Eddy Deemal is a sprightly 85 year old Aboriginal man. He told me he was descended from the Deedarr Tribal Clan of the Cape Bedford Area of Far North Queensland. The Deedarr Clan are known as the Fire-stick people and they traded fire sticks with neighbouring clans and some too with clans further south over time long ago. Today he still makes ceremonial Fire-sticks and Spears.
In 2001, nine years after the Mabo Deliberation by the High Court of Australia, Eddy moved back to his tribal country and started a tourist venture at Elim Beach. Word of mouth got around and many fishermen and sightseers visit Eddy’s Campground each year when the roads dry off after the Wet Season. Eddy has about an acre of land at his disposal at present and in the height of the tourist season anywhere between 15 and 20 vehicles may be camped there overnight. Flush toilets and cold showers are there for the convenience for visitors but power supplies have to be catered for by each individual traveller. This necessitates the running of generators by some which can be annoying to the ear at times. Eddy runs his power-plant to provide lighting from 6pm to 9.30pm and generally all generators are turned off by then. Water is pumped from an underground spring on the beach to a holding tank and there is enough for all the visitors.
The track to Elim Beach
The Cape Bedford was at first the focus of the Lutheran Church Missionaries who built a church and established a school at Happy Valley in the sandhills. They attempted many ventures over the 63 years that they were there. Later squatters invaded the area and built a number of beach shacks along the shores of Elim Beach. At present there is a dispute between Eddy’s Clan and the squatters and according to Eddy this may be resolved very soon.
A number of sandy bush-tracks follow the shoreline and cross over the saddle to Ocean Beach in the east or Coloured Sands in the west. The flora of the area is sand dune savannah with some heathlands and pockets of rainforest. Mangroves and wetland lie between the sand dunes and the sea and freshwater streams run from the dunes year round.
Ocean Beach, otherwise known as Cape Bedford Beach, lies about 6km to the east from Eddy’s Campground. It is an easy run along a track which is partly overgrown. One dune can present a problem to scale, so lower tyre pressures and a heavy foot is a must for this dune. The beach, which lies a short distance from the International Shipping Channel, is strew with flotsam and jetsam as the easterlies blow all discarded matter ashore, including wood and coconuts. It is a beach-combers paradise but is in a way, an environmental eyesore. The beach is flanked by Cape Bedford in the north and The Nob in the south
In the Dreamtime a dinosaur was killed by a tropical cyclone and he came to rest at the north end of the beach where he expired. From a vantage point higher up one can see all of this clearly with his head and body visible to the naked eye using a bit of your own imagination.
To get to higher vantage point there are two set wheel tracks leading up the heath covered hills on the shores of the beach. Eddy had told me about them and I asked his permission to go there. I selected Low Range second gear and tackled the steepest track. I must say that my old Nissan made it in one go but right at the top I was conscious of the fact that we were going slower and slower and a swift change to first gear came to mind. After the initial climb the track follows a number of raised natural steps before tackling the final 100 metres to the top. Driving, with only the view of the bonnet in front of me, I was surprised, when at the top of the hill, there was only enough space for one vehicle. Over the other side was a sheer drop down a rocky slope. I had now climbed to 200 metres above sea-level. After gazing at the 360° vista around me and taking the photos I wanted, I executed a 7 point turn to get the Nissan pointing in the downward direction. The journey down, in first gear low range, with the engine using its compression braking, was breathtaking!
Amongst our other activities we delighted in discovering plants we had not seen before and identifying them using our Cape York Plants book. Button Orchids hung in the paperbark trees in curtains and Ant Plants, a type of orchid, abounded. We took great pleasure showing these to other interested travellers.
In our week of staying at Eddy’s Campround, I managed to help Eddy with some tasks around the yard and also repaired a rat trap for his brother David, who lives a short distance away. The rat trap repairs did the trick as a few days later David came to tell me of his success in trapping the rodent which had been raiding his pantry!
It was an enjoyable stay on our journey through Cape York.
Oh leave me alone, will ya!