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The Cape York Peninsula

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The Cape York Peninsula points north towards the Torres Strait and New Guinea, and tackling the rugged tracks and hectic river crossings on the “Trip To The Tip” is an adventure in itself – besides being a means to reach Australia’s northernmost point and the communities at Bamaga and Thursday Island, so different from anywhere else in Australia that they could easily be in another country. But it’s not all four-wheel driving across the savannah: during the dry season the historic settlement of Cooktown, the wetlands at Lakefield National Park and Laura’s Aboriginal heritage are only a day’s journey from Cairns in any decent vehicle. Given longer, you might get as far as the mining company town of Weipa, but don’t go further than this without off-road transport; while some have managed to reach the Tip in family sedans, most who try fail miserably.

With thousands making the overland journey between May and October, a breakdown won’t necessarily leave you stranded, but the cost of repairs will make you regret it. Bikers should travel in groups and have offroading experience. Those without their own vehicle can take overland tours right to the Tip, or get as far as Cooktown with the Country Road Coachlines bus. It’s also possible to cruise from Cairns up to Bamaga, Horn Island and Thursday Island. Airlines serving the Cape from Cairns include Qantas and Skytrans.

You’ll find a few roadhouses and motels along the way, but north of Weipa accommodation on the Cape is mostly limited to camping, and it’s inevitable if you head right to the Tip that one night at least will be spent in the bush. Settlements also supply meals and provisions, but there won’t be much on offer, so take all you can carry. Don’t turn bush campsites into rubbish dumps: take a pack of bin liners and remove all your garbage. Be aware that estuarine crocodiles are present throughout the Cape. There are few banks, so take enough cash to carry you between points – some roadhouses accept plastic. In Cairns, the National Parks office stocks maps and brochures on the Cape’s national parks, whilst the RACQ has up-to-date information regarding current road conditions.

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