FROM COOKTOWN TO THE TIP OF CAPE YORK!!
Ten days from Cooktown to Cape York and back via Weipa and the Old Telegraph Track (OTT). A total of 2022km travelled and an EPIC TRIP!
When we first hit the road getting to the tip was on our bucket list! It's one of those locations that's tarred with adventure! We'd heard all the stories of recoveries, breakdowns, fishing and campfire tales and we were pumped to create our own....
Now, your timing to get up to the Cape is imperative as it can only be done in the dry season from around April-November (depending on the rain). For us, we didn't want to go in school holidays as it gets very busy and we hate crowded campsites so we hit Cooktown in early September to prepare for the tip.
$$ Firstly, I’ll start off with our budget stats for the trip. $$
Diesel - $542.57 and the most expensive at Jardine River Ferry @ $2 per Litre.
Food - $350 along the way and we also cleared out our van before we left (about $150 worth of food). The supermarket at Bamaga is fantastic and has everything you’ll need. Groceries are expensive in this area of Australia and we also purchased our drinking water too.
Accomodation - $172
Elim Beach $20p/n - Weipa Caravan Park $35p/n x2 - Punsand Bay Campground $44p/n x2 - Moreton Telegraph Station $20p/n
Alcohol - $180
You definitely need a beer or ten every afternoon at the Cape. The Tavern at Bamaga has some good specials. But do remember there are restriction on how much grog you can carry up this way.
OUR 4WD SET UP AND CAMPING GEAR
OZtrail Fast Frame 450 Tourer - OZtrail Toilet - 12V Shower - Gas Stove - Sleeping Bags - Camp Chairs - Air Mattresses - Duffle Bags
You can read all about our MAZDA BT50 and how it's kitted out for touring below..........
OUR CAMP ITINERARY -10 nights
COOK TOWN - ELIM BEACH - WEIPA - BERTIE CREEK - LOGANS CREEK - ROONGA POINT - PUNSAND BAY - MORTON TELEGRAPH STATION - COOKTOWN
We love this little town. Lots to see and do around the area and it's the start of your adventure to Cape York. We parked up at the Cooktown Holiday Park. It's a beautiful park with plenty of shade, large grassy sites and a resort style pool to cool off in.
A small but busy town that is a hub for travellers heading north and south. Cooktown is a great place to not only stock up for your adventures but it also has a lot to see! After parking our van at the BIG4 Cooktown Holiday Park we decided to lay low for a day and do a ton of washing. The amenities are fantastic, staff are beyond friendly and the park itself is a winner!
If your after some Top Notch Seafood while you're here, there is a great bloke in town who runs Nicko's seafood! He does a seafood run every avo through the caravan park so look out for him and make sure you grab some prawns, they are Delicious!! Hit him up when your buying some prawns about leaving your caravan somewhere while you head to the tip!!
Only 30km away you will find, "The Lions Den Hotel". One of North Queenslands most Iconic Pubs. It provided us a tasty beer while the kids played in the playground. What a pub this is! With it's quirky memorabilia, a swimming hole out the back and wood fired pizzas to die for, it's a Mecca for tourists! It's a must stop while in the area. With its history and licenced bar what's not to love.
After a couple of nights preparing for our trip we put our van into storage & stock up on some last minute groceries and we’re ready to hit the road.
First stop out of Cooktown is Elim Beach, only and hour and a half north. We find an epic campsite called Eddies Camp right on the beach, set up high on a little bank and we are stoked. It's our first time setting up the new tent, so it takes us a little time but all in all an easy set up. We have partnered with OzTrail for this trip and they have kitted us out with the OzTrail 450 Tourer. It's very spacious with 2 rooms and only a couple of clicks and the tent is up. The fly goes on, air mattresses & sleeping bags in & we’re practically set up!
We took with us a portable chemical toilet that came in extremely handy on the trip. Also with us is a 12V shower. we can plug this into the car and out comes HOT water! With a brisk night, its nice to have a warm shower and the kids get an absolute thrill out of showering outside!
We’d highly recommend stopping at Elim Beach on your way up to the Tip. An absolutely magic spot & make sure you check out the coloured sands while your there. The next day we do a big drive to Weipa, via the battlecamp road. Which was pretty much just a well maintained gravel road, but a great shortcut instead of driving back through Cooktown and Laura.
The road up to Weipa was excellent. It had just been graded and over half of it was bitumen. This place actually surprised us! A little tight knit township with just about everything you could need. Driving into the Weipa caravan park we didn’t expect grass. But you drive through the gates and it was as green as ever, so we found a spot to set our tent up with an ocean view. There is a cafe on site that do a mean pizza, a fantastic pool and a great atmosphere. It was a beaut place to relax so we decided to stay 2 nights. It's also where you will find the last big shopping centre as you head north. There is a Woolworths, tackle shops, medical centre etc...
There is places to pick up a few things as you head further north, but your better off stocking up while your in Weipa.
We have some good friends that live in Weipa so it was good to catch up with them and get some fishing done! Watch the Video below!!
THE OLD TELEGRAPH TRACK
Woohooo, after leaving Weipa we are stoked to finally hit the Old Telegraph Track. We make a quick pit stop for some fuel and pics at the Bramwell Roadhouse and we’re off!!
The start of the track is pretty tame with just a single vehicle track cutting through the bush with a few washouts and rocky sections along the way. Once you hit Palm Creek, this is where the track really starts to get a bit gnarly. A steep entry and exit into the creek make things a bit tricky. If your towing a trailer, you will need to head to the right to find the chicken track or you will be winching up the exit!!l
A few more shallow water crossings a couple of lumpy sections of track and we are ready to make camp. After being on the OTT once before we knew Bertie Creek was a fantastic place to make a stop. A short detour off the track leads us to where the Bertie meets the Dulhunty, a quiet creek with rapids and crystal clear water. We set up camp, crack a few beers and jump straight into the cool shallow rapids. Put this campsite on your list, its a ripper.
After a peaceful night camp at Bertie Creek we continue North on the OTT. The next major landmark been Gunshot Creek and the notorious cliff drops that some maniacs attempt to drive through. For us, it was an easy choice to take the chicken track round to the right that takes you through the creek and up a steep uneven exit.
Gunshot is a good place to stop for a bit of lunch while you check out the track and watch a few others go through the creek.
Our next pit stop was Fruit Bat Falls and an iconic part of the OTT. The falls are located where the the OTT crosses the PDR(Peninsula Development Road) .A beautiful waterfall that cascades over a ledge into a shallow pool perfect for swimming. We were quick to jump in and have a slash around. The kids loved playing under the waterfall and it really was magic! It wasn’t crowded either so we had plenty of room to enjoy the beautiful refreshing water on a stinking hot day!
As you continue on the northern section of the Tele Track you will soon come across Elliot Falls. Another picturesque waterfall and pool that we admired.There is also a great National Park campsite here if you book ahead.
Our next stop was Logans Creek crossing, where you can sit and watch others attempt the water crossing before you of it yourself. We had a big day and decided to pull up and camp here for the night before finishing the track the next day.
What an epic spot this one was and we had it all to ourselves. Beautiful blue waters and great fishing. I managed to catch a few fish and we watched a stunning sunset. Roonga Point is in-between the Croc Tent and Punsand Bay Campground. When you stop in at the Croc Tent for a look, ask them for a mudmap with the campgrounds and tracks on it. It will only cost you a few dollars and well worth it.
A great place to stock up, refuel, grab some more beers and do some grocery shopping. Be prepared to pay for expensive fuel here as well as all other items, which is fair enough in this remote part of Oz. The caravan park here is a great place to pull up and fishing off the jetty is a must.
We were pretty excited to stop in here, get some washing done and have a swim in the (bore water) pool. We snagged a site right on the beach and had some amazing views. The restaurant do a fantastic meal and some of the best wood fired pizza’s we’ve had! We were even able to enjoy a few beers while the kids played with other families.
Punsand Bay Campground cost $44 per night and we stayed two as we did our trip to ‘The Tip’ from here.
THE TIP OF AUSTRALIA - PAJINKA
We made it to The Tip and it was a good feeling. Although it's not an overly difficult trek, it's still a lot of km's and a lot of corrugations to get there. We parked up at the bottom and as it was high tide we had to walk over some rocky outcrop to get to the tip. If you can get there on low tide, heading around the headland on the sand is a bit of a shortcut and it's magnificent. The walk in was about 15 minutes and the kids all managed well.
THE WAY BACK
Now once you have reached the TIP, the adventure isn't over just yet!! There is still some great campsites to visit before you head back down.
Here's a few things to check out before you head back down.
SOMERSET BEACH - A great free camp
5 BEACHES DRIVE - A scenic coastal loop that takes you past 5 beaches and back to the PDR.
THE FRENCHMANS TRACK- Another challenging 4wd track that takes you to the east coast & Chiili Beach.
CHILLI BEACH - An amazing campground where rainforest meets the snow white sands of Chilli beach. We didn't make it there as the winds were howling 70-80km an hour, not ideal for setting up a tent.
MORETON TELEGRAPH STATION
Our last stop on our Cape York trek & this was such a welcoming visit. After all the red dirt we were very excited to pull into a lush green campground. We set up in a camp nestled amongst the bush and it was the perfect way to end out Cape York travels. Our final night here before heading back to Cooktown to pick up our van and continue down the East Coast.
FAVOURITE CAMPS -
BERTIE CREEK ON THE OTT AND ROONGA POINT BEACH CAMP JUST NEAR PUNSAND BAY.
1. DON’T GET TO THE JARDINE RIVER FERRY AT LUNCHTIME.
2. DO THE WALK TO THE TIP AT LOW TIDE SO YOU CAN WALK AROUND THE BEACH.
3. TAKE YOUR TIME AND BE SAFE
4. TRY AND DO IT WHEN IT’S NOT BUSY. WE HAD A DREAM RUN UP HERE WITH THE TRACKS MAINLY TO OURSELVES - WE RECKON IT WOULD NOT BE AS ENJOYABLE WHEN THERE IS HEAPS OF TRAFFIC.
WHAT A BLOODY GREAT TRIP!! WE LOVED GETTING OUT OF THE VAN AND TACKLING THE ADVENTURE OF THE OLD TELEGRAPH TRACK AND CAPE YORK.
A MASSIVE THANKS TO OZTRAIL FOR TEAMING UP WITH US, THE GEAR PERFORMED OUTSTANDING AND MADE LIFE EASY ON THE TRACKS.
DEFINITELY PUT THIS TRIP ON YOUR HITLIST! IT’S ONE YOU WILL REMEMBER FOR EVER.