Crossing Creeks and Rivers


Crossing creeks and rivers is the best fun on a Cape York trip.

While there are surely some harder four wheel drive tracks elsewhere in Australia, the northern parts of the country, and particularly Cape York, definitely have more of the wet crossings than does southern Australia.


It is part of the reason why Cape York is the most popular four wheel drive destination in Australia, and it makes great photos and videos, so don't forget to bring both cameras!


There are plenty of creeks and rivers to cross, but the ones along the main roads are mostly dry during the Dry Season.

Crossing Creeks on the Old Telegraph Track

The Old Telegraph Track is the most famous and most obvious place. 

   crossing nolans brook
    Crossing creeks - Nolans.

In the early Dry Season it is a lot wetter, but in the middle of the Dry when most people travel up here, the wet crossings still include Dulhunty River, Bertie Creek, Cholmondeley Creek, Gunshot Creek, Cockatoo Creek, Canal Creek, Sam Creek, Mistake Creek, Cannibal Creek, Logans Creek, and finally the infamous Nolan's Brook that claims the highest numbers of vehicles.

Crossing Creeks on Frenchmans Road

Frenchmans Road is another famous adventurous road on the peninsula.

It is a shortcut from Telegraph Road to the main road to Lockhart River (as well as Portlands Roads and Iron Range National Park).

Both can be adventurous in rainy weather, but Frenchmans is whether it's been rainy or not.

It crosses two rivers - Wenlock and Pascoe. Wenlock is easy, even though it does have a steep entrance.

Pascoe is one of the hardest crossings on the whole peninsula.

It has steep banks, and also after having crossed so many creeks, you sure notice that this one is a river - it's deeper, and has more current.

   crossing pascoe on frenchmans
   Crossing rivers - Pascoe on Frenchmans

(That said, describing crossings can be just as misleading as describing roads because it really depends a lot on recent weather).

Crossing Creeks on the Road to Lockhart River

The main road into Lockhart River is a larger road and generally not a problem, but it can have its surprises.

While it also crosses Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers, on this road both river crossings are easy.

However, north of the rivers there are a few fords, seemingly small and easy until you have a heavy rain.

   flooded creek crossing
    Crossing creeks - stuck at the ford.

That's what happened to me once, and I was stuck in the middle of two fords and had to wait almost 12 hours for the water levels to go down enough to get through. So those 'small' fords are not to underestimate :-)

Crossing Creeks on Bloomfield Track and CREB Track

The third area with some good crossings is between Daintree and Cooktown.

The coastal one is the "infamous" Bloomfield Road (which really is a reasonable gravel road and not a challenging track), and west of it is CREB Track, which indeed is a narrow, at times steep four wheel drive track.

   crossing daintree river on creb track
    Crossing Daintree River on CREB Track.

It starts in Daintree Village and ends near Bloomfield Falls in Wujal Wujal. First you cross Daintree River and further north there are a few creek crossings. All are easy in the good weather, but this track is particularly sensitive for rain - which is why it so often gets closed after rainfall.

   bloomfield road creek crossing
    Shallow crossings on Bloomfield Road.

Bloomfield Road
on the other hand is broader, it is a reasonable gravel road and while it is true that it is steep in parts, we have even pulled a caravan through. We did use 4WD to maintain traction on the steep slopes but only because of the weight of the van. There are a few small creek crossings, but in the middle and towards the end of the Dry Season these are very shallow - you hardly get your wheels wet. 

   bloomfield road cape tribulation
   Pulling the van through Bloomfield

Oh, and there is the Bloomfield River to cross in the northern end of it - in Wujal Wujal. It has a causeway - on some of my trips it has been dry, ...

   bloomfield river crossing
    Crossing the Bloomfield River on causeway.

... on others there has been water over it.

   bloomfield river crossing
    Bloomfield River crossing under the water.

UPDATE 2014 Since August 2014, Bloomfield River now has a bridge so no more fun here :-(

   bloomfield river bridge

The old causeway can still be seen on the left hand side.






Plan Your Trip... the FREE Cape York Travel Pocket Guide

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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 around, where to stay (general info), what will it cost.. and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.


Bring to the Trip... the full Visit Cape York Destination Guide

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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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