cape york trip

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 14:29
ThreadID: 19790 Views:3220 Replies:7 FollowUps:4
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I am hoping some of the forumites out there will be able to help me out.
We are planning a trip to Cape York in July towing kids and camper trailer. The best we can do is 4 weeks ex Sydney. The questions I have are
what places are a "must see" ?
with the trailers do we have to go via the bypass roads or can we stay on the telepgraph road ?
best place to camp in the Cape York area.
Thanks for your help. Mike
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Reply By: Tripp'n Around - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 14:43

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 14:43
Hi Mike
What one finds memorable, others may not.
But basically the cape will not disapoint you.
Do a search in the "Forum Search Options" just above your post.
Lots of info will be there for you to decide what to do.
Best advice is get the "Cape York Adventures Guide" from Ron & Viv Moon and research where you want to go using that.
Get road info on here or your local motor group (RACQ etc) weekly within the month you intend to leave.
The cape road changes year to year depending on their wet season and where they have graded or bitumen too.
AnswerID: 94990

Follow Up By: mikeE - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 16:18

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 16:18
To Trippn thanks for your advise am reading the Moons book now and will contact motor group for road conditions
Thanks Mike
FollowupID: 353841

Follow Up By: Tripp'n Around - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 16:40

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 16:40
Hi Mike
We went by that book many years ago, never missed a trick in it.
We have been there 3 times and love it up that way so it's best you work out what you want to do. Take your time, enjoy and take lots of video/piccys. Talk to those who are heading back and get as much info as you can. If going to Chilli Beach the road in is very bumpy, constantly windy and rains too but well worth it so we thought. Also you can walk to the island there on low tide, very nice. You will have to take your drinking water supply in although water for showers can be pumped up from the hand pump, if working (dirty water but not smelly at all) or back in the rainforests streams.
FollowupID: 353843

Reply By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 15:01

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 15:01
G'day Mike,
You should be able to do the Telegraph track with trailer, but Gunshot was a "no go" crossing when we were there in September.
Just take it easy and don't be afraid to "chicken out" if you don't feel confident about any particular crossing. There's no prize for taking stupid risks with your family or gear.
We stayed at Loyalty Beach Campground, about 3klm from Seisa and it was pretty good; no pool.
We've done it twice now, both in 4 weeks. The first one was when we lived in Yass (NSW) and we took the long way up and back (ie: via the east coast, Sydney and Brisbane etc). The 2nd trip started here in Kadina (SA) and we went straight up to Innaminka, across to Long Reach, Hughenden, Cairns, Cooktown via the Bloomfield Track, Lakefield NP etc. Came back via Pormporaaw (spelling?) and down the west coast of the Gulf to Karumba, then to Lawn Hill, Mt Isa and Birdsville.
Best thing is to go with an open mind and no set itinery that you have to stick to.
AnswerID: 94993

Follow Up By: mikeE - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 16:24

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 16:24
Thanks Roachie,
Sounds like you have had some great trips. Will try not to plan too much then so that we can be flexible
FollowupID: 353842

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Jan 27, 2005 at 00:29

Thursday, Jan 27, 2005 at 00:29
"Just take it easy and don't be afraid to "chicken out" if you don't feel confident about any particular crossing. There's no prize for taking stupid risks with your family or gear."

Good sensible advice Roachie! That's sums up our thoughts exactly.
Too often see/hear of damage to people and property when the driver feels they have a point to prove or dont want to lose face in front of their mates.

:o) Melissa
FollowupID: 353897

Reply By: Jeff (Beddo) - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 20:47

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 20:47
Mike, 4 weeks eh, bit rushed. Do the Old Telegraph Track for sure, the Delhunty River was good with small kids for camping, shallow clear water no crocs, Weipa well if you must get stores, Chilli Beach you will probably not have enough time (it will probably be windy anyway), Punsund Bay at Cape York is the go with the kids they have a kids club - kids get nuggets and chips for dinner and a video while you can sit back and enjoy a dinner & beer in the restaurant. Plenty of kids so your kids will be occupied. If you stay at Townsville make sure you take the kids to the Waterworks playground - it's free.
Have fun.
PS.Don't tow a trailer so cannot comment on OTL suitability.
AnswerID: 95019

Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 22:07

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 22:07
Towing a trailer is OK but I don't think towing the kids is allowed even in QLD.

AnswerID: 95042

Reply By: Member - Ross P (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 27, 2005 at 09:16

Thursday, Jan 27, 2005 at 09:16

Best advice I could give you was to buy Ron and Viv Moons book on Cape York.

My pick of spots would be Twin Falls; Elliot Falls and Fruit Bat Falls all on the Old Telegraph track.
AnswerID: 95086

Reply By: Patrol22 (Queanbeyan - Thursday, Jan 27, 2005 at 09:46

Thursday, Jan 27, 2005 at 09:46

If you post an email address I can send you all the planning documentation I used for my trip to Cape York in Aug/Sep 2004. I had 6 vehicles, 3 with trailers and 2 with kids - so the files should be of some use to you.

AnswerID: 95091

Reply By: Andrew from TrekTable - Thursday, Jan 27, 2005 at 22:42

Thursday, Jan 27, 2005 at 22:42

a guy from work asked me a similar question about a week ago so I jotted down our itinerary after reviewing Moon's book. My friend had no kids but we did when we did our trip. Here's a cut & paste from my email to him.

We went last June/July and took 4 weeks up & back from Brisbane. We had 4 kids (3 in another car and 12mth old in our car).

Here's a copy of my notes to my friend who had no kids. Feel free to email me if you want more info.



1st thing. You MUST buy a book called “Cape York – An Adventurers Guide” by Ron & Viv Moon. ISBN = 095787664-5. This book is the master reference for 4WD trips to Cape York. Includes all distances, maps, routes, places to see, detailed trek notes, etc.

Also, check out Exploroz Website. Check out the Trek Notes section. Very helpful.

After looking thru the book listed above, here is how I remember our trip:

Duration: 4 Weeks (32 days I think)

Day 1: Depart Bris. Drive to Mackay (Caravan Park just south of Mackay. Name escapes me)

Day2: Mackay to Townsville (Caravan Park on Northern Outskirts of Townsville. Would recommend push on further, say to Cardwell) Good thing about populated areas is you can just drive until late in the day and stop at next C’van Park. We don’t like C’van parks generally but they do have showers which is pleasant after 10 hours driving or so.

Day 3: Townsville to Mt Molloy. Turn west at Innisfail (100km south of Cairns) and head north west, away from the coast. You should be able to cover more ground than we did here (we had kids). Not much at Mt Molloy but is pretty much last stop for quite awhile. You should be able to squeeze days 1 -3 into 2 days and make it to Mt Molloy or somewhere west of Cairns.

Day 4: Cape York begins. Mt Molloy to Palmer River Goldfields. We took a detour via Palmer River Goldfields (Not to be confused with Palmer River Roadhouse) & Maytown. My dad is into gems & fossicking so this was a nice detour if into old mining towns etc. Very remote & tough 4WDing. You would need a minimum of 3 vehicles with GPS and good maps to attempt it. We had arranged for helicopter drop of any spare parts required if we ran into problems. We spent 2 nights in the area.

Day 5: Maytown

Day 6: Maytown to Laura. 80km in 7hrs. Rough

Day 7: Laura to Archer River. Camp right on the sandy creek bed at Archer River. Lovely place and nice camping.

Day 8: Archer River to Pera Head (Remote campsite south of Weipa). We had directions to a private campsite south of Weipa. We turned off the main road to Weipa and headed toward Arukun. Quite remote and I’m not sure I’d do it again.

Day 9: Pera Head to Weipa. If you are short on time, you could completely bypass Weipa. It’s a big mining town. Not much else unless you want to organize a fishing trip while there. It is also good to have a look around but if you are short on time, skip it. It’s quite away west from the main track north and will cost you atleast 2 days.

Day 10: Fishing at Weipa

Day 11: Weipa to Delhunty River. Now on Overland Telegraph Line (OTL). Delhunty is lovely camping & swimming in Freshwater Creek. There are some lovely campsites off the main track here. I really enjoyed this part of the trip as the creeks and swimming is just great. Check out a campsite about 4km west of the track via small side track. Also recommend a campsite on northside of Bertie Creek (just North of Delhunty).

Day 12: Delhunty to Twin Falls. This is where you cross the famous Gunshot creek with several very nasty entries. Quite a few people park on the northern side and watch other people coming thru. I found it an anticlimax as there are other more ‘adventurous’ creek crossings. This is some of the nicest country on the Cape. The creeks are just magnificent so we spend days just swimming and exploring. I think we stayed here 2 nights. There is a main campground at Twin Falls with toilet facilities so it’s quite mainstream and popular. Although it is lovely here, there are more isolated spots that are just as nice. Elliot Falls is quite near Twin Falls so when you go there, take note that you can actually climb under the waterfall and sit behind the water. Take care and do it slowly so you don’t slip down some of the crevices, but it can be done quite easily. We swam from Elliot Falls to Twin Falls using inflated tyre tubes (from our spares). I recommend it.

Day13: Twin Falls (I think)

Day 14: Twin Falls to Nolan’s Brook (or Bridge Creek). This is about as far north as you can go on the OTL. You turn west from here and head across to the Northern Bypass Road to cross the Jardine (by Ferry). The original track heads north from Bridge creek but you would need to ford the Jardine (not recommended). Worth a look though just to imagine what everyone used to do. Quite intimidating.

Day 15: Nolan’s Brook to Seisa. Seisa is actually the town at the very tip, not Bamaga. Bamaga is just before the tip (not on the coast). Seisa is where the boats come in. We stayed at a C’van park just east of Seisa (Loyalty Beach I think). There is only one C’van Park in Seisa and it is right near the boat jetty and we had heard it can be quite noisy with boats loading/unloading at night. You need to turn east just as you come into Seisa to get to the park we stayed at. Punsand Bay Safari lodge is further east and looked like a superb place to stay. I’d recommend checking out their prices and checking to see if you need to book. My preference.

Day 16: Exploring the tip. Drive to the very tip (Pajinka) and Somerset.There is some very good camping at Somerset and on the beach south of there. We only went to Somerset and there is some secluded camping down by the beach that was quite popular. You can also get down onto the eastern beach and I’ve seen photos of camping there and it looks good. It depends on whether you want access to showers and washing machines by this stage (available at C’van parks) We didn’t go to Thursday Island but many people do. You can also hire fishing boats (drive yourself) and go on fishing charters.

Day 17: I’m not sure if we stayed at Seisa again this day.

Day 18: Seisa to Twin Falls (The return trip) We decided to avoid the Bypass Roads and return on the OTL. While the Bypass Roads are fast, the corrugations are just horrendous so we used the OTL. While it carries the same traffic, it is at a much slower pace and doesn’t seem to suffer from as many corrugations (although we noticed a big increase on our return trip!)

Day 19: Twin Falls to Chilli Beach (East Coast). We turned east and traveled across Frenchmans Rd to Chilli beach. Several very nice and adventurous creek crossings on the way (especially Pascoe River). Chilli Beach was nice but very windy (by the look of the many coconut trees it is often windy here. We stayed 2 nights and visited nearby Portland Roads while here.

Day 20: Chilli Beach 7 Portland Roads

Day 21: Chilli Beach to Archer River

Day 22: Archer River to Cape Melville (almost). We once again turned east and traveled across to the south eastern part of Princess Charlotte Bay. We were aiming for Bathurst bay but didn’t make it in one day so camped beside track in isolated area. This track may see one or two vehicles per day. This is about the only place we had to be careful with water. Almost all other campsites had easy access to shower & washing water while we carried water for drinking.

Day 23: Bathurst Bay: Absolutely lovely. We camped at the eastern end of the beach. It is a long north facing beach. Very lovely and highly recommended but very remote. There is a freshwater spring at the eastern end so we camped near there. I recommend this spot but it is the place where a guy was taken recently by a croc. I don’t understand how because the camping is an awful long way from the water (~300 metres) so I suspect there is more to that story then the media showed.

Day 24: Bathurst Bay to Cooktown. There is a track south from Bathurst Bay to Cooktown but you need to check it is open (ask other travelers via UHF). It is quite rugged but saves doubling back to the main road. You will pass Bloomfield Falls so make sure you take the detour & have a look.

Day 25 & 26: Cooktown. Lovely place you could spend a week or more just exploring. We stayed in a C’van Park in town in Howard St I think. Quite OK.

Day 27: Cooktown to Daintree. We traveled via Cape Tribulation which was lovely. Not long after you leave Cooktown you will pass the Lion’s Den Hotel. Well worth a look. We found it difficult to find campgrounds in Cape Trib so traveled on to Daintree. Apparently the campground in Cow Bay is lovely so I’d probably try there next time. The alternative route is via the CREB track. I’d love to do it but it is quite serious so you’d need good & capable company.

Day 28: Daintree to Cardwell (I think seems too long a distance so may have stayed somewhere in between). Make sure to stop at Mossman Gorge. We also stopped at Port Douglas but it certainly didn’t do much for me. Way too developed. We bypassed Cairns (big cities don’t do much for us) & I’m pretty sure we traveled thru to Cardwell. We stayed at c’van park here but there are some lovely National Parks worth stopping at. Depends how you are for time by this stage.

From there we travelled home from there over about 3 more days via an inland route to visit my brother.

AnswerID: 95269

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