But here we were lingering because we'd decided to go to the Laura Dance Festival and we had too much time and not enough to do between Cooktown and Laura.
The first 2 nights out of Cooktown we stopped at Elim beach. It's on Aboriginal land and has an official campsite run by Eddie. We didn't meet Eddie (he's an aboriginal elder, apparently 92!) but we did enjoy the beautiful camp under paperbark gum trees and gazing across the beautiful beach.
The first afternoon we utilised the low tide to walk out on a sandbar and see all the starfish. With the next days low tide we hiked 2 km up the beach to see the fabulous coloured sands. Many people drive up to the coloured sands in their 4wds, but Blu isn't a beach goer and many people get stuck in the sand or mud as the sign warns (see photo). NB, if you want to visit the coloured sands or Elim Beach without camping at Eddies you will be required to buy a permit in Hopevale or from Eddie.
Just one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of Starfish on Elim Beach.
Coloured Sands at Elim beach
"Danger Quicksand! Minimum towing fee $2000!" sign at the drive onto the beach going North to the coloured sands.
After Elim beach we headed for the Southern part of Lakefield (Rinyirru) National Park, but first we stopped overnight at the causeway crossing of Normanby River. H put the yabby pots in to see what we could catch and right on dusk a truckie found himself in trouble when his truck couldn't pull his load up and out of the causeway.... the heaviness of his load, the steep slope, and the wet from driving through the causeway (about 40cm deep) all being contributing factors. Eventually the truckie backed back up the other side, unhitched his load and left. (A better suited truck came to collect it the following day).
The next day we travelled into the National Park, stopping at Lake Emma and Horseshoe lagoon before reaching the interesting old ruins of 'Old Laura' Station for lunch.
Historic Old Laura Station house
It was at Old Laura that H realised we'd left the yabby pots in the Normanby River. Ouch! Forty kilometres doesn't sound so much but when it's a heavily corrugated gravel road it's a long way to return. Yabby (opera) pots aren't expensive, but it's simply wrong to leave baited traps as it could cause a trapped animal a slow death. And we had too much time to kill before the festival anyway, so we went back.
We're very pleased we did. We hadn't caught any yabbies (or similar) but we'd caught a very big eel. Some local young aboriginals were at the river this time spearing, in a modern way, yabbies. One of them told us the eel is good eating, and, after killing it, to then run hot water over it to get the slime off.
The locals also gave us some yabbies they'd speared. After we'd cleaned up the eel we went back to offer them half but they were gone (we hadn't thought to offer it earlier). They'd left their fire burning and rubbish there so we cleaned up for them, and saw that despite their fishing they'd eaten tin food and supermarket steak. Maybe they'd really intended to trade the yabbies for eel, but they'd already been cooking and eating when we arrived.
They were right about the eel though, it was good eating!
The eel we'd caught in an opera pot
The next day we went to Laura, where we waited 3 nights before the festival started.