from the rest of Australia to Cape York?
would drive their four wheel
the continent, but if you are from overseas, you may take yourself to
Cairns by other
means and then rent a four wheel drive up here.
Flying here may be cheaper depending on where you fly from, but once
you are up here and rent a four wheel drive vehicle, it is not cheap.
If that's what you are doing, you may want to buy a 4WD in Cairns - it
may well be a cheaper option. (If you are from overseas you may want to
read about driving in
- All the FREE camping
spots along the main roads to Cairns from Brisbane,
Sydney, Melbourne and Northern Territory are in the Destination Guide.
Vehicle Up Here Driving
your own vehicle up
here is of course by far the best option. It extends your holidays as
getting here is part of your travels and means you can cover some new
roads in Australia.
It may not be the cheapest option, but it's
flexible as you are able to stop wherever you want.
to Cairns or Cape York
you haven't got your own 4WD and aim to rent (or buy) one, it's of
course cheaper to fly to Cairns where there are plenty of choices to
rent or buy a 4WD.
You can also fly strait to Cooktown,
River, Horn Island,
many other places in Cape York.
many Cape York travellers do this but there is an excellent network of
long distance buses and trains in Australia, and for international
travellers it is a very popular way to get around. It could be worth
checking it out if you want to get to Cairns quickly and reasonably
or Buying a Vehicle
Once up in Cairns you have the option of buying or renting
To do Cape York properly, you definitely need a four wheel drive. In a
two wheel drive vehicle you get as far as to Laura and Cooktown (ok,
you do get to the Tip, but you wreck your two wheel drive on
corrugations and miss
out all the fun tracks).
an Organised Tour
Some people visit Cape York on a tour.
If you don't mind being driven
around with other people, taking a tour from
may be an option. However personally I never recommend it, there is no
reason why you cannot do Cape York yourself - I did my first trip alone.
from Queensland to
from the rest of Queensland to Cape York?
Australians who do
Cape York drive their
own four wheel drive vehicles across the
The good thing is that you can cover some new roads on your way up, the
bad thing is that if you have limited time you'll likely fly through it
without being able to have much of a look around.
But the whole point is to get your vehicle up here so there is not much
.. except my recommendation would be make
as much time available
as you can - you obviously still pay for the fuel to get
from the rest of
Australia or Queensland to Cape York
so you may as well enjoy
from Queensland to Cape York - East Coast
is the capital of Queensland
and a great city with a busy CBD, trendy
inner suburbs and some nice islands off the shore.
It is more laid back
than Sydney and Melbourne, but is still a large city with everything
you ever need.
of Brisbane is Sunshine Coast - if you just drive though it you won't
see much except the highway, but if you stop in places, there are some
markets, Australia Zoo, Big Pineapple, Ettamogah Pub,
next coast north is Fraser Coast, mostly known for Fraser
travellers (It's a 4WD destination unless you only visit Kingfisher
Bay). The island is off the coast of Hervey
Bay - the whale
capital of Australia.
Further north is Gladstone (with the beautiful Heron Island off the
coast), and Rockhampton.
Just inland is the road to Longreach;
the little fossicking townships
around Emerald; and the famous Carnarvon
Gorge National Park.
In Mackay region you are getting to north Queensland so there are
and more and more sugar cane fields. Mackay is a nice coastal
and just north of it are Cape Hillsborough and Eungella National Park.
You first drive past Airlie Beach with the famous Whitsunday
and then some small towns like Bowen and Ayr. Then you are driving
through the so-called "dry tropics" for a while which means the lush,
green tropical rainforests are replaced by open eucalypt
tropical rainforests are gradually back north of Townsville, you notice
them taking over some time after Cardwell. This is a beautiful drive
through lush rainforest and past the places that copped the centres of
our recent severe cyclones: Innisfail (Larry) and Tully (Yasi).
you come from the west, you drive through Gulf Savannah. There are two
roads - Flinders Highway with towns like Mt
Creek, Richmond, Hughenden and Charters
Towers; or the coastal Savannah
Way through Burketown, Normanton
of Northern Territory West
of Gulf Savannah is the Top End with Northern Territory's capital
the famous Kakadu
National Park, Litchfield
the Aboriginal Arnhem Land. In the southern parts of the area are
Katherine and Nitmiluk
National Park with Katherine Gorge.
of the Top End is the Kimberley
- one of the last frontiers in
Australia with one 'highway' through it; and north of it the Gibb
Road that takes you to some beautiful waterfalls and gorges.
places are Purnululu
National Park, and towns like Broome
Queensland to Cape York
South-west of Cape York is the outback Queensland with some great
history, flat landscapes and towns like Longreach,
Aramac, Muttaburra, Kynuna, McKinlay, Boulia and Birdsville.
Red Centre of Northern Territory
West is the heart of the Australian outback with Alice
Springs and some
fantastic red landscape around it, in the national parks like McDonnell
Gorge and the famous Uluru
Just south is another, less visited but therefore even better area with
Eyre and the Central Australia Deserts. There is the
Pedy, the Oodnadatta
Track, and the Birdsville
goes to Queensland.
travel distances are very long.
If you are from overseas
may underestimate them.
And even if you are from
parts of Australia, you will probably still find
distances in Cape York longer than what you are normally used to.
It's because with a scarce population it's
far between towns, and
the peninsula itself is quite large - covering an area
to the state of Victoria. From Cairns to the Tip
alone is about
1000km one way, and any side trips including
Iron Range are not included.
You also find the distances
in the big picture in the FREE Pocket Guide, and in
detail in the Destination
information for international
(particularly from Europe):
Travel Distances for
you first come
here from Europe and many other parts of the world, you don't realise
and it is easy to underestimate how
long the travel distances here really are.
Australia is as large as the whole Europe or the US.
Distances between places are huge.
Often driving from one town to
another equals crossing many countries in Europe.
Queensland is the second
largest state in Australia, and
the distance between Brisbane and Cairns
is almost the same as the
distance between Brisbane
Other large states have a
lot less roads than Queensland.
Australia - the largest state in Australia - there is the
corner but other than that there is almost only one road
Territory, there is
basically just one road through the state, while the outback
is criss-crossed by many different highways.
With so many roads and long distances (and this applies to other states
too), driver fatigue
can be a problem more than you think. There are
signs reminding you to stop and have a break.
There are rest areas
along the roads, and there are also the so-called "Driver Revivers" -
where you can have a FREE cup of coffee or tea and a bisquet or a lolly
to give you some energy.
These are run by volunteers and open more
often during holiday periods like Christmas and school holidays when
there are more people on the roads.
for International Travellers
are from overseas you may want to read about driving in Australia.
We drive on the left hand side
of the road, just like you do in the UK.
means, you overtake from the right hand side and enter roundabouts
having a look to your right - everything is in the mirror image
compared to driving in Europe and the US, except the "right hand rule"
That rule applies in a crossroad with no road signs - you have to give
way to anyone coming from your right hand side - that rule is the same
both in the left and the right hand traffic.
have to have the drivers licence of your home country as well as
an International Driving
* Having to wear a seatbelt
* Obeying speed limits
* The legal alcohol
* Using a mobile phone
driving is illegal in Australia.
* Watch out for cattle
wildlife such as kangaroos
* Be aware of floods
road closure signs and never drive through floods.
* Be aware that road trains
can be 50m long and take a long time to overtake.
* On long country roads, watch the road signs about next fuel availability
and remember to
top up your tank.
* If you break down and need help, stay
with your vehicle and wait for somebody to
stop and help you.
* It is handy to have a UHF
radio. The channel
that is worth listening to is 40 - it is what the road trains use.
Caravanners often use channel 18.
* In emergency,
* In remote
carry a satellite phone
or an EPIRB. Below are
some things that
I remember from Europe, or have learned from talking to
international travellers about driving in Australia. * Driving in Australia -
Australians are really slack changing lines close to or even in
roundabouts. What I remember this used to never happen to this extent
There is one thing in
is different from the rules in Europe.
While over there, you only have to indicate as you exit a roundabout,
here you have to use indicators even as you are in the roundabout.
If you are turning right
you have to use
the right-hand indicator inside the roundabout,
or else the driver who is supposed to give you way when entering the
roundabout from the opposite direction will think that you will go
straight ahead and enter the roundabout in front of you!
* Driving in Australia -
When your lane ends and
you have to
merge - watch if there are white lines right in the end of your ending
If there are lines you have to give way to the vehicles in the other
lane. If not, they have to give way to you.
And finally - here is
something that even Australians
are often confused about:
* U Turns
This is such a commonly unknown rule - I learned it myself not too long
Sometimes there is a sign saying U-turn permitted, sometimes there is a
sign saying No U-turn - so
there is NO sign???
When there is no sign, you have to work it out from the type of
crossroad you are in!
When there is NO sign saying anything about u-turns, you are NOT allowed to make one
crossroads with traffic lights.
At traffic lights, to be allowed to
make a u-turn, there has to be a sign saying "U-turn permitted".
you are at an intersection with no traffic lights or just a centre
island, you are allowed to make a u-turn where there is no sign.
The only time you are not
allowed to do a
u-turn in an uncontrolled crossroad is where there is a sign saying "No
When you are driving in Australia and doing a u-turn, you have to give
way to all other traffic,
even if they are at a give-way or stop sign.
Get this 50 pages guide totally for FREE. It
contains information that helps you getting started with planning of your trip.
You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you
should take, how to get
there and get
to stay (general info), what
will it cost..
and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the
background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks, at least 30 guaranteed FREE camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to the Cape), at least 40 best swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things - from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception, how to deal with the national parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery gear by my partner Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old Telegraph Track). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
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