Far North Queensland
has always been a dramatic and wild place. Both Aboriginal and European history share tales of tragedy and triumph in attempting to tame and live in this region that is ravaged by tropical rains in summer, scorched by never-ending dryness in winter and inhabited by rare and dangerous species such as crocodiles, snakes and poisonous plants.
The city of Cairns
however, is a thriving commercial town. Surviving on local sugar crops and a massive tourist industry Cairns
, Townsville and Mackay enjoy a healthy trade. During the tropical wet season Cairns
is just on the fringe and can occasionally be affected by cyclones.
Further north however, the rainforest is untamed. Roads turn to dirt and only 4WDs have access past Cape Tribulation
. Unsealed roads in the tropics can vary from excellent to impassable depending on many factors. It is imperative to carefully plan your visit further north of Cairns
, into Cape York
The most northern tip of Australia
is Cape York
and every 4WDrivers ultimate destination. Only accessible during the dry months between May - October the trip can be very rough, with deep water crossings, deep ruts, varied terrain, few facilities and incredibly remote. Yet, over 10,000 4WDs will make the expedition from Cairns
to "The Tip" and back each season. Vehicles have only been attempting Cape York
since the late 1960s and only since the invention of the Landcruiser has it really become a feasible option for families.
Special vehicle preparation is compulsory, as is expert experience in driving a 4WD in challenging conditions. It is definitely the kind of trip to do in convoy. If you can't rustle together a few mates then 4WD clubs run regular trips to the Cape for members or there is the option of taking a tag-along tour where you drive your own 4WD but are guided and provided for by the tour organiser.
The major highlights of a Cape York
trip include the rainforest area of the Daintree
River and Cape Tribulation
where Captain James Cook
sheltered for repairs to the Endeavour in 1770, Lakefield NP, the OTL (following the historic path of the overland telegraph line), Laura and the nearby Palmer River
goldfields of Maytown
, the Wenlock River, the massive mining town at Weipa
, the Iron Range NP, wild Chili Beach
, Captain Billy's Landing, swimming at Elliot Falls and Fruitbat Falls, getting your vehicle through Gunshot, attempting to cross the Jardine River
, the most northernmost townships of Bamaga
and Seisa and The Tip itself at Frangipani Beach.
For detailed information about Cape York
, see our trek notes