Cape York itinerary - advice and help needed

Hi community,

I am planning my first trip up the Cape York and would appreciate advice and help to make it an unforgettable experience. The vehicle will be my 2007 Nissan Patrol with 2" lift (ground clearance), snorkel and raised breathers (river crossings), so I should be able to tackle all of the terrain I plan for?

Day 1:
Cairns, Port Douglas (4Mile Beach, Flagstaff Lookout), Mossman Gorge => Wonga Beach Caravan Park [80km]

Day 2:
Daintree River Ferry, Daintree Discovery Center, Jindalba Boardwalk, Cow Bay, Fan Palm Café Boardwalk , Marrdja Boardwalk => Noah Beach CG (NP) [62 km]

Day 3:
Myall Beach, Cape Tribulation (Kulki Day Area Lookout) > Bloomfield Track, Donovan Range, Bloomfield Falls, Home Rule Falls => Lions Den Hotel [78 km]

Day 4:
Black Mountain NP, Keatings Lagoon, Cooktown (historic walk, botanic gardens, grassy hill summit), Endeavour Falls, Hope Vale => Elim Beach CG [105 km]

Day 5:
Hope Vale > Battle Camp Road, Old Laura Homestead, Lakefield NP => Kalpowar Crossing CG [174 km]

Day 6:
Musgrave Roadhouse, Coen => The Bend CG [224 km]

Day 7:
Archer River Roadhouse > Telegraph Road => Moreton Telegraph Station [123 km]

Day 8:
Bramwell Junction > Old Telegraph Track, Gunshot Creek (turn around) => Dulhunty River CG [122 km]

Day 9:
Gunshot Bypass, Fruit Bat Falls, Eliot /Twin Falls, Bridge Creek > Bramaga Road (Northern Bypass) => Jardine River Ferry CG [135 km]

Day 10:
Bamaga => Loyalty Beach CG [50 km]

Day 11:
Thursday Island

Day 12:
Bamaga, Croc Tent, Cape York, Nanthau Beach, Somerset Beach, Jardines Well > Punsand CG [105 km]

Day 13:
Croc Tent, Bamaga, Jardine River Ferry > Northern Bypass Road => Canal Creek CG [107 km]

Day 14:
Southern Bypass Road, Bramwell Junction, Moreton Telegraph Station > Frenchmans Track, Mount Tozer => Chili Beach CG [285 km]

Day 15:
Lockhart River, Archer River Roadhouse, Oyala Thumotang NP => Ten Mile Junction CG [304 km]

Day 16:
Coen, Point Steward Detour, Musgrave Roadhouse => Laura [360 km]

Day 17:
Split Rock Art Site, Lakeland, Palmer River Roadhouse, Mount Carabine, Mount Molloy, Mareeba => Cairns [310 km]

I based my plans on the HEMA Cape York Atlas & Guide, but its kind of hard to know how much distance you can drive in a day without being on the road. But the pre-booking scheme makes it impossible to go and camp as you go along.

How did you handle all the pre-booking of National Park campsites? If you book ahead is there any chance to change it while you travelling? Maybe via internet at Roadhouses?

Time is not a big issue so I could extend a few days here and there if needed. But I can't really estimate the average speed on Cape York roads and thus travel times.

I would be very thankful for advice and tips on travel distances, points of interest, other tracks worth driving, great campspots etc.!!!
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Reply By: bigden - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 13:00

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 13:00
are you not going any further than gunshot creek on the tele track? there are easy crossings at gunshot.
palm creek is by far the hardest and if you do that you can do the whole tele track

your itinarary to the top at day 10 is easy going

AnswerID: 540022

Follow Up By: PGU - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 13:12

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 13:12
Can you cross at Gunshot creek? I thought because there is a bypass that you need to double back and do a detour?
FollowupID: 825742

Follow Up By: bigden - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 14:11

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 14:11
yes , the telegraph track runs all the way from bramwell junction to the jardine river.
there a few crossings at gunshot , from suicidal to sedate. the creek itself is small and not the problem

I posted all the crossings on youtube last year. if you search youtube for "telegraph track great wall OTL" you will see all the crossings. there are 19 clips, gunshot is number 8,9,and 10
FollowupID: 825743

Follow Up By: Member - Gio & Mon - Wednesday, Oct 08, 2014 at 15:08

Wednesday, Oct 08, 2014 at 15:08
Did Tele Track earlier this year, Palm Creek by far hardest crossing. Gunshot wasn't a problem. Nolans Brook at end of tele track is deceiving due to soft sandy base and depth of water. There is exit track before it if your uncertain. Patrol with 2" lift should have little problems for the whole track. Walking the crossings will help you decide which route to take across. I did all the track in 2 easy days towing a trailer.
FollowupID: 825816

Reply By: Bludge - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 15:13

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 15:13

That's a good timeline, there are places where you will be able to cover more distances, you didn't say what time of the year you will travel.

This long weekend, I shot up to Musgrave on the development road and the corrugations are pretty bad, but it is late in the season, lots of pre wet road works going on. Lakefield is just dusty.
Battlecamp Rd is in good condition.
I don't know about the Bloomfield as I took the CREB on my way home to Cairns.

Frenchman's Track can be one of the hardest tracks on the Cape, depending what time of the year, I would suggest do not do it solo.

Cook Town, Laura, Lockhart and Coen have Telstra reception, Barmaga upward has better coverage. (Thursday Island from Punsands?). Most other locations between these places have no reception.

In Lakefield, if you haven't pre-booked, there are 2 rangers stations where you can book a camp site either on line, or by telephone, as long as you have a credit card, one just north of Kalpowar and one at New Laura.

From these stations you can also book Twin Falls, Captain Billy and Chilli Beach if you need to. Moreton Station I believe still can do bookings, but don't rely on Road Houses having internet access.

There are plenty of free camp sites on the OTT, it will be on the first come first served basis. So on the Track its only Twin/Elliot Falls that you would need to book ahead.

NP camps sites booked it stays, the cost for Kalpowar for 2 people for one night is $11.50 (I was there on Saturday) so it is not a massive amount if you change your mind for some reason and book a different location.

You could book ahead in caravan parks and pay a deposit or the whole amount (during holidays) and lose your deposit or all of it if you change your mind.

Turning up at a NP seeing spaces and not knowing if they are booked is not the way to go.
This always causes people to complain on this forum, but if we had to have Rangers at every NP camping ground to check you in and out it would be $30 a person per night.
Its a National Park not a caravan park.

just my 2 cents worth
AnswerID: 540029

Follow Up By: PGU - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 17:35

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 17:35
Thanks for the advice.

I will be going up next week - so a lot of corrugation and dust. Is it still an enjoyable trip?!?

How hard was the CREB track? Any other track that I should consider driving while I am up north?

FollowupID: 825750

Follow Up By: Bludge - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 18:03

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 18:03
The trip is always worth it. I dropped my tyres to 25psi and drove between 65 - 75kmh any faster and you just stop more often

First are you towing a camper?

If you are I would suggest that you do not try the CREB.

The CREB is worth doing more because it's an Iconic track. It has steep climbs and descents, the challenge is when wet, or towing. It is suggested that no trailers are taken on the CREB, but some people do it, the main problem is the "A" frame (especially the longer "A" frame of campers) gets caught on many of the bumps and rises. Trailers become anchors and should you need to back down .... well.

Do the OTT most of it is ok, I would double check Nolans even if shallow, the sandy bottom does shift.
Frenchmans is ok this time of year, just watch the mud holes between the river and the development road, most are bypassed. The drop into and climb out of the Wenlock needs caution.

It's out of your way going north, but may be worthwhile travelling south.
It you have time the Old Coach Road, Maytown to Laura is worthwhile. I normally go north, Development Road Turn west at Maitland Downs. Then Maytown has heaps of history, the town is well marked out with stores and owners, there are mines and a grave yard. It will be dry out that way. A good days drive to Laura, I would camp at the back of the Quinsn (Laura) Pub. Good meals.

Take your time and enjoy the serenity :) too many people travel way too fast up here.
FollowupID: 825754

Follow Up By: PGU - Wednesday, Oct 08, 2014 at 13:21

Wednesday, Oct 08, 2014 at 13:21
That means the speed along the Development Route, Bypass Route etc. is like any corrugated dirt road around 65-75 km/h and Telegraph Track and other detours are more tracks around 20-30 km/h?

Just so I get a feeling for how much distance to plan.
FollowupID: 825809

Follow Up By: Member - Gio & Mon - Wednesday, Oct 08, 2014 at 15:20

Wednesday, Oct 08, 2014 at 15:20
Did Frenchmans in June this year from east to west. Track itself was easy other than a couple of spots. Pascoe River was armpit deep due to lots of rain earlier in the month, should be lower now, river and exit track is rocky. Most difficult spot was exit of Wenlock. Track was badly chewed up with thigh deep mud. Most people had to winch out. If dry shouldn't be a problem
FollowupID: 825818

Reply By: Al-one - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 20:53

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2014 at 20:53
We did the Port Stewart detour and for us it was a gross waste of time. Nothing to see and spent all of 10minutes there. Good road in though.
AnswerID: 540058

Reply By: gke - Wednesday, Oct 08, 2014 at 09:44

Wednesday, Oct 08, 2014 at 09:44
Elim is worth 2 nights- don't miss the coloured sands which are remarkable- walk up the narrow gully in the cliff. Also recommend the drive over to the surf beach South of Cape Bedford. We were there in June and loved the place.

You can get mobile reception around at least some of the Ranger Stations.
AnswerID: 540077

Follow Up By: PGU - Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 09:49

Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 09:49
You mean when you go up to Elim there is another beach south of the Cape Bedford that is worth it? Do you know what it is called or how it is signposted?
FollowupID: 825869

Follow Up By: gke - Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 10:17

Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 10:17
There is a track that goes to the east over a ridge covered in heath type vegetation and ends up on an exposed wind blown beach with very impressive beach- combing potential ,to put it mildly.We loved it , others may not.
There are few signs anywhere. Have a talk to Eddie who is usually on his verandah and loves a yarn. (The traditional owner)
As you have seen from other replies you can spend a lot of time on the Cape which is a huge area, and you cannot see it all in 3 weeks. Just explore and enjoy.
FollowupID: 825873

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 06:01

Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 06:01
Captain Billy Landing, Pennyfather, Chili Beach, Porthland Roads, Cape Melville, .... ????

OKA196 Motorhome
AnswerID: 540120

Follow Up By: PGU - Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 09:46

Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 09:46
Captain Billy Landing
I could incorporate Captain Billy Landing on the way back. Is it worth the detour? Heard it was more about the fishing than anything else.

Weipa is a big detour - I guess at least a day or so. Is it worth to see the western side of the Peninsula? Is it very different from the rest?

Chili Beach
I got that in my itinerary

Portland Roads
Yeah will include that after Chili Beach CG

Cape Melville
Yeah I recon I should consider taking an extra day to go there. Would you recommend Cape Melville itself or Bathhurst Bay?
FollowupID: 825867

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 18:15

Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 18:15
Some pics of those spots in this slide show...

Bathhurst Bay is a great area, but you will need more than a day extra and we spent a couple of days at Pennyfather. Pretty sandy on the way out, but a great spot.

We also poked into the Wenlock from that area. Watch out for the "little creeks" :)

OKA196 Motorhome

FollowupID: 825897

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 18:16

Thursday, Oct 09, 2014 at 18:16
The thumbnails are short video clips......
FollowupID: 825898

Follow Up By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Friday, Oct 10, 2014 at 00:20

Friday, Oct 10, 2014 at 00:20
You could easily spend a couple of days at and around Weipa. A day trip to Port Musgrave is a good day out

There is a road cuts across to Batavia Downs Station that will save you driving all the way back to the Telegraph Road Turnoff.

Portland Roads is only a few kms from Chilli Beach. A look at Lockhart River is also worthwhile.

I thought the run into Captain Billy landing was well worthwhile.

We did the Cape in 2010.

We did the Bloomfield last year - the actual Bloomfield track from Daintree to the Bloomfield River is only 37 kms long, and without trying - taking our time, we did Lions Den to Cape Tribulation in half a day.

Enjoy, it's a great trip

FollowupID: 825918

Reply By: PGU - Saturday, Oct 11, 2014 at 12:26

Saturday, Oct 11, 2014 at 12:26
Would you rather recommend Bathhurst Head or Cape Melville for a non-fishing trip?
AnswerID: 540215

Reply By: PGU - Saturday, Oct 11, 2014 at 12:40

Saturday, Oct 11, 2014 at 12:40
Updated route plan:

0 kmCairns
75 kmPort Douglas 4 Mile Beach, Flagstaff Lookout
15 kmMossmanMossman Gorge
18 kmWonga Beach
108 kmWonga Beach Caravan Park
AnswerID: 540216

Follow Up By: PGU - Saturday, Oct 11, 2014 at 12:47

Saturday, Oct 11, 2014 at 12:47
Well that didnt work as intended....

FollowupID: 825997

Follow Up By: PGU - Saturday, Oct 11, 2014 at 12:51

Saturday, Oct 11, 2014 at 12:51
I am a bit worried about the last days touring back...

Canal Creek (OTT) taking the Bypass Road with a detour for Captain Billy Landing and via Bramwel Junction and Moreton Telegraph Station to Chili Beach are 355km.

Chili Beach via Telegraph Road Junction, Archer River Roadhouse and to Ten Mile Campground in Oyala Thumotang NP are 327 km.

From there via Coen with a small detour to see the Road into Port Steward are 429km.

Those three days could be a lot of driving if the roads limit the speed to below 50 km/h. Could anyone give me a bit of insight if this amount of travelling is realistic?

Last day from Laura to Cairns are only 310 and I guess thats fine.
FollowupID: 825998

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