Travelling to the Cape

We are planning a trip to the Cape in July and would really appreciate any advice. Planning on unhitching the van and travelling with a tent to the top. We have a Toyota Prado. Sorry to be so naive but just started the research. What else do we need to carry? Have a 150 litre petrol tank. Do we need to carry extra and water? Is there any kind of accommodation or is it all bush camping? How long on average does the trip take and which route is best to take? Can you buy any supplies on the way thanks ooo much. Where can you unhitch a caravan for a week or two? Are there any books u recommend that I could read up on? Thanks guys Johno
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Reply By: Hoyks - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:41

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:41
There are a few guide books available, Ron and Viv Moon's one is really good and will cover much more than I can contribute. It is worth a read as it will give you an idea of places to visit, there is a lot more to see than the just the pointy bit.

I think accommodation is limited to Wiepa and Bamaga, but you could probably get cabins (atco dongas) at some of the road houses. There was a resort near the tip, but it is being swallowed up by the jungle. I'd just rely on the tent or a swag.

I took 2 kids up there a in 2014. I took way too much water (60L), I think we only tapped 1 x 20L drum as water was available most places, so we drank our water and used creek water for washing.

Fuel available most places, so we only had an emergency supply (20L) and didn't really need it. It wouldn't hurt to carry some, just in case
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Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 18:37

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 18:37
Thanks Hoyks. Really appreciate your advice.
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Reply By: Tony F8 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 11:36

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 11:36
This is not going to be a short reply, but lets have a crack. Firstly my experience on the Cape began in 1987 and have been back there 40+ times so I might be able to give you some answers.
Camping with facilities is avaliable at Laura, Hahn River, Musgrave, Moreton, Coen, Bramwell, Weipa, Archer River, Seisia, Loyalty Beach, Punsand, Alloo, and Umagico. Camping without facilities, Coen bends (does have eco toilet), practicality anywhere along the OTT. National parks are lakefield, Iron Range, Lama Lama, and Jardine River, these are the ones you will generally travel through, even though there is a host of others. Fuel, is available at all those mentioned in camping with facilities. There are supermarket/ general stores at Weipa, Coen, Seisia, Umagico, New Mapoon and Bamaga. Your fuel capacty is more than adequate, bookings for National Parks are done online. As mentioned, Ron and Viv Moons Cape York Adventurers guide is still the bible for Cape travel. Don't hesitae to ask me for more information, remember there is no stupid questions only stupid answers
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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 13:12

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 13:12
Hi Tony F8 wow many trips and you would be seeing all the changes.Just an open question ,what is fascination with this area thanks.
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Follow Up By: Tony F8 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 17:53

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 17:53
Well thats a good question, I think firstly it was the adventure and the remoteness, but as the years have passed it has I suppose become a place of peace for me, sometimes if your lucky in life, you come across a place that gives you this, we go to places up there and not see anyone for 2 weeks and everytime we leave we feel revived.
I hope that makes sense and gives you an insight into my passion for the Cape.
Cheers Tony.
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Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 18:40

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 18:40
Thanks Tony.... So much valuable information!
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Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 18:47

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 18:47
Thanks Tony... Really appreciate your help. John
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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 20:22

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 20:22
Hiya Tony F8 totally understand.Thanks for that.Time to hear yourself think and immerse into nature .I need to do that more often cheers
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Reply By: Tony F8 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 11:54

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 11:54
You can leave the van at Bramwell Station, which is not far from the start of the OTT. It is best to travel north up the OTT and come back down the PDR, as some areas on the OTT can be a bit narrow and this is the general route taken, if you allow 2 weeks on the Cape, that should whet your appetite for further trips up there. Once settled in at any of the camping grounds up the top, ensure you go on the two island tour, which is Thursday and Horn islands, its a good day out to do the tip and Somerset and the obligatory stop at the Croc Shop. Bamaga is the service town for the NPA, so has medical, mechanical and the usual servides available, google alcohol restrictions for the NPA to get the info on carrying alcohol in some areas.
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Follow Up By: johno59 - Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 15:21

Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 15:21
Tony, Ken from Bramwell Station emailed us and advised we can leave a van there so long as we spend a bit of time on his station campground which is fine. Still a bit confused though ( sorry ) ! The bitumen runs out at Laura according to Ken. Our van is a standard ( not off-road ) Jayco 17 ft. Although we take it on some fairly rough roads around vic and nsw we do travel at slow speeds and so far no real damage has been done apart from a rock flying through the front section of the van I fixed with a bit of fibreglass. So the question is do we unhitch at Laura or do we continue into Bramwell Station? Ken advises to leave it at Laura ?? Thanks john
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Reply By: Kenell - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 12:01

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 12:01
More to consider in addition to the responses you already have. Be conscious of carrying alcohol and stick to the limits in the various areas. When we were there last year the authorities were enforcing the restrictions and the penalties can be severe.
Most who carry fuel are doing so to avoid paying the prices in these remote areas. You don't need to carry it as you have plenty of range with 150l. Travellers such as you and I keep the communities up there viable so if your fuel is under half fill up before the return trip. Water is always important. I filled my camper up at the BP at Bamaga - they offer this as a service to their customers - clean, sweet water. I had water on board but you should be right with a 20 litre jerry. The shops up there don't have the range you get in the city and they are obviously not cheap but all basic requirements are easily met - you won't starve.

Enjoy your trip and don't forget to drop into the Croc Tent and buy a souvenir - they also have lots of advice and its free. Great couple run it.

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Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 18:42

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 18:42
Thanks Ken, starting to get the picture from you guys.
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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 15:34

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 15:34
Two books, the previously mentioned, the comprehensive Ron Moon Bible and the HEMA travel book. I have the Ron Moon book, but for a travel I found the HEMA book easier to use for trip planning.

Punsand Bay has great gauzed in twin sleeping rooms right on the beach, they are a bit like oversized station Meat houses. July is peak time you will need to book this. You can use Punsand as your base at the Tip. Others I know spoke highly of cheaper caravan parks just south of Bamaga, but they had a Camper Trailer.
Two weeks is adequate for a leisurely drive to the tip turn around and return, but do little else, so don't plan to see it all, even if you had 4 weeks, you just won't have the time. Build some flexibility into your planned trip as well, as it is sure to change once you start, holidays are meant to be for enjoyment, not a series of rushed check points.
I'd suggest not to bother trying to use the National parks as camp grounds during this peak season, the on line system can be a nightmare with people "squatting" on your booking. It's probably great outside of peak times. It also locks you into a series of "check points" along a 2000km rally. Certainly do some day trips into them though.
Don't overload your vehicle trying to save a few $s on groceries, you can get almost everything at Weipa and Bamaga as you can in most smaller country towns and I thought Fuel prices at Bamaga & Weipa were pretty good.
Final tip is to make sure you have "Premium" Auto club cover, it's a lot easier than carrying a heap of spares as there will be a RACQ depots every 200km or less (from memory)
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 17:27

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 17:27
Agree regarding Punsand Bay.

Great accomodation on the beach. Excellent ablution facilities - clean an plenty of hot wate. Great swimming pool (right next to the bar/restaurant) Good for the kids or for you. Restaurant had great food (superb pizzas) at a good price.

Agree regarding NP booking system. Happened to us at Eliot Falls. Lucky the ranger showed up and moved the interlopers on.

We didn't find the food prices to bad on the way up. But we had been on the road for a few months. Couldn't fault the service we got though. They really appreciate the custom and the customer.

Water and fuel are plentiful at the spots listed and no problem with the quality of either. 150 litres will see you right. Again support the locals, next time they might not be there. Carrying heaps of fuel and water to save a few dollars is "pennywise but pound foolish".


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Reply By: Member - Robyn R4 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 16:30

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 16:30
I've been researching this topic for about 3 months now (I'm heading north in July, too) and I continue to learn!
I've just learned how much water to carry (thanks, Hoyks) and Mark added a few extra notes to my notebook, too.
Tony, I'm assuming that you live at least within Qld to have made that many trips because it's such a looooong way for so many of us! Is there a medal for 40+ trips?! (Or is your reward knowing that your number plate isn't nailed to that tree?)
And thanks, Tony, for the "there's no such thing as silly questions"...sometimes people ask basic, innocent questions and are almost made to regret their appeal for information.
Johno, I've got Ron and Viv's book and a Camps 6. There's also a map on its way in the post. I've been googling "Cape York via PRD", "Cape York", "Cape York blog" and all sorts of things like that... I learn a little bit more with each night's episode. PS: Did you know there's a quarantine point somewhere? I'll have to re-google that one because I forgot to write its exact location in my notebook!
Isn't the planning phase of a holiday so interesting?!

Robyn :)

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Follow Up By: Kenell - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 16:53

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 16:53
The quarantine point is just north of Coen on the south bound journey. They are mostly concerned about fruit coming in from the Torres Straight islands such as Thursday or Horn. In my experience they were as much tourist ambassadors as fruit inspectors.
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Follow Up By: Tony F8 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 17:46

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 17:46
Robyn, I'll let you know when I have reached the magical 50 (half century), I have a feelin there could be a bit of a celebration on the cards. I have seen changes up the Cape, the biggest and most disappointing is the amount of rubbish left up there by people who supposedly love the Cape. There is a facebook site called Protect Cape York, run by Leigh Morgan, i don't usually promote sites, but this girl is doing some great things regarding the clean up of Cape York, once you have been up on what we call the standard route, look at doing some research on some of the other great areas of that magnificent place.
Drive safe.
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Follow Up By: Members Pa & Ma. - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 20:24

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 20:24
Hi Johno,
We went from the Otways in S.W. Vic. up to the Tip of Cape York and back in four weeks. No, we do not drive fast & only one driver.
As you would imagine we didn't get to see all there was to see on the Cape.
We were towing a small off road van.

There are plenty of places to stay at road houses which are all fairly easy drives between, on the P.D.R. It will be very busy when you go, we went in Sept. as it was our holidays. It was easier to get into these places then.
Morton Tellegragh Station was a brilliant campground..
Our main aim was to get to the Top point of the mainland first & then work our way back so that if we wanted to see more at another time, we didn't have so far to go!
Planning the Tip trip so that the tide was out, was good so that we could walk back along the beach, much easier than all the rock hopping back to the car park.
Plan well cos the tide does come back in quite fast,when in turns..

We stayed at Holiday Village C.P in Siesa
and did our daily touring from there but the top of the O.T.T was left out because we were booked at a camp further down.
A sad oversight of one day in our planning! The Cape is bigger than it looks.
Iron Range National Park is nice & has cabins.NO ALCOHOL.
Nice seafood place in the Park too, at the beach.

The Peninsular road by then, was very corrugated, please drive carefully.
We came up to one accident and heard of another in the week. Sadly 1 death.
Many, just drive too fast.
Midges can be a problem so be prepared.Some people are allergic. Good repellent & first aid kit.
On the way back.
Stayed at Bramwell Station which was fantastic for a complete unwind & total cleanup. Fantastic food & great camping. From here, leaving the van at camp we went into & travelled the Southern half of the O.T.T. & made it back via the Ranger Station & P.D.R. to Our camp at Bramwell Station by night fall. The creeks were low. Always ask about the condition of the crossings & check if there is a better one.

I'm sure you'll know about the emergency things needed from your books.
Including Tic treatment for your dog if you are taking it (remember CROCS)!!!
I would not take our dog up there.
Take care, safe travels. Ma.
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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 20:32

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 20:32
Tony F8 it kills ya when you see rubbish.I camped on Murray River and previous campers left nappies 2 cartons of beer bottles in camp fire.Only 100metres to Ferry which has bins or 300m to picnic ground.I lived in Nepal Himalayas .Pink toilet paper, chocolate wrappers and beer bottles along trekking routes.Travel companies would advertise trips to get volunteers to go cleanup the rubbish. Maybe some smart travel agency needs to do that here ..But I not understand if people love being out in nature why in hell can't they just put rubbish back in car .Humans hey???
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Follow Up By: Members Pa & Ma. - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 21:26

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 21:26
Some Humans. Not all! just filthy, disrespectful ones.
We live at the end of a scenic drive,it has shops & rubbish bins at the top of the hill.
It takes about 15- 20mins to drive down the winding road.
The louts are mostly responsible for the cans, bottles , cigarette & chip packets etc. but on the last long weekend some tourist decided that our 10 acre part bush block on the corner was the place to dump the full ,large disposable nappy.

Should be made to wear it around their necks like some of the poor pooches who know no better, you see walking around the streets.!

P.S In the above followup we went South to North on the Southern half of the O.T.T. then back down to Bramwell Station on the P.D.R. You beat me to Edit LazyLux.
Take care,safe travels, Ma.
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Follow Up By: johno59 - Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 15:24

Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 15:24
Thanks all. Great to research trips. Beats the hell out of Spending time watching crapy TV shows!
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Reply By: Member - BUSH CAMPER - Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 19:53

Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 19:53
We did the Cape last year, left our off road New age caravan at Bramwell station and travelled the OTL.
The road can vary from week to week depending on the amount of traffic. If you go up and back before the school holidays I think the road will be better, we went just after the school holidays, a got the tail end of travellers heading back. In some cases they were travelling far too fast, so be carefull. Reduce tyre pressure. You won't have trouble getting fuel, it's a bit more expensive. Take drinking water, but the rivers are generally very clear and good for swimming and washing. be croc wise and ask plenty of questions of other travellers. There is accommodation available but you should book in advance. We took a small tent for our camping and had no trouble. There is plenty of food available, but a little more expensive and less variety.
We saw plenty of caravans up around Bamaga and loyalty beach. most were not off road vans, they were driven at a suitable pace.
If we hadn't done the OTL, we would have taken our van all the way.
I have heard there are about 10,000 people a year that go to the Cape.
early July is usually a pretty good time , however this can change if the wet season drags on a bit.
hope you have a good time.
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Follow Up By: johno59 - Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 20:23

Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 20:23
Thanks BC . We are thinking of a small tent and unhitching the van at Bramwell Station thanks john
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Reply By: Kenell - Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 20:27

Monday, Apr 18, 2016 at 20:27

If you are having doubts about where to leave your van, Mt Carbine is the popular choice of this forum. I have also spoken to a few who have done it and by all counts it is the go. It is bitumen to there and if you spend a night there the proprietor will store your van free and even store your perishables in a frige until you return. Do some searches on here and I think you will get a picture.
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Follow Up By: johno59 - Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016 at 14:00

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016 at 14:00
Thanks kennel, A friend of mine was also telling me about it this morning. sounds good. Thanks john
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