Cooktown to the Cape via the Peninsula Development Road

Part Two:       Musgrove Roadhouse to Bramwell Station                      333 Klm’s


We got away early enough considering we had no agenda and by eight thirty we were putting some distance between ourselves and Musgrove Roadhouse.  We made good time thanks to a courteous road train driver who said he’d wait a few minutes while we got organized so he didn’t hold us up on the road.  Again there were no real surprises as the road was in stellar condition and we found ourselves travelling along at speeds one would feel at home doing along a sealed freeway.

We arrived at Coen at about 10:30am and wandered around the small main street area taking a few pics and chatting to the friendly staff from the (S)Exchange Hotel.  There are a few old relics from the towns gold mining days scattered about in the high street that is interesting and it's a good way to get out of the car and stretch your legs.  it was far too early for a refreshment at the local though so we hopped back in the car and continued on our way.

Again not a lot to talk about in relation to the condition of the road in this section and we made it to Archer River Roadhouse in time for lunch.  Being small eaters we shared a ten-buck burger and went on our way.  The roadhouse serves the usual limited fare at reasonable prices, is licensed, sells fuel and has camping and accommodation options, We were fine for fuel so didn’t bother checking to see what it was worth but I would hazard a guess and say that it was a little dearer than both Musgrave and Coen, purely because of geographical reasons.

It’s only about fifty metres to the crossing at the Archer River and the low level concrete bridge means that the challenges of the days of old associated with getting across it are no longer there.  We came upon Moreton telegraph station and stopped for a quick look around, there’s a bit of history here and a museum of sorts dedicated to the importance of the overland telegraph service and the stations role in it.  They also offer food, fuel and accommodation.


We headed off and had an overnight destination planned at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse but was somewhat confused when we approached a turn off to ‘Bramwell Station Tourist Park’ about 10 Klm’s before hand.  We decided to follow the signs that took us six k’s off the main road and into Bramwell Station itself and upon first inspection it looked like we’d made a fantastic call.

There was out door bar area and some cabins set in a fairly tidy and manicured (for a country area, no disrespect intended it‘s just that the lack of water and the extreme heat means that manicured lawns like you see on the south east coast are just not possible here) garden area.  We enquired about camping and were advised that it was again ten bucks a head and just grab a spot and make yourselves at home.  We thought about it for a moment, looked at the cabins and quickly decided we’d save our sanity and spend the extra eighty bucks on an air-conditioned cabin.  This would prove to be a mistake as despite being told that last night there wasn’t an empty bed in the place, the odour that greeted us when we opened the door to our cabin was proof enough that it had not been opened for quite some time and with the old window rattler AC unit pumping it’s guts out we were seriously concerned about the long term heath effects of legionella.  Not being troublemakers we opened up the window and door turned the air off and made our way over to the bar to wash the dust out of our throats.

Here’s were we made our second ill-fated decision and agreed to indulge in some of their ‘beautiful’ home made pie for dinner, at thirty bucks a head we mistakenly thought we were in for a treat.

We sat and had a quiet drink and waited for our dinner to be served.  The loud ‘ding’ coming from the microwave in the kitchen served as dire warning that, indeed the vegies were now ready as ‘the cook’ scurried off to the kitchen to assemble our meals.  She returned a few minutes later with two enormous paper plates, yes you heard right, piled with enough food to kill a black dog.  The home made pie had clearly been prepared in the same microwave as the veggies as the pastry was nothing more than an anaemic soggy pile draped over the contents of said pie.  The vegetables were just as soggy as the pastry of the mince filled pie.

We both made excuses about not being big eaters finished our drinks and went off for an early night in one the most uncomfortable beds we have ever slept in, it sagged, it stunk and it creaked and groaned every time one of us made even the slightest of movements, which was often given our level of discomfort.

All in all a pretty horrible experience and a damn shame really as the environment is quite nice, there is a lot of history within the property itself and the owner is clearly very keen on making it better as they are spending a bucket load on building a new bar and café, which when opened will be quiet a pleasant place to be and which will also see the existing bar become a museum to the stations long history.  Perhaps the owners should spend an evening in the cabins and indulge in a ‘delightful home cooked’ meal to see where the real improvements need to be made.

To be continued…