"Cape York - a real travel experience" Cape York by SymasshedshiyDom

Cape York Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 35 photos

A trip to the top of Australia

A trip from Brisbane to Cape York and back is an experience you will never forget. Almost 7,000 kilometres of driving, assuming some deviations from the direct route. We did it in our Subaru Forester X, which was perfectly adequate for the task.

A trip of many different contrasts : rainforest to semi-desert, mountains and plains, lava tubes, waterfalls, snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, snakes, crocodiles, cockatoos, kangaroos. Wallabies hopping down the streets of outback towns.

It is not a trip for the faint-hearted or those who can't survive without 5-star accommodation, but if you have a sense of adventure and can keep your sense of humour when the road is threatening to rattle your teeth out of your head, it is difficult to beat it.

Our route : Brisbane to Cairns, Cairns to Cooktown along the Bloomfield Track (easy), through the Lakefield National Park to Musgrave, Coen, the Old Telegraph Line (OTL) as far as Gunshot Creek, out to the bypass road rejoining the northern section of the OTL to Twin Falls/Eliot Falls, out to the northern bypass after Sam Creek and up to Cape York. On the way back we chose to do the southern part of the OTL in reverse as far as Gunshot Creek and then out to the Southern Bypass Road, much preferable to doing the corrugations from hell again. Rather than go back through Lakefield National Park, we went from Musgrave roadhouse to Laura on the 'main' road.

Current road conditions : the worst is definitely from the Heathlands Ranger Station turnoff on the Southern Bypass Road for the next 55 kms north to where you rejoin the route of the Old Telegraph Line. Assuming you have a 4WD, take the OTL north of Gunshot Creek instead - shorter and much more comfortable. The section from Laura to Musgrave isn't a lot of fun either at the moment.

Creek crossings

Apart from Gunshot Creek (more later), the worst on the southern section of the OTL at the moment is the first one, Palm Creek. The approach is washed out and it is easy to crunch your chassis as you go down the steep bit. Bertie Creek is fun with the approach along a rock ledge, but beware of the holes in the rocky river-bed. Gunshot Creek lives up to its evil reputation and is only for those who have no sense of fear and enough money to buy a new vehicle if it all goes wrong. The pile of scrap metal at the bottom from previous vehicles (silencers etc) testifies to this ! We watched someone do this creek and it was nerve-wracking just to watch. A winch is a necessity if you get stuck in the mud at the bottom after the almost free-fall from above. Cockatoo Creek is not difficult from the south, more difficult from the north which is the way we did it.

On the northern section of the OTL, Scrubby Creek was a longish section of deeper, muddy water. I have no idea if there are crocs there but I wasn't going to wade it first to find out. Towards the end we had a nice bow wave in front of the vehicle. Canal Creek is not difficult if you turn left as soon as you enter the creek. Doing the old route straight ahead is a completely different matter. There are some large holes in the creek bed so inspect it first. Sam Creek also required some inspection - 3 vehicles came along after us, didn't inspect it and confidently crashed through it. It didn't do their chassis much good and 2 of the 3 managed to get stuck on the exit. A minute's inspection would have avoided this.

See the transportation tips for more info about vehicles, what to take etc.

Gunshot Creek

Someone else having a go...

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A great adventure
  • Cons:If you want comfort, you've come to the wrong place
  • In a nutshell:If you have half a mind to go, get your other half in sync & go.
  • Last visit to Cape York: Sep 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (4)

Comments (1)

  • Oct 25, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    Well Done;

    Isn't there a 'Chicken Track' around the Vertical Drop at 'Gunshot'?



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