Hopping to the Top – The Tip of Australia
“The Tip of Australia”, that’s exactly where we currently are. We have reached the north coast of Queensland and in between typing I am glancing over the crystal clear water. The little hills on the horizon hidden in clouds of blue mist make up the Torres Straight Islands, the last bits of Australia.
Understanding this place isn’t easy and even explaining what I mean is difficult. I’m trying to capture the contradictions that make this place what it is.
The beauty of this area is breathtaking. Glistening, almost glowing blue-green sea invites you want to jump into the water to cool down from the tropical heat. It’s surely just a quick swim to the next island and how lovely would it be to rest on the beach there before the return. But that’s only a dream as crocodiles and sharks are patrolling the coast waiting for a fool to be too tempted and jump in.
There is another contradiction. The tip is remote. Sitting here means that I am now closer to Papua New Guinea than to any major Australian city. The feeling of remoteness comes from the fact we have travelled over a stretch of almost 1000 kilometers of corrugation road. Corrugations have drastically increased my appreciation of bitumen and I’ve constantly reminded myself that this is the easier way. The alternative route is on the Old Telegraph Track that allows experienced drivers to test their skills and cars to the limit.
After a few days of hopping, rattling and shaking up the cape without phone or internet we arrived in Bamaga and find ourselves in a perfect little community with bottle shops, supermarkets and a pub.
With the access road limiting the flood of travelers you’d think this place was quiet. Yet, the camping ground is constantly buzzing with new arrivals and others leaving. The actual tip that is marked with a sign explaining that this is the “northernmost part of Australia” had a queue of people wanting to have their photo taken.
Another contradiction is the fact that this area is filled with interesting history, but little remains visible and most is left to ones imagination. The Somerset Homestead is one example. It was built as a port for the frequent ships passing the area in the late 19th Century, but ended up not being viable enough. The hill it once stood on is empty and only a few forgotten graves further down on the beach is all that’s left.