Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Lockhart River and Chili Beach

As I write this we are almost finished with what we are doing of Cape York. So I think it's okay to say that Lockhart River and Chili Beach were my favourite destinations on Cape York, and I already wish we'd spent longer there. 

Lockhart River is an Aboriginal community. Most of the people there are aboriginal but white people do live there too. Teachers, police, medical personnel and some business people. I actually have a distant cousin (Jo) who did a 2 year contract there as a teacher, and our connection to her greatly enhanced our experience of the area. 

Chili Beach is a campsite, and fronting Beach, in Iron Range National Park. 

For our first night we contacted one of the people that Jo recommended, a member of the Aboriginal  council. Unfortunately he was out of town so we couldn't meet him but he granted us permission to camp on Quintal Beach at Lockhart River and gave us some advice for another place to camp. 

Most travellers, even if they are going to Chili Beach, don't seem to go to Lockhart River. But travellers are welcome to visit the town to buy fuel and groceries and visit their contemporary Aboriginal Art gallery (which was closed when we tried to visit). 

The next day we went to a place, at the end of 'Portland Road' called 'Portland Roads', confusing huh? We had lunch there at a very civilised cafe. 

Our air conditioning belt had broken so as there was nice grass there, in a public area, H decided he'd change it there. Meanwhile, while I'd wandered on the waterfront rocks I'd spoken to an Aboriginal lady who was fishing and told her that my cousin had taught in Lockhart. It turned out that Miss Jo had taught her kids. 

I returned to our bus and, after a while, I heard a 'hello', 'hello'. I couldn't see anybody! But then I realised the voice was coming from the trees next to the bus. I said 'hello' back and the kids appeared. 2 of them: 
"You know Miss Jo?" 
"I know miss Jo", "Miss Jo my teacher". 
I sat on the step of Blu to talk to them. They certainly were friendly, it was like I was family. 

They left and another kid came, and invited herself in, then another kid, then the first 2 came back. Many questions. 
"Where do you camp?" 
- on the bed (pointing)
"You don't camp outside?
-no, do you?
"Yes, on the verandah". 

Their mum's (2) came past so they called their mums in for a look. I don't think so many people have ever been inside Blu at once. The mothers were pleasant, they had a look said it was nice, and left me with their kids. 

Finally the adults of the family had piled into the car to go, they pulled up beside Blu, called out to the kids and the kids put down the pens and left immediately. The car, a Ford Falcon wagon (and they say you need 4wd on these roads) was already over-full, but 4 more squeezed in. 

For me it was all quite a daunting but memorable experience. 

We left it too late to get a booking for the campsite at Chili Beach (Iron Range National Park) so we made do with other camps as permitted by Jo's friend, but visited Chili Beach for a day. It's fascinating. It's a beautiful beach but it's one of those parts of the world where rubbish washes up from the sea. Check out my photo of the informative sign at Chili Beach. Wow!
Information about the rubbish on Chili Beach
 Information about the rubbish on Chili Beach

There's so much rubbish on Chili Beach. And it's interesting. We met a local who was picking up a strange looking device and we asked what it was. A satellite connected fish finder, as used by the big commercial fishing operators, it had solar panels and apparently sophisticated electronics and a lithium battery. 
Litter strewn Chili Beach
 Information about the rubbish on Chili Beach

I'm a person who regularly picks up litter when I'm out. But Chili Beach, and Cape York in general, was beyond me, there's just too much rubbish lying around. So I decided that since I couldn't tackle everything I'd  pick up the imitation turtle food: plastic bags. I collected a bucket full and with them being big wet and sandy (i.e. heavy) I felt it in my shoulder later on. 
(Turtles often mistake plastic bags for one of their food sources (jellyfish I think) and eat them. Unfortunately this kills many turtles). 
I'll leave you with this sad image:
Dead turtle on Chili Beach. I don't know if a plastic bag killed it.
 Information about the rubbish on Chili Beach

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