"Towns at the tip, Weipa, Bamaga and Wenlock River." Cape York by australia2

Cape York Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 35 photos

The journey.

(Please note. As far as I can ascertain technically the Peninsula itself begins just below the bottom of the accompanying map. The Cape is the part (very roughly) from the Jardine river up to the northernmost point. It was named by Captain Cook in his wonderful discovering and charting journey of 1770 after the then Duke of York. The whole east coast he claimed on behalf of King George 3rd and named New South Wales. No one is sure why he chose that name. It now applies of course only to the 'centre' section of the east coast.)

On our first and only 'Trip to the (very) Top', in August 1999, we left Melbourne using the 'Longest journey starting with...' philosophy. Our target was the tip of Cape York Peninsula roughly 3,000 kilometres away. Our route, following the curve of the Australian east coast to that northern-most point of the continent. We had been partway there previously; as far as the end of the sealed road at Cape Tribulation. That Cape was so named by Captain Cook for the trouble he was having negotiating the Great Barrier Reef.

Following is my writing of our achievement as submitted to and published by a specific national 'Senior's' newspaper here.


The spectacle of two Senior Cits in a Senior station wagon
travelling rough outback tracks is enough to raise the eyebrows
of the most seasoned 4WD traveller. More so when that track is
more than six hundred kilometres north of Cooktown in Far North

I was one of those Senior Cits and my courageous lady companion
Hilda, the other. The Senior vehicle was "Siggy", a 1981 conventional two-wheel drive family type station wagon.

I had been told by a reliable authority that what I was
endeavouring to do was impossible. My aim was to drive to the
top of Cape York Peninsula - a long held deep desire.

In this age of 4WD vehicles it seems to be forgotten that many
pioneering journeys were carried out in what we would now call
museum pieces - even when they were new!

We had successfully completed other long journeys around
Australia, but this one would top them all - literally.
(Continued next chapter.)

The Story continued.

The inland road from Cairns north to Cooktown is sealed virtually all the way now (2010). A great deal of it was not then. We had continued along the fifty or so very rough kilometres after the Peninsula Development Road junction, (the Weipa turn-off), onward to Cooktown and the spectacular mouth of the Endeavour river. There we had a brief and enjoyable stay. I believe it to be the most historic town in Australia.

The word 'endeavour' is an appropriate one in that region. It
associates with Captain James Cook not only geographically and
historically, but also with a tribute made of him - "He left
nothing unattempted."

Returning to the Weipa turn-off we turned right, north, and then began
to rough it in earnest; moving into real 4WD country. To put it
mildly the "road" suface was agonizing. Mostly rock-hard
corrugations which we felt were going to batter poor Siggy to

Also we learned to dread the "Dip" signs. They were warnings of
severe dips in the road with river or creek crossings at their
bottoms; some dry some not.

On the first day out from Cooktown we passed through the
historic settlements of Lakeland, Laura, and Hann River.
We were constantly, silently praying that our vehicle would hold
up against the battering.
- 2 -
Our plan was to stop for the night at small but important Coen.
Strangely, we are not campers, and so were in trouble when we
discovered on arrival in the late afternoon, that there was no
room at the Inn (pub) or the Boarding House.

So we pressed on to the Archer River Roadhouse arriving in the
very dangerous darkness. We had covered four hundred and fifty
bone-jarring kilometres that day; at about five thousand corrug-
ations per kilometre!

The next day forty-seven kilometres on, the road to the top
(unfortunately locally referred to as "the tip"), branches off
from the main one going north-west to Weipa and its bauxite
mining. The title "main" being only relative.

Travelling north for another seventy kilometres and we were on
the bank of the Wenlock river. When I saw the river I thought
sadly, "This is as far as we go." Due to a long "Wet" the water
level was much higher than I had hoped. I could not see Siggy
being able to cross.
That's where a developing friendship with the 4WD fraternity
came to the fore. With a great deal of invaluable help and
encouragement from a group of those adventurers Siggy got
herself and me across! From my reading when planning the trip, I
got the impression that conventional vehicle drivers in 4WD
country were not popular. On the contrary during our whole
journey we found just the opposite. Respect for the aged(?).

The conclusion.

We spent that night a little further on at the historic Moreton
Telegraph Station camp-ground. This whole journey is based
around the route of the old, pioneering Overland Telegraph Line
- the OTL . That route itself is very hazardous and now there
exists the supposedly safer southern and then the northern
by-pass routes. We took the safer.

Even then the next day brought the real tough going - as before
but add road washaway chasms and deep sand-drifts. Two of the
latter proved to be impossible for Siggy to handle. Fortunately,
although we spent hours trying to dig our way out, the
marvellous 4WD people were only too willing to pull us through.

I must admit to a feeling of guilt over this as I had made a
promise to myself that I would be a nuisance to no-one in
obtaining my ambition. However we had become the popular talk of
the Cape!

That evening a sand-drift caused us to spend the whole night in
the car on the deserted road. At eight thirty next morning,
having negotiated the drift, we were waiting for the first ferry
to cross the Jardine river. A further forty five kilometres of
the usual and we drove relieved, into the top, small township of

From there the next day, it was a further drive of thirty-three
kilometres, a walk through some rainforest then along a rocky
outcrop and we had achieved our dream - we stood at the very Tip
of Australia!
Epilogue. We did drive back."

IMPORTANT THAT YOU FOLLOW THE LINKS, ESPECIALLY BAMAGA>>>>To go to the start of the Penninsula 'leg', at my Mareeba page click 'Goto'.Goto next page
Or Weipa.Goto next page
Or Bamaga.Go to next page
Otherwise,Return to my Homepage.

(December 2004. I have just returned after driving from Melbourne on the south east edge of Australia, up to Weipa and the Wenlock River at the very "top" of the continent. A round trip of about 6,000 kilometres. This for the second time. (With added extras along the way,a total of 10,000k. THERE IS NOW A MEDIUM LEVEL BRIDGE ACROSS THE WENLOCK. FOR GOOD OR BAD ! PICS TO COME.)

  • Last visit to Cape York: Dec 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (7)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    May 15, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    great pics

  • tropicrd's Profile Photo
    Oct 22, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Hey Laurie, I want to do another trip--but it will be in a 4WD because I want to explore the original OTL or some call it the OTT (old telegragh track) and it would be pretty rough by now. Great pics and write up. Dorrise

  • ettiewyn's Profile Photo
    Aug 18, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    Great to read about your Cape York adventure, I enjoeyed it very much! I worked on Strathburn, the cattle station, in 2006, but did not see much else of the peninsula. Really want to go back to explore more!

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    Looks like a great trip. Proves yet again that a 2WD can go most places if driven carefully. Reminds me it's time we travelled again!

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Jul 19, 2008 at 5:14 AM

    Hi i still really regret that with the 4x4 I was driving at the time that I only went as far as Cooktown and not as far north as I couldve! Good to see others that have done tho I get envious!Good to see yr page here thanks.

  • cnango's Profile Photo
    Dec 10, 2005 at 3:34 PM

    Hi Laurie ! How R U ? Great pictures & notes.It looks like you had a great road trip. I am very excited about coming to OZ in May, hopefully a road trip will be involved as well : )

  • adelaidean's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2005 at 2:40 PM

    this is one place I want to go....nearly got to Cooktown...one day...


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