Accommodation Cape York
Cape York covers an area almost the size of Victoria - one of the southern states in Australia with countless towns and accommodation options. On the same area in the Cape, there are only a handful of towns and choices for accommodation.
It is possible to travel the Cape and stay only in hotels and resorts, but it cuts down your options to experience the wilderness of this remote area.
The best way to travel the Cape is to camp in the bush and rely on other accommodation as little as possible.
Accommodation Cape York - Larger TownsLarger towns such as Cairns, Port Douglas and Cooktown do have a variety of hotels, resorts and similar accommodation.
Places to Stay in Cairns
There is a huge variety of places to stay in Cairns - from luxury hotels and holiday apartments, to resorts, bed and breakfasts, motels, and a good choice of backpacker hostels and caravan parks.
Places to Stay in Port Douglas
Port Douglas has probably an even better variety than Cairns when you consider its smaller size. But there is one thing - 90% of the accommodation is luxury and expensive. There is still a shortage of budget accommodation and cheap places to camp.
Places to Stay in Cooktown
Cooktown is smaller and less commercialised. But there is still a good choice of accommodation, like a few resorts and motels, a few hotels (pubs), a guesthouse, and four caravan parks.
Accommodation Cape York - Medium Sized TownsMedium sized towns such as Mareeba, Mossman, Chillagoe, Lakeland, Laura, Coen, Weipa and Bamaga have hotels (pubs) and/or a resort, as well as a caravan park or a few.
Accommodation Cape York - Mossman
The most obvious places to stay in Mossman are right along the main street - the hotels (pubs). But there is also a caravan park in the northern end of the town, and a few bed and breakfasts.
Accommodation Cape York - Mareeba
Mareeba has quite many places - a few hotels along the main street, a few motels and a lodge, and a few caravan parks. And there is a great camping ground in Granite Gorge just outside the town.
Accommodation Cape York - Chillagoe
Chillagoe is a smaller place, but there are still a fair few places to stay: two hotels (pubs), a motel and tourist village, a guesthouse and an eco lodge with a camping ground.
Accommodation Cape York - Weipa
Weipa is more expensive and has less choice. There is at least one resort (in Nanum) and one hotel (Albatross in Trunding). In 2011, there was still only one camping ground (in Nanum), but another one is supposedly on its way (in Evans Landing).
Accommodation Cape York - Bamaga Camps
Bamaga does not have camping grounds (there are some around it). But Bamaga is the only place north of Jardine River to have a resort - with a swimming pool, a licensed bar and an onsite restaurant.
Accommodation Cape York - Small PlacesSmaller places such as Palmer River, Hann River, Archer River and Musgrave only have a pub or a roadhouse with a camping ground behind.
Palmer River Roadhouse is north of Mt Carbine and it is a great place to stay. There is a nice beer garden, a restaurant and a licenced bar, and you can stay in on-site tents or camp on camping grounds.
Hann River Roadhouse is a nice and friendly place north of Lakeland Downs and Laura. There is a large camping ground, and behind the camping ground is a nice waterhole. There is a resident emu and a few peacocks to give you company :-)
Musgrave Roadhouse is a historical roadhouse north of Hann River. There is cabin accommodation as well as a large camping ground. There is also a kiosk where you can buy bread and milk, as well as meals and a cold beer.
Archer River Roadhouse is quite a lively roadhouse north of Coen. There is a great restaurant and a licensed bar, which gets quite crowded night time. Behind the bar and the restaurant is a large camping ground as well as overnight units.
Many privately owned cattle and other stations also offer accommodation - most often camping but sometimes also cabin style.
Accommodation Cape York - Private LandTo camp in the bush, it is good to know a few things.
I know campers can get away with camping in wrong places, but below is how it should be done...
There are a few different kinds of land in Cape York (and elsewhere).
The land can just be common land, i. e. belong to "the crown", or it may be privately owned. You are not allowed to camp on privately owned land without the owners' permission. The easiest way to find out about such land is signs put up by owners, which you should obey.
Accommodation Cape York - Crown Land
You are best off having a proper, detailed map that tells you who the crown land that you aim to camp on belongs to.
Accommodation Cape York - National Parks
National Parks camping is not free, but it is cheap.
Every state in Australia has different rules, and while in some states, and some parks, even entrance to a national park can cost money, in Cape York you can enter all national parks for free.
Staying over night, however, costs you $5.30 per person per night, which is indeed a cheap stay.
Camping in our national parks used to be made easy by self registration stations.
You could be on your trip around Cape York, wanting to stop at a few national parks, and you didn't have to book - it was good enough to just rock up, pay at the shelf registration shelter, and put your tent up.
All our national parks have just recently changed back to the old pre-booking system.
This is a real pity for Cape York travellers because how could you possibly know when exactly you would arrive at a particular national park when you are on your adventurous trip around the whole Cape York peninsula.
Booking on your arrival would probably be ok provided there are places, but is hard because in most national parks in Cape York you don't have internet/mobile phone reception.
If you can book, you can do it here or ring 13 75 68.
If you cannot book, you have simply no choice but visit the park over a day and camp elsewhere.... our national parks would need your money but what can you do when they make it so hard for you to pay.
Accommodation Cape York - Aboriginal Land
Camping on Aboriginal land is always subject to the rules of the particular community. In some communities you need a permit to enter, in others you need to talk to the council once you have entered, and in yet others you don't need a permit to enter, but most often still need a permit to stay overnight. There is some accommodation in some communities, but most often it is camping only. And in some communities there is no overnight stays at all.
Aboriginal land often extends far beyond the actual "communities", so you need to check with a map so that the land you camp on is not Aboriginal land, and if it is, you have to check with each community council separately what the rules are and on what land they apply.
There are quite large areas of Aboriginal land in Cape York. The most notable is the western coast. It goes all the way from Kowanyama in south until the tip of Cape York, and of course includes all the land in and around the western communities such as Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, Aurukun, Mapoon, Umagico, Injinoo, and New Mapoon. The rest of Aboriginal land is along the eastern coast, in and around Port Stewart, Hope Vale, Lockhart River and Old Lockhart River.
Note that camping along the whole Old Telergaph Track is within the Injinoo Aboriginal Land, however Jardine River Ferry ticket covers the camping along the Old Telegraph Track; and all the entry permits (but not camping fees) in the communities north of Jardine River.
Accommodation Cape York - Mining Leases and Defence Land
Camping on a mining lease is of course prohibited. There is only one place with major mining activity in Cape York - Weipa. There is a fair bit of land covered by Comalco mining lease around Weipa. It extends all the way south to Aurukun, and north to Dulcie River.
Accommodation Cape York - Defence Land
There are also small areas of defence land in Cape York, and as with mining leases, you are not allowed to camp there.
The best maps to find out about the ownership of the land - and the best maps in Australia anyway - are HEMA maps.
General Cape York Map
This is the best map of Cape York that you can find anywhere.
It is comprehensive, and covers the whole Cape York Peninsula from south of Cairns to the Tip.
All the roads, townships, road houses and stations are marked, with icons for services, phone numbers etc.. This is the map that I use and it is all you will ever need on your trip - you have everything covered in the greatest detail.
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