Bramwell Junction to the Cape and back to Cairns – Cape York Part 3
Rock’n’Roll in the Wilderness: Deep Rivers, Steep Rocks and Faded Trails
Today it’s possible to use the Northern or Southern Bypass Roads from Bramwell Junction to Bamaga and Cape York. It’s not a sealed road yet, but it will be by the end of 2020. It’s not a proper 4×4 track, though. Since we were looking for the next adventure, we went with the Old Telegraph Track (OTT, 120km) instead.
Back in the day that used to be the only connection to the cape. Nowadays, it’s the highlight of the trip for offroad fans. Steep river decends, deep holes and deep track grooves lead the way. The actual attraction, however, are river crossings from South to North, such as the Palm Creek, Ducie Creek, North Alice Creek, Dulhunty River, Bertie Creek, Gunshot Creek, Cockatoo Creek, Sailor Creek, Canal Creek, Sam Creek, Mistake Creek, Cannibal Creek, Cypress Creek, Bridge Creek und Nolan’s Brook.
A lot of these rivers require driving in a zick-zack-line through the water to not get stuck in one of the holes under water. It’s better to walk through the rivers a few times at different places beforehand. This is of course quite time consuming. Nevertheless, we made it through the first 80km by the afternoon of the first day. Time for to get refreshed in the waters of fruit bat falls. We set up our swags by canal creek.
The track on the second day was equally as challenging. More river crossings and difficult terrain overall. We were told at Bramwell Station that the OTT changes yearly due to wind, rain, floods, wild fires and collapsing trees. We were told to pay special attention to crossing the last river on the track – Nolan’s brook. It was supposed to be very deep and the currant was unpredictable. We traveled during dry season, though, so the crossing was actually quite manageable. When we reached the river, we met a few people that got stuck in Nolan’s brook nonetheless. Their engine caught water and they lost all of their camera equipment. So the crossing was no joke and people helped each other out by pulling the following cars through the river.
But see for yourself: here is a video of our 4×4 highlights on the way to the Cape! Enjoy 🙂
Almost at the Tip: Cape York
At the end of the tip you have to pass Jardine River. It’s not possible to drive through it by car since 1993, so the only option is taking a ferry. The river is only 40km wide, but the ferry is AUD100 (August 2017). After another 50km North on a rather uncomfortable road we reached Mutee Heads. We were rewarded with an incredible sunset at the sea that night.
The next day we drove to a camping site in Seisia. After a few days in our swags, we treated ourselves to a cabin, a shower, and a kitchen. We finally reached our destination the next day. After a short drive through the jungle and a short walk, we reached the Northernmost Point of the Australian Continent – Cape York. What an incredible feeling!
On the way back we checked out the ruins of the Pajinka Wilderness Lodge (only about 500m from the cape). Until 2000 it was a 5-star-hotel for tourists coming from Cairns by ship via Seisia or by plane via Bamaga. After remodeling in 2003 is was never opened again.
On the following days we explored the East Coast of the cape. The ruins of Somerset, a drive along the beach and a visit of the “croc tent”, a souvenir shop, were nice activities to spend a few days. A day trip to Thursday Island from Seisia by Ferry is also worth it.
Back to Cairns through Untouched Nature
On the drive back to Cairns, we decided to go for the Northern and Southern Bypass Road and the Peninsula Development Road instead of the OTT again.
Our first stop along the way was Captain Billy’s Landing. We had the whole bay to ourselves. There was wind shelter and even a bush toilet. We followed our typical routine at night time: setting up the swags, collecting firewood, BBQ and watching the stars afterwards.
Our trip continued inland, first on long dusty roads and later through the hills. We only saw the sea in Port Douglas again. We set up our swags two more times near Coen and by Lakeland before we hit civilization again.
Toyotas Never Die
The landcruiser has brought us safely through the wilderness and back – nearly 3,800km. It only suffered from two little damages – a squished exhaust and a leak in the transmission differential. That could easily be fixed at the next car shop, though. Overall, this was a great trip!!! If you are planning to go to the Cape as well or have any questions, feel free to contact me!