Australia 2010

A circumnavigation (with risks).

Cape York.

This web page comes to you from the most northerly point of mainland Australia.

At the very tip of Cape York is a suitably austere sign on a lonely rocky beach.

You have reached the end of your journey.

You can admire the view and enjoy the solitude of this beautiful remote place.

You can congratulate yourself on reaching a point few Australians reach.

Of course you do have to wait your turn in the queue to be able to photograph the sign.

There were two places to stay at the tip of Cape York, Punsand Bay Camping Resort (where we are) and the once posh and now Aboriginal run Pajinka Resort.

This is the view from Man as I write...

...And this is the now abandoned Pajinka Resort.

For most Australians the trip up Cape York is synonymous with 4WD adventure and the infamous Telegraph Track. To get to the top of Cape York there are at least 600km of dirt track, with mud, sand, corrugations, crocodile infested creeks and red dust!

There are no "grey nomads" here in their caravans (with their electric toasters and rotisseries under the awning). This is the realm of real men in big 4x4s with winches, tents and off-road camper trailers.

As an example of the road, below is Scrubby Creek ("Can be deep" our guide book says) on the Telegraph Track between Fruitbat Fallsand Elliot Falls.

On this occasion Michele did not have to wade across the river first (to find the best route) because we watched this man do it (Thanks John).

Actually we (and most other people) take both the Southern and Northern Bypass Roads (still dirt but maintained and avoiding most of the creeks). The Telegraph Track is for hard core 4x4 enthusiasts only. Having said that, Cape York is still fairly remote with very limited infrastructure. Even a little rain can render the road impassable.

Long before you reach the Telegraph Track you pass thru Coen ("Coen is civilisation and only Weipa surpasses it in amenities in the central region of Cape York" - according to our guide book.)

Below is the main street of Coen on a wet Saturday morning. Alas the much advertised RACQ approved garage on the left is now closed - permanently. The nearest garage is about 150km away.

The Post Office was open, but the award winning Wunthulpu Visitor Centre was closed and apparently unused.

The Coen Health Centre was also closed when we there, but Condoman's message was clear.

North of Coen there is a Quarantine Inspection Station to make sure you don't take any mangoes south from the cape into the rest of Queensland. This too was closed on Saturday, so you just drive round it.

On the drive up Cape York there are several stations (farms) and roadhouses that offer camping and food. We stayed at Merluna Station and ate at Archer River Roadhouse (both recommended).

The road up the cape (excluding the Old Telegraph Track) varies from broad slightly corrugated motorway dirt... single track smooth clay.

Everybody now uses the ferry to cross the Jardine river (even the hard core 4x4 enthusiasts).

All in all the trip to the tip of Cape York is well worth it.