Rob 'n BOB on the BNT

Cooktown, Qld - 27 October 2003

G'day Mates!

Well, I've arrived in Cooktown, the start of the Bicentennial National Trail. I left Vancouver on the 21st and arrived in Cairns on the 23rd very early AM. After an hour's line-up for Customs it was then on to baggage inspection. This is where initially things went a little less smoothly from what I had planned. The very nice, but also very officious, officer I met up with, thought that all of my freeze-dried foods I had with me, and for which I'd paid a hefty sum in excess bagage fees, was off limits. Even though nowhere in their brochures, nor on their website is any mention made of freeze dried foods containing bovine or avian ingredients being a problem, and even though canned foods are fine to bring in, this fellow felt it necessary to confiscate my food, or at least the ones that contained above mentioned items. Hundreds of dollars worth of food. However, on my behalf they applied for an importation licence and a day and many phone calls later and $100 poorer, I received a permit to bring in this food for personal consumption and I was able to pick up my goodies again. Whew!

Green IslandI checked in at the Coconut Resort in Cairns, a beautiful caravan park and campground, where Gwen and I have been before. I stayed for 4 nights. This was time I needed to make final preparations for my ride, such as the purchase of of a PLB (Personal Location Beacon, for emergencies) switch the SIM card in my cell phone, so that now I have an Australian number, mailing all my food and equipment parcels ahead to various locations along the route, buying food staples to get me started on the first sections of trail, and so on. I'm now on a prepaid mobile plan, and in Australia you don't pay for incoming calls! So when I am in a cell reception area I can call home for a minute and then get called back and yack for hours without it costing a fortune in airtime. What a deal! And calls within Australia are just 30 cents for the first 10 minutes (7pm to am).  My last day in Cairns I took a little half day trip to Green Island to do some snorkeling. Although very popular, Green Island is perhaps not the most fascinating place to do this, but is was a quick and easy little trip and since it happened to be low tide I was floating just centimeters above bits of coral and saw the most gorgeously beautiful coloured fishes.

Cpt CookYesterday I took the little country bus to Cooktown. I had made reservations a few days earlier, and when at the apppointed time no bus showed up, I phoned them. Good thing. They did not have me on their manifest and would have gone without me! Minutes later the bus showed up, and it turned out I was the ONLY passenger on board, all the way to BNT cairnCooktown, hardly a profitable trip for them. Sitting in front with the driver it was a most pleasant trip and since he was born and raised in this area he was a font of all kinds of useful information. My initial plan had been to detour off the BNT track and follow the coast for a couple of days, through the Daintree region and Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the reef. This is a very special area, but after driving through it and seeing all the traffic and clouds of dust and from what the driver told me, I have now decided to stick to the proper BNT route. It apparently is much "realer" rainforest a little bit further inland than along the coast, and I will be sort of hugging the coast for the first day or two anyway. I guess it will have to do. The rest of the trail, all the way to Melbourne, only hits the coast one more time, between Mackay and "Rocky", but it is all mangroves around there and no beach areas for nice swims in the blue ocean. Who knows, I may hitch hike to the coast for a couple of days when I get further south. Today I'll do a little discovering Cooktown and then, tomorrow, I am heading out on my trek. The intial stage is along the partially paved and part gravel road that we drove in on yesterday. No swimming off the coast here, too many bloody crocs!

Well Mates, that's all for now. I'll be back with another update probably within a couple of weeks or so.


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