the ultimate guide to

Cape York

We don’t blame you if you haven’t been to Cape York yet. This large remote peninsula in Far North Queensland is about as close to the very tip of Australia as you can get and definitely one of the most challenging places to explore. However, the rewards here are just as immense.

 

From the crystal clear (and thankfully crocodile-free) waters of Fruit Bat Falls to the ancient wonders of the Daintree Rainforest, if it’s raw untouched beauty you’re after then Cape York more than delivers. And the best part? Hardly any crowds to contend with.

 

So if you’re keen to take a trip off the beaten track then here’s our beginner’s guide so you can gird your loins and your Instagram for Queensland’s ‘final frontier’.

Getting there

You know what they say about good things coming to those who wait? They were clearly talking about the travel time to Cape York. Brisbane is the closest capital city to Cape York Peninsula but even then it’s a healthy 6-hour trip, as you’ll have to switch flights in Cairns.  Flying from Sydney domestic airport will take about 7 hours. And from Perth? Strap yourself in for a solid 12-hour direct journey to Northern Peninsula Airport near Bamaga.

 

We promise it’s all worth it.

Top things to do in Cape York

Waterfalls

The stunning waterfalls of Cape York are your reward for 4-wheel-driving the often unpaved roads required to get to them. We’ll start you off easy though with the Endeavour Falls, which are just 32kms from Cooktown and accessible via Endeavour Falls Tourist Park. No swimming allowed here (if you want to avoid crocodiles) but it’s a relaxing spot for a picnic.

 

If swimming is a must then continue a little further along past the Endeavour Falls Tourist Park towards Hope Vale and on to Battlecamp Road. This will take you to Isabella Falls, a magical water hole and safe spot to take a dip.

 

Feeling warmed up and ambitious? Good. Jump into your 4-wheel-drive and tackle the iconic Old Telegraph Track from Bramwell Junction to Bamaga Road. About 4 water crossings into the 70km vehicle endurance test you’ll come across Sam Creek. Step out of the car and walk east of the Telegraph Track intersection until you discover the small but oh so picturesque beauty of Hidden Falls. Enjoy.

 

4WD Driving

Cape York is not a place for nervous drivers, but if finding out how much your Hilux can handle gets you hot under the collar then this is definitely the place for you.

 

The Overland Telegraph Track is famous for its reputation for claiming more than a few overly ambitious vehicles that try to navigate her famous water crossings early in the year. Up for the challenge? Then start your adventure from Bramwell Junction towards Palm Creek. The general rule of thumb is if your vehicle can make it through the first obstacle of crossing Palm Creek then you can generally make it the rest of the way. Generally…

 

Art & Culture

If it’s ancient aboriginal culture you’re after then Cape York well caters, offering a multitude of opportunities to connect with Australia’s ancient history. Lockhart River Arts is home to works by the world-famous Lockhart River Art Gang, who have had their works shown in galleries across the United States in New York, Houston and Santa Fe.

 

You’ll also find works by artists from the Aurukun region at the Wik and Kugu Arts Centre, such as brightly coloured milkwood structures and totemic animals such as dogs, sharks and echidnas.

 

Looking to find the next Clifford Tjapaltjarri then be sure to visit the Cooktown School of Art Society, which fosters the talents of some of the regions newest and brightest young art stars.

Best time to travel to Cape York

If you’re 4-wheel-driving then you’ll definitely want to steer clear of wet season from December to April. However, May to October conditions are perfect for a Cape York escape, with temperatures maxing out around 30 degrees Celsius from May to July.

Top places to stay in Cape York

Hotels & Resorts

While indulging in rugged beauty is the name of the game up here, those looking to lounge a little will relish in the hotels in Cooktown. The 4-star Sovereign Resort Hotel has enough creature comforts to either recharge your batteries or civilisation one last look before embarking on your adventure into the wild.

 

On a more eco-resort scale, the cabin and lodge accommodations of Cape York Peninsula Lodge, located in the township of Bamaga, acts as an oasis for 4-wheel-drivers after a long time from Cairns. It might not be the Four Seasons but after 70km of dirt road, it might as well be.

Caravans

Whether you’re an angler, a 4-wheel-driver or simply along for the ride, Cape York Camping Punsand Bay is the top of the Northern tip’s camping and caravan accommodation. It’s location along the pristine beachfront of Punsand Bay is reason enough but a proper working shower, power and wood-fired pizzas just seals the deal.

 

Sesia Holiday Park is another gem located along the beachfront and provides a perfect home base for exploring the peninsula and Torres Strait Islands.

Tours and packages Cape York

Cape York Safaris offer 1-day flying tours that take travellers over 1100 kilometres of untouched reefs, rainforests and locations largely inaccessible by vehicle. Those looking to delve deep into Cape York via air, land and sea will love their 11-day Cape York Camping, Fly & Drive Safari.

 

If you’d like to get well and truly off the beaten track then we recommend exploring Cape York by cargo cruise . Discover Australia Holidays offer 6-day cruises aboard a working supply ship that travels from Cairns through the Torres Strait, Thursday Island, Horn Island and Seisia.