You Asked We Answered
Every tourist season we get asked loads of questions.
Many are on social media before people leave for the Cape. And many are when they get up here.
That’s how we know what the Frequently Asked Questions are about Cape York.
Below is a selection of the most asked questions. You can find the full set of out FAQ is in our Guide Book.
The most exciting trip you’ve ever done.
Expect red dust – lots of it.
Corrugations – many.
4wd tracks that will get your adrenaline rushing if you choose to go off-road. And meeting new mates along the way.
Expect an adventure that will make you want to keep coming back again, and again and again.
Best to allow at least a week to get up past Jardine River from Laura and back. In a week you will see a few of the highlights.
If you plan for a 2 week trip you will see a whole lot more. Main reason is if you only plan on a week your time is taken up by driving.
It’s best if you can keep your trip plans flexible. You will see and experience things that will definitely change your plans.
Most visitors end up staying an extra night or two in their favourite camping spot.
If you’re limited by time or holidays, any time is the best time! If you’re a bit freer with your time then consider the following….
The road is more than likely to be passable but a little more care will be required. But there will be less traffic.
It will be cooler and road repairs may have started. Depending on the wet season the creeks on tracks may have started to drop.
A busy time with school holidays in all states.
Also a busy time with creeks and temperatures dropping.
The bonus is that there are more people on the OTT If you are a little nervous about tackling it for the first time, creeks are down and track repairs will have been made by those going through earlier.
The tourist season is waning as are the creeks. An excellent time for a quieter visit.
A few tourists do head up. Do watch the weather as there’s always a chance of an early wet season.
You’re generally looking at days rather than weeks.
The creeks and rivers on the PDR drop quite quickly and the tracks usually take a little longer.
Early in the Dry Season the road crews may not have started on repairs. So there may be a few washouts to navigate.
There is a simple formula for this X ÷ Y = travel time, with X being distance and Y the speed at which you’re travelling. Simple!!
Not really. There is another thing to consider. The Condition of the track. This determines your speed. And all tracks and roads change every season.
On the PDR your average speed could be 80kph. This is a good speed to travel so you can skim over the corrugations. Not so good if your towing a caravan. But some people may want to travel slower in the heavily corrugated sections.
It really comes down to your level of off-road experience, type of vehicle, tyre pressure and your confidence.
At all times if you are unsure drive in high 4WD. That way you can be sure you have 4 wheels helping you. It will cost you a bit more in fuel but could make all the difference.
60,000 plus people travel to Cape York each year in the tourist season. that’s about 10,000 a month.
So yes, you will meet many other travellers. To the point when travelling on the PDR and Bamaga Road you’ll be wishing there were a whole lot less.
People doing the OTT are more than happy to offer advice and lend a hand.
Life time friendships are often formed on the Cape. Mid to late September the number of tourists starts thinning out.
Unless you’re planning on spending weeks camped in a far-flung corner of Cape York.
All fuel stops have water available. It is a good idea to bring your own water hose and fittings.
The road is constantly changing. It can change from day to day. So if someone says to you “We went that way a few days ago and it was good.” Be mindful that it may not be the same when you get there.
It depends on the weather and the amount of traffic travelling on it.
What you can be sure of is that it will be dusty with some or a lot of corrugations.
There are scattered bitumen sections along the PDR and Bamaga Road.
Not in the foreseeable future.
Most people are under the assumption that the PDR stretches all the way to Bamaga. That is not the case.
You’ll be travelling on 3 different roads on your way to The Tip. The PDR stretches from Laura, heading west at the Weipa turn off, finishing at the Rio Tinto lease.
The Telegraph Road continues north from the Weipa turn off ending at Bramwell Junction. Then it is Bamaga Road.
The Bamaga Road can be divided further into the Southern and Northern bypass. For up to date information on where the sealed sections start and finish check out the Queensland Government site.
After your rig and kit setup costs, as a minimum count on $2.00 per kilometre.
After that it depends on whether you eat out every night, free camp or pay for camping or spend up large on souvenirs.
Most vehicles will make it there travelling on the PDR and Bamaga Road. But it can be hard going in a 2WD.
For all other the tracks you will need a minimum of a 4WD with a bullbar, snorkel, snatch strap and winch. Some won’t attempt it without a winch, however, many do.
Everyone has a differing opinion.
We’ll start by looking at the effect tyre pressure has on your ride.
If the pressure is too high less of your tyre touches the road and you’ll be bouncing and sliding. Think of a basketball the more air it has the higher it bounces.
On the other hand if your tyre pressure is too low too much of your tyre is in contact with the ground. This creates friction between it and the road which leads to overheating.
There may be times when you need to drop your tyre pressure very low for short periods. You do this to give your tyres a bigger footprint. Good for creek crossings, in loose sand and deep mud.
Ensure you carry a compressor and gauge to reinflate your tyres.
When driving over corrugations it is best to have less air pressure so you have less bounce.
At the end of the day it comes down to how your vehicle handles, the load you’re carrying, the road conditions and the way you drive.
I have a Hilux and it seems to sit on the corrugations best at 28 to 30 Pounds Per Square Inch (psi).
Recovery of your vehicle can be very expensive on Cape York.
It pays to have top level road recovery assistance.
RACQ have approved towing services in Weipa and Bamaga.
It comes down to personal preference.
If you want a roof top tent to keep in mind that it’s likely to get knocked around doing the tracks. And it means you have to pack it up each time you want to explore.
Swags and tents are fine on the ground. And you can also get a camp stretcher swag or tent.
If you have less time for this trip then pick something that will be easy and fast to setup. And same for packing up.
Below is a list of places north of Cairns….
- Mt Carbine Caravan Park
- Lakeland Caravan Park
- Quinkin Hotel at Laura
- Hann River Roadhouse
- Bramwell Station
- Bramwell Junction
Please contact them to see if there is a cost and if they have space for your rig.
Bramwell Station and Junction are more than happy for you to leave your caravan or camper with them while you do the OTT.
Just make sure you collect your firewood prior to getting to your intended camp.
Most popular campsites and campgrounds have been picked clean within a couple of kilometres.
And please observe the rules for camp fires in each spot if applicable.
Not a lot.
If you get coverage it depnds on your service provider. There is coverage at….
North of the Jardine Ferry
BP Bamaga provides free WiFi.
At the moment Telstra is the only provider north of the Jardine.
But it you won’t be able to go into National Parks.
And they will have to stay tied up while in campgrounds.
You can do the OTT with dogs.
Some of the Stations lay baits. so keep an eye out for the signs when letting your dog out for a pit stop.
Most communities on Cape York have some sort of alcohol restriction. You can get the latest information on the Queensland Government site.
You’re going to need a shovel.
Dig yourself a hole and then after doing whatever you’ve ‘gotta’ do, cover it properly. Please make sure your hole is deep enough that someone won’t get a surprise if they step on it.
Please burn your toilet paper. There is nothing nastier than pulling up to camp only to find you’re surrounded by other’s ‘leftovers’.
Cards are accepted everywhere on Cape York. But it does to pay to have some cash.
At least enough to cover a tank of fuel and a couple of days food just in case.
Will you see a croc?
Maybe and maybe not. But they will be there.
If you are thinking about swiming in brackish water in a remote place or in the ocean they’ll find you.
Will you see a snake?
Maybe but maybe not. But they will be there.
Spiders, mozzies, midges and other bugs are a given. Come prepared.