Bramwell Junction to the Cape
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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 the Cape and Bamaga.
It’s not a sealed road yet, but that will probably happen sometime later. But 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 old days that used to be the only connection from Bramwell Junction to 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.
River crossings from Bramwell Junction to the Cape
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. Of course, only then if there wasn’t a warning sign of crocs.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. And 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. The track will not be maintained by the road construction administration since 30 years. Because it is actually no longer needed.
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. Nevertheless, when we reached the river we met some people who got stuck in Nolan’s brook with their car. The result was a loss of camera equipment and wet clothes. But above all the engine caught water. 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 (3m 13s)! Enjoy 🙂 The entire Cape York video (47m) I linked in the gallery.
Almost at the Tip
Behind Nolan’s Brooke, the Old Telegraph Track ends today. Since 1993 there has been no way to cross the Jardine River by car. You have to take the Jardine River Ferry, which – although the river is only around 140 m wide at this point – costs AUD 100 per single trip (August 2017). After another 50 km on the northern side of the river on a heavily corrugated road we reached Mutee Heads. In the evening we were rewarded with an incredible sunset at the sea that night.
After the breakfast, pancakes made of powder mixed with milk, we went further north via Bamaga to the campsite in Seisia. In our opinion, this is the most beautiful campground in the area. After three days in the swag, we rewarded ourselves with a cabin, a shower and 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. Or “The Tip”, as the Australians say. What an incredible feeling! We made the Old Telegraph Track from Bramwell Junction to the Cape!
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 on the five-beach-run and a visit of the “croc tent”, a souvenir shop half the way between Seisia and the Cape, 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 Bamaga Road, the Northern Bypass Road, the Telegraph Road and the Peninsula Development Road instead of taking the OTT again. This direct way is a distance of about 1,000 km.
Our first stop along the way was Captain Billy’s Landing. We had the whole bay to ourselves. There was a 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. In the morning we were able to experience a nice sunrise. This time the sun rises from the sea. We had to saiy goodbye here to the Pacific Ocean first.
Our trip continued inland, first on long long stretches of Australian’s dusty Outback 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 in a small forest on a riverside. And finally near Lakeland beside the street on a storage place for roadbuilding materials, before we hit civilization again.
Toyotas never die
Our Toyota 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 of the gasket on the transmission differential on the way back. Probably due to the constant shaking on the heavily corrugated roads. That could easily be fixed at the next car repair in Cairns, though.
All in all, 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!
Cheers, Ruediger 😎