While planning our next big trip (Simpson Desert crossing later this year – watch this space!) I’ve been reflecting a lot on last year’s Cape York trip – what we planned for, what went wrong, what we got right, and the amazing places we got to experience. And wow, does it have some great places to visit!
So with that in mind, I wanted to share with you our TOP 5 MUST-DO ACTIVITIES at Cape York.
Number 5: Camp at Loyalty Beach
We spent a few days using this campground as our base while exploring the Tip, and I highly recommend it. After roughly a week exploring the Old Telegraph Track we had plenty of clothes to wash and the idea of a real hot shower was amazing – its funny how the little things you take for granted at home become memorable luxuries on a trip of mostly bush camping!
The highlight at this camp ground was the restaurant/bar area. They have a special meal each night that’s affordably priced considering the location, including their famous “fish and chip night” on Sunday when all the locals come along – plan to go early or you might miss out! Don’t expect this place to be like your city restaurants , but as for the ambiance, well, you can’t beat it. Party lights strung from the trees, picnic tables right up to the beach, and the most amazing sunsets. Add to that your friends, family, and a few cold drinks, and you really kicking back at one of the treasures of the Cape.
4. Swim in the waterholes at Fruit Bat Falls, Eliot Falls, and Twin Falls
As most know, when travelling the Cape you’re in croc territory so most of the picturesque beaches and other waterways aren’t safe to swim at.
The waterholes at Fruit Bat Falls, Eliot Falls and Twin Falls are your exception. Not only are they some of the most stunning scenery you’ll see on your trip, but they are perfect locations to relax and take a dip. We were travelling in July and the water was still perfect for swimming.
There’s actually two spots that I’ve merged into one to cheekily fit more onto my list – you have Fruit Bat Falls which is accessible from both the Old Telegraph Track or Bamaga Road/Peninsular Development Road, and the Eliot Falls and Twin Falls area that can only be accessed from the Old Telegraph Track. Don’t be tempted to sneak between the two if you don’t have a vehicle equipped with a snorkel and weren’t planning for any “real off-road driving” – just north of Fruit Bat Falls is a deep crossing known as “Scrubby Creek” (not named on the Hema Maps app). When we drove through this crossing was level with our Patrol bonnet and rivalled all others along the Tele Track for depth! Eliot Falls also has camping available but this must be booked through the Queensland National Parks website. Rangers do patrol the area so make sure you do have the relevant permits if you do want to camp there.
3. See the tip of Australia by Helicopter
While this experience isn’t cheap, it comes highly recommended. There are a few places offering helicopter flights over the Tip, but we chose the flight from Loyalty Beach and weren’t disappointed.
We were able to fly with the doors off the helicopter which is ideal for photos, but mean they must fly slower which may mean you don’t get to see as much. We also saw our only crocodile for the trip on this flight, so keep your eyes peeled when flying over where any creeks and rivers are entering the ocean. The photos I took really don’t do the experience justice, and one of these days I’ll have to put together a video of the footage I got on the GoPro I had with me.
2. Drive the Old Telegraph Track
Any serious 4-wheel-driver will know about the Tele Track, and if they haven’t been there it’ll be on the “bucket list” of destinations to drive.
The Old Telegraph Track offers something for everyone – technical driving for the keenest 4-wheel-drive enthusiast, a little history, picturesque camp sites, and a real feeling of adventure.
The most famous creek crossing on the track is Gunshot Creek. A photo here is considered a trophy, but keep in mind that no challenge is worth breaking your car and ruining your trip – we were fortunate that the conditions were ideal when we went and were lucky to get this photo. There is a bypass track around the crossing and often are easier “chicken” alternatives at the crossing itself if you’d prefer not to take on the near-vertical drop. Even if you don’t intend to drive it you should definitely still head along and take a look! The stop gathers a crowd and is a great way to meet other travellers. Please consider the beautiful location you’re in before being tempted to leave something behind at the Gunshot “shrine” – if not cleaned up all the debris left behind washes out to sea each wet season.
There are plenty of places to camp along the Old Telegraph Track, with camping areas at most of the crossings like Dulhunty River. Keep in mind that this is real bush camping – no showers or toilets here – so you’ll have to be prepared to take out whatever rubbish you produce and be completely self-sufficient.
1. Get a photo at The Tip (Pajinka)
You can’t make it all the way to Cape York without getting a photo at the sign! Be prepared to do a bit of walking – sometimes its possible to walk along the beach but this does depend on tides, otherwise you’ll need to head over the rocks. Remember your sunscreen, too, as the sun has some bite this close to the equator!
While you’re in the area, why not explore the ruins of the old Pajinka Resort and try to find the infamous bird watching tower. There’s plenty to find around here if you’re willing to explore!
Now, limiting myself to only 5 must-do attractions was tough, so here’s a few quick honourable mentions:
- Try a crayfish pie from the Bamaga Bakery. Just do it – you won’t regret it!
- Enjoy a postcard-perfect sunset at Seisia Beach.
- Drive the Five Beaches Track and explore the Somerset Ruins.
- Explore the area around Elim Beach, the Coloured Sands, and Cape Bedford (permit required from Hope Vale).
Have you travelled around Cape York? Do you think I’ve missed any must-do attractions? Leave us a comment and let us know!