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HOPE VALE  
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Bush magic...

Garry has been taking advantage of the local fruits of the tropical north.  The chef’s daily special is often the catch of the day, accompanied by a sauce made from local fruits.  Other local fruits have become a staple snack; star fruit are a sweet melon like treat, custard apple fruit taste amazingly just like custard apple, and the chocolate pudding fruit are surprisingly just like chocolate pudding.  Not so difficult to meet our daily fruit requirement here.   Mangoes are falling off the trees in the street. Garry and Harrison have mastered collecting and cracking open coconuts. Recent additions to the menu are coconut rice and fresh coconut cream on curry nights.

A must do Cooktown activity is the Aboriginal Rock Art tour with Nugal-warra Elder, Willie Gordon, high in the hills above Hope Vale (an aboriginal community about an hour from Cooktown).  Willie takes us on a journey of story-telling, spirituality and survival.  Along the way we learn some neat bush tricks; Willie gives Garry some leaves and, when water is added, they turn into a brilliant lather of soap;  burning a termite mound is a great mosquito repellent; green ants are a delicious snack; and how to identify a dangerous snake by its tracks.

The rock art is a remarkable experience.  Willie’s stories and his perspective on the past and future are very insightful.  He keeps Harrison occupied along with way, giving him tasks and bush trinkets to play with.  Willie prepares some paint and a rock for Harrison to draw on.  Harrison manages to spill his paint over the rock art site…whoops!  Willie didn’t seem to mind.

A 25km drive past Hope Vale, winds through white silica sand hills and rugged escarpments.  When you reach the coast you can drive on the beach, at low tide, to the Coloured Sands.  A striking sight.  We returned as tour guides with Jodi and Ian to find the water at high tide.  And so we needed to walk this time to the Sands.  It was a tense walk with little room between the water and dunes in parts.  The water was murky and appeared immediately deep.  Our concern was fuelled by large splashes in the nearby shore. Ian looked like Bam-Bam armed with a club like stick to fend of crocodiles. 

Sadly we waved goodbye to Jodi and Ian at the teeny-tiny Cooktown airport. A week later, we too farewelled good old Cookie. The recruitment drive was out in full force on our last night, with bare-foot bowls at the local bowling club. Agh Cookie, we'll miss you.

I'll leave you with an inscription from a Cooktown monument, a cannon gun, on the Endeavour River foreshore. "On April 10th 1885 the Cooktown council caried the following motion, 'A wire be sent to the premier in Brisbane requesting him to supply arms, ammunition and a competent officer to take charge of same, as the town is entirely unprotected against the threat of a russian invasion'. This gun, 3 cannon balls, 2 rifles and 1 officer were sent." Look out Russia!

(See our pictures in the GALLERY and watch our COLOURED SANDS 2.15mb and TURTLE SHELL 2.8mb videos)

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