The Cape York Peninsula points north towards the Torres Strait and New Guinea, and tackling the rugged tracks and hectic river crossings on the “Trip To The Tip” is an adventure in itself – besides being a means to reach Australia’s northernmost point and the communities at Bamaga and Thursday Island, so different from anywhere else in Australia that they could easily be in another country. But it’s not all four-wheel driving across the savannah: during the dry season the historic settlement of Cooktown, the wetlands at Lakefield National Park and Laura’s Aboriginal heritage are only a day’s journey from Cairns in any decent vehicle. Given longer, you might get as far as the mining company town of Weipa, but don’t go further without off-road transport; while some have managed to reach the Tip in family sedans, most who try fail miserably.
With thousands making the overland journey between May and October, a breakdown won’t necessarily leave you stranded, but the cost of repairs will make you regret it. Bikers should travel in groups and have off-roading experience. Mobile signal is almost nonexistent (tree trunks or termite mounds are often graffitied to identify locations with mobile signal), so it’s worth considering renting a satellite phone.
You’ll find a few roadhouses (with rooms) and motels along the way, but north of Weipa accommodation on the Cape is mostly limited to camping, and it’s inevitable if you head right to the Tip that one night at least will be spent in the bush. Settlements also supply meals and provisions, but there won’t be much on offer, so take all you can carry. Don’t turn bush campsites into rubbish dumps: take a pack of bin liners and remove all your garbage. Estuarine crocodiles are present throughout the Cape: read the warning under “Wildlife dangers” in Basics. There are few banks, so take enough cash to carry you between points – most roadhouses accept plastic. The RACQ (racq.com) has up-to-date information regarding current road conditions; for general tips on off-road driving expeditions, see Basics .