How We Got to “The Tip” – Cape York, Queensland, Australia
Planning ahead was an essential process, including rail and cargo vessel bookings. We had been told about the opportunity to visit Cap York by way of travelling on a working cargo vessel; and a quick search on the internet revealed a company named Sea Swift provided a passenger service from Cairns to Seisia on the cargo vessel “M.V. Trinity Bay”. I had a look at the Weather Bureau’s rainfall data and discovered August was the driest month of the year in that part of the world. Knowing that August would be cool temperature wise helped us make the decision to book a private “en suite” cabin for the 5 night trip. The trip included a visit to Horn Island and Thursday Island where side tours were available. At Seisia there was a 4x4 tour available to the very top of Cape York. Our deposit paid, it was time to decide how best to get to Cairns. We had several options including driving ourselves, flying, bussing or enjoying a leisurely trip by rail on “The Sunlander” passenger train. We opted for the latter and made our bookings for a 1st class sleeper. These arrangements would give us a one day stay in Cairns on the “up” journey; and a two day stay in Cairns on the “return” journey. We purposely gave ourselves a couple of days in Cairns because the travel information for the “M.V. Trinity Bay” stated the return date to Cairns could not be guaranteed; arrival could be delayed by the weather or loading and unloading requirements. Next on the list was booking accommodation in Cairns for both legs of the journey. We choose an apartment at The Tropic Towers Apartments, Sheridan Street, Cairns; which was 5km from the Cairns CBD and on the bus route that would take us into the city. Having sorted out the travel logistics, we then had to decide what luggage we could carry. We eventually decided to carry two small bags each, as well as the all important camera slung around my neck. All was in readiness and now it was just a matter of waiting for the big day.
As it turned out we were able to drive to Brisbane and attend our Grandson Chris’ 18th birthday party on board “The Queenslander” where we enjoyed a cruise on the Brisbane River on the night of the 18 August 2012. The lights of the bridges and buildings in the CBD were a kaleidoscope of colours and made a perfect backdrop for a great party night.
The Trip Begins:
Having left our car at our daughter’s house we boarded “The Sunlander” at Roma Street Railway Station in Brisbane at 1.15pm. Earlier, whilst waiting for the boarding announcement on the platform I noticed a man board the train without permission. It did not take long for the conductor to order him off and back onto the platform; this “gentleman” had a few choice words to say and I hoped he would not be seated near us. At 1.25pm the train slowly pulled out from the station. Our journey had begun!
The Sunlander – Roma Street Station, Brisbane.
Unfortunately the “gentleman” I referred to earlier, continued to cause trouble on the train and we had only travelled to Caboolture just outside Brisbane, when the train stopped for half and hour whilst the unruly passenger was handed over to police. I later spoke to the conductor who told me the man had been drinking and had become quite aggressive, having to be physically restrained. I’m glad he didn’t bother us!
Later that afternoon we went to the dining car to have our evening meal where low and behold I saw a fellow resident of Tin Can Bay who was travelling with his wife and another couple from Tin Can Bay also. To our amusement it turned out Jack, Irene, Bill and Roz were also taking passage on the “M.V. Trinity Bay” with us! A small world indeed!
Being a little unwell from a “bug” I picked up in Brisbane, I had no trouble sleeping that night. The “rock and roll” and “track noise” soon became part of the background and lulled me off to sleep. Marion slept well also, but woke up every time the train stopped whilst I slept on.
Our 1st Class Sleeper - 2 bunks.