Cocoa Creek is one of many mangrove-lined creeks which run into the southern part of Cleveland Bay, and in fact it is the nearest of them to Cape Cleveland. National Parks maintain a gravel road from the Cape Cleveland (AIMS) road to a string of no-facilities camping grounds along the creek almost to its mouth. Having seen a little of that area with Native Plants Qld recently, I returned for more.
The road runs between the hills and the mangroves, just above high tide level, and the (slightly!) higher ground between the road and the hill is covered with open woodland (see map).
Poplar Gums (Eucalyptus platyphylla) dominate that area, with a good sprinkling of Pandanus and Fan Palms in the wetter spots and figs, cocky apples and other species higher up the hill. Poplar gums lose their leaves before the wet season but much of the area had also been burnt recently. The ground was black, with green shoots of new growth, and the trees were nearly bare except for bright green new leaves and the browns and bronzes of burnt foliage.
It’s always a strange landscape, with expansive mudflats going under water at high tide and draining back down mangrove-bordered creeks as the tide recedes. At present the aftermath of the fires makes it weirder than usual.
In a few months the higher ground will be lush and green, much prettier but also much harder to move through. The little hill near the first campsite, for instance, was a very easy scramble because I could see where I was going and where I was putting my feet. In six months’ time I might need a machete.
There was once a farm beside the old Townsville road (which is now the first turn-off after leaving the AIMS road) and it is still marked by half a dozen big old mango trees and a couple of tamarinds. There are no remnants of any buildings or stockyards, however – just the tanks and trough in my photo, and another pile of concrete on higher ground which was probably another tank. This would be difficult country for farming and I don’t know how long the attempt lasted – perhaps 1920s – 1950s, going by what’s left.
Camping and fishing
The network of tracks exists mainly for the benefit of fishers who come down in 4WDs towing boat trailers. I saw four such rigs but no signs that anyone was actually camping there; perhaps they do on weekends, though.
The main track continues, in dry enough conditions, over the western tip of the ridge to Laun’s Beach. I left that for another time, having spent quite a while around the old farm.