Cape York Peninsula
Far North Queensland
HOW MANY TIMES have you looked at a map of Oz and wondered about the croc-infested wilderness that is Cape York Peninsula?
For me, it was more often than not, so when a friend asked me to join him on a four-week four-wheel-drive trip to Queensland’s northern tip, I jumped at his offer. When we hit the gravel Peninsula Developmental Road (PDR), I instantly got butterf lies in my stomach – I’d heard all about the car-destroying route.
After a few hours, however, I relaxed a little. As long as you drive sensibly, there isn’t too much to worr y about. No crazy dust holes or washouts to devour your car whole. Just corrugations, lots of corrugations.
The first night we stayed at The Bend, just north of Coen. After crossing a little, albeit deepish, river, we parked on a sandbank next to a swimming hole. Watching my kids play in mini waterfalls – no crocs here – my car and trailer still in one piece, I was in high spirits.
The next afternoon, we arrived at Bramwell Station, unhitched our camper and headed out to see Australia’s most talked about 4WD track, the Overland Telegraph Line (OTL), and its first river crossing at Palm Creek. I’d been told this was one of the hardest, and looking at the entry I could see why – a near-vertical drop into a mud-filled hole. The exit was difficult too – steep, eroded banks. I made it through with only a bent side step!
As we made our way north we crossed multiple creekbeds, opting to take ‘chicken’ (easier) tracks when we didn’t think the car would make it through.
Back out onto the main road we headed for Fruit Bat Falls (above) – a long, low wall of rocks with a beautifully clear waterhole to swim in.
The next day, we turned onto the northern section of the OTL and pointed our nose towards Eliot and Twin falls – both great spots to wash off the dust. Next we tackled Sam, Mistake, Cannibal and Cypress crossings, before pushing on to Nolans Brook – the last, and hardest, crossing on the track. It’s deep – seven cars had drowned in the two days before we arrived – so we had a mate pull us through the water.
After coming off the OTL, we drove on to Pajinka and the tip of Australia – as north as north gets. We did it!
I urge you, if you’re thinking about doing Cape York, dive on in. You’ll see some of the prettiest sights in Oz, and come away with a great sense of satisfaction knowing you’ve survived the OTL.
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