Cape York Adventure - 2008

Everyone’s experience of the Cape York Peninsula will vary depending on how adventurous you are and the time you have to explore this unique part of Australia.

Cape York Peninsula is one of Australia’s great natural treasures (hopefully soon to be listed as a World Heritage area). It is home to rainforests, wild rivers and magnificent wetlands, covering an area of more than 14 million hectares, half the size of Victoria, with approximately 14,000 Indigenous Australians.

This area contains rare and endangered flora and fauna – a staggering 50% of bird species, 36% of mammal species, and 60% of butterfly species.

It’s not a journey to be undertaken lightly, with road access only possible during the dry season (May – October).

Research is a very important part of planning your trip!

We bought an off-road caravan to do our trip to the Cape, but whether you have an off-road camper trailer or hire a campervan, the drive to the Cape is quite an adventure!

One might consider taking a Camp Oven, inverter or generator, auxiliary battery and wading shoes.

Be prepared for bad corrugations, bull-dust, sand, river crossings, washouts, cattle, wild pigs, not to mention Road Trains! And oh, those “Dip” signs – heed them and slow down!

“Beware Crocodiles” – I saw many signs, but I have to say, no crocodiles. Take care when walking through creek crossings and camping near watercourses.

Well worth a visit while in Cooktown are the Grassy Hill Lookout where Captain James Cook stood and surveyed his surroundings (with 360 degree views) and the James Cook Historical Museum, where Cook’s cannon and anchor is on display.

Don’t be alarmed if a shiny Green Tree Frog greets you in a toilet or a Barking Gecko visits you in the shower – You get used to it!

We nearly ran over Australia’s deadliest snake, the Taipan – it was a beauty – very long and slender. At approach, it slithered away quickly into the bushes.

One of the highlights was meeting Michael Mitchell at “Cockatoo Creek”. Michael walked from the Tip of Cape York Peninsula to the Mornington Peninsula to raise $1 Million for the Cancer Council. To read more – Visit Michael’s WEBSITE

On the Peninsula Development Road we rounded a corner, and nearly cleaned up a family of about 10 wild pigs. Lucky for us we saw them in time as it could have been a very nasty experience!

Very disappointing was finding lots of rubbish washed up on some of the beautiful pristine beaches – things like fishing nets, thongs, buoys, plastic bottles and much more. Chilli Beach actually has a tree dedicated to thongs, known as the “Thong Tree”. At Captain Billy Landing the shelter shed is covered with many colourful buoys that have washed up.

At Bamaga lie the ruins of a DC3 that crashed just short of the landing strip during WWII. Many remnants of aircraft and equipment are scattered across the area of the Cape York Peninsula, like the site of the Air Force Radar Tower at Muttee Head.

We had an exhilarating 4WD along the beach to Vrilya Point, on the west coast, to the wreck of the “Carpentaria” Light Ship.

We swam in the beautiful crystal clear green waters of “The Saucepan” near Elliot Falls, in the Jardine River National Park.

Many Pitcher Plants at Eliot Falls and large russet coloured fruit bats with 18” wingspan feasted on nectar from trees laden with yellow blossoms.

I was unable to get that perfect shot of an electric-blue Ulysses butterfly, so in the end I gave up and just enjoyed looking at them. This was not the case with the beautiful Blue Triangle butterfly at Twin Falls. Twin Falls is an oasis where you can relax and cool off after the hot and dusty drive along the Telegraph Track – and no Crocs!

Then there are the very colourful red, blue, green and yellow dragonflies which were in abundance at every watercourse.

We travelled along one of the great treks of the Overland Telegraph Track to “Gunshot” and “Cockatoo Creek”.

On the way to the Tip, a stop at the “Croc Tent” is a must! The tip of Cape York is traditionally known as Pajinka, the name of the Aboriginal-owned resort (now in ruins) just 400 metres from the very tip.

To get to the tip from Frangipani Beach, you can walk along the beach at low tide or along the top of the rocky headland that runs along to the northern tip. The walk to land’s end, where a metal sign declares “You are standing at the northernmost point of the Australian continent”, was the crowning moment of an amazing journey.

Happy Travels!

Cape York Adventure - 2008

Marilyn Harris

BATHURST, Australia

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