Cape York Australia

Cape York Australia Travel Information

The Peninsula is different from the areas around it. You can travel along the eastern coast of Queensland, then venture into the outback, and continue to parts of the Gulf Savannah all on the same trip, but Cape York is a destination on its own and needs separate planning and preparation.
It is remote, needs a four wheel drive vehicle, and knowledge of alcohol restrictions if you carry any alcohol.

Termite Mound on Coast of Cape York, North of Cooktown
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How to Get to Cape York Australia
There are two roads in the eastern half of the southern third of the peninsula (in the west there is also the Burke Developmental Road). The straightest, and the most used road up is the inland way that goes north from Mareeba through Mt Molloy, Mt Carbine, Lakeland and Laura up towards the Tip. The less used, the coastal road, goes up from Cairns, past Port Douglas, through Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation and Bloomfield Road to Cooktown.

Dirt Road in Outback, Cape York Peninsula, Australia
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Cooktown - Cape York Australia
Cooktown is a great town full of history. It was here that Captain James Cook and his crew stayed for weeks while their ship was repaired. The waterfront is now a big park, with Cook's statue, information on the story, and a cairn marking the exact spot where they stepped to the land. But of course, in Cook's days, there was no town. The town was founded 100 years later thanks to a nearby gold rush. It's from those days that the old buildings, pubs and the pioneer cemetery are from. There is also the James Cook Museum, a lookout point on Grassy Hill, a historical cemetery, and Botanic Gardens. Places to stay in Cooktown include hotels such as West Coast Hotel and Cooktown Hotel, as well as other accommodation such as Sovereign Resort. North of the town are Hope Vale, Coloured Sands and Elim Beach.

Community Rangers at the Coloured Sands of Hopevale on the Cape York Peninsula, Australia
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Laura and Lakeland Downs - Cape York Australia
Back in Lakeland on the 'inland way', the Peninsula Developmental Road continues north towards Laura - another town with some interesting history. It is most famous for some of the best Aboriginal rock art in Australia, in a few different galleries. But there is also some European history from the old gold rush days, and some remains of the old Cooktown-Laura Railway. There is a hotel, and two camping grounds in town.

Lockhart River State School Dance Troupe, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia
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Lakefield NP and Old Laura Homestead - Cape York Australia
North-east of Laura (and north-west of Cooktown) is Lakefield National Park. It is Queensland’s second largest national park but unlike Daintree in the south and Iron Range in the north, it has no tropical rainforests. It has open woodlands with termite mounds and wetlands great for bird watch, as well as river estuaries that are home for crocodiles.

Water Lilies, Jardine River, Cape York Peninsula, Australia
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Central Peninsula
North of Lakefield National Park is Musgrave, which is an old telegraph station. North of Musgrave in Coen - a small township with grocery shops and an old pub. North of Coen is a turnoff to Mungkan Kaanju National Park, which, like Lakefield, protects open woodlands and not rainforests, at least in its western, accessible, part. Further north, at Archer River, there is Archer River Roadhouse.

Roadtrain Hurtles Through Outback, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia
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Lockhart River and Portland Roads
As you continue driving north after Acher River, on your right-hand side is a turnoff to Lockhart River and Iron Range National Park. Lockhart River is an Aboriginal community with the area's only fuel station and grocery shop, as well as a historical airport and the beautiful Quintell Beach. Portland Roads, further north, on the other side of the national park, is a small non-Aboriginal community on a small beach.

Green Tree Python (Chondropython Viridis), Native to New Guinea, Cape York Peninsula and Australia
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Iron Range National Park - Cape York Australia
North of Lochart River is Iron Range National Park – a park that protects tropical rainforest and is a good place to see the peninsula's unique birds and animals. There is a walking track that starts from the Rainforest Camping Ground that takes you through the rainforest. There are camping areas in the southern parts of the park as well as on Chili Beach.

Palm Cockatoo, Probosciger Aterrimus, Displaying, Australia & New Guinea
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Weipa - Cape York Australia
Back on the Peninsula Developmental Road, a bit futher north is a left-hand turnoff to Weipa – the largest town in the northern third of the peninsula. The reason for Weipa's size is the world’s largest bauxite deposit that is mined here. Places to stay are Heritage Resort, Albatross Bay Resort, the Anchorage and Weipa Camping Ground.

Young Aboriginal Boy with Shovel Nose Fish, Aurukun, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia
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Old Telegraph Track - Cape York Australia
Back on the main road towards the tip of Australia, you’ll drive along Telegraph Road before you come to the start of the Old Telegraph Track. Serious and exprienced four wheel drivers may find it too easy, but for an average traveller it can be more or less challening. There are Bypass Roads to get around the Old Telegraph Track in case you don't like to drive through the water.

Aerial View of River Near Northern Tip of Cape York
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Jardine River National Park - Cape York Australia
In the northern end of the Old Telegraph Track and Bypass Roads you drive through Jardine River National Park - a large, remote national park with tropical woodlands. In the northern end of the track is the Old Jardine River Ford, and not far west is the super expensive Jardine River Ferry that takes you across the river to the Northern Peninsula Area.  

Eliot Falls, Cape York Peninsula, Australia
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Northern Peninsula Area
North of Jardine River is Northern Peninsula Area. The largest town up here is Bamaga. There are some WWII airplane wrecs scattered around the town, and there are more WWII relics at Mutee Head. The second largest community is Seisia, which has a wharf popular with fishing. Other communities include Umagico, Injinoo and New Mapoon.

Pennyfarther Beach Near Weipa on Cape York Peninsula, Weipa, Australia
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Tip of Cape York
North of Bamaga is the road to Lockerbie. From Lockerbie, two roads go north. The westernmost one goes to Punsand Bay Resort, and the easternmost one goes to the historical Somerset ruins and Somerset Beach, as well as the northernmost point of mainland Australia.

Aerial View of Cape York Coastline, North of Cooktown
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Torres Strait Islands - Cape York Australia
North of the Tip of Australia are Torres Strait Islands. Thursday Island is the most populated of the islands, with a town of 2300 people, and some of the things to see include Japanese Pearl Memorial at the cemetery, the lookout at Green Hill Fort, and the All Souls Quetta Memorial Church.

Overhead of Cape York, Mainland Australia's Northernmost Point
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Here's a Cape York map, where I have tagged the places that I mentioned on this web page. You can click on the tags to see what places they are, and double-click anywhere on the map to zoom it in and see the places closer. Drag the map to move around, and if you want to see the satellite image with Google Earth, click on "Sat" in the top right hand corner.

View Larger Map

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by AllPosters. Click on thumbnails to buy

Torres Strait Islander Boy Leaping into the Sea, Seisia, Cape York

Baby Crocodile at Pormpuraaw Crocodile Farm, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia

Arid Landscape, Cape York Peninsula, Australia

Dusty Cattle Muster, Cape York Peninsula, Australia

Boy Being Decorated for Performance with Injinoo Dance Troupe, Cape York Peninsula, Australia

Black Palm Cockatoo, Crest Erect, Zoo Animal

A Male Victorias Riflebird in Nest, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland

Stockmen, Dixie Station, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia

A Ulysses Butterfly, Native to Australia, Lands on Some Pink Flowers

Rainforest Fruit, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia