Central Cape York Peninsula
The landscape gets flatter and rainforests change to open eucalypt woodlands.
Many people find it boring and just drive through it...
But if you take you time to stop and have a look, and go on a few side trips, you discover some beautiful walks and waterholes, and learn that every roadhouse has its history.
Central Cape York Peninsula
The area is also rich in mining history. Palmer river gold rush was one of the biggest in Australia.
As you leave the tropical coast and turn inland from Cairns (via Mareeba) or Mossman, your first little township is Mt Molloy. It's a beautiful little place with a pub, a few cafes and a gift shop, some old mining relics and a cemetery famous for the grave of James Venture Mulligan.
The next one is Mt Carbine. It first seems like there is nothing but a pub and a roadhouse, but turn off the road and you discover a few swimming holes, some old mining relics, a mining monument, a caravan park and a 4WD track to Mount Lewis National Park.
Central Cape York - Palmer River
Palmer River Goldfields
If you have the time and are interested in mining history, turn into Palmer River Goldfields. Maytown, the former capital, is still possible to explore in quite a detail. Around it are the old mines with a lot of old equipment sitting around, as well as old open mine shafts.
Palmer River Roadhouse
The turnoff to Palmer River Goldfields is on the Peninsula Developmental Road (the main road up to northern Cape York), south of Palmer River Roadhouse - a lovely roadhouse with camping grounds, a beer garden and the yummy Palmer River Sandwich.
Central Cape York - Lakeland and Laura
North of Palmer River Roadhouse, which is up on the hill, the landscape flattens again before you get to Lakeland. It is a small township with a roadhouse, a hotel and a caravan park. It is on the crossroads to Cooktown in north east and Laura in north west.
The next township north is Laura - most famous for its Aboriginal art - some of the best in the whole Australia. But it also has some interesting European history; a roadhouse, a post office, a car mechanic, a grocery shop, a nice old pub and a few camping grounds.
After Laura the road is unsealed (it starts being after Lakeland). Just north of Laura you can turn right to Lakefield National Park or left to Jowalbinna. Continuing north, the road goes through some red-soil country and eucalypt woodland to Hann River Roadhouse.
Central Cape York - Musgrave and Coen
North of Hann River, the road continues, red and straight, north past Artemis Station, towards Musgrave - a historical roadhouse with a small restaurant, accommodation and a camping ground. It's on the crossroads east to Lakefield National Park and west to Pormpuraaw.
Princess Charlotte Bay
East of Musgrave are some popular fishing and camping spots at Annie River and Marina Plains, Running Creek Track, Port Stewart and Silver Plains. Coming back from Port Stewart you can take a shortcut to Coen via the Old Coen Track - a great 4WD track.
North of Musgrave, you pass the turnoff to Kendall River Road and Hamilton Goldfield on your left and Port Stewart on your right before you come to Coen - a small town with a pub, a shop, a fuel station, a cafe and accommodation, and the Old Heritage House.
Mungkan Kaanju National Park
North of Coen is the Cape York Quarantine Station, and north from there are a few turnoffs to Mungkan Kaanju National Park. It is a huge park - 60km in just to get to the camping grounds. It has a dry vegetation, but the camping is next to some nice waterholes.
Central Cape York - Archer River
Archer River Roadhouse
North of Mungkan Kaanju is Archer River Roadhouse. It is a great roadhouse with accommodation and a large camping ground, as well as a licensed bar and a restaurant. It serves some big meals (Archer Burger is popular) and gets crowded in the season.
Just north of the roadhouse though, you can camp for FREE on Archer River. Just turn off the road to the sandy river banks. During the wet season this is of course impossible, but during the Dry there is almost no water.
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