From Cairns to Bramwell Junction – Cape York Part 2

beach drive cape york

The start of our trip to Cape York is Cairns. From there we drove about 70km north to Port Douglas along the shore of the Pacific. The view of the mountains of the national parks in the area and the sea was incredible. Due to the extreme gas prices in the outback (about twice the regular price) we filled up our tank and stocked up on groceries. We stored kangaroo steaks, sausages, milk, fruit, butter in our onboard fridge and also bought lots of cereal, canned veggies, mustard, ketchup, bread and jam. And drinks of course – 10l of coke and 25l of water for each of us. Of course we brought plenty of batteries for our flashlights. By the way, you can read all the details about our trip preparation ➡ here.

 

The Wilderness Begins North of Daintree River

Our next stop was Cape Tribulation after passing through the tropical vegetation in daintree rain forest. Our path led us through ‘crocs country’ with the yellow-red warning crocodile warning signs left and right at most rivers and beaches. We always made sure to set up our tents in a safe distance from the water. Here the only time we walked through the river before driving through was when we didn’t see any crocodile warning signs.

After Cape Tribulation the roads turned into a 4×4 track, other cars simply wouldn’t have made it out there. We reached our first outdoor camp at Archer Point around night time and realized that setting up our tents, eating dinner and washing up after should definitely all take place before sunset. We learned the hard way that night and got a little confused about the setup J

Our next destination Cooktown was originally planned as a pit stop to refuel and stock up only. However, we spontaneously decided to spend the night there so we could drive up to Cape Flattery (120km) the next day.

 

A Sky Full of Stars Above Bathurst Head

Bathurst Head, 250km from Cooktown took almost the full day to get there. A lot of “roads” there have a speed limit of 30-50kmh. When we finally arrived we were rewarded with a spectacular sunset over the sea. We also got to see an incredible night sky since there was no light pollution in the area.

The next day we left for Weipa. Our route followed narrow tracks through the swamps and also a lot of unsealed roads. There are methods to seal them up, though. Unsealed roads have to be wet and scattered by heavy machinery before smoothing them with a roll. All about the money, though…

Just before Weipa we ran into a traffic light in the middle of a road where we had seen barely any cars for hundreds of kilometers. While we were waiting we realized why the light was installed there: The “road” (it was so wide, you can hardly call it road) that crossed ours serves as a driveway for heavy bauxite mining machinery.

After a night on the very well maintained Weipa Camping Grounds we started our way North to Pennefather River. It requires a permit which can be purchased online. We quickly made it to the bush camp at Pennefather River (75km) on a peninsula and had plenty of time for some drone flights J

 

Wild Fire

We stayed in the area for two days and then started making our way East across the peninsula development road, yet another unsealed road. We reached the ruins of the old Batavia Goldfields soon. Apparently all machinery was left there after the gold rush, so we got to see a park for of rusty old equipment. At night time we found an area close to a small that would make a good camping ground for the night.

At least that’s what we though. After sunset we noticed the first smoke behind the trees and it smelled like something had burned. A few minutes later the horizon was on fire and we realized that we were in the middle of a wild fire. So we packed up all our things and continued driving for about 40km. We spent the night in a small parking lot in safe distance from any fire.

The silver lining to this rather uncomfortable night camp was that we were now closer to Chili Beach already. We woke up early and made it there by noon time. Chili Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia and by far our favorite on this trip. Tall coconut palm trees, white sand for miles and miles. The beach wasn’t as crowded as Cape Tribulation either. We’ve heard of cold winds during the night and plastic being washed up on the shore, but we never experienced that.

Traffic Jam at Pascoe River

One day later we left Chili Beach for the first off-road highlight – the Frenchmans Track (52km). The first kilometers were rather easy to maneuver as it was a sandy narrow path. This path soon turned into a rather stony and steep jungle track. Passing through Pascoe River with steep bare rock ascends was quite a challenging part of the drive. Just as we were about to get out of the water another vehicle came towards us, so we had to stop let the “traffic” pass 🙂

The next 60km on the telegraph road to reach Bramwell Station were quite an easy drive even though it’s unsealed. Bramwell Station has showers, warm water, a toilet, and a place to do some laundry, the only place of civilization anywhere nearby…

 

So much for part 2 of our trip… stay tuned for part 3, which will include some cool videos as well 🙂

Cheers, Rüdiger

 

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