A Family Holiday to Cape York: Part 1

Antanya has been itching for adventure as a long-time member of Club 4X4’s team, so she’s recently taken the plunge to travel full time with her family, kicking off Exploring Not Lost (Facebook and Instagram) …

Club 4X4 Insurance
Feb 02 2023

Antanya has been itching for adventure as a long-time member of Club 4X4’s team, so she’s recently taken the plunge to travel full time with her family, kicking off Exploring Not Lost (Facebook and Instagram) with a bucket list trip to Cape York.

Working in Club 4X4’s customer service team for the last couple of years, and at the 4X4 shows around the country, I have talked to many people about their vehicles and their travels all around Australia. In particular, whenever Cape York was mentioned, I would quietly be green with envy.

Being part of a brand that understand the lifestyle of a 4X4 enthusiast and tourer was an incredible privilege. Now that my family and I have a chance to live the dream that I’d often discuss with Club 4X4 customers, I still enjoy spreading the good word on insurance that reaches the remote places that we plan to go with cover for our touring setup.

Sitting around going through photos as a family after losing my step mum, we decided to do a family holiday to a place she always wanted to go; Cape York.

The saying goes it’s about the journey, not the destination, and nothing could be truer in describing a trip to Cape York. A bucket list destination for many people, Queensland’s final frontier is a 4X4 enthusiasts dream and popular destination for many. Whilst the goal is to capture that iconic picture at the tip, the journey to get there is just as epic.

Travelling in our group were myself, my husband, Stacey, and our 3 girls, Noelle, Emerson and Sienna. Our trusty 2017 Toyota LandCruiser 200 series would be joining us on this trip too, towing our 22ft Lotus Off Grid caravan. My dad, Michael, my brother, Jasper, and his 2 boys, William and Jacob, also joined in a 2019 Mitsubishi Triton, towing an Eco Mate Camper trailer. We also invited some close family friends, with Paul and Julie joining in a 2015 Mazda BT-50 towing a Black Series camper trailer, and Chris and Shelly in a 2019 Toyota Hilux towing a Modcon camper trailer.

Now a trip to Cape York isn’t without plenty of planning and preparation. Armed with enough spare parts to build a second LandCruiser, we headed to the Cape this year as part of a 5-week family holiday and an epic start to our lap of Australia. Taking 21 days from Cairns to the reach THE Tip and back down again, our trip to Cape York is an experience we will never forget.

Starting from Cairns, we opted to take the ‘Coast Road’, a winding road that hugs the coastline, leading into Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest. Although the rain decided to give us a wet start to our adventure, once over the Bloomfield Track (with our van in tow), we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine.

Once over the Bloomfield (an accomplishment we are all very proud of), a must stop is the famous Lion’s Den Hotel. A couple of things you need to do at the Lion’s Den is have one of their amazing pizzas, write your name on the wall and enjoy a nice cold beverage or two.

Our journey from here took us to Old Laura Homestead, Jardine River, Bramwell Station, The Old Telegraph Track, Fruit Bat Falls, Punsand Bay and Weipa.

Our first night was spent at Old Laura Homestead. Built in 1902, the heritage Listed homestead still stands today, complete with the rusted-out farm truck in the front yard. Just around the corner is the campground, shaded by a huge mango tree, which is a great place to camp for the night and have a campfire. The local scrub bulls came in for a look too.

Our next stop was Bramwell Tourist Park or Bramwell Station as everybody calls it, which we really enjoyed spending a night at. The most northerly cattle station in Australia, Bramwell station is a great place to pull up and base yourself to explore the Telegraph Track. You can also leave your caravans and trailers here if you don’t want to take it any further, as this is where the going starts to get tough. I highly recommend the dinner and show. Vince the property caretaker talked us through the history of Bramwell, and they have entertainment on every night during the dry season as well as plenty of cold drinks and beer.

The Old Telegraph Track, or OTT as it’s known, is a highlight for many travelling to The Cape. It’s slow going across 315km in total, but you will see and experience some of the best spots The Cape has to offer. We didn’t quite finish the whole track, more on that later, but we did do most of the southern end and now have a good excuse to go back!

With excitement and anticipation in the air, we headed off, starting from the Bramwell Roadhouse. The start of the track is pretty easy going, with a few potholes to watch out for until you reach Palm Creek. This is where the fun begins with the first real challenge on the track. At the first major water crossing, the main drop is almost a straight down and vehicle destroying , so we opted for one of the chicken tracks, taking the track furthest to the right. Still quite challenging to get through and we found required winching out of the other side.

The track itself was in very good condition, some would say better than the Peninsula Development Road, and less corrugated for sure! There are a few challenging spots and water crossings along the way, but this can change from season to season. Most water crossings on the southern end of the track are easy to get through, but best practice is always to get out where possible for a look, and to walk the crossing to check depth if you’re not sure.

CLICK HERE to learn more about water crossings

Along the track itself, there are plenty of chicken tracks around if you don’t want to tackle the hard stuff and take it a bit easier. The Dulhunty River is the next major river crossing on the track, with a sharp right hook down the bank and across, but it is a rocky bottom with a few deep holes you will want to avoid. A great stop for lunch and a swim, and to give the cars a rest and a quick check over. The water was a perfect temperature and crystal clear with a great spot for camping nearby.

Our journey continues in Part 2, where we tackle the infamous Gunshot Creek. Until then, happy reading and safe travels!

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