Cape York Travel Tips
1. Your vehicle
Make sure your vehicle (including campers and trailers) is in good condition and that you have a spare tyre or two. Basic tools are essential to make minor repairs and some recovery gear is a good idea to help get yourself out of tricky situations.
Plenty of water, extra food and fuel will prove useful as well. If you breakdown, stay with your vehicle and wait for help to come to you.
Caravans can be safely stored at Lakeland Caravan Park for those who prefer to leave the van behind before continuing up Cape York Peninsula.
2. Road conditions
Our roads can suddenly vary from sealed surface to rough gravel and dirt. Take extra care on dusty roads and drive with your headlights on.
It is recommended that travellers check conditions before attempting to drive off the Peninsula Development Road or bypass roads that run from the Weipa junction north to the Jardine River Ferry and up to the top of Cape York Peninsula.
3. Flooded roads and crossings
Water over the road can be deceptive. If you come across a flooded river crossing or excess water on the road always walk it first. Check that the terrain underneath is stable and relatively level. If the water current is strong against your legs it may be strong enough to push your car off the crossing. Don’t take risks. Water levels often go down quickly, so if you have any doubts, wait for the water to subside and enjoy it as part of your adventure!
When driving around the Cape, watch out for animals especially kangaroos, snakes and unfenced cattle.
Animals are most active early in the morning and at dusk, but can leap out unexpectedly at any time of the day or night. Don’t swerve suddenly if you see an animal in front of you. Reduce speed safely or you may spin out of control or roll your vehicle.
Before swimming anywhere be sure to get up-to-the-minute local information... and don’t swim after dusk or early in the morning as marine animals are also most active at this time.
Crocodiles can be found around many rivers, freshwater creeks and waterholes, and along coastal beaches. Marine stingers are found throughout the year on local beaches and in the Cooktown harbour. Some stings can be fatal. Stings can be relieved with instant and continued application of vinegar, but be sure to seek medical help as soon as possible.
Always take care when jumping or diving from waterfalls, or into rock pools, creeks, waterholes or rivers. There can be dangerous rocks or logs just under the surface, and water depth can be deceptive.
Many native fruits in North Queensland are poisonous. Do not risk tasting or eating them as even small amounts can be dangerous. Be extra careful to avoid carrying weeds on your equipment and vehicle - support quarantine regulations where applicable.
6. Take care of yourself and our environment
When you are in the tropics it is essential to drink plenty of water. When walking, always wear a hat, apply sunscreen, take plenty of water with you, wear comfortable clothes and sturdy footwear.
Medical requirements of a personal nature should be carried as there is limited access to chemists or medical aid outside the main centres with hospitals and clinics located at Cooktown, Weipa, Bamaga and Thursday Island.
Please clean up and take your rubbish with you when you leave a picnic or camp site. Dispose of any refuse in designated bins or tips.
Check fire bans and restrictions in your area. Never leave a campfire unattended and always use water to extinguish campfires, not sand or dirt as you may leave hot embers underneath. Cigarette butts can cause bushfires. If you spot a bushfire get right out of the area.
Please don’t use soap or shampoo in streams when bathing or washing.
7. Alcohol restrictions
Alcohol restrictions are in place in most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. The Queensland Government is working with 19 indigenous communities across the State to implement community-driven alcohol management plans. Alcohol restrictions may be different for each community.
Visitors who wish to access Aboriginal land are requested to check and obtain permits required, what they need to bring, and facilities that are available to them prior to arrival.