I learnt a good lesson from it though, and in hindsight we should have driven straight to the nearest creek crossing (only another couple of kilometres further) and waited for them to have a drink! Anyway, I had to ride Nugget and lead Sarah, bareback, all the way back in, so it was nearly dark by the time they were all set up. They drank about 4 full buckets of water each. -Chris and Denise run birdwatching boat cruises from the B & B - I met the guests later on at "Barney's Place" (Friday night - pizza night!) through Mike, one of the little boys who was playing with Nugget and Sarah. His father, Brad Pusey, is a research assistant with AES, Griffith University, a specialist in freshwater fish, so we had a lot to talk about. I made a few phone calls, and went back to lie next to the horses - I didn't get any sleep,thanks to a bandicoot trying to steal the leftovers of my pizza. After many hours of shooing him away I changed my tactics and fed him the crust - much easier!

The birdwatchers left at dawn, and a local writer interviewed me about the trail - she wants to submit articles to Australian Geographic etc about it... then I joined everyone for a marvellous breakfast on the verandah with their resident spectacled flying foxes making an appearance. They really are gorgeous animals - "Sunshine" was very tame - all the others were orphans being raised to be released back into the wild. Spectacled flying foxes are endemic to the Daintree - definitely the most attractive species. After I had made more phone calls (finally tracking down Libby!) and visited the timber/logging museum, I headed out at about 1 pm.

Once again a nondescript road through farming land with lots of grids - and I find myself here, on Stewart's Creek - not at the famous water hole with good fishing (black bream): I spent an hour exploring with Nugget (leaving Sarah tied to a fence post) trying to find it - only now after chatting with some passing locals I realise we're not there yet. A shame, but who needs fresh fish when you've got two family blocks of chocolate? (Thanks, Lib!)

And on the horizon I can see the infamous steep slope we have to negotiate tomorrow... "Follow the powerline to the steep face which is particularly severe. There is no track to the top so travellers must cut their own through the scrub." Yippee! And I've only got a pocket knife!

Stewart's Creek
Sunday 26th June

(about 1 km from last night's camp)

I believe I've just finished the hardest day's work in my life. There's blood on everything around me from the cuts and grazes.., but mainly from the leeches - I managed to fend them off my body, but when I took my boots off...

A leech on my bloody foot!

Before dawn this morning I was getting packed up - I had to do a bit of repair work on the packs; they really are in a bad condition. we set off at first light, crossed the causeway and headed up to investigate this "steep face".

Basically, it is thick, almost impenetrable regrowth under the powerlines, surrounded by rainforest (also impenetrable) and extremely steep - even a paved road straight up would be considered a major obstacle!

I spent about an hour on Nugget wandering around looking for any alternative routes or existing tracks on either side - to no avail. I was very disappointed... I was really hoping to get into Mossman today so I could phone Libby at Abergowrie basecamp to arrange a meeting place and time. I had no alternative but to take Nugget and Sarah back down to the creek and set up their fence - at least they'd have a relaxing day! Armed with a large stick and my largest knife, I began to bash a trail up the hill. By about 1 pm I'd made it three quarters of the way up - only 100 metres or so!