

It is possible to drive in if you have your own four wheel drive and Johnny lets people set up their own tents if they wish. He and Erica then provide the tours and food to those who visit.

On arriving at the camp we met Erica’s brother and father, who were up from Sydney, and a gold prospecting mate of Johnny’s called Terrain, who has worked the area for a couple of decades. He was there with his mum and step father who went with us on a tour of the Magnificent Gallery.

This art site is only a 10 minute walk from the campsite. Johnny gave us detailed description of the hundred or so artworks that spread across this cave mouth.

Then it was back to our glamping tent with view over the escarpment and a nice sundowner.

Dinner was around the campfire where we swapped stories and enjoyed the starry sky.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s