CAPE YORK WITH KIDS

‘The tip of Australia’ - June 2022

The northernmost point of the Australian continent    
2,800kms  | 15 nights

A huge adventure to Cape York and nothing like we've ever done before. This had always been on our bucket list and it was nearly time to hit the red dirt - we were so excited!

Siblings cuddle at the northernmost point of the Australia Continent sign, in Cape York. 

THE PREP

We started our preparation in Cairns, at the BIG 4 Cairns Coconut Resort - the BEST kid friendly caravan park we have stayed in. With 2 pools, a splash park, jumping pillow, indoor play centre, park, gym and more - it is a kids paradise!

We stocked up on all the essentials here before we left, we knew there was limited shops in Cape York and we weren't sure what would be available. 

For the van, we purchased pool noodles and cable tied them to all of the plumbing pipes underneath the van to prevent stone damage. Attached baby locks to fridge doors, the microwave and shower screen. We also grabbed some clear contact to put over any vents that we didn't want dust getting into. We did get a stone guard for the front of the van which helps but would have gone with a stone stomper if we had have been more prepared (needs to be custom ordered).

For the car, we grabbed a filter sock for our snorkel to prevent excess dust clogging our air filter. A UHF radio is really handy as it allows you to communicate with trucks/road trains and other road users as it is very dusty and visibility is poor when close to other vehicles. This is very useful when you need to pass or another vehicle wants to pass you. 

 

THE TRIP UP

Day 1:

We spent the first night at the iconic Lions Den Hotel ($40 for a powered site, children under 8 free). There was a (croc free) creek to refresh in and a park for the kids to play. A refreshing cold beer while checking out all of the pub memorabilia and delicious wood fire pizza for dinner - what's not to love!

kids at lions den hotel

Day 2:

Our second night was spent at Eddie’s Elim Beach Campground ($30 for 2 x adults, kids under 5 free). We visited the amazing Coloured Sands, which are stunning dune formations, just a short drive from the campground.

Day 3:

We arrived at Hann River Roadhouse ($30 unpowered for 2 x adults, kids free, free wifi). The grounds and gardens were really well maintained, with a small playground and sandpit to keep the little ones happy. The kids loved all the wildlife, the friendly emu ‘Ozzie’, beautiful peacock, miniature horse and we could even watch the wallaby feeding at 5pm. 

   kids-playground-hann-river-roadhouse-cape-york     kid-and-emu-hann-river-roadhouse-cape-york

Day 4:

A great free camp just north of Coen, in fact, one of our favourite spots on the trip! It is ‘The (Northern) Bend Campsite’ on WikiCamps. A nice (croc free) creek to swim in and it has full Telstra reception. Tip: get here early or you may struggle to get a spot.

boy-fishing-coen-river-free-camp

Day 5:

A nice overnight stop at Archer River Roadhouse ($30 for 2 x adults unpowered), located 200kms south of Weipa. We spent the afternoon cooling off and playing in the beautiful, crystal clear Archer River, which was a short walk down the road. We enjoyed dinner here and had to have the famous Archer burger. 

Day 6:

We ventured to the coast to spend a night at Weipa campground ($47 for 2 adults with water + power). The kids loved a much needed swim in the pool and the spent the afternoon at the playground. The campground has a cute cafe with the most amazing sunset over the water. It is within walking distance to Woolworths (the last big supermarket north) and a few small stores including a camping shop.

Day 7:

After a quick stock up, we made our way to Bramwell station ($30 per night unpowered). We stayed a night and stored our caravan here while we did the rest of the trip (3 nights) in a tent. We decided to do this as we didn’t want to risk damage to our van. We heard that the Jardine River Ferry was quite steep and had heard a few horror stories. There was no cost to store our van here and we could leave it as long as we wanted. There is the option for dinner and entertainment here but you need to book in advance. We heard it is very good.

bramwell-station-sign-cape-york-with-kids

Day 8:

Our car was packed to the brim, after leaving the caravan behind and heading further North. We ventured onto the Old Telegraph Track (OTT) to get to our next camping spot. After a rocky and steep road in (lucky we didn't have the van on!), we found a spot at Canal creek campground (free). A beautiful spot not far from Elliot Falls. We spent the afternoon exploring the beautiful Fruit Bat, Elliot & Twin Falls. The kids decided the water was a bit chilli here and wore their Move 2 Change wetsuits in (the water was fine but happy kids = happy life). These falls are an absolute must do on your cape trip!

elliot-falls-cape-york

Day 9-11:

We crossed on the Jardine Ferry, there was no wait time for us and the process was easy. Pay at the shop then you are ready to go. Beware that there was no fuel there when we crossed so maybe don’t rely on that.

We based ourselves at beautiful Alau Campground, in Umagico to explore the tip and surrounds. No bookings are required here and you can pick your own site. We had an unpowered beachfront spot which was amazing with magical views over the Torres strait and the islands. The sunsets here were spectacular. It was 40kms to ‘The Tip’. We spent two nights here and got up before the sun to watch the sun rise over ‘the northern most tip of Australia’. 

alau-campground-cape-york-with-kids

Another bonus of Alau Campground is the refreshing pool, which is much needed when safe swimming spots are very limited North of Jardine. The kids got plenty of complements about their hooded beach towels as we were there several times a day.

While we didn’t visit any of the other campground options such as Loyalty Beach and Punsand Bay, we were happy with our spot and would definitely stay there again. You must visit the famous Croc Tent on your adventure to the tip.

the-croc-tent-cape-york

THE TRIP BACK

Day 11-15:

We began our journey back South. We were very keen to get back to our caravan so made the trip back to Bramwell Station. We stopped for a dip at Fruitbat Falls to break the trip up and have some lunch. We had a night at Bramwell then continued to one of our favourite free spots at Coen River. We spent two nights here, swimming, relaxing and recharging. Then off for another night at Hann River Roadhouse.

On our last leg of the trip, we stopped for a delicious (& cheap!!) lunch at Palmer River Roadhouse before making our way to Mareeba. 

our-car-after-cape-york

We stayed at Ringers Rest ($10 per night - unpowered, 10 mins out of Mareeba). This is an amazing bushcamp that I highly recommend to base yourself, either before or after your Cape York adventures. It is so peaceful, Dave is a great host and makes the best damper on the communal fire on Sunday afternoons. 

cow-at-ringers-rest-mareeba

 

TIPS

  • There is limited Telstra coverage so a satellite phone may be a good idea.
  • WikiCamps is the best thing I can recommend for any caravan/camping trip in Australia.
  • Avoid the Jardine River Ferry at lunchtime (it closes for around an hour).
  • Avoid doing the trip during school holidays, if possible.
  • We try to plan our trips so we travel a maximum of 2-3 hours per day. We find this a good amount of time for our kids (1 & 4 years). They will generally have some (lots of) snacks, our 1 year old will usually have a sleep, and sometimes our 4 year old joins her. Then we will either give them an activity (an interactive book etc) or play/sing some of their favourite road trip songs.
  • Road conditions can change daily depending on weather, traffic, grading of roads. Take it easy and let your tyre pressure down if required.
  • Cape York is a huge adventure and our biggest tip is to take your time.

 

We had such a great adventure to Cape York, made some lifelong memories and wanted to share our travels with you. If you have any questions please get in touch with us. 

Chloe & Nathan x

 

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