Exploring Cape York With The Kids: Our 34 Day Itinerary
Located at the most northerly point of our beautiful country, Cape York whispers of unspoiled wilderness and magic.
Our family of five have travelled far and wide these last few years, yet it was our 34-day Cape York trip to the tip of Queensland Australia that took us to mind-blowing new heights (and we’re not just talking about the geographical kind!).
Located at the most northerly point of our beautiful country, Cape York whispers of unspoiled wilderness and magic. We’d say it “screams magic”, except there’s nothing obtrusive about this region. Cape York is both striking yet serene, grand yet gentle, colourful yet calming.
It’s a rich and varied landscape like nothing we’ve seen before! Picture lush green trees pushing through deep red soil. Awe-inspiring natural waterfalls that fall from sandstone cliffs. Fresh inland swimming holes and crystal blue oceans that allow you to see a world below the surface.
We piled our lives and our babies into the back of our 4WD, latched on the caravan, called up our friends, and together embarked on a month long trip around this breathtaking region.
If you’re looking to explore your own backyard, Cape York should be right up there at the top of your list. Now grab a beer, put your feet up, and prepare to be both inspired, educated and blown away by this breakdown of our 34-day itinerary of Cape York.
Luxury Bush Camping (1 night)
This was a really welcoming – and enormous! – farm stay which we’d recommend as the perfect first stop off on your journey. There were 26 spacious campsites set on the 250 acre property – perfect for the kids to stretch their legs and have a wrestle (hopefully our kids aren’t the only ones that do this after a long car drive?!), you can even bring your dogs if they’re well behaved.
The owners were awesome, the amenities were good, and there was also the option to buy firewood, honey and passionfruit. The spacious layout was suitable for RV’s, tents, camper trailers, caravans and big rigs. A heads up that there is no internet signal at this spot.
Units, Cabins & Camping (1 night)
The kids loved this place! We were able to park on a large patchy grass campsite with a water tap and a spot for our above the ground campfire. There was a small swampy creek home to crocodiles and turtles. You are able to sit and watch the owners feed them each afternoon! For dinner we treated ourselves to takeaway fish and chips which everyone enjoyed.
The showers and toilets were slightly dated but in reasonable condition, and there was paid roadhouse wifi, fuel and EFTPOS available.
A good spot to rest between corrugated roads.
Single Bedrooms, Units & Camping (1 night)
This was a lovely camp ground two hours south of Weipa (we stayed here again on the way back through). Our favourite part was probably the crystal clear Archer River which was a small walk away. The kids had a ball cooling down there, but a word of warning: don’t try to drive through those waters if they’re flooded! Some poor old mate must have given it a crack because his furniture truck was on it’s side in the river.
The tasty burgers and chips were another favourite of this place, followed closely behind by the alcohol we were able to purchase.
Lodge, Units & Camping (3 nights)
The facilities here were awesome (almost as amazing as the sunsets!). The kids loved the swimming pool and the playground that was right on the waters edge. If you opt for an unpowered site you can even be beach front (though these were booked out when we stayed).
We did our washing here, so that was instantly a big plus for us! There’s nothing like days on the road in the glorious and ever-changing terrain of Cape York to make you appreciate clean clothes. Food was available some nights at the campground (although we didn’t try it), but we do highly recommend the seafood shop situated in a shed next to one of the locals houses. We got coral trout, calamari, and king prawns then cooked up a feast – it was amazing!
Be sure to check out the off road tracks around Weipa too. We did and ended up with whole beaches to ourselves!
This was a good spot to stock up on food and alcohol (got to keep those priorities in check right?!) Woollies super market was only a five minute walk away.. and to dump your black waste in the public dump point.
The only regret we have was not being able to check out the local fishing which is definitely spot on after talking with locals and other travellers.
Units & Camping (2 nights)
This is the most northerly cattle station in the country and is the start of the OTT (Old Telegraph Track) just a few kilometres down the Peninsula Development Road (PDR) the four wheel drive adventure track. It’s located three hours north of Weipa and five hours south of the tip. It’s normally a bustling little hub with live entertainment every night, but because we visited during COVID it was much quieter.
The owner was very friendly and the tourist park catered to all travellers, with a large grassed area that allowed us enough space to spread out. You can get dinner (and cold beer – again, priorities), just make sure you book early in the day. We will definitely be heading back to experience this place in full swing!
There was fuel available at the roadhouse before the start of the track but we found the most expensive stop in our travels.
Camping (2 nights)
This was a quiet, spacious and super basic campsite that didn’t cost us a cent. It could easily fit three vans and and two vehicles but no amenities so would need to be self sufficient . It was convenient to OTT and Fruit Bat Falls, and was very close to the highway – although we felt nicely tucked away.
We used this spot to leave our vans while we had fun on the OTT.
Cabin & Camping (4 nights)
After two nights at a free campsite we were ready to lap up some luxury, and this campground didn’t disappoint (probably why we stayed four nights!). We celebrated Nathan’s 40th here and had a blast! This place could be best described as a fusion between eclectic Mexico and tropical Fiji.
The showers and toilets were clean, there were washing machines, a swimming pool, shop, restaurant, licensed bar, EFTPOS, plus the site was dog friendly.
We were 10 minutes drive from the tip, so there were countless tracks to explore and local beaches to discover. The landscape was breathtaking and the sunsets spectacular!
After a full day of exploring the kids loved coming back to the campsite to cool off in the above ground pool.
Glamping (2 nights)
Roko Island would have to be the pinnacle of our trip to the tip of the country (no pun intended). We stumbled upon this pearl via a google search and it just might be Australia’s best kept secret!
We were picked up from Punsand Bay and taken to Roko Island on boat, and it was honestly like going back in time (in all the good ways!). The glamping tents were big and spacious, the showers and toilets were created from huge funky stones and concrete (plus they were spotless with great water pressure!), there were camp fires, and the eating area was a Balinese style hut with a backdrop of crystal blue water and a cool old school jetty that twisted out across the sea. We fished off the jetty, fed sharks, and even saw a croc swim by.
It was all catered too, so we didn’t need to prepare any meals or clean up (what’s not to love, right?!).
We experienced so much on Roko Island! We went crabbing and had a ride in a trailer behind a quad bike. We saw grave sites that were hundreds of years old. We watched the sunrise over the other side of the island. Zali and Nathan did a fishing charter where they caught a bunch of large mackerels – Zali said it was the best day of their life!
It was all the kids favourite part of the trip and we will definitely be back there again (and next time we will be staying longer!). If you’re heading to the tip of Australia, a visit to Roko Island is an absolute must!
House, Lodge & Camping (3 nights)
We stayed right at the front of this campground by the water, and experienced possibly the best sunset of the trip.
There were clean showers and toilets, an eating area, coin operated washing machines, a restaurant and a licensed bar!
The restaurant – which we ate at one night – had a completely outdoor dining set up. We’re talking a toes in the sand and eyes on the ocean kind of deal. This was also an amazing vantage point to see the spectacular sunsets. We would recommend booking a table though, as it’s quite a popular spot.
This was a really clean campground that was pet friendly too.
Camping (2 nights)
This was our favourite free camp site in Cape York! To think we were beach front with fires, beautiful golden sand, heaps of room and epic sunsets… and it didn’t cost a pretty penny (or even an ugly penny for that matter).
There were council garbage bins which was convenient, and it was a handy spot to access Mutee tracks, which proved to be a lot of fun! We did need the car winching out at one point and used the max tracks in some of the bog holes where we all got stuck.
We only intended to stay one night here, but we loved it so stayed two. Unfortunately we didn’t see any crocs on our visit, however they do get seen here regularly.
One of the reasons we love the expression “home is where I park her”, is because of times like this. We literally found a gravel pit on the northern end of the southern part of the OTT to call home for a night. It put us really close to Twin Falls, Elliott Falls, The Sauce Pan, Fruit Bat Falls and OTT.
If you have a large van and are self sufficient, this is an excellent way to position yourself conveniently to both the track and the falls. We were blessed to have an epic sunset that made the place feel much more glamorous than a gravel pit.
Camping (3 nights)
After a few nights of being self-sufficient we were ready for a powered campsite, some sprawling green grass, and the chance to catch up on our washing – and this spot ticked all those boxes.
There were amenities, a general store, and paid wifi available.
Located on the Wenlock River 293kms from the tip, this campsite was a pretty popular spot. The station had a cool little museum, fishing down at the creek, and was conveniently located close to the Frenchman’s Track (which was heaps of fun!). The kids had a fish, but only caught a cat fish.
If you’re wanting a powered site here, we’d suggest booking in advance. The power and internet run from a generator between 7 am and 8:30pm.
Camping (1 night)
Whilst this location was amazing, it was a huge drive with the vans. The roads were tough and there was a ton of roadworks. The roads are constantly changing but this definitely was the worst road we were on hitched up to the vans.
We stopped for food and fuel in Lochart River (the supermarket is open on the weekend so check opening hours before you go), and it was then about 20 minutes to Chilli Beach.
Our campsite was right near the beach front and sheltered from the wind. The sunrise was phenomenal and next time we will definitely stay longer!
Hotel, Dongas & Camping (2 nights)
It was by pure luck that we found the Coen pub, but we’re so glad we did. Originally we were planning to stay at The Bend, however we were travelling in a large group with vans and there simply wasn’t enough room for us all.
The owners of this place were new and made us feel right at home. The site was close to the river and a short walk away from a pretty swimming hole. We found a spot under a tree, close to the little undercover camp kitchen.
There were refreshing drinks, pub food (the pub got pretty busy at night), clean amenities and 4G internet – we stayed on an extra night so we could take advantage of this and catch up on some work.
Camping (1 night)
The scenery on the way to this campsite – and even at the site – was amazing! It was part of a National Park and the drive to the site was gorgeous. There was a walking track from the campsite that stretched along the Normanby River and took us through thick forest which was very dry, and then out into peaceful open woodlands.
We had a fire at night, and the campsite was large enough to fit all of us.
Keep in mind that you will need an online booking for this site and there is no reception there to book.
Camping (2 nights)
Oh my goodness, the coloured sand at this spot was a must see! To say it was beautiful would be a huge understatement. We drove up the beach at low tide, and the kids attempted to slide down the huge sand dunes in cardboard boxes – they had such a blast! There was talk that the area could be mined, which would be so devastating.
Our site at the campground was way down the back and it was a long walk to the amenities. There was no power in the amenities at night so be sure to take your night light with you. The mozzies were bad on sundown there too – we got nailed on the first night!
We drove up to Cape Bedford one day, but be warned the road was very narrow with lots of trees. The car got pretty scratched up, although the view was well worth it plus most of them polished out. There were some soft sand parts too and would recommend a high clearance 4WD to access.
We absolutely scored with the weather! There was zero wind and we saw turtles, sharks and heaps of fish. It was like being on top of the world up there – you could see for miles. We would’ve stayed for a week if we could. Next time we’ll pack a picnic and A few drinks so we can settle in and enjoy the stunning sunset.
Camping (1 night)
This campsite was free (we always love a good free site!) but super windy! A little crafty ingenuity saw us with a fairly sheltered spot that we were able to protect further with some clever van placement.
The sunset and sunrise were spectacular and there were a stack of camping spots to choose from. We were also able to have a fire at night. It was the start of the school holidays when we went so it was pretty busy.
Donga & Camping (1 night)
This iconic pub and accomodation in Northern QLD oozed character and old-worldly charm. The food was awesome and really good value – we ended up spending an entire afternoon at the pub. The alcohol was cheap, cold and on tap and the pub had a really cool vibe.
There was a small little waterhole at the Loins Den which was beautiful. The kids had a swim but said it was freezing! Our powered site that was right near the toilets which was a bit smelly at times from the septic, but the amazing food and drink made up for that. It was certainly worth a nights stay.
We really had the best of times and wanted to share our experiences with you. If you have any questions feel free to make contact with us and happy to answer any questions you may have.
Till next time see you on the road.
Nathan, Martene, Zali, Maisie & Matai