Our trip up to Cape York

With all of the kerfuffle with Covid down in Victoria we decided we may as well extend our adventures and do a quick trip up to the nethermost point of Australia and visit Cape York. With a bit of planning and a lot of phone calls we decided on a 2 stop leg up from Cooktown with 3 nights staying ‘at the tip’ and then repeating the same 2 stop leg for our return.

We decided to leave our caravan behind in Cooktown (as we did not want to destroy it on the Cape York roads) and found a lovely guy called Nicko (the seafood seller) who stored it for us on his property for $5/day – far better than paying $49/day in the caravan park.

Trip up the Cape

1st leg – Cooktown to Coen

Our new “best friend” Nicko gave us a tip on which way to go on the first leg so we’d miss the worst parts of the famous Telegraph Track. We followed them pretty well, using our new Heima map book (thanks to our son Brendan for the fathers day present 😀), but we missed the turn-off at Lotus-bird Lodge (no bloody signs!) and ended up at Musgrave (maplink). We were then on the famous track and it shook the bejeevers out of us all the way to Coen.

Booked into the Coen Guesthouse for a 1 night stay. Went to the pub for dinner and then were treated to an absolute delight with a musical presentation by 2 young performers using a Cello and Violin about Australian bird calls. I know it sounds a bit strange but it was absolutely magical.

2nd leg – Cohen to Bramwell Station

After being battered and shaken along 227km of the famous Telegraph Track Development Road (maplink) it was lovely to finally arrive at Bramwell Station Tourist Park for another 1 night stay. We met Ken the boss and he “upgraded” us from a Donga to a room with an en-suite – wow!

Dinner that night was at the free flowing air dining room (no walls here) as we were given a history talk about Bramwell Station from Ken, the owner, which was quiet amazing.

Fruit Bat Falls

We took a short diversion of the PDR to check out Fruit Bat Falls. It was an easy track in to find this beautiful oasis which left no doubt that it was time for a swim to wash off the dust.

Jardine River Ferry Crossing

Arrived 20minutes too late to catch the Jardine River Ferry as the crew knock off for lunch between 12:00 & 1:00pm. The queue for the ferry grew and grew. You could purchase a ticket either as it closes for lunch too. Finally paid our $100 return fee, jumped in the car and were about the 5th crossing before we headed off again towards Bamaga & then Seisia

Our destination – Seisia

After another 212km shaking and rattling trip we arrived at the Seisia Holiday Park and checked into our accommodation for the next 3 nights.

Well, at $250 per night you’d expect something special but it was quite the opposite. This was all we could find so decided to make the most of it. We were given the “lodge” which sleeps 8 people so really cannot complain.

I even discovered a green ant nest in the tree right next to where I parked our car. These are the same sort of ants I got covered in and seriously bitten after tripping into a hibiscus plant when I was a kid living in Madang, New Guinea – I have always tripped over things!

Seisia Sunset

One of the advantages of staying here is supposed to be the brilliant sunsets. Well, for the first 2 nights there was total cloud cover, so no sunset photos.

Then, on our last night we ventured down to the beach and wallah – a sunset! This young kid called Jackson wandered over to check out our photos and was so impressed he pleaded for me to take his photo – so I did (check him out below – cute kid).

Walk to the tip of Cape York

Today saw us taking the walk to the northernmost tip of the Australian mainland – the main reason for us coming here.

Another dusty drive with heaps of red dust from the large number of vehicles (99% were Toyota) heading the same way as us on the way to Pajinka (indigenous name for the tip).

There were soooo many people at the tip that you have to queue up for “that photo”, including some blokes who all got their gear off for a cheeky photo. There were even dogs doing the walk too.

It was also really (really very) windy with hands on hats so they weren’t blown all the way to PNG 😀.

Punsand Bay

It was then off to Punsand Bay for lunch (maplink). Lovely spot right on the beach with beautiful white sands. A couple of beers, a burger and salt & pepper calamari sure filled the spot after the walk out to the tip.

On the way back to Seisia we called into the Croc Shop and picked up a “I walked the tip” singlet to replace the Bintang singlet (which Merrisa hates)

Thursday Island Day Trip

You just have to visit Thursday Island (TI) when up on the “tip” – everyone we met on our travels were telling us this.

So we headed off to catch the Pedell’s Ferry (seniors are half price – woohoo) for a 1 hour 10 minute trip from the Seisia wharf.

Included in the fare was a 1 hour bus tour of the island, so we took advantage of this. The only disappointing aspect was the three museums (a “must see” on TI) were all closed due to the Covid19 Pandemic. So it was shorter than normal bus tour followed by lunch at the pub, then back onto the ferry for the return to Seisia. These are some of the things we got to see on our bus tour of TI…

A look around TI

Green Hill Fort

The Green Hill Fort was built in 1891 to defend the top end of Australia from possible Russian attack. The 1885 confrontation between Britain and Russia, which almost resulted in open conflict, galvanised the Australian colonies to jointly fund construction of the fortifications, and these represent an important and uncommon instance of pre-Federation Colonial cooperation on defence in the “national” interest.

An interesting fact we learnt was the fort was decommissioned after World War One and not used in World War Two – but no one told the Japs. The fort was added to the Australian Commonwealth Heritage List in 2008.

The views are fantastic from this location and pretty impressed to find the canons could fire 8 miles out to sea. The original canons are still in place.

TI Cemetery (incorporating the Japanese Cemetery)

Thursday Island Cemetery is a heritage-listed cemetery. It was established in 1887 and includes the Japanese Cemetery. It contains hundreds of graves, including between 600 and 700 Japanese (mostly pearl-shell divers), entrepreneurs and fortune hunters of all nationalities, Torres Strait pilots, sailors and ships’ passengers drowned at sea, as well as generations of Thursday Islanders.

Return trip from the Cape

After 3 fantastic days checking out “the tip” it was time to turn around and travel the 1,000 plus kilometers back to Cooktown to pick up our caravan from our new mate “Nicko”, then continue on our way south toward home.

We’d heard a lot on our travels up on the Cape about Lockhart River; things like rocks that appear to float on the ocean and the (apparently) world famous Chili Beach, so we naturally headed that way on the way back down from the cape.

So it was off down the PDR (Peninsula Development Road) AKA Telegraph Track over the Jardine River hitting those damn corrugations again..

The Greenhoose – Lockhart River

Bramwell Station was discarded as our first overnight stop (we used it on the way up to the cape) and we booked into The Greenhoose (yes folks a Scotsman came up with the name LOL). Turning off the PDR at Picaninny Plains onto Portland Road (maplink) provided us with our first experience of the famous outback bulldust. In some parts of the first 20kms we probably hit about 20 or more dust bowls where it just covers the car just as if we had driven into water (at a slow speed of course).

Finally reaching our destination at the lovely and basic accommodation we found a green oasis after all of the dust. The people who run the Greenhoose were so welcoming it made the stay even more enjoyable. They also run a little take-away food truck up on the main road so it was pizza for dinner – yummo!

Quintel Beach – Lockhart River

Taking an afternoon drive from the Greenhoose to the town of Lockhart River we found the famous rocks that appear to float on the ocean at Quintel Beach.

These rocks are pretty cool, but didn’t appear to be floating on the water as the tide was not right. Even still it was worth the drive to check them out.

Chili Beach

Leaving the Greenhoose the next morning we took a detour out to see if Chili Beach is as good as it’s cracked up to be. Well, maybe it was the really strong onshore winds or the tides were wrong here too but it was a fail as far as we were concerned. Quintel beach was a much better choice.

The only cool thing we found were the pumice stones littering the beach, which apparently, have come from volcano action in Indonesia.

Heading back to the PDR we basically drove (at about 10km/hr) into a bull-dust hole that totally covered our car so much that we had to put the wipers on the clear the windscreen.

Continuing down the PDR

Returning to the PDR we then reached Coen for another overnight stay at the same guesthouse we stayed in on the way up. It was a matter of off to the pub for dinner then bed; nothing exciting.

Hitting the road again the next day, reaching Musgrave Roadhouse we then turned off the PDR and headed down the Lily Dale Road travelling through the Lakefield National Park to reach the Laura pub for lunch. Then it was back to Cooktown, pick-up the van and settle down for a couple of days to clean up our filthy & very dusty car.

A dirty car!

The roads certainly made a mess of the car, both inside and out. Not sure if we will EVER get rid of the red!

Summing up…

  • Accommodation
    • CoenCoen Homestead Guesthouse for 1 night (website)
      • Cost per night$160.00
      • FacilitiesShared bathroomsbasic
      • CP Location37 Regent St Coen (maplink)
      • Our rating/score5/10 – somewhere to lay your head
    • Bramwell Station – Bramwell Tourist Park, Shelburne (website)
      • Cost per night$110.00 – Donga Room
      • FacilitiesShared bathroomsbasic
      • LocationOff the PDR (maplink)
      • Our rating/score6/10
    • Seisia – Seisia Holiday Park for 3 nights (website)
      • Cost per night$250.00 – bungalow (sleeps 8)
      • Facilitiesnot too bad – self contained bathroom & kitchen etc
      • Location6 Koraba Rd, Seisia (maplink)
      • Our rating/score7/10 (a great location BUT bloody expensive)
    • Lockart River – The Greenhoose for 1 night (website)
      • Cost per night$150.00
      • FacilitiesDonga with an en-suite
      • Location161 Lockhart River Rd, Lockhart River (maplink)
      • Our rating/score8/10
  • Were they nice places to visit?
    • Coen was OK – nice pub with great pizzas
    • Bramwell station was a bit of a rip-off, but a necessary stop to rest
    • Seisia was great but would have been good to take our own tent or swags
    • The Greenhoose was fantastic – owners are really nice people
  • Activities & places of interest plenty to do at Seisia but the other places were really just transit points
  • Would we return?probably not – Cape York was a bucket list which is now ticked off → 🪣 ✔ 👍

3 Comments

  1. Hi thanks for information. I would be going just to to see the falls like Fruit bat but there was no mention of these. The river crossing is expensive. I think we will give the tip a miss. Maybe when we were younger and had a roof top tent. Our Landcruiser hasn’t any upgrades so I fear the suspension just wouldn’t go the distance..Looking forward to time in The Kimberleys instead Regards Liz

    1. Hi Liz. We did the “tip” as we were Victorians stuck in QLD due to Covid and it was te best thing we did. We’re both in our 60s and also wouldn’t be sleeping in a rooftop. We have a 2017 VX Landcruiser which is stock standard. The biggest issue we had was the dust. We just took our time and drove to the conditions.

      This was a totally awesome trip, cost a few dollars that’s for sure but every cent was worth it. As my mate says “theres no ATM in the cemetery”

      If you’re heading to the Kimberley you may get some tips from one of our other trip blogs – link on the “About this site” page or going to http://www.halflap.touringwombats.com

      Cheers – Neil

    2. Hi Liz (again)
      I’m glad that you said in your comments that there was nothing about Fruit Bat Falls. We actually did go there, had a swim and took pictures etc.
      A few months ago I decided to “clean up” my websites and inadvertently deleted the Fruit Bat Falls section. Thanks to you I have now re-instated it to the post you were looking at.
      Cheers – Neil

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