Cape York Peninsula
Cape York Peninsula is also called the Tip and if you enjoy adventure, is well worth travelling through. There are plenty of places to stop along your journey through the Cape York Peninsula and several islands off of the far northern tip.
Cape York has two seasons, the Dry Season and the Wet Season. The "Dry" Season is between May and November. The "Wet" Season is between November and April.
Although thunderstorms and monsoons are common during the wet season, the period between December and April is also known as the "Green" Season.
The best time to visit the Cape is in the Dry Season, and although the drive is generally recommended for 4WD conventional vehicles can drive through the Cape as long as special care is taken and only in August and September. However, after rain the roads are generally impassible, so check road conditions before starting your journey. You will also need to get permits to camp in certain areas around the Cape York Peninsula, which can be purchased at both the EPA and RACQ in Cairns.
The Peninsula Developmental Road starts at Lakeland where you can fill up on food and supplies. After this the next place along the 734km drive to Bamaga (a short distance from the Tip) is Laura. Just south of Laura you can turn off to Split Rock and the Quinkan Aboriginal Rock Art Galleries, which feature some fabulous Aboriginal rock paintings. If you are travelling through this area in June (on an odd numbered year) then you should stop at Laura for the Laura Aboriginal Dance and Cultural Festival, where you will get to experience a taste of Aboriginal culture.
Just north of Laura you can head off of the main road to the Lakefield National Park. There is plenty of birdlife within the park due to its large wetland areas. To the north of the park is the pretty Charlotte Bay where there are some spectacular Aboriginal rock art galleries, however it is very difficult to get to. Along the coast, east of the park, are two further National Parks, the Cape Melville National Park and the Starke National Park. You can get to them from the Lakefield National Park as well as from Cooktown, although the tracks aren't great.
North along the main road, you will pass Hann before reaching Musgrave and the old Musgrave Telegraph Station. North again is the relatively large town (in relation to other towns on the peninsula) of Coen. You can get fuel here and minor repairs, as well as at the Archer River Roadhouse, further north again. It is worth topping up the fuel as there are a number of places worth exploring further north.
Just before Archer River Roadhouse, you can head west towards the Mungkan Kandju National Park which is home to the McIlwraith Range. It is possible to bush camp at various points along the river, although you will need to get a permit from the Ranger Ph: (07) 4060 3256. You will also need to inform the ranger once you leave the park. North again just after the Archer River Roadhouse you can head to east to another National Park. The Iron Range National Park is made up of the Janet and Tozer Ranges, and is home to beautiful rainforest and animals unique to this area. There are two coastal towns that you can visit within the park, called Lockhart River and Portland Roads.
A little further north along the main road, you can turn head west towards Weipa. It is quite a drive although a great place to visit. Weipa is home to Comalco which mines for bauxite in the area, and offering tours around the workings. The area also offers good camping and great fishing. Continuing north you will pass Batavia Downs which marks the beginning of the river crossing sections, with the two major rivers being the Dulhunty and the Wenlock. Once you cross the Wenlock River you can either continue along the old telegraph track which is direct but rough, or head along the longer but quicker new route.
On the eastern side of the peninsula you will pass the Jardine River National Park, and the spectacular Indian Head Falls. You will shortly reach the Jardine River Crossing, which is fairly pricey to cross, although does include camping permits and goes towards campsite maintenance around the Cape York Peninsula.
North of the Jardine River the main town is Bamaga, which offers a selection of facilities. North west is Seisia which offers accommodation, and north east of the failed trading port of Somerset. Just north of Somerset is Cape York itself, and the furthest most point of mainland Australia. Just off of the coast are the Torres Strait Islands, which you can get to by boat from the northern tip of the peninsula.
Featured Cape York Peninsula Activities and Tours
Face the far north wilderness on a 4WD Safari Cape York Frontier. Visit Daintree National Park, Cooktown, Lakefield National Park and Thursday Island. Get off the beaten track and explore some of a re...
Face the far north coast on a 7 day 4WD safari Cape York Frontier. See Cape Tribulation, Cooktown, Lakefield National Park, Weipa & Thursday Island. This tour is small enough for a more intimate exper...