Today is the last day of my trip if all goes well. At least the last day until the end of the Bicentennial National Trail. I still have to find a lift back to Cairns and I know I won’t be fully relaxed until I do so. I’m pretty sure by now that I don’t want to ride back what I just did. I could start riding and try to get a lift on the way, but really, I’d rather jump in a car from Cooktown and just not have to think anymore.
This caravan park is so pleasant, I would love to stay longer. I slowly make my way out, after chatting to a few people who start to understand that it’s my last day of my big journey.
The road is now a good bitumen road. It wasn’t the case a few years ago. It goes up to 300m above sea level, so I’m climbing slowly. My next stop is the Lion Den hotel. A very popular, iconic and historical pub that was built during the gold rush.
I arrive at the pub after 30km, it’s busy but nothing has changed since my last time here. I heard there was network coverage at the wharf or the boat ramp, so I keep going a bit further only to backtrack. I don’t know where that is. I just need to make a phone call to Ray from Cooktown who has offered to ride the last 30km with me and cross the finish line together. I come back to the pub and use the phone booth to send a text message to Ray, hoping he will receive it. I haven’t had mobile phone coverage for a couple of days so I’m not sure he knows when I’m coming.
A group of tourists arrive with a big 4wd bus that has tinted windows. They look pretty grumpy at first, but as soon as they have some food on their plate, they start to relax and smile again. I observe and wait hoping I will get offered some left overs, but today I go without being noticed.
During this lunch time, for a brief moment, I’m able to empty my mind and fully relax. I’m just open to the sensations and stop thinking. It’s a pleasant feeling, but soon I start thinking ahead again and planning.
I eventually leave the pub and not far from it meet Ray. We have a chat and continue together to Cooktown.
We stop by the Annan river to take a look at a crocodile that Ray has spotted. It’s about 2.5m long, a beautiful specimen. I’m glad I got the opportunity to see a crocodile on this trip after all.
Even if it’s from the side of the road. We head for another spot, side tracking 200m from the main road. There is another crocodile there on the other side of the river bed. It is a little smaller but still dangerous.
Someone had deposited some cow guts to attract them on our side, down the cliff. As we look down, I see a big fish. Actually it’s a bulk shark, and there’s two of them. This is quite astonishing to see a crocodile and bull sharks in the same spot. They must have been attracted by the bait left rotting near the river bed. Better not fall in though cos I’m not sure which one would come at you first: the shark or the crocodile.
As we continue along, I realise we only have 5km to go. We make it to Cooktown and climb up the Grassy Hill which I consider to be the finish line. Although there is no sign saying so. It’s a steep climb and this time I’m not walking it, taking a few breaks, but mostly going for it, giving what I have left.
At the top we take pictures and now it’s time for a beer. As expected today is not that exceptional. I think it will take some time to take it all in and reflect back on the adventure.