Cape York Trip

Hi everyone,
I am planning a 4wd to the tip in early june 2019 and was looking for some tips.
We are planning to predominently travel the PDR but also a couple of trips over to the old telegraph road and looking for some tips as to where the best places would be to divert over along the way. We are towing a camper trailer but not looking to do it too tough on this trip. we would like to do some beach camping as well as roadside camps. Any advice from those familliar with the cape would be appreciated.
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Reply By: Tony F8 - Sunday, Nov 11, 2018 at 17:36

Sunday, Nov 11, 2018 at 17:36
Well firstly, you won't be alone, as the Cape is really not that remote anymore.
The PDR, if not graded will stress your vehicle and yourself more than the OTT, the OTT is a great drive, most crossings on the OTT have "chicken tracks" that will get you around the worst parts. If you want, you can drive in and look at some of the more serious crossings, then come back out and continue on. You can take the Heathlands ranger station turn off and come back into Gunshot Creek from the north if you want to have a look, and then continue on the OTT, crossing the PDR to continue on to the north part of the OTT. There is pretty much camping at all the crossings, but you will need to get in reasonably early to secure a spot. Pennyfather river is accessible from Weipa, Chili beach on the east coast, mind you it can get a bit windy, also Sadd and Usher Points, the Frenchmans track and the five beaches run and Somerset, also Muttee Heads has free camping (as long as you have purchased your Jardine ferry ticket, which allows you to camp on Injunoo lands north of the Jardine). There is also Bathurst Heads on Prince Charlotte bay, which is east of Lakefield Nat park.
Try to travel light and adjust your tyre preassures accordingly, and take out your rubbish
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Follow Up By: Member - robertatsaenth - Monday, Nov 12, 2018 at 13:56

Monday, Nov 12, 2018 at 13:56
Thank you for that I reckon we might then try the telegraph road and probably use the chicken runs
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Nov 11, 2018 at 19:27

Sunday, Nov 11, 2018 at 19:27
Hi Rob

I am in the process of writing another Blog, this time on our seven week Cape York trip from mid July and August this year.

First of all, if you have a snorkel on your vehicle, make sure that you get a snorkel filter (we had and used 3) and filter cleaner and oil to clean it.

Do not travel during school holidays, they say they place is just crazy, with over hours to cross the Jardine River on the ferry.

Do not be in a hurry, slow down, drop your tyre pressures and drive to the conditions with your head lights will soon see why.

It might look remote on a map, but the longest time that we went without seeing another vehicle on the PDR was around 10 minutes.

Be prepared to encounter the most crazy drivers we have ever come across, passing us on the inside, passing you like there was no tomorrow through a wall of dust not knowing what is coming through the dust in front of you and showering with with rocks.

There is no need to carry extra fuel, as the longest sections between fuel stops is around the 200km mark, sometimes even less.

The best place for the most reliable and up to date information at the tip is the Croc Tent, they are just so helpful.

We loved Wiepa and spent 4 days exploring the area.

We were travelling solo, also with our Ultimate camper and only went into the side trips of the Telegraph Track to witness crazy guys ruining their new vehicles.

Each to their own when staying at the top of the Cape, we stayed at Loyalty Beach and loved the solitude there.

When you get to the Somerset camping area, head left on the beach and follow the rock hopping after the headland to see the unique Aboriginal Rock Art. Do not be temped the walk through the water instead of the rock hopping as we were warned by the lady at the Croc tent that there is a resident 4m saltie that will stalk people that get close to the water. I did not see it, but took no chances.

Read as much as you can and the 2 books that I found most helpful were "Cape York Travel & Adventure Guide" by Ron Moon and the "Cape York" Atlas & Guide put out by Hema Maps.

As a say, Research, Research, Research.

You will love the Cape and like all that have travelled it, plan a return visit.



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Follow Up By: Member - robertatsaenth - Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 19:20

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 19:20
Hi Stephen,
Great info mate thank you.
I will be extremely valuable helping me to plan our trip.
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Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Nov 11, 2018 at 19:32

Sunday, Nov 11, 2018 at 19:32
Well said Stephen L "Research, Research, Research"

A good place to start would be here. Cape York Trek Note

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Follow Up By: Member - robertatsaenth - Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 19:21

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 19:21
Hi Phil,
Great tip thanks for that
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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Monday, Nov 12, 2018 at 13:48

Monday, Nov 12, 2018 at 13:48

Spend the $30-40 and buy the HEMA or Ron Moon books on "doing the Cape". Read them then come back and ask more specific questions
There are plenty of Cape York Blogs on this web site, and that's before Stephen publishes his masterpiece.
I found those books most helpful for planning and ultimately use on the trip
Hope you are allowing at least a fortnight from Cairns to the tip and back

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Follow Up By: Member - robertatsaenth - Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 19:03

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 19:03
Hi Mark,
I will look into the books you have sugested and will purchase them in the near future.
Your input is very much appreciated.
Thank you,
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Monday, Nov 12, 2018 at 13:53

Monday, Nov 12, 2018 at 13:53
Hi Rob, where are you starting your trip from? We left Melbourne Sept.16th, travelled up through Echuca, Deniliquin, Hay, Goolgowi, Hilston, Cobar, Bourke, Cunnamulla, Charleville, Augathella, Tambo, Blackall, Barcaldine, Longreach, Winton, Kynuna, Julia Creek, Wills Developmental Road to Bourke & Wills Roadhouse, then on to Normanton, Karumba, Dunbar, to the Peninsula Developmental Road just south of Musgrave, then on up to the Cape.

We towed our 2.5 T Off Road caravan all the way & back without any breakages. Got back to Melbourne Oct. 26th.

At the Cape, we stayed at Punsand Bay because it was closest to the tip, but if we were going again, we would probably stay at Loyalty Beach, as it is generally quieter.Punsand Bay has a restaurant & bar, so does Loyalty Beach, both are pet friendly. Loyalty Beach is also closer to Seisia & Bamaga which have small supermarkets.

Fuel is expensive up at the tip, the cheapest was at the community operated service station at Injinoo, but this service station is not open on Sundays.
If you just want to Beach Camp with no facilities, then go to Somerset on the East coast near the tip. There are quite a few camp sites, but they are very open and can be quite windy. There are other camp sites on the 5 beaches loop track heading south from Somerset, but the track can be a little rough, and they are also windy camp sites.

Pick up a map of the area from The Croc Tent, they are very helpful with info about the area, plus have a good range of souvenirs.

We did The Old Tele Track on the way back, leaving the van Bramwell Junction Roadhouse. My wife wasn't interested in doing TOTT, so she stayed with the van while her brother & I drove TOTT. We left Bramwell Junction at about 08:00 and were back at camp by about 17:30 the same night. This included stops at Fruit Bat Falls for a swim, and Eliot/Twin Falls. As we were late in the season, all of the creek & river crossing were not deep, but it still pays to walk the bigger ones first to check for holes, logs & rocks. There are "chicken tracks" around most of the bigger crossings including Gunshot. As someone else has already suggested, you can by-pass Gunshot altogether. Palm Creek, Gunshot & Nolans are probably the worst of the creek crossings, but all can be crossed safely if you are careful & pick the correct line.

As far as side trips, we thought Weipa was disappointing, not sure what we expected, but it is small, with only a small shopping area.

Somerset was interesting as it has a bit of history about it.

Unfortunately we did not get out to Lockhart River, but I believe it is worth the side trip.

Cooktown is worth visiting, very historic, we stayed at The Peninsular Caravan Park as it is pet friendly (we travel with our dogs), plenty of shade, good ammenities and a reasonable price.

Check out The Lions Den Hotel situated 4 kms south of the Mulligan Highway on the Bloomfield track south of Cooktown. You can camp behind the pub, but I do not know what their fees or amenities are.

Port Douglas is very commercial, expensive & "touristy". We stayed at Newell Beach at the Newell Beach Caravan Park which is approx. 30 kms north of Port Douglas. Good Value although very small, with the beach directly across the road from the park. We did not get up to Cape Tribulation as it is in the National Park, and we have our dogs.

Follow The Captain Cook Highway down to Cairns, it follows the coast all the way. Great scenic road, similar to The Great Ocean Road in Victoria.


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Follow Up By: Member - robertatsaenth - Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 19:16

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 19:16
Hi Macca,
Thank you for your very valuable information. At the moment it is our intention to express to Cairns from Adelaide as some of our little troup are on limited time, that way we will get the most time possible on the cape. Those of us with more time will then head back down the cape over to Karumba then meander back over to Darwin then WA to see Lake Argyle, Halls Creek and down the Tanamai back to the Alice then home to Adelaide.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Nov 14, 2018 at 01:34

Wednesday, Nov 14, 2018 at 01:34
The last time I did Adelaide-Cairns and Cairns-Adelaide, I drove Adelaide to Cairns - then on the return, chucked the 'Cruiser on a car carrier, and caught the big silver bird to Adelaide.

The car-carriers do cheap loads from Cairns to Adelaide, it's a backload for them.
The air tickets were cheap - and we saved more than a week by not doing the same trip in reverse.

The missus and I actually did Perth to Cairns and back in the trip - in just over a month.
We started from Perth by chucking the 'Cruiser on a car-carrier to get it to Adelaide - also a dirt-cheap backload route - and caught the plane to Adelaide.

We picked up the 'Cruiser in Adelaide, drove to Cairns, backloaded it to Adelaide, then drove Adelaide-Perth.
We still did well over 9000kms in the month, and we did get to see an awful lot of Australia.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - robertatsaenth - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 17:52

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 17:52
Hi Ron
Thanks for the usefull info I will pass it onto those with limited time as it may be invluable to them to know this.
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Reply By: Lurchwa - Saturday, Nov 24, 2018 at 21:57

Saturday, Nov 24, 2018 at 21:57
I am following this topic with interest as I am planning on doing a trip to the Cape in May/June 2019.
Doing pretty much the same as Rob mentioned though we are leaving from WA.

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