OUR CAPE YORK ADVENTURE! The Nitty Gritty Details.
Before we even started our travels around Australia, we knew Cape York was one place we really wanted to explore.
With its incredible crystal-clear beaches, waterfalls, the famous red dirt and the perfect swimming holes it is no wonder this place is on most people’s bucket lists!
And of course, who can forget getting to the Tip of Oz and snapping your photo in front of that sign!!
Due to the unforeseeable events leading up to our travels (Covid) we didn’t think we would make it to the top. We were doubtful and also nervous. I mean it doesn’t matter how prepared you are for any trip, you have to expect the unexpected, and tackling The Old Telegraph Track is something we weren’t prepared to do alone.
Thankfully whilst travelling through QLD, we met two other families who already had plans to head to Cape York. After a quick discussion we decided to join in the convoy and start our next adventure!
If we have any advice at this point it would be to do your research, have a vehicle that is capable, and also team up with others travelling to The Cape. It will definitely help ease those nerves a little, and makes it a whole lot of fun! And of course, it is always handy having other kids around to entertain yours while you try get some quiet time in.
Also make sure you check the weather before deciding to go, you do not want to get stuck in The Cape during the wet season! We went end of September 2020, and it was perfect.
Like many, we had a lot of concerns coming in to this trip. And as it was a spur of the moment decision, we had only a few weeks to prepare.
What do we take?
What do we all sleep on?
Would there be crocodiles everywhere!?
Will it be too dangerous for two young kids?
Would we damage our vehicle on the notorious tele-track?
The list went on, and the more we thought about what we needed the more stressful it became. But like we usually do, we made it work. After many arguments, walking in and out of tent and camping shops we finally got some preparations done!
Whilst doing our research in to our trip we both said we would love to create a blog to assist other travelling families prepare for their adventure, especially those who have young kids and like us, no idea what to do or where to start!
So, in the following sections you will find what we took with us in relation to camping gear, and then what preparations we did to our vehicle and what we recommend you have in regards to recovery gear etc.
Then of course we will finish off with our itinerary, what we got up to and any places we definitely recommend you check out!
CAMPING GEAR! The Used and Un-Used!
- Coleman Instant 6-person tent- Quick and Easy to set up!
- Adults slept on Queen Air Mattress
- Riley (four years old) slept on Single Air Mattress, Khloe (15 months old) in a Portacot
- Sleeping bags for adults, Riley and Khloe used blankets from caravan, you don’t need much as it is still mid- low 20’s temperature overnight
- Basic kitchen cutlery and utensils from caravan
- Gas cooker & Kettle
- Clothes, re-use for a few days if you can as the kids just get covered in red dirt and dust everyday
- Microfibre towels, these were perfect as they roll up super small & are lightweight
- Swimming bag or backpack to chuck towels, drink bottles etc in
- River shoes
- Portable toilet, only some campgrounds have toilets, but you are better off having your own as they were not very clean, we used ours for two days out of the twelve we were camping
- Shower in creeks, but some paid campgrounds have toilets and showers
- Collapsible sink, we used creek water for washing up
- Drinking water, we took about 50 litres, a lot of places you can fill up with water or buy
- We didn’t take any extra diesel, there were plenty of places to refill
- We put food in draws in the cruiser, took about a week’s worth, can get basics in some places
- Alcohol, we took what we were allowed, check the areas you’re staying in for restrictions
- Medications, First Aid Kit & Snake Bite Kit
- Camera & GoPro to get as much footage as possible
- Rechargeable Fan
- Mosquito & Bug Repellent
Of course, there will be much more you will take, but these are just a list of the things we recommend having. Most of our stuff was stored in the roof top bag.
RECOVERY GEAR & VEHICLE PREP- Recommendations only
- Winch (if driving solo)
- Snatch strap
- UHF radio
- All terrain or mud tyres
- Bull bar
- Load rated recovery points
- Roof rack (good for storage)
- 2-inch lift (minimum)
- Load rated shackles
- Recovery dampener
- Tyre deflator
- Basic tool kit
- Puncture plug kit
- Uni filter for snorkel (optional)
- Spare diesel filter
- Spare air filter, fan belt, top and bottom radiator hose
- Extra coolant
- Extra engine oil
A well-maintained vehicle with pre-trip prep, e.g.- service and filter checks is recommended. We took our 200 Series Landcruiser and it did it well, with just a few small scratches left behind.
We were quite surprised with how capable all vehicles were that we seen drive the OTT. The two other vehicles in our convoy were a Toyota Hilux and a Nissan Navara, again both tackling the track with ease.
We have our vehicle well set up for off-grid camping. We are running a Redarc 1240D DCDC charger, 105AH lithium battery to power our- 2000W inverter, a 60L ARB fridge, and all USB and cig sockets throughout the cruiser.
ITINERARY- Day One to Day Twelve
Said good-bye to our caravan at Mount Carbine Caravan Park, which we had stayed at the night prior. Great park with toilets, showers and a laundry to get all those last-minute preps done! Thankfully the owners let us store it there free of charge.
Once we dropped the van, we drove about 350 kms North of Mount Carbine to Coen. This took us about 6 hours all up with a few stops along the way for fuel and snacks.
We spent our first night in the tent at The Bend South Campground, Coen. Great spot with a creek which you can safely swim in. Perfect to have a wash and cool off! Red dirt and corrugations started just outside of Laura, where we aired down tyres to compensate road conditions.
Spent the day swimming in the creek at The Bend South Campground, this was needed after a big day driving the day before. Stocked up on a few supplies from the grocery store and re- fuelled. There is public toilets and a dump point in Coen if need be.
We left Coen early morning and drove about 200 kms North to Bramwell Station Tourist park, about a 3.5-hour drive. Made a quick stop at Archer River Roadhouse for icy-poles, and Moreton Telegraph Station.
Bramwell Station Tourist Park is not far at all from the famous tele-track entrance, and if you plan ahead you can book for dinner and listen to the owner explain a little about the history of the park.
We stayed on an unpowered site, with toilets/showers and laundry nearby for $25 a night. The last proper shower before we drove the tele-track the next day. There was heaps of room for the kids to run around and play, and a great spot to meet other families travelling to the cape.
Left Bramwell Station Tourist Park, headed up the road to Bramwell Roadhouse- the gateway to The Old Telegraph Track!
Here we re-fuelled, ate breaky and took our photos at the famous OTT sign! We had nerves and excitement at this stage and had no idea what we were in for! We entered the track and began our journey along The Old Telegraph Track!
Let the adventure begin… First up, not too far in to the track was Palm Creek. After a few walks and looking at all tracks we decided to tackle the original entry and exit. We recommend everyone makes sure they suss out the entry and exit points of all crossings. Walk them if your game!
There was not one single drop of water in the creek when we crossed, it was bone dry! From there we crossed Juicy Creek, again dry, and make sure you bear right on exit as there is a blind drop to the left that we were close to tipping off. Then drove through Alice Creek and stopped for lunch on side of track. Drove through to Dulhunty River where we found a gorgeous swimming spot with small waterfalls, which was an easy drive over river to get to Bertie Creek.
After driving through Bertie Creek (small stream of water), we arrived at the famous Gunshot! We had no intentions of attempting this as we didn’t want to risk damage to our car, or potentially losing it, although Josh was very tempted. There were three different entry points to Gunshot. We took the far right.
One of the families we convoyed with successfully tackled Gunshot and what an adrenaline rush that was!! It was incredible to watch.
After Gunshot, and after a huge day driving, we arrived at our final rest stop for the night, Cockatoo Creek Campground. There was a great creek to cool off in not far from camp, toilets (not so clean) and benches and seats. Nice little overnighter! Khloe had her first night sleeping through in the portacot, which meant we all got our first good night’s sleep in the tent.
After a full day driving 89 kms on the north side of the OTT, we now landed in the south side. We left Cockatoo Creek Campground and headed to the famous Fruit Bat Falls!
This is one place that photos don’t even do justice, you need to experience this for yourself. It is easily accessible for kids to enter with just a little help getting in the water at first. Riley faced a huge fear and jumped straight in!
Fruit Bat Falls- put it on the list and make sure you spend time swimming there, it is well worth it.
Once we left Fruit Bat Falls the next creek crossing was Canal Creek. Water level was very low, up to top of tyres at deepest point when we crossed. This is also a popular campground and swimming spot.
Exit here is relatively easy, but at the end there are two deep holes opposite each other. These will wheel lift front passenger and rear driver simultaneously, allowing you to lose traction, so momentum will help with this one. For the Toyota Hilux in our convoy we laid Maxtrax at the bottom of these holes for added traction. This really helped!
After getting through Canal Creek we drove not too far up and arrived at Sam’s Creek Campground, where we stayed two nights. There are no toilets or showers there, but we used the creekwater to wash the kids. Much needed after days in the dirt.
Once set up you’ll appreciate the amazing swimming hole only a short distance from camp. This was one of our favourite spots to swim at, the water colour was a beautiful teal colour, and the waterfall a hit with the kids! The places you’ll see along the OTT will blow your mind. They are truly magical.
From Sam’s Creek Campground we drove to Elliot and Twin Falls. Wow, another majestical day spent jumping in and out of the waterfalls and cooling off. A more relaxed day with not too much driving. We do recommend doing this every few days as the kids do get sick of being in the car for days on end, and you run out of snacks quickly! If you don’t drive the OTT you can access these via the PDR track.
Once back at the campground we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming at the waterhole, then the kids ran around in the dirt, washed off in the creek, then we all caught up around the campfire.
Packed up and left Sam’s Creek Campground early morning and headed for our next creek crossing, Mistake Creek. This was pretty easy with water level not too high, just on the top of the tyres.
Cannibal Creek was next and a lot of fun, attack exit in low range, first or second, it is very articulated and you can expect a handful of wheel lifts, but good traction! Note- watch tree stump on right hand side about half way up, as your front left wheel lifts, driver’s door could impact causing panel damage. Get the cameras out!
Then we got to the famous Log Bridge Crossing! Get your mates to spot you on this one, keep your passenger wheel on the far-left log as it’s the biggest and you can’t go wrong.
Finally, we got to do the two creek crossings we were most nervous about. First being Logan’s Creek Crossing. This we believe was the deepest on the tele-track. We connected two cars together with snatch straps so if the first car got bogged the second car could reverse snatch, or if the second car got bogged the first car could continue to drag it out. It has a sandy bottom, but quite firm and traction was good. Water was lipping the bonnet when we did this.
Nolan’s Creek Crossing was not as bad as we expected it to be. Water level was about halfway up the door and drove this one easily.
Now we had officially finished the north and south side of the OTT, with minimal damage to vehicles, if any, and a whole lot of fun! Now it was time to cross the Jardine River via the Jardine Ferry. Note- Ferry times are 8am- 12pm, then 1pm-5pm.
From there, once we had crossed the river, we drove to Alua Beach Campground where we stayed two nights at $32 per night, for an unpowered site. Finally, we all had nice hot showers, and an incredible view of the beach! Also, a huge win is the pool and laundry here. Grocery store about ten minutes in town to stock up on supplies.
From Alua Beach Campground we drove 15 kms to the Croc Tent. A great little shop to get all your Cape York souvenirs. From there we drove to a car park not far up, and then walked about 15 minutes up the rocks (Khloe was in carrier on back) to get to the Tip of Australia! A hard and sweaty walk but so worth it! We spent about 30 minutes here getting photos and taking in the incredible scenery. We bloody did it!
After here we drove to Punsand Bay where we had a beautiful lunch, then back to Alua Beach Campground for the night.
We decided to leave Alua Beach Campground, and camp for another two nights at Punsand Bay Campgrounds. They have an incredible view of the beach, showers, toilets and a restaurant and bar on site. We had an unpowered beach front site.
It was here we took an unforgettable helicopter ride over the tip, and spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool.
Another day spent by the pool with the kids, enjoying our last day together as a group in Cape York and the Tip of Oz!
Drove from Punsand Bay to Coen, a huge 6-hour drive where we stayed the night at The Bend South Campground again.
Our final day on the road, heading back to Mount Carbine from Coen and finally after nearly two weeks sleeping in a tent we were back in our caravan! Spent the afternoon showering, washing up and trying to clear the vehicle of all that red dust! A huge clean out after a massive adventure! That was probably the best night’s sleep we have had in our caravan so far.
So, that was the end of our Cape York Adventure! We hope we have inspired you to get out and tackle it. It isn’t as scary as some may think, and you will never know unless you experience it for yourself.
We had a lot of tough days with the kids being so young, it being so hot and having to carry Khloe around or chase her down. Sleeping was minimal and we both had sore backs from sleeping on the air mattress for so long.
BUT! It definitely is a trip we will never forget, and one we don’t regret. Being able to see what we did with our two kids by our side was remarkable. We are so proud we bit the bullet and did it! It wasn’t easy, but we did it.
As long as you have a capable vehicle with the right recovery gear, have researched where you want to stay and what you want to see you’ll be fine!
Remember, there is no phone reception whilst in the OTT and some surrounding areas. Wikicamps and Hema Maps were the two apps we used and recommend you have as the maps and information on campgrounds in these are available offline.
If you have any specific questions about our trip to the tip, please reach out to us on any of our social media accounts.
Elise and Josh Tait – Adventure Bound
P.S- Head over to our YouTube channel, Adventure Bound- Elise & Josh Tait to watch our “Cape York Adventure” Episode 27 live in action!