Cape York Penisula is the most northern-most part of Queensland and is the largest unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia. The Peninsula has a special fascination for nature-lovers, bird watchers, orchid fanciers, rainforest lovers and fishing enthusiast alike. Everything from beautiful golden shouldered parrots and colourful fish, to wallabies, emus, green pythons and estuarine crocodiles are present in the area. In fact, 300 bird species and about one third of all Australian mammal species have been found in the Cape York Peninsula. The white-streaked honeyeater is peculiar to the area. Barramundi is common in parts of the peninsula, particularly at Princess Charlotte Bay. The distinctiveness of Cape York Peninsula’s flora and fauna is often attributed to influences from Papua New guinea. the presence of many plants and animals in both regions provides strong evidence that a land bridge once existed across the strait joint the two countries. The large bird population con be attributed to the regions “transitional” role fro birds migrating between southern Australia and Asia.
Cape York Peninsula is a major world source of bauxite. The western coastline, from Weipa to Aurukun, contains extensive bauxite reserves. Exploration for oil and gas is also being conducted both on and off shore.
The Peninsula is equally rich in human history. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities account for over 60 percent of the Peninsula’s population. In some instances, the communities are descendants of families who lived in the area 40,000 years ago.
Access to the tip of Cape York Penisula is by land, sea or air. In many places, the roads to the tip are rough and difficult to negotiate. The ‘challenge’ of reaching the thin is a lure for many 4WD openers. Travel on. the section of the Peninsula Development Road Archer River to Weipa is possible most of the year (except when flooding occurs) by conventional vehicle due to a constructed gravel road. Check road conditions before your departure to either Weipa or Cape York by listening to Main Roads Road Report on 131940. It is not advisable to tow a caravan any further north than Cooktown or Laura. For more information from Main Roads please see: https://data.qldtraffic.qld.gov.au/htmlreports/district-Far_North.html
The first car trip to the top of Cape York Peninsula was undertaken by Hector MacQuarrie and Dick Matthews in a Baby Austin Seven in 1928 as seen on the left.Their journeys took one month to complete.
Cape York Peninsula is renowned for its monsoon season. At this time temperatures can range from 23 degrees to 35 degrees. During this “wet” season many roads become impassable. After heavy rain, a stationary vehicle can sink deep into the mud. Travel in conventional vehicles north of Laura to Coen is safe between April and December, providing the wet is not prolonged or early. The route north to the top is recommended between June and December, for 4wd vehicles only. Many roads are closed to all traffic from December to April.
Cape York Peninsula is renowned for its monsoon season. At this time temperatures can range from 23 degrees to 35 degrees. During this “wet” season many roads become impassable. After heavy rain, a stationary vehicle can sink deep into the mud. Travel in conventional vehicles north of Laura to Coen is safe between April and December, providing the wet is not prolonged or early. The route north to the top is recommended between June and December, for 4wd vehicles only. Many roads are closed to all traffic from December to April. It is important to test the depth of watercourses before attempting to negotiate them in vehicles. If they are not swift running after rain, they should not be negotiated. As water recedes, some streams have dangerously vertical banks. You must pre-book composites in the National Parks. To pre-book via the internet log onto Moreton Telegraph Station and Lakefield national Park Ranger Station, or Queensland National Parks.
Much of the habitat diversity of Cape York Peninsula is represented within national parks. These protected areas occupy more than 10 per cent fo the Peninsula’s Landmass. Crocodiles are a feature of Cape York Peninsula’s National Parks. Both Freshwater crocodiles (recognisable by their narrow jaw), and potentially dangerous estuarine crocodiles occur in the parks. Estuarine crocodiles may be present in creeks, rivers and waterholes, and along the beach’s on most of Cape York Peninsula. You should not swim, prepare food at the water’s edge, or camp within 50m of deep-water areas where these animals may be present. Report any sighting of large crocodiles to the nearest Ranger. Most roads to and within these national parks are suitable for 4wd vehicles only. Most are simple bush tracks. No fuel, spare tyres, parts or mechanical work are available at the Ranger station, all vehicles should be in good mechanical condition and adequate supplies could be carried. Water should also be carried, particularly during the dry season (May to November).
Jardine River National Park, heathlands and Jardine River Resources Reserves cover 284,200ha east of the Old Telegraph Line to Cape York. The park had a mixture of eucalyptus, rainforest and heathland vegetation. The yellow-bird kingfisher and fawn-breasted bowerbird are unique to the area.
The Jardine River is Queensland’s largest perennial steam. The River discharges the second largest volume of water of all Queensland’s rivers into the Gulf of Carpentaria and must be crossed by vehicular barge as seen below.
The Jardine River was named after Frank and Alex Jardine, who crossed the river catchment in the mid-19th century while enroute to Somerset near Cape York. Due to the lack of sufficient feed, they lost much of their herd, and consequently named the region ‘the wet desert’. Edmund Kennedy, John Bradford and Robert Jack also had difficulties in this area. The vine scrubs, heathers and bogs presented a barrier which hindered their explorations. Escape River was the scene of the dramatic events surrounding the death of the explorer Edmund Kennedy who was speared by Aborigines in 1848, almost within sight of his goal, Cape York. One of the most popular attractions at Jardin River National Park is Eliot Falls pictured below
For more information on camping, the journey, attractions, maps and resources please see https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/jardine-river
Iron Range national Park covers an area of 47,000ha on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula. 17,000ha of this is tropical lowland rainforest, the largest area of such remaining in Australia. It’s diverse habitats are rich in flora and fauna, with many locally restricted species present. Almost one quarter of Australia’s butterfly species has been recorded in the Iron Range region. Some butterflies have not been found elsewhere. Access to Iron Range national Park is by road, or by air to Lockhart River.
For more information on camping, the journey, attractions, maps and resources please see https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/kutini-payamu
Video below by Laurie Ross of The Iron Range Brid Photography Tour 2020 with Tracks Birding Photography Tours
This 457,000ha National Park has a special appeal who enjoy quiet and intimate contact with nature. The Coen and Archer Rivers are the Park’s major features. large nesting mounds of scrubfowl (up to 4m high and 10m wide ) can be seen in gallery forests along Archer River. Bush camping is permitted at various “undeveloped” sites adjacent to rivers and waterholes.
The park protects 137,000ha of wild and rugged country bordering the lower Peninsula’s east coast. Although remote, its spectacular landscapes and impressive wilderness qualities are increasingly enticing hardier travellers to brave the rudimentary 4WD access tracks to the area.
The Queensland Government established Somerset, 35km north-west of Bamaga, as its northern outpost in 1863-1864. Previously the site was called Port Albany. John Jardine of Rockhampton was appointed police magistrate of the settlement and 25 marines were stationed there to help police with the new town. At the timer, ships were using the “new route” to India, passing close to Somerset. In Torres Strait drivers were seeking torches shells.
All the settlement grew, fresh meat became a pressing need. John Jardine’s town sons, Frank and Alexander, agreed that a beef driver to Somerset was the answer to the problem.They left Carpentaria Downs Station south-east of Einasleigh on October 11, 1864 and reached Somerset on March 2 the following year. This was one of Queensland’s lesser know cattle drivers, yet one of great endurance. Queensland’s far northern administrative outpost was transferred to Thursday Island in 1877, but Frank Jardine remained at Somerset raising cattle until his death in 1919.
Weipa is situated on the shores of Albatross bay, on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula. The township was established in the early 1960s by Comaloc (Commonwealth Aluminium Limited), for the purposes of mining bauxite. The western coast of Cape York Peninsula, around Weipa, has the worlds largest deposits of bauxite. Reserves of bauxite have been estimated to be at least 2.500 million tonnes. Bauxite is mined in two main area st Weipa on and at Andoom, north of Weipa across the Mission River Bridge and Andoom Creek.
The majority of tourists respect local behavioural by-laws but unfortunately there is cause for concern in some areas:
Information from Drive North Queensland Epic Cape York Drive - www.drive north queensland.copy.au
The video below is of the Bloomfield Track which stretches 30km along the Great Tropical Drive, encompassing the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation is the Bloomfield 4x4 track.
If you are looking for an off-road adventure that offers exciting challenges and scenic views then this is the drive for you. For more information on the Daintree, Bloomfield Track goes to Queensland.com 1300Truckhire Cairns has a variety of Toyota vehicles to choose from each with their own special features and qualities allowing you to chose the 4wd that suits your needs.
Our vehicles are all maintained to the highest standard including tyres and servicing. All of our Toyota Hiluxs, Landcruisers, Fortuners and 5 seater Troop Carries are less than 3 years old.
Rent a 4x4 vehicle from 1300Truckhire to have a Tropical Queensland Vacation on your Schedule. The Cape York Peninsula is compiled of a vast and diverse landscape offering its visitors a trip of a lifetime!
Renting a 4wd will allow you to travel off the beaten track and will allow you to tailor your trip to your desired experience of Tropical Queensland. Driving up to Cape York from Cairns in a 4wd gives you the options of taking multiple detours all the way.
The Daintree National Park and The Great Barrier Reef are two World Heritage-Listed sites collide. There are many places to stay and activities for all ages including Rainforest Boards walks at The Daintree Discovery Centre, Jungle Surfing or take a Daintree River Cruise for additional information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions and ferry time visit http://destinationdaintree.com
The Bloomfield track is the coastal track which links the Cape Tribulation to Wujal Wujal and Cooktown. This track is the most picturesque drives in the region with the coastline and one side and the rainforest on the other. The Bloomfield track requires a 4wd as there are steep climbs and creek crossings. There are many destinations to stop and admire the view or visit one of the many secluded beaches. For information on the tracks condition contact The Douglas Shire Council (07) 4099 9444.
Cooktown is a historical town unspoilt by the urgency of modern life. Cooktown allows you to step back in time and visit the heritage buildings, monuments and centres around the town. Cooktown is a very popular fishing destination because of its close proximity to the Endeavor River, Anna River and the Barrier Reef.
The Tip of Australia is the most popular destination to visit in Cape York. Once you have made it to the Northern Peninsula Area, you will pass through the communities of Injinoo, Umagico, Bamaga, and Seisia. At Bamaga you will likely want to take a right turn towards Pajinka and go visit the northernmost part of the Australian mainland. There are quite a few side trips to keep you busy in this area, including Somerset Ruins, and Mutee Head or hop on the ferry and go visit Thursday Island and Horn Island. (Our 4wd are not permitted to travel on the ferry).
Rinyirru is the second largest National Park in Queensland and is filled with many wonders to explore. Queensland.com offer additional information on the Rinyirru (Lakeland) National park “Journey through golden sandstone hills and sweeping grasslands, boat along scenic coastal estuaries and vast river systems, and delight in flower-sprinkled lagoons and shady waterholes. Relish superb fishing, secluded camping, brilliant birdwatching and stunning photography. Camping areas are scattered across the park and, with such a range of facilities and locations, it won’t be hard to find the perfect one. Many sites are separate and secluded, hugging the rivers and creeks that cut through the park. This place is a true paradise for fishers and birdwatchers. The rivers, lagoons and waterholes are alive with fish, enticing visitors to launch a boat or settle in with a rod. The idyllic ecosystems also sustain an array of birds that colour, animate and adorn the park. Remember to bring your binoculars and field guide. The vast landscape has deep cultural connections. Nine Aboriginal clan groups, made up of at least 75 key families, are linked with this country that is steeped with occupation, ceremonial and story places. Step back in time to the days of early European exploration, ‘gold fever’ and the booming cattle industry. Walk among relics that spotlight the park's important heritage and connections to explorers, geologists and surveyors.” This information was retrieved from Queensland.com
When driving vast distances in remote Australia, it is important to be aware of service points for your 1300 Truckhire Cairns 4wd hire vehicle. Please note that fuel is available at several locations including Lakeland, Cooktown, Laura, Musgrave, Lockhart and Archer River. In regards to cash, the last bank with an EFTPOS machine is in Cooktown. Most businesses across the Cape will accept major credit cards and groceries are available at all townships.
There is a lot to see and do across Queensland's Cape York Peninsula and a 1300 Truckhire 4wd rental vehicle allows you to explore this great country, in comfort and safety. A few notes to be aware of. Permits are required for camping in some areas. These can be purchased from RACQ in Cairns. You should check road conditions with local police before you leave [Bamaga phone (+61) 07 4069 3156 | Weipa (+61) 07 4069 9119 | Coen (+61) 07 4060 1150] and you should take a detailed map with you.