Cape York minus the tough stuff

So I'm doing prep work for a trip to Cape York, never been before.
I've only ever watched videos of people defying death at Gunshot and floating through Nolans Brook.

Is it possible to get to Cape York by avoiding all these drama areas?

I may be going solo & don't really want to do any of that stuff.

May be going in August.

Thanks for any help.
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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:13

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:13
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Yes Siringo, it is quite possible.
All of the drama takes place on the OTT (Overland Telegraph Track) and the main route, the Peninsular Development Road is a breeze. Now mostly sealed, it is traffic able in regular two-wheel drive cars.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:16

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:16
Thanks Allan, that's great news.

Provided I undertake all the required pre-trip work, would you think it would be possible to get my Hiace bus up there on the Dev road do you think?
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:26

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:26
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Can't see any reason to cause the Hiace a problem. Every other vehicle seems able (Dammit!) Even "Postie Bikes".
The sealing may even be complete now? Recent travellers may advise on this.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:29

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:29
Thanks once again Allan.
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Follow Up By: Tim Owen - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:46

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 10:46
While I'm sure the Development Road is always improving ... when we were there 2 years ago - there were long sections that will give your Hiace a good shake. While most vehicles we saw were 4x4, there were a few vans/sedans on the road for sure.
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 11:11

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 11:11
Thanks Tim. I've got the Patrol as a backup ;-)
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:28

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:28
Now that would be a photo! A Patrol with an A-frame being towed by a Hi Ace. Lol.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:37

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:37
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Siringo, I may have been a bit optimistic about the road construction program.
This link from Qld Dept. of Transport, dated just yesterday, shows there is still a couple of hundred kilometres unsealed. This would still be trafficable but corrugated and you will encounter vehicles belting past you in both directions..... but that's life I guess.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:39

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:39
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Or even vice versa Frank. lol
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:41

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:41
Thanks again Allan. I've got a few months before we plan on going, I'll keep an eye on things & see how it all progresses.
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Reply By: OBJ - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:51

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 12:51
Thank you for asking Siringo.
I also want to visit the Cape and I also do not need all the associated testosterone raising dramas either.
I just need to cover that one to complete my 'all points north south east and west" odyssey.
Enjoy your trip, drama free.
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Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 13:29

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 13:29
Hi Siringo, check out all the pix in every place along the route from say Cairns/Cooktown to the tip. There is a trek or 3 to look at too. eg. https://www.exploroz.com/treks/cape-york-via-bypass-roads.
Any dirt south of Weipa is kept to good 2WD standard. North are the two Bypass Roads which keep to the ridgelines and so avoid creek crossings. Have done the Cape in 2008 and 2016 and it is being trashed. Too many 4WD with h huge tyres gouging out the Old telegraph track and not just at Gunshot, and too many people loving the place to death with rubbish etc etc. Better get up there sooner rather than later.
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 14:42

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 14:42
Yes, I've been watching Cape York videos for many years, several decades actually. Back in the 80s it looked like a clean & tidy paradise, but as the years have rolled on, it's beginning to look (from the videos I see) more like a tip & place where young males go to prove themselves.

It actually turned into a place I'd decided I didn't need to go any longer, but things change and I think it's time to go there at least once while we all still can.
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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 14:50

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 14:50
We were all young bucks once LOL.
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Follow Up By: Member - rocco2010 - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 14:50

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 14:50
Sad story Warrie but typical I guess of many places.

I reckon I was born 20 years too late.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 18:12

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 18:12
Yep - wouldn't it be great if everywhere in this once great country was still exactly the same way it was when I started travelling this big brown land fifty years ago !!

We would all like it to be like that but unfortunately that's the way it is now and it will only get worse !

Enjoy it while you can folks

Cheers

Gazz
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 20:18

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 20:18
"Yes, I've been watching Cape York videos for many years, several decades actually. Back in the 80s it looked like a clean & tidy paradise, but as the years have rolled on, it's beginning to look (from the videos I see) more like a tip & place where young males go to prove themselves.

It actually turned into a place I'd decided I didn't need to go any longer, but things change and I think it's time to go there at least once while we all still can".

I feel much the same. Spent five weeks in Portland Roads/Lockhart River area this time last year, & will be back up there again in about two weeks, for 10 weeks this time. Being there when all the access roads are closed no doubt spoils us. Not sure I want to be there in tourist season. However later in the year we will be driving around the Cape for a few months. To be honest I'm still hesitant to look forward to it, don't want to raise my expectations & end up disappointed.
See 'My Profile' (below) for link to our Aussie travel blog, now in it's 4th year

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Reply By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 14:53

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 14:53
Hi Siringo

Yes you don’t have to be a hero and wreck your vehicle just to say you went to those places.

We have done it solo and took our Ultimate Camper with no issues what so ever and we drove the PDR ( Peninsula Development Road).

Yes we drove into Gunshot and Nolan’s and witnessed 2 vehicles ruined just for the sake of saying they did it. The first was a tricked up Ranger with a very young driver at Gunshot while the second was a DMax at Nolan’s when he got stuck with over a metre of water through his car.

It might look remote on a map but you are never alone up there, with lots of people doing the trip and unfortunately most drivers are rude and inconsiderate and drive like there is no tomorrow, so you must be on your guard all the time, as we nearly got cleaned up twice with cars passing on corners and through walls of dust. We found that the longest time between groups of cars was around 10 minutes, so like I said you are never alone.

Make sure you have a snorkel as a lot of the time you will be driving through lots of thick dust. On your snorkel, make sure you use a snorkel sock and have a couple of spares as well as cleaning fluid and oil to clean your sock on a daily basis.

There is lots to see, so do not rush your trip. One place we liked was Weipa and spent 4 days there and did a number ventures from there. As for staying at the actual Cape, you have a number of options but we loved and stayed at Loyalty Beach, great little park with lots of room, while if you want up market camping and squashed in like sardines you could stay at Punsand Bay, but this was not our cup of tea.

I heard the other day that there is only now around 200 kilometres of dirt left, broken up into lots of sections. It’s a great trip and you will enjoy yourself.


Happy planning

Stephen
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:16

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:16
Thanks for the info Stephen, I wonder if August is a good time to go? I guess it'll always be busy up there though, there probably isn't a quiet time anymore?
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Follow Up By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:59

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:59
August is a good time, but make sure you do not head there during the school holidays.

We were there a week after the July School holidays.

When we got to the ferry, they said that there were four hour waits to get on the ferry, that’s how long the cues were to cross over and the top end was just crazy.

Make sure you go to the Aboriginal Art shelter at Somerset, but make sure it’s at low tide and DO NOT be tempted to walk through the water to get there. The lady at the Croc Tent said there was a 4 metre local salty that lives there, just waiting for someone do go swimming. It’s rock hopping all the way, but we’ll worth it.

The Croc Tent is the most reliable place to get accurate up to date information on the area. When we did a days drive to Punsand Bay, they only had backpackers working there and knew nothing about the area.
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Follow Up By: John Baas - Wednesday, Feb 03, 2021 at 01:29

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2021 at 01:29
Hi Stephen. Thanks for the input. We're planning on going birding to Iron Range next June (covid permitting) and may go to the tip.

I had never heard of snorkel socks (thanks) so I did a search and got this Advice on Socks). I have done no other research and will now be speaking with my trusty Toyota service chaps.

Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Wednesday, Feb 03, 2021 at 08:02

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2021 at 08:02
If you read what I posted John, you will have read that I advised to take a couple of spare socks as well as a cleaning kit.

If you do not use a snorkel sock, I would suggest taking at least 6 spare air filters, as they will get ruined in a very short time.

The article mentions that when they get blocked, you are not getting the proper sit flow which is 100% correct, that’s why you need a couple of spares and the cleaning kit.

My Prado air filter is around $70 from memory, I brought 3 snorkel socks and the cleaning kit for less than the price of one genuine filter, so in my books I was miles in front.
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:02

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:02
Hi Siringo,

There is a Facebook page called Cape York’s Awesome Adventures, it might be worth looking at. Most of the Peninsula Development Road is now sealed all the way to Weipa. The road to the tip is called the Telegraph Road up to Bramwell Junction, (not to be confused with OTT), then the Barmaga Road. This road can be quite corrugated, but is definitely doable in a two wheel drive in the dry.

You do not have to do the OTT if you don’t want to, and even if you do, there are bypasses around gunshot.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:18

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:18
Thanks Macca, yep my days of trying to look like a hero are behind me, I feel at home on chicken tracks these days ;-)
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Reply By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:25

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 16:25
Wondering if anyone is aware of any good books about the history of the area up there?
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Follow Up By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 17:05

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 17:05
I found the HEMA Cape York book and Ron Moon’s book great
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 21:22

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 21:22
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Hi Stephen,

Ron Moon's book was a great help for first-time visitors to The Cape. Unfortunately it is out of print. I would pass on my copy to Siringo but I cannot locate it.
The good news is that I understand that Ron has had an input into Hema's book and one place that it is available is here.
Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Member - WBS - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 22:18

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 22:18
We did it in 2017. We went in early August.
We drove a BT50 and towed a Jayco Eagle Outback campervan. We had some minor issues with the Jayco (non-return valve for the mains water), broken door latch. The camper's suspension and body held up well, contrary to popular opinion.

We drove to Weipa then across to the Telegraph Road. We didn’t bother with the OTT and opted for the Bypass Roads, but did go into Captain Billy Landing, Portland Roads, Chili Beach (with one L), Fruit Bat Falls, and many other memorable places. The PDR was heavily corrugated and generally crap. The spoon drains on the side of the PDR came in handy for a bit of corrugation relief. The Telegraph Road was better. We were very careful and were very conscious of having suitable tyre pressures.

Drive to the conditions and don’t be in a hurry. Stop at the Quinken Art Site just before Laura. Without a doubt, this is the best trip we’ve done. We traveled alone.

Lots of roadworks back then with bits of sealed stuff too. I’m not sure how much is sealed now. We were always happy to come across the roadworks because it meant some respite from the corrugations and bulldust.

Don’t be intimidated, there are no real technical 4x4 challenges getting there, it's just a gravel road in when conditions are normal. The side trips can be a different kettle of fish though. Just do your homework and have a great trip.
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Reply By: The Rambler( W.A.) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 23:45

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2021 at 23:45
You won’t have any problems on the main run up to the top with quite a few nice spots on the way.Having said that I have been up there 3 times and the best spots by far are off the beaten track.I have done the O.T.R. solo including Gunshot and Nolan’s which is a much more interesting run and my favourites were out to Viryla on the west and Cape Melville on the east on the way up.I drive a 2001 Troopy that so far has never let me down.Drive to conditions and it is no big deal.
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Reply By: Siringo - Wednesday, Feb 03, 2021 at 09:30

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2021 at 09:30
Thanks everyone for the great advice & help.

I'm going to try to put 6 weeks aside as we're going up from southern Vic, I think that should be enough.

Thanks again.
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 06:24

Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 06:24
One final piece of advice. Check QLD and other states school holiday dates and avoid those by a margin of weeks. Absolutely the wrong time to be trying the cape due to the crowds.

Safe travels
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 07:29

Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 07:29
Hi Siringo,

We did the same trip back in 2018, If you message me your email address, I will send you my itinerary and a few photos of the various places we found interesting.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 07:33

Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 07:33
Excellent advice from Mick. There are a lot of travellers who use just the time of the school holidays to do the trip. They drive flat out to achieve the trip in that time period. Just don't get in their way, they don't stop for anyone.
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 12:06

Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 12:06
Thanks Macca, I'm not a paid up member here, don't know how I can get in touch if I'm not?????

Thanks for the kind offer.
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Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 15:30

Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 15:30
Might be worth the $49.99 membership Siringo. :)
Dave.
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Reply By: CSeaJay - Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 15:09

Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 15:09
Hi,

I find that it is mostly cowboys who want to prove themselves that are also more likely to post those videos on Youtube. We also have numerous videos but it is mostly on beautiful campsites, crystal clear water etc.
To answer your direct question, yes if you run on the development roads, you can certainly do it in a car. Corrugations will be your biggest challange, and if you have LT tires and you reduce pressures that would be your best medicine.

And then to answer your indirect question; you can also venture in on certain parts of the OTT. As example, we have not done any damage towing a TVan up and down the OTT. Careful investigation at creek crossings, etc. mean there is almost always an easier way. The cowboys usually just thunder in or go out of their way to post on Youtube the hardest way.

Enjoy
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Follow Up By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 16:55

Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 16:55
But you need to be extra cautious when travelling solo, as there a couple that will cause issues
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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 22:49

Thursday, Feb 04, 2021 at 22:49
You will never be alone trust me. Many helpful people around even outside school holidays.
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