Cape York 2023

By Zuzana

Day 1, Saturday 26th of August

For some of us this trip has been on our bucket lists for years, so understandably we greeted this Saturday with a considerable level of excitement. Finally heading off, finally doing it! The meeting point was at 8.30am at Coningsby service station. Our group was meant to be 4 vehicles, Ben and Amanda in their Discovery, Emanuel with his brother Joe in a Ranger, Andrew and Zuzana in a Patrol (Trakta from now on) and Aidan, leading the trip in his Discovery. When we arrived at Coningsby, we found out that Ben and Amanda were already ahead of us, on their way to Proserpine, getting two spare tyres for their mate who was stuck, with no spares, somewhere along the Old Telegraph Track. So, it was three vehicles that set off together on what we hoped to be a proper four- wheel driving adventure. Amanda and Ben joined the convoy at Proserpine and on we all went to Bowen for a smoko and the compulsory first group photo.

The plan was for the first couple of days to be driving days, to get as far North as possible, so after a lunch break at Yabulu BP (past Townsville) we kept going, travelling through Cardwell and onto Murray Falls (Murray Upper NP), where we were booked for our first night.  We all did our first set up, discovered what we had forgotten to pack, made shopping lists to fix those omissions tomorrow, and were thoroughly surprised by two cassowaries leisurely walking through the camp, visiting each campsite, clearly not worried about humans one little bit.

After we got over that, we went to have a look at the very scenic Murray Falls, located only about 100 meters from the campground. The rest of the evening was spent cooking and After we got over that, we went to have a look at the very scenicMurray Falls, located only about 100 meters from the campground. The rest of the evening was spent cooking and relaxing around a campfire.

Day 2, Sunday 27th of August

We left Murray Falls before 8am, after a damp pack up, and drove through Cairns to Smithfield Shopping Centre. It is worth noting that we’ve lost the rest of the group on the way! The clear instructions from Ben were to go straight at the next exit, and as we were travelling in the right-hand lane, driving alongside Aidan, we remained there. However! We suddenly saw Aidan taking the exit left next to us and everybody following behind!! Never miiiiiiind :). So, we made our own way to the shopping centre, got our supplies and waited for the rest of the crew who eventually arrived after a couple of detours.

After we all restocked, we left Cairns and travelled through the Daintree Rainforest, caught the ferry across Daintree River, stopped for lunch at Cape Tribulation and then took the Bloomfield track. The track follows Bloomfield River through Daintree Rainforest and is a mixture of dirt road,  very steep concreted sections and several river crossings. At the first crossing we had the first of many encounters with one of the Cape York motorbike adventure tours, where riders go on  all-inclusive seven-day tours, doing the Cape on supplied trail motorbikes.

I really admired their skill and stamina, getting wet and muddy through river crossings and then hot and dusty on other parts of the track, plus riding some very technical sections. I was grateful for being in a 4WD and not having to balance on slippery ledges or plummeting down super steep drops. Like I said, we ended up seeing these guys all along the way up North and they blew my mind. Moving on…. On the Bloomfield Track Amanda conquered her fears and drove some of the track and blitzed through her first ever water crossing with flying colours. The day was windy and drizzly on and off, which made not only for atmospheric photos but also for muddy shoes and dirty cars, and with that it felt like the trip had properly started.

As we were getting closer to the time of day when we needed to make the call where to stay overnight, we assessed our options. Originally, we were meant to stay at a free camp on Archer Point, but due to the strong winds being forecast, we went, very much to Ben’s excitement, straight to Lion’s Den Hotel to camp there for the night. Straight away we knew we were on a winner here. They had a $20 Sunday roast which included a beer or wine in the price! Those drinks were on their own seven dollars for a beer and ten dollars for a wine, so that made the roast all of ten to thirteen bucks! I still don’t get how, in Mackay, this would cost close to $40, and here, in the middle of nowhere, where one would expect the prices to be sky high, we get fed and watered for twenty bucks. Go figure.

We paid our fifteen dollars per person to camp and went to set up. Some of us had cold showers – read “the men” (the men’s showers had no hot water), some had hot showers – read “the girls” (the ladies’ showers did), and some (Ben) had a bath in the creek instead.  Then we all enjoyed a dinner at the pub, were entertained by the plethora of very funny stickers covering every available surface (e.g. “All unattended children will be given a puppy and a bag of lollies,” or “Our beer is colder than your ex’s heart,” or my absolute favourite “Don’t tell my mom I am a pilot, she thinks I play piano at a whore house”), and called it a night at 9pm.

Day 3, Monday 28thAugust

Up nice and early and packed up by 7am this morning. Emanuel brought over Joe’s left-over cold pizza from last night to fulfill Aidan’s breakfast wishes, and shortly after that (around 8am), we left the Den to continue North. On the way we stopped at Black Mountain NP lookout. Very striking black formation, connected to legends of disappearances of whole groups of animals and even people due to getting lost in the volcanic tunnels and chambers inside the mountains. There is also fauna and flora there that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet (like the Black Mountain boulderfrog and the Black Mountain skink), and the area also has many sites that are of mythological and religious significance to the traditional owners. Very interesting stop.

From there we decided to check out Archer Point to see what we missed out on last night. GOOD GOD!!! It was so windy we nearly got blown off the top! That would have been one windy camp. There were some sheltered sites as well, but only slightly sheltered. On our little tour of the Point, we came across a campfire, still burning, left by campers who packed up and left not long before we came. Serious hazard in this wind, so we stopped to put it out and continued on our way.

Off to Cooktown where we had around an hour and half to explore. We went up Grass Hill to Cook’s Lookout which allowed 360-degree views of the area, from the Great Dividing Range to the sandy shoals of the coast surrounding the town and everything in between. View from this spot discouraged Captain Cook from sailing south from here in 1770. As it was threatening to rain, we rushed off the hill, topped up fuel, got some fish and chips for lunch and went to have a look at the Cooktown Museum. We walked in and saw that this place required some proper exploring which at this point we did not have time for, so we went back to meet the others, but promised ourselves to return here some other time and do it justice.

From Cooktown we took the Endeavour-Battlecamp Rd and stopped at Isabella Falls. Lovely falls running off a ford, so they can be viewed from the top as well as from below.

Then we drove to Laura Station Historical Site where we had a break and a walk around. After we kept going via Lakefield Road to our next camp spot at Kalpowar Crossing, on the Normanby River. Along the way we stopped to admire some termite architecture, then travelled past Kennedy Bends campsites and crossed the Normanby River twice at Kalpowar Crossing, before setting up camp. The keen fishermen of the group were hanging to finally wet their lines, so after a quick set up they went to try their luck, while Andrew and I had a go at repairing our holey self-inflating mattress. It was not our finest hour; however it turns out it was a very popular spectator sport! Happy to report that we have overcome this hurdle and still remain life partners :).

Unfortunately, the fishing was unsuccessful, but we made up for it with a great campfire, albeit full of huge ants. Ben decided to turn into an ant exterminator as they were everywhere. After a campfire dinner it was bedtime.

Day 4, Tuesday 29th August

Got up nice and early, packed up camp and left at 8.15 am. We took the Lakeview Road to Hann River crossing where we stopped to do a bit of fishing, which was, same as yesterday, unsuccessful. But hopefully at least good for the soul. We continued towards Musgrave and took one more fishing break at Saltwater Creek. Absolutely stunning bit of water with some deeper holes, shallow pools and beautiful green gums shading the creek. Well worth the stop, be it not for the fishing, which was yet to bear any fruit.

Our group also played good Samaritans today. Aidan picked up a bag that fell off a ute travelling past us while we were stopped, and found it was full of new fishing gear (rod, reels, tackle etc) as well as a sleeping bag. We were hoping we’d be able to return it somewhere along the way as we all seem to be going to the same place. So, we continued on to Musgrave on Marina Plains Road………..corrrrrrruuggggggatttiions central! Saw hundreds more termite mounds along the way. Stopped at Musgrave Roadhouse, bought a few souvenirs, ice creams and went to check out the local freshwater crocodiles in the lake behind the roadhouse.

Now on to Coen along the Peninsula Developmental Road (PDR). Today the landscape went through several changes from red dirt to white dust, hilly with sparse vegetation, to red again and plenty of trees, a few bitumised sections between the dusty sections, with passing graders and water trucks, lots of other campers and 4WDs everywhere as well as a fair bit of roadkill. When we arrived in Coen we had signal, so caught up a little on the most important stuff, fuelled up, and as the Sexchange Hotel was absolutely packed, we went past the town to the Bend (a picturesque free camp) for a lunch break. Ben and Aidan also managed to find the lucky guy whose fishing gear Aidan was carrying around. He was very happy to be reunited with his sleeping bag in particular.

After Coen we headed to our final destination for the day, the Oyala Thumotang NP. Got some wood on the way and drove around to look at several campsites. These were spaced around the whole NP good distance from each other. The first stop was Mango Lagoon, then First Coen Campsite, and then we went 28km off the main track to the Old Archer River Crossing. The river was beautiful, but it was getting a bit late in the day, so we only had a quick look and then kept going to check the next campsite – Jerry’s Lagoon. Top spot, so we decided to stay there for the night. Out with the fishing rods and set ups and dinners. The campsite was adorned with more termite mounds, lagoon full of water lilies, stunning views and was overall a very relaxing place to stop and unwind. The fishermen did not bring home any dinner, but Ben did get some yabbies.

Good chats about fishing and spearfishing were had around the campfire while lots of noises around us were making us think there were croc babies everywhere. And to top it off, Ben came across a snake as well! To say I was excited is an utter understatement, just ask the crew.

Day 5, Wednesday 30th August

Had good enough sleep and got up close to 7am, fluffed about a bit, some enthusiasts wet the line again (still no luck) and then we left just after 8am. First off, we drove to have a look at the other campsites (Twin lagoons and Ten Mile junction – where Ten Mile Creek joins Archer River).

Then out of the Oyala Thumotang NP and on to the Archer River Roadhouse. There was a bit of signal there, so some catching up again, a few of us had the Archer Burger (a proper burger with the lot for $26), fuelled up again (I think $2.75 /l) and 45 mins later we left to go on to Mt Tozer lookout.

“A lookout?”

“Yes, a lookout.”

“What? Did someone say there is a lookout here?”


“What? A lookout? Naaaah..”

“Yeah, a LOOKOUT!”  and on and on and on…

Yes, this was the conversation on the radio, we were clearly losing our marbles. In the end, the lookout itself was great, but the entire path that led to it was covered with used toilet paper. That was beyond disappointing. We took our group shot, hopped back in the cars and off we went again.

Picked up some firewood and kept going through Iron Range NP on Portland Road to the boat ramp at Cape Weymouth. Absolutely stunning! Water was entirely clear with visible coral (Joe even managed to scratch himself on it, don’t worry, first aid was immediately expertly administered!), and lots of little rockpools with tiny little neon fish and starfish, just beautiful. Again, some fishing was attempted, again, not successfully, and light refreshments had.

Then onwards to Chilli Beach. Stunning place. The campground there is great, has clean hybrid system toilets and big sheltered campsites backing onto the beach. The beach is glorious, with views of islands and rocky outcrops, palm trees along the whole length, what more could one wish for? All four of our cars fit onto 2 sites where we set up, made dinner, and at dusk went to watch a massive flock of small birds fly in various formations above the island under the full moon. This bird show took about 20 minutes, with more and more smaller flocks of birds joining the huge original flock above the island, until it was almost entirely dark, and the birds settled to roost on the island. There must have been thousands of them.

And to top it off it was a night of king tide at 9:15pm with the water lapping onto the very edge of the campsite. Nature at its best. Overnight temperatures were around 20 degrees now, so from here on we slept with all tent windows open. Tonight, the noises at 2 am were magnificent, from the bird calls, to rustling in the leaves, to crawling/ stomping/ slithering sounds, making you imagine what might be living there. Just magic.

Day 6, Thursday 31st August

Got up at 5:50am for a sunrise on the beach, so worth it.  First time on this trip when I had my first morning cuppa. Clearly, the solution is to get up earlier. We managed an 8am departure, taking Portland Rd (lots and lots and LOTS of potholes) towards Frenchman’s Track. Again, the landscape changed many times during the day, from soft white sand tracks through some shortish heath on the plains, to an amazingly crystal-clear creek (whose name I don’t know) flowing through white sandstone, to then red dirt with tropical plants. Contrary to my expectations it wasn’t humid at all, just beautifully warm.

We had to backtrack a fair way back, the same way we came in yesterday, until we hit the turn off to Frenchman’s Track, and then the fun began. It started with a nice sandy drive then some creek crossings and some wash outs, and at 10km the Pascoe River crossing. Reports were saying the river was too deep to be passable, but we really wanted to drive the whole Frenchman’s Track, so we decided to assess it ourselves. We left the cars on top of the hill and walked down to the crossing where we all waded the river from one bank to the other, checking the entry and the exit and all the rocks on the bottom of the river, with the water level being up to Aidan’s waist. Should be very interesting.

After marking the ideal line, the ‘boy consensus’ was to give it a go. I will admit that Amanda and I were VERY hesitant as we did not think it was worth damaging the cars before we even hit the Tele Track, but after Emanuel declared he was confident to go across in his Ranger, we though let’s just go for it. So, we all took our time to prepare our vehicles (tarps / bras/ boards) and after about an hour, it was time for action.

It went without a hitch, each car making it across in around a minute, except for Trakta, of course, who took 22 seconds. Andrew swears by faster water crossings, having a bow wave at the front to create an air pocket etc, so our crossings were always a bit more action packed. The exit and climb up were also quite interesting, very rocky with a pretty sharp bend to the right, and deep holes as we crawled up. Good fun. After Ben finished his crossing, he found he got some mud into the bead of his front tyre, so we had a lunch break while he fixed the issue. After that, another great climb. At the top, the track changed into a red dirt/sand track, framed by yucca trees and bright green bushes, the contrast was breathtaking.

We drove along a beautiful red sand creek that eventually turned into a sandy creek crossing. I was driving at this stage, picked my line across and went for it. It was probably 50 meters long and looked quite benign. BUT! There is always a but! Emanuel and Aidan were already way ahead of us and hence I did not see them cross, so I assumed we should just go straight. There was a small exit from the creek on the right, but it did not look very used, so I kept heading straight. And just as I said out loud “I wonder if we’re meant to go straight or right”, a few of things happened at the same time: 1.The creek bed has suddenly dropped and become incredibly soft, water was much deeper,  and we were losing traction, 2. Trakta doing his best to keep moving and not getting bogged, 3. Aidan’s voice coming from the radio “if you’re at the creek crossing, take the right exit, it’s a bit soft!”, and 4. Me just laughing out loud “A bit too late, Aidan!!,” hoping we will pull out at the other end.

It looked quite iffy for a little while there, but Trakta did his magic and got us through, a huge sigh of relief on my part. What we did not notice though, was that Ben was following us through. And it did not end as well for him. The Disco got stuck about 20m from the end of the crossing and needed to be snatched out. Ben had to get out of the car through the driver side window, which was a sight to behold on its own, as Ben is not a small human by any means! Then Trakta came to the rescue, and under Andrew’s expert supervision, I snatched Ben out on second go. After that we needed a bit of time for the Disco to drain the water and for Amanda and Ben to try and dry out their most important stuff.

After this intermission we continued on, doing a great steep climb (even turned the air lockers on), driving a beautiful white sandy track and then crossing the Wenlock River. Nice and easy water crossing with a fun technical climb out of it. After that it was an easy 12km to the PDR, which marked the end of the Frenchman’s Track. Turned South for a little bit and then turned west again towards Weipa. This part of the PDR had huge corrugations and tonnes of dust.

We made it to Weipa at 4:30pm, found Mitre Ten, fuelled up, went to the caravan park (right on the beach), set up, showered, came up with our trip name (Just THE TIP), caught up on what’s going on in the world, watched a beautiful sunset, had dinner and went to bed getting excited about tomorrow. We will be starting The Old Telegraph Track!

Day 7, Friday 1st September

Woke up to a beautiful foggy morning, however condensation everywhere, therefore we took a little longer to pack up. But we still managed to leave only just after 8am. We all went to Woolies and the tackle shop to restock supplies, and left Weipa by 9.30am.

Back onto the PDR, then turned onto Batavia Downs Road and then turned North onto Telegraph Road. It was getting real! We had a quick relaxing stop at the turnoff to Moreton Telegraph Station under a bridge over the Wenlock River. Went for a little dip, Aidan quickly wet the line, and a bit before midday we set off towards Bramwell Station.

About 8km North from the Moreton TS turnoff our GPS informed us, that just like that, the Telegraph Rd turned into the Old Telegraph Track! We stopped at Bramwell Station Roadhouse, had lunch, took the obligatory photo in front of the Old Telegraph Track sign and OFF WE WENT!

Only 2km down the road came the first crossing- Palm Creek- and when we saw that, we thought, far out, if all the crossings are like this, it will be one VERY interesting track. And to make it even more interesting, Trakta had an electrical fault just as we were about to send it! As we got in the car, Andrew smelled burning plastic, so immediately came a frantic search for the source, super quick  removal of the relevant fuse, even quicker unpacking with Ben’s and Aidan’s help, after which we found the melted wire and smouldering carpet mat in the middle of the back of the car. Got it before it was properly on fire. Phew. Ben then isolated the cable and taped it off for us, we packed everything up again and were ready to do the crossing, all this in 8minutes flat (I know this because video on the phone was running this whole time). We were so very lucky!

Once we got to do it, the crossing was awesome. Steep drop and a sharp left turn into a muddy creek with a few deep holes, and Trakta had no problems whatsoever with any of that. Exit was quite fun, sharp turn right and a crawl up a few wombat holes.

Next in line was Ducie Creek crossing – pretty steep entry, big muddy holes in the creek, then drive in the creek and exit to the right, doing a 180° back up one of three different climbs. No-one had any issues, all just enjoying the drive/ride. After Ducie creek we crossed South Alice and North Alice Creeks, nothing remarkable about those, and drove towards Dulhunty River.

This section of the track had one good descend and climb, some interesting washouts, which we had fun straddling, and a large portion of the track was mainly sandy with some roots and rocks popping through. Also, lots of old bent telegraph poles along the track. Disappointingly, some areas of the track have been used as public toilets….

We found a campsite just after 4pm, by the Dulhunty River,  set up, went for a perfect afternoon dip, started fire, had dinner, drinks and lively conversation and hit the sack around 10pm.

Day 8, Saturday 2nd September

Woke up to a perfect morning, packed up and ready to leave by 7.50am. Pretty much straight out of the campsite was our next crossing, absolutely beautiful Birtie Creek. The riverbed was hard rock with holes scattered through it, and in those the crystal-clear water looked see-through turquoise. Easy crossing.

Further on, the track is quite sandy, and about a kilometre past Birtie Creek there is the sign: “Gunshot – 8km straight, Northern bypass road – 27.4km right.” We went straight! Next crossing was across a gorgeous little clear sandy Cholmondeley Creek. And then the big one, Gunshot creek crossing.

When we arrived we parked out of the way and went to have a look at our options. We counted eleven different chicken tracks, that were no longer chicken tracks, due to overuse. Every single crossing looked dicey, and in the end, there were only two possible candidates. One quite narrow and absolutely dead straight, and so steep, that when you look at it you can’t imagine that a car could stick to it without tipping over.  And the other one, a bit wider and not as steep, but with a bend in it and very deep boggy bottom. Both of those were far from easy.

In the end, all bar Trakta went down the straight steep track, and Trakta took the other one. Even before we started crossing, there was a crowd and party atmosphere. Not a cloud in the sky, scenery to die for, everyone super excited and itching to attempt the crossing. Couple of the motorbike groups were going through before us, which was seriously impressive, and after them Ben decided to go for it, with Amanda watching at the bottom of the crossing. The Disco sustained a little bit of damage but nothing too serious.

Watching from the top were guys from the “No Limits” tour, which was a group of 6 old army Land Rover Perenties, with two experienced trip leaders, taking a group of people through the Cape over 15 days. They decided to do a bit of track work before embarking on the crossing themselves, so shovels and mattocks came out and adjustments were made and soon they were on their way down, showing us how it’s done. One of those Land rovers even had a broken front axle, so was in two-wheel drive, and still made it!

Wow…. Then it was Aidan’s turn. Apart from a broken side mirror, the Disco did really well. Then Emanuel showed us an impeccable execution, made it look easy, did not even touch either side of the drop. With all the other guys safely across Andrew and I decided to go down the other track.

Air lockers on and down we went. The ride was exhilarating to say the least. We got to a point where the air lockers had no effect as the bottom was too soft and we had zero traction, and Trakta began to slide sideways with both of us doubting if we picked the right track. But then Trakta found his feet and we crawled out the other side ok. Phew, we all made it.

We ended up scraping the snorkel and left spare tyre, and the winch was filled up with clay but other than that, no real damage. We spent a few minutes cleaning Trakta’s winch and then kept going, ready to take on any challenges the OTT might throw at us. Next came Cockatoo Creek crossing, which was a relatively easy crossing, the water flow was quite fast, but the creek bed was mainly hard rock with a few pools and some sandy sections, so none of us had any issues. The exit was steep and sandy and at the top of the climb was a stunning blue lagoon, with totally clear water. After we regrouped at the lagoon, we drove on to the cherry on top of the OTT, the Fruit Bat Falls. This place is absolutely amazing.

My descriptive language can’t possibly do it justice, but I’ll do my best. The top of the falls is created by a wide shallow river with deep rockpools, big enough for a person to swim in, flowing across a crescent shaped cliff face into a large and entirely clear lake at the bottom, where anyone can go for a dip and a relaxing float. If you are keen, you can also go and sit under the falls and get one deep back massage. Same as the majority of the creeks up here, the river and the lake under the falls are crystal clear with a turquoise tinge and a lovely temperature of thirty degrees. It was such a gem and felt like a reward for having done well on the Tele Track so far.

After one of the nicest swims I’ve ever had, we went on to our tonight’s camp spot, Eliot Falls campground. Another picturesque place with massive camp sites. There are a couple of spots to swim there, one being the Saucepan, which is a small version of the lake under the Fruit Bat Falls, and then at Twin Falls.  Eliot Falls themselves are very striking, shaped like a long and very narrow horseshoe with water flowing over the entire surface of it into a narrow river.  

hile we set up our camp, Ben and Amanda went to drop off those two spare tyres to their mate, who was camped at the next crossing, at Sam’s Creek. When they returned, Ben found the Disco had a puncture in its power steering hose which did not bode well for the rest of its trip. After putting on their thinking caps, all the boys helped with some bush mechanics and under Emanuel’s guidance managed to fix the hose to an acceptable level, the only condition being for Ben (or Amanda) not putting the steering wheel into full lock. Both Ben and Amanda were so tired and emotionally exhausted, thinking they might not be able to continue, that they called it a night straight after the repair. The rest of us helped Aidan fix his tyre, finally had dinner, checked out our photography efforts so far and chatted until we called it a night just before 10pm wondering what the rest of the trip was going to look like.

Day 9, Sunday 3rd September

Woke up nice and early, packed up and agreed on change of plans. We were all going to leave the OTT and drive with Ben up Bamaga Rd to the Jardine River ferry, leave his car there, Ben and Amanda will jump in Aidan’s car, then we’ll all backtrack to Sam’s Creek crossing and do the northern part of the Tele Track together. Woohoo, let the fun begin!

We got to Jardine River crossing with no problems and no leaks detected, so Ben dropped the Disco off a little bit out of the way and then we all headed back south. Took the track to Mistake Creek for 6km until we hit the Old Telegraph Track again and drove to Sam’s Creek campground, where we met Ben’s mate Chris and his wife Deena, who would be joining us tonight at Seisia and ended up doing the rest of the trip with us. There we just had a look at the crossing and as we did not need to cross here, we kept going to Mistake Creek.  

There we HAD TO take Wendy’s Track – a track on the left, that Wendy and Bob made this past June on their trip up here. Then came the stunning Cannibal Creek Crossing. A bit of a technical entry, steep, as well as a tilt of the car, needing to avoid two offset rocks at the lower end of the entry, and a root sticking out, on the way further down. The creek was quite deep, and the exit was around a 180 degree right hand bend. Emanuel and Andrew gave me good guidance and Trakta did beautifully.

Then we travelled to Cypress Creek, a narrow but quite deep, totally transparent stream, famous for its “Log Bridge”. Not sure I would call it a “bridge.” There are logs across the creek, creating two tracks 2-3m above the water, and they are reinforced with ratchet straps, which over all does not inspire a huge level of confidence. All of us drove across with no worries but would not want to do it more than once.

As we continued on, we drove through more changing landscape, with many different grasses, grass trees, and smallish fan-leaf palm trees that had some kind of ornamental dried flower remnants attached to every leaf. Very different, almost alien looking. After that it was on to a stunning creek crossing with no name, blue crystal water and a black snake swimming onto the bank to avoid all the commotion. At the crossing Amanda had an altercation with a submerged log (Log 1: Amanda 0) however no photographic evidence to show here :).

Lots of other tracks led into this creek as well which made its bank look quite spectacular. Adjacent to the crossing was a crystal-clear lagoon full of water grass, with water so clean you could see all the way to the bottom (at least a metre down) and every blade of grass on the way there. Just beautiful. Then it was time for us to take on Nolan’s Brook.

Another scenic place, that felt like a balm for the eyes and the soul. The creek bed being soft white sand made the water a pale aquamarine colour, and the temperature was so pleasant, it made us want to jump in. There were couple of options for crossing, some of those very deep, so we walked the creek first.

Aidan went first and despite checking the creek bed beforehand, he got stuck and needed to be pulled out. Luckily there was a rig, conveniently parked on the other side of the creek, ready to lend a hand/rope. After it was freed, the Disco was now in need of drying out as well. Seeing that, everyone went down the other track and had no issues.

When we were all safely across, we parked the cars and stayed for a swim, as it would be a sin not to enjoy such a serene spot a bit longer. While we were relaxing there, Aidan paid it forward and snatched out a Landcruiser towing a camper, that got stuck in the middle of the creek.

After about an hour at this little oasis, we left for the actual end of the Old Telegraph line by the Jardine River. The fishing rod came out again, and again no luck. Then we went to have a look at the “Former Jardine River crossing,” took some pics, Emanuel snatched Aidan from the beach there, and off we went back onto the OTT.

After around 5km we turned right onto a track that led to Bamaga Road and with that came the end of the Old Telegraph Track. From there we needed to do a 45km loop, with the Jardine River ferry in the middle of it,    to get to the other side of the Jardine River, exactly opposite to where we were standing an hour and a bit ago. At the Jardine River Ferry Station we paid our $121 for 50 meters of water crossing on a barge. The fee included bush camping at certain spots on the Northern Cape York Peninsula as well, but it still felt quite a steep price.

From there we drove up the Bamaga Road to Seisia. At the Seisia Camping Ground we were directed to a large clearing with two undercover areas (they call them huts here), each with plenty of tiled bench space, picnic tables, power outlets and a sink with drinking water. Chris and Deena brought some firewood and we all set up. Some did so under cover, some in the open. We went for a walk to the beach and watched the sunset over the jetty. Had a campfire, dinner, and went to bed around 10.30pm

Day 10, Monday 4th of September

We woke up around 7am, but were in no hurry this morning, so we took our time getting up, and went to the office to pay our dues and book a tour to Thursday Island. As prewarned, things and people run on TI time up here, so it took us quite a while to get it sorted but we got there. Paid $150 for a powered site for 2 people for 3 nights and then $167/person for the ferry to TI with a bus tour.

Ben and Chris went to Bamaga earlier to get their car stuff sorted and got back around 9.30am, so after fluffing around a bit, we were all off at 10.15am. First stop was The Croc Tent – Cape York Souvenir Shop in a huge tent with a statue of a croc and a wild pig in front of it. Spent good 20 mins picking up some shirts and stickers and then went on to Punsand Bay.

OMG that is a beautiful spot! Like wild Northerlies…or Northerlies in the wild :). There is Corrugation Bar, very cool vibe, they have a pool and lots of seating areas under palm trees with the most amazing blue ocean bay views. Even have a little sight-seeing helicopter parked on the beach next to the bar.

Our whole crew fit into the Tinny Bar – a dinghy turned into a seating area for punters to enjoy a drink or two. We all had a beverage and relaxed way too easily there. Well, all good things must come to an end, for us to be able to get to even better things. So, we had to pull up stumps and keep going. Next stop, the Tip!

We parked as far North as cars can go on the mainland, booted up and hiked about a kilometre up a rocky hill, past a few gorgeous lookouts. It was super windy, but the views were glorious. When we got to the top, we could see the waters from both East and West meeting at the tip, creating a ‘rolling water’ effect.  Very cool. There are also two islands very close to the mainland which makes it feel like there is much more of Australia beyond this point. And never in doubt, four of our members brought their fishing gear to the tip to try their luck fishing off the tip of Australia :). We took a heap of photos, selfies, group ones, solo ones, couple ones, videos, you get it.

Had about an hour at the tip and it was time to get going to our next stop, the Ruins of Somerset. There is a memorial to the Somerset Mission, a little cemetery, and a few old cannons, all located under a plethora of mango trees. After having a look around there, we went for a drive to the Five Beaches area, where we photobombed the Land Rover No Limits crew group beach photo. The beaches were beautiful but on closer inspection, the tide mark was covered with plastic and rubbish that floats in on the tides from Indonesia.

From the Five Beaches area we went back to the Croc Tent to get some more shirts while others went to get some wood. We all met back at the camp, had dinner and went to watch the guys do some nighttime fishing on the jetty. Aidan hooked a 2m shark ( it eventually chewed the line), no one else had any luck. BUT I had a shock of my life! Looking up at the night sky, there was a line of about 50 evenly spaced lights, travelling across the sky together, like Empire ships, just flying over our heads! It totally freaked me out! Absolutely ridiculous scenarios crossed my mind for a little while, as I had no idea what was happening. After having raised alarm of a possible alien attack all around the jetty, I was calmly informed that they are JUST Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites! Far out, still not a nice feeling. But I’ve learned something new. We packed up the fishing, went back to camp, sat by the fire for a bit, and went to bed.

Day 11, Tuesday 5th September

Got up to everyone sharing stories about a horse stampede through the camp during the night, telling us we were lucky we did not get trampled etc, and both Andrew and I slept straight through it! Had our first hot breakfast of the trip, nice shower and got dressed into our island wear and off to the ferry to Thursday Island.

Thanks to the informative video on board, we found out (amongst other things), that TI is 19 nautical miles (around 36km) from Seisia, and that we will be sailing past Prince of Wales Island and Horn Island to get there. Straight after we disembarked, we hopped onto our bus to do a guided tour through the place. Little island with lots of history. We were able to access the museum at Green Hill Fort and stayed for almost an hour, learning about the people of the Torress Straight Islands military involvement in different conflicts.

We were done with the tour by 11 am and went to the AUSTRALIA’S TOP PUB (northern most pub in Australia) for an early lunch and a beverage. Nice pub with a good atmosphere. The idea was to do a TI pub crawl, but the next pub we went to did not really appeal to Andrew and I, so we went for a wander through the streets, checked out some souvenirs, wandered through the Cultural Centre and finished our tour of TI at the Grand Hotel, where we met up with the rest of the group. The ferry back was leaving at 2.30pm, so after a couple of refreshing drinks, it was time to head back.

Got to camp around 4pm, and after relaxing for a while, we grabbed our brand spanking new Berkley all-in-one fishing kit ,and took ourselves to join the others at the jetty to try it out. Emanuel was already on his way back with 4 fish (2 GTs and 2 barracudas) and the other boys were getting good bites, while Andrew and I were getting frustrated with each other over rigging the fishing rod.

It appears that fishing is not a particularly relationship friendly activity for us 😂. We packed it up not too long after we cast our first cast as funnily enough we were getting zero bites, and everyone else had left the jetty. Back at the camp we had a taste of Emanuel’s fish bites, sat and chatted by the campfire, and went to bed after the wild horses ran through our camp again. This time we were awake!

Day 12, Wednesday 6th September

Had great sleep, woke up without alarms, I think we are becoming Queenslanders! While packing up I noticed we had little bits of the plastic scraps on the floor on passengers’ side, which could mean only one thing. A RAT in the car!  So out with all stuff under our seats, all clear, checked everywhere else, did not find the culprit, so finished packing and got ready to leave.

It was time to say good-bye to Seisia, and the North, which made us all feel a bit sad. It had been a great trip up here and we were not quite ready to return home just yet. Alas, time was our enemy and we eventually had to pull up stumps and head South. We fuelled up at Bamaga and set off down Bamaga Rd, unfortunately following about 25 vehicles doing the Endeavour Rally. So, not only were we eating their dust and going slower than we would have liked but we also had to spend an hour at the Jardine River ferry waiting for everyone to cross before us. We were all across the river by 10:45am, ready to put our skates on and get going.  Aiming to get to Archer River tonight.

Consensus was to stop for lunch at Fruit Bat Falls, to keep the holiday feeling going, plus they are only 3 km off Bamaga Rd. We spent a pleasant hour eating and frolicking and agreeing that going back South sucks. Eventually we left this “oasis on the track” and headed South in earnest. There were a couple of instances when we had to go slow for caravans and trailers, as it was so dusty, that we could not see ahead, and it is very hard to overtake when you can’t see anything. This time we only drove by Bramwell Roadhouse and just kept motoring on. Passed the Frenchman’s Track turn off, then the turn off to Weipa, on the Telegraph Rd.

Eventually we joined the PDR and finished our day of dusty driving at a free camp on Archer River, about a km before the Roadhouse. Apart from the roadworks next to the camp (building a massive bridge over the river), it is a stunning little camp along the creek, on coarse sand, with lots of Melaleuca trees, and tonnes of bats in the evening.  We had a lovely dip in the river, then a beautiful fire and just a really enjoyable night overall.

Day 13, Thursday 7th September

Got up nice and early after a good night sleep, packed up and left by 7.30am. Quick toilet stop at Archer River Roadhouse and on towards Coen to fuel up. About halfway through, Aidan radioed us that he was stopped on the side of the road. He just noticed “a cable” come out of his broken side mirror flapping around while he was driving, so he stopped to check it out and realised it was a little snake hitchhiker!

The snake got injured during its ride, its tail being quite bloody, so when the car stopped, it slithered to hide under the windscreen wipers. And sometime while this was happening, there was also a little dingo puppy running across the road which Aidan was trying to record before realising he had a snake coming out of his mirror. All this excitement in about 1 minute :).

In true Outback fashion, Chris got the snake out with his bare hands, we took lots of photos, deposited it in the bushes on the side of the road, hoping it will survive the injury, and off we went to Coen. Fuelled up there, had a bit of a break and on we went to Musgrave Telegraph Station. Toilet stop, some snacks and on we went to Laura, hoping to sink our teeth into the famed Laura burger. Road was alternating between dirt and longer and longer sections of bitumen, so it felt like we were nearing civilisation, which always puts a damper on the mood.

When we got to Laura, we found out the Roadhouse was closed, apparently due to the publican being recently taken by a crocodile. Not a good way to depart this world….. So, we aired up here, as the road was all bitumen from here on, and drove to Lakeland, hoping to find something to eat there. And find we did. VERY yummy burgers with the lot and ice creams were had, and after we had our fill, we kept motoring to Mt Molloy. Mt Molloy free camp is an absolute gem. Despite being close to the road it was a lovely spot to stay. The area has lots of trees, is nice and flat, has toilets and showers, even fire pits, and is walking distance from the pub, if you are that way inclined.

It was a wee bit drizzly when we were setting up, so we all put up our awnings, set up the firepit and relaxed around the fire, enjoying the last night we were going to spend together as a group. I shall leave out the “Emanuel vs. rat” incident, which on the other hand, was not very relaxing. But other than that, a nice way to finish our trip. Bedtime around 10pm.

Day 14, Friday, 8th September

Got up, started to pack up and the group started to break apart. Emanuel and Joe left first, as they were going to Innisfail to catch up with relatives. Then Aidan, Ben and Amanda, and Chris and Deena bid us farewell, aiming to get to Townsville for the night. And as Andrew and I were in no hurry to get home, we took our time, not knowing where we would end up tonight. We eventually packed up the rest of our stuff and set off Mareeba way. When we arrived there, we thought we should stop at the Coffee Works for some supplies for our dog sitting friends, and guess who we saw in the carpark – yep, our crew :). They stopped for a morning brew and a bite to eat. So, we chatted for a little while and then we set off our own way towards Innot Hot Springs.

We stopped at the Humpy (the nut shack), for some locally made snacks, got beeped by our crew on their way, then went on to Atherton. Drove past the Chinese temple (looked like a Chinese inspired Queenslander), then had a peek at the Hasties Swamp NP, which was filled with hundreds of Magpie Geese. The constant drizzle gave the swamp a lovely moody atmosphere.

We then drove through Atherton onto Herberton where we stopped at the Herberton Historic Village, not knowing what to expect. I will not go into the details here, but will only say that we stayed around three hours there and our minds were blown. You could spend all day there if you wanted, all exhibits in beautiful condition, and very informative. So, we finally got going around 2pm, aiming to visit Innot Hot Springs, which was about 50km away. We took the scenic dirt road and got there an hour later. The creek was quite pretty but very shallow, with very hot water and burning hot surrounding sand. This was due to the bore water, bubbling up under the sand, apparently reaching temperatures of 75°C!  In this case it pays off to always check the temperature with your toe before putting a whole foot in it. We gave it a try and the water was VERY hot. We didn’t feel like a swim (more of a wade through the shallows), so we decided to motor on. We came, we saw, we touched, we left.

After the hot springs we backtracked through to Ravenshoe and down to Tully, where we found out from our group chat, that everyone was in Townsville already. However, Aidan’s Disco started leaking oil – its transmission seal was damaged – so his trip ended in a cabin of a tow truck, taking the Disco home to Mackay on Saturday morning. For Chris and Deena Townsville is home, so Ben and Amanda stayed the night with them, before heading home on Saturday morning as well. And we decided to camp somewhere not too far from Tully, and ended up at Murray Falls, back where we started on our first night of the trip. So, we finished right where we started. No cassowaries this time though.

Day 15, Saturday 9th September

In the end we also decided to head for home today, so we could lend a hand to the MLRC guys at the Big Boys Toys Expo on Sunday. It was a whole day drive, and with a proper case of after holiday sads, we made it home at 7.30pm.

What a fantastic trip! It was two weeks that felt like a month, in the best possible way. We had lots laughs, some emotional times, and found out we all had each other’s backs, and that made for a top experience. As for the Cape itself, it was completely different to what I expected. I had not seen a single video, nor had I read any articles about the Old Telegraph Track before we left, and I am so glad I hadn’t. The entire experience was completely new for me, from the landscape, which I WRONGLY assumed would be a humid rainforest all the way, to the tracks themselves. The weather was lovely warm and dry while we were up there, the nights were pleasantly cool, which made for comfortable sleep, and the tracks were so much fun! From huge wash outs in hard clay, to soft sand, to hard sand, with lots of water crossings, some mud, big rocks, dirt and bulldust, wombat holes and everything in between, all these kept us on our toes. But Trakta, and all the other vehicles, did it with no issues.

We returned home knowing that we will go back again, hopefully sooner rather than later, with much more time up our sleeves so we can explore all the little side tracks and stops we could not do this time. Massive thanks to the whole group for such a fun time and to Aidan for putting together such a great trip. Until next time!

Thanks Aidan for organising the trip and Ben & Amanda and Joe and Emmanuel for being great travel buddies.

Thanks also to Aidan, Ben and Amanda for sharing some of your videos.