We’ve made it as far as Chilli Beach, our second detour off the highway.

And a very welcome stop it is too.

We had a late start from Coen after a big night at the Exchange Hotel. They advertise themselves (on their coldie holders at least) as “great beer, great food, great pub”, and they’re not wrong. The young chef (and unfortunately I didn’t get his name) gave us his home made banana cake with caramel sauce and ice cream for dessert. It was superb!

Not only that, but we were very pleasantly surprised with a good Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Add many conversations with locals and travellers, lots of country music on the juke box and all up it was a very entertaining night.

Exchange Hotel Coen my new best friend
Exchange Hotel Coen

A highly recommended stop for anybody travelling up this way.

Once underway we hit what has been described by everybody as the worst stretch of the highway. And this road is probably not like any that you imagine when I say “highway”. After 20 odd kilometres of corrugations we came across a sign that said “slow down, rough road”.

How much rougher could it possibly get???

I don’t mind the corrugations. As I said to Doc, I pay good money to go to the gym and stand on a machine that shakes me around in much the same way.  But as the driver, he was really feeling them.

Scottie at the Quarantine Station told us some of the corrugations on this stretch are 8” deep, and Doc reckons he’s probably right.

Again – the Quarantine Station before Archer Roadhouse is worth a stop. And not just for the free Cape York information pack. Scottie is a mine of information and could probably talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles.

We were tossing up whether to go to Chilli Beach or not. Some people advised us to give it a miss – too windy, not worth visiting. Others had said it was beautiful.  Scottie assured us that although it was knock me down wind time, the next few days would be calm, and that everything on the Cape was worth a visit.

Chilli Beach just arrived late afternoon
Chilli Beach just arrived late afternoon

So here we are, and Scottie was right.

There’s a gentle sea breeze blowing, which is extremely welcome after travelling through the dust and tropical heat.  The beach, which looks dirty and covered with weed and rubbish at high tide, at low tide is soft, sandy and wide. The water is crystal clear and warm, and I’ve even braved croc attack and gone for a swim. The rainforest comes right down to meet the sand of the beach.

Well worth the visit.

Many others seem to agree, as the campsite was almost full when we got there in the late afternoon. We had to drive around a couple of times to find a space the three campers could set up together.

Perhaps when we leave here in a few days we’ll take Scottie’s other advice – leave early and set up camp early. That way you travel through the cooler morning and get the best camping spots.