Meet the real track builders
CAPE Tribulation was linked to Bloomfield in 1968 with a track blazed and built by the Baileys Creek Cape Tribulation Development League.
And 45 years later the last remaining original league members came together to celebrate the milestone with a plaque erected to commemorate the pioneers and their endeavours.
Original Road Builder John Norris and two original pioneers Pat and brother Colin Mason, Wayne Mason, Greg Nicholas (son of pioneer John Nicholas) joined with original members and families at Cape Tribulation.
Out of 25 original League members, Pat Mason said the last four still remember what life was like before they had the road access and why they persisted in changes.
‘‘The main driver of us putting the road there to Bloomfield was to connect with Cooktown and I’m very proud of what has happened since 1968 until now, that’s one of the reasons why we celebrated on the weekend,’’ he said.
‘‘The way it was no one could drive it. I held the record for the longest trip - it took me 26 hours to my property at Cape Tribulation because I got out of one bog and into another, that was in the days where we had to put up with and mainly used the weekly service boat from Cairns to Cooktown.
‘‘When I first went in there in the early 60s, I went in one September and the road was completely cut-off in October because of landslides on the range and it never opened again until the following August - that was quite normal to be completely isolated except for the boats.’’
Mr Mason said the League had to constantly fight council and governments to do anything about the road to and from Cape Tribulation, for the residents north of the Daintree River.
‘‘ When we pushed the road through in 1968 between Bloomfield and Cowie Point we went through what was a dairy farm; this road the council has since altered and it doesn’t go through that area now,’’ he said.
‘‘We put the road through from Bloomfield to Cape Tribulation in 16 weeks and the council then took over and finished it 16 years later in 1984. The Daintree Blockade was in 1983 and I’ve never been able to work out what they were protesting against considering the road had been there since 1968.
‘‘We had a get together on Saturday night and Mr John Norris, the original driver of the bulldozer that pushed the track through, told us of his experiences and on Sunday we unveiled the plaque and continued on to Bloomfield, where we visited the old saw mill site and the jetty that was there, the sugar wharf, it was a trip back through history.’’
The group drove along the current Track to the Bloomfield River, looking at old grazing land, an early 1900 dairy farm at the top of Cowie Range, and the old sawmill and Sugar Wharf on the Bloomfield River.
The original Bloomfield Track started on the Cape Tribulation Beach, climbed up a steep stretch to the existing Road, then took a different path over Cowie Range, avoiding the dangerous Woobadda Creek by going down a northerly ridgeline to Thompsons Creek.
Greg Nicholas, Colin, Pat and Wayne Mason, with John Norris on the Bloomfield Track