Recently we asked our Facebook fans to name the number one destination on their Bucket list and were overwhelmed by how many answered Cape York. We decided to dig deeper and see just what makes it such an unforgettable destination. We asked the community to share their experiences and highlight the best camping spots, tracks, attractions and preparation tips they could think of. We put this info together to make a guide for those dreaming of exploring this magnificent region. In this guide we are using Maps available in both Mud Map 2 and Mud Map M7 as illustrators of main points of interest and to outline the adventure to the most northern point of the Australian continent.
The best times to visit Cape York is during the dry season. According to Steve Turnbull the Cook Shire Council determines road closures in the area. Hence it is a good idea to check road conditions and closures carefully prior to setting out. Donna and Brian Scott recommend not going during the school holidays unless you have children as it can be very crowded.
We start our trip at Bramwell Junction. Here you have the option of choosing the unsealed Bamaga Road, bypassing some of the more difficult driving points or the more challenging Old Telegraph Track. The Old Telegraph track is full of challenging river crossings and should only be attempted by experienced 4WDers with prepared vehicles. Here you can give your fuel tank a good top up before embarking on your adventure.You can also set up camp for the night at Bramwell Station that provides camping, simple accommodation and meals.
Due to the challenging nature of Old Telegraph Track it is recommended that you do some good prep prior to setting off.
- Chris Yeo recommends choosing a good set of all terrains over a big set of Muddies.
- Check you have sturdy recovery points front and back as well as the necessary winch.
- Give your vehicle a good service before you go, and be familiar with the basic mechanics of your 4WD
- As with any trip to a remote part of Australia, we recommend bringing at least one other vehicle with you. Darren Brook suggest getting together with your convoy to plan and discuss your trip beforehand, this not only gets you prepared but is also part of the fun.
- Ensure you have a good set of spare parts including a good quality spare tyre.
The serious 4WD action begins at Palm Creek just a few ks north of Bramwell Junction. Here you will need to tackle large, uneven clumps of earth and rock before descending into a muddy creek crossing, followed by a steep angled exit.
GUNSHOT CREEK CROSSING
Further up the Old Telegraph Track you get the infamous Gunshot Creek crossing. This crossing is not for the faint hearted. As can be seen in the picture, your paint work might need a little touch up when you get back home.
As you continue to venture up the Old Telegraph Track you will come across one of the highlights of your trip. The fantastic Fruit Bat Falls, Eliot Falls and Twin Falls. These locations provide fantastic swimming spots with stunning views. Naturally formed shallow and deep pools surrond the falls making perfect swimming spots. At times these spots can become crowded, but if you get lucky you may even have them all to yourself to enjoy. Nothing like a good splash to unwind after a challenging drive. Camping grounds can be found nearby if you need to set up camp for the night.
JARDINE RIVER FERRY
The Jardine River Ferry allows for safe crossing of your vehicle over the mighty Jardine river. To get here you can take the bypass track back onto Bamaga Rd and drive north. (See the map above). It is possible to cross the Jardine River via the Old Telegraph Track, however this is not recommended as it can be very dangerous and unstable depending on the conditions. The bottom is very soft sand and very easy to get bogged. Not to mention the water is full of hungry crocs.
While at Cape take some time to explore the WW2 ruins
CAMPING AND ACCOMMODATION
Once you have reached the top there are a number of accommodation sites to choose from.
Punsand Bay Safari Lodge
According to our friends at Happy Little Campers Oz Punsand Bay Safari Lodge is a great place to stay while exploring the Cape and we can see why. Situated only 5 km from the most northern Point of the continent Punsand Bay Safari Lodge offers Beach Front accommodation and meals. The stunning 10km of beach features crystal clear blue water and meets the rugged Australian bushland to create unique and breathtaking views.
Loyalty Beach Camp ground
Situated only 45 minutes from Australia’s northern-most point, Loyalty Beach Campground offers travellers the ideal location to pitch their base camp as they explore the Northern Peninsula Area. The campground boasts over 500 metres of grassed beachfront camping, with clean amenities, laundry facilities, and a fully stocked kiosk. Gas, Ice, and EFTPOS facilities are available with MasterCard, Visa, and Bankcard being accepted. Small open fires are permitted. Pets under supervision are also welcome.
GREAT PLACES TO EXPLORE
According to Pete Gladman, who completed the trip last year, Thursday Island is well worth visiting. A local company, Peddells, run a number of tours and Ferry rides up to Thursday Island. The trip on the ferry is approximately 1 hour and 10 mins one way, and makes for a great day adventure. The ferry passes by a dozen Torres Strait islands with dugongs and turtles sometimes spotted on the way. While here you can learn more about the history of this magnificent island or simply kick back and enjoy the beautiful surrounds. It is good to note that Sunday is a religious day on the island and most retailers will be closed on this day.
For those of you with a good amount of time to explore Pete also recommends checking out Chili Beach. This exquisite beach is situated in the Eastern edge of Iron Range National Park, South East of Bramwell Junction. The setting can be described as a true paradise. Lush rainforest meets a stunning beach lined with coconut Palms. Great camping is available here and requires a permit that can be obtained at $5 per person.
Navigation & Maps
Needless to say, carry good navigation equipment & maps. The Westprint and BackCountry maps are great for the Cape, both providing up to date information of this region. Both maps are bundled with the Mud Map 2 iPhone and iPad 4WD GPS app and Mud Map M7 4WD GPS device so you can explore in confidence.
A huge thank you to all the Muddies that contributed tips and advice:
Donna and Brian Scott, Chris Lisa, Anthony Killen, Darren Brook, Alex Thrift, Cameron Jones, Chris Yeo, David Royles, Pete Gladman, Mitchell Eves, Graham Tamblyn, Steve Turnbull and Shaun Clark.