I wake feeling particularly rested – perhaps due to the plentiful shade of the towering Paperbarks – and get stuck into repacking the bags before loading them onto the motorbike.
I try to sneak in a moment of peace and quiet – pulling the journal out and getting stuck into some writing – though my efforts are thwarted by a cheeky and overly excited Staffordshire trying to make friends with us, one-by-one.
We fire the engines into life, mounting and immediately turning right towards Mount Molloy in search of some breakfast. Mount Molloy, like most of the small towns littering the tablelands surrounding Cairns, has one main attraction that bring people scampering from far and wide.
It’s still quite early in the morning, though that doesn’t sway our decision to try an infamous Mt. Molloy burger; widely regarded as the largest in the land! We order one between three and are exposed to an extra-large dose of the equally as infamous dry sense of humour and succinct lack of empathy from the eastern-European-looking gentleman behind the counter, as we ask for two extra plates to share the burger on: a big mistake it would seem.
We sit down to a Mexican burger between three on the same plate; each third about the same size as a regular burger. As we sit around chatting between mouthfuls of inappropriately timed Mexican beans and chilli, Rah mentions that she used to purchase bottles of the homemade chilli sauce used on the burgers. We’re all so impressed with the early-morning hit of chilli that we decide to purchase a bottle of sauce for the journey north. The bottle comes with a word of warning from the stern eastern-European; “Keep the bottle cold – otherwise grenade!” In my mind I scoff and disregard the warning knowing too well that nothing carried north from here on a motorbike can ever be keep cold anyway.
We double check the gear on the motorbikes, I mount the GoPro to my helmet and then hit the tarmac; northbound for Mossman Gorge.
As we approach the Kuranda Range I flick the GoPro on. The road transitions from open and flowing bends to tight twisting corners. We pass four people on three motorcycles who stopped to soak up the breath-taking view of the range and out over the ocean on the horizon. As we exchange a mutual nod I wonder to myself what they must be thinking seeing an overloaded dual-sport trail bike hurtling down the twisting mountain range carrying two maniacs grinning like fools. The thought is quickly washed from my mind as I sense a slight hint of brake fade from the rear of the motorbike. I back-off the pace and let Brogan pass us. He waves and disappears from our field of view; the crackling of his un-baffled exhaust fading shortly after we lose sight of him.
We pass a couple more motorbikes coming up the range, and then pull over to give the motorbike a rest and to soak-in the immense view. There’s something truly hypnotic about a good view and, like a good fire, we find ourselves processing thoughts as a soft wave of pure calm overcomes our immediate senses.
We ride the remainder of the range at a slower and more relaxing pace, turning left onto Captain Cook Highway toward Mossman. Another left just as we enter town sees us right the way through to Mossman Gorge. We jump off the bikes and wander around aimlessly in the sterile though beautifully cool, air-conditioned concrete jungle that I imagine was once tropical jungle, until someone finally asks if we’re looking to take the shuttle bus up to Mossman Gorge.
Six dollars and five minutes later we arrive at the entrance to the National Park and set-off on foot in search of a swimmable waterhole. We continue walking for twenty minutes before we decide to take a detour. We’re rewarded with untainted crystal-clear cascading waterfalls pooling between enormous boulders and plenty of much-needed patchy shade. Within seconds our clothes are sprawled across the rocks and we’re cooling off in the flowing water.
We jump from rock-to-rock, exploring small caves and waterfalls before reluctantly dressing ourselves once more to continue walking the loop through Mossman Gorge National Park. The walking track twists up and around as we dodge thick-trunked trees and spot an array of colourful birds darting from branch-to-branch. The loop takes us around thirty minutes to complete, and once we hit the tarmac and stop moving things start to heat up again.
The shuttle bus arrives and before long we’re back at the motorbike and slipping into our riding gear which has been patiently baking away in the sun whilst we’ve been gone. The heat is enough to hurry us up.
We hit the road and head back towards Mossman, stopping in at the bakery for lunch and a cold drink. A quick shop at Woolworths for the next couple of days on the road and we’re off again! Full throttle out of Mossman and I open The DR right up, leaning hard into a sweeping right-hand bend closely followed by a left. A distant metallic clink puts a dampener on the fun. I peer into the right-side bar mirror and realise that Brogan is nowhere to be seen. I pull up when it’s safe and shortly after so too does Brogan; my silver bottle that was strapped to my top bag in-hand.
We take-off again, riding against a head wind and battling strong gusts that send us from one side of the road to the other. We take a right-hand turn with a sign that says ‘Cape Tribulation’. The road winds along the river’s edge and we eventually come to a toll booth for the ferry which is to take us across the crocodile infested waters.
The ferry ride across takes only a couple of minutes and the distance covered no more than a couple of hundred metres, though as we approach the northern bank I soon realise that travelling from one side to the other has put us in a completely different climate.
It’s nearing five thirty and so the shade has started to really set-in over here. The temperature drops a few degrees, the trees are a much deeper green, more densely populating the land which is far more mountainous than the open fields we’ve just ridden through, and the entire scenario has a real tropical vibe about it.
We idle down the ramp and back onto solid ground. We’re ushered in front by the surrounding vehicles and take-up the opportunity to ride roads without traffic in an instant. Within metres we’re riding through tropical tunnels, shaded by tree limbs stretching from one side to the other; entangled in dense spaghetti-like vines that fill in all the gaps.
The road winds along the base of a small mountain range, and then inevitably up; to and fro as we ascend into the treetops. We ride nice and slow to try and take it all in. To our left is a steep, towering mountain range and at first it seems physically impossible that any type of tree would be able to stem from the damp, mulch groundcover. To our right we catch glimpses of the ocean; an intense, endless turquoise blue sheet tucked-in to the horizon.
Rah digs deep into her distant memories of a beautiful swimming hole and manages to direct us right to it on the second attempt. Instant relief as we peel the riding gear from our sticky limbs. After only a short walk we’re admiring the deep blue, glowing water that is perfectly glassy and pooling over pebble, pumice stone and oak. The Blue Hole is a sacred indigenous woman’s birthing place. There is an equivalent for the opposite-sex further along the body of water.
Feeling completely rested and refreshed we make our way into Cape Tribulation. The rest of the road in is much the same as the first section; slow, twisting and an utter joy to ride!
We pull up a table at PK’s and order a beer whilst we try to come to a conclusion as to whether we should fork out the beans for a perfectly manicured square of grass to rolls the swags out onto, or whether we should camp on a vacant block on the outskirts of town and run the risk of being shunned from Cape Tribulation.
Two beers in and making less progress by the mouthful, and who is to walk past but the four travellers I met whilst in Brisbane only a few weeks ago. They’re friends of a good friend of mine, and they’re staying at PK’s for a few nights yet. Decision made!
We order another round of beers, and the rounds don’t seem to stop for hours on end. Beers seem to slide down the hatch with such ease after not consuming them for a while. They also tend to knock you around just that much more. I stop drinking when I realise it’s me spinning furiously and not the world around me, as I pull one of the greatest Phantom manoeuvres yet; retreating to our methodically square camp site to unintentionally set up the swag completely crooked without a single soul knowing.