Northern Cape York Peninsula


North of Weipa you enter northern Cape York.

And that's where the things get even more exciting.

You have lots to look forward to - the Old Telegraph Track is by far the best fun on your whole Cape York trip.


There are also the Bypass Roads to get around it, and they are worth doing (on your way down), particularly in case you want to do some side tracks.


North of the OTT / Bypass Roads you cross the Jardine River on a ferry, before you get to the Northern Peninsula Area.

The Central North

telegraph road

Telegraph Road
Before you get to the Old Telegraph Track, you'll drive along the Telegraph Road. It is smaller than the Peninsula Developmental, but it's not a small 4WD track like the OTT.

It goes
past Batavia Downs, Wenlock River and Moreton Telegraph Station to Bramwell Junction.


old telegraph track

Old Telegraph Track
At Bramwell Junction, the Old Telegraph Track starts. The OTT is the best part of your trip by far, so be prepared for a lot of fun :-)

Creek crossings, beautiful scenery, the best waterfalls, some history - you'll enjoy every minute! And here is also a side track to Skardon River.


bypass road

Bypass Roads
But if you don't want the adventure, there are bypass roads to avoid the Old Telegraph Track and still get to the Tip of Cape York.

They are gravel roads and they do get corrugated. But they also do have a few turnoffs to some great side tracks to both coasts.

Jardine River and National Park

jardine river national park

Jardine River National Park
In the northern end of the Old Telegraph Track you enter the Jardine River national park (you entered the Heathlands Resources Reserve half way through the track).

Jardine is a large park, actually covering a huge area - of Jardine River catchment. There are no walks but a few off-the-beaten-road 4WD tracks.


jardine river

Jardine River
While much of this vast national park is inaccessible, in the northern end of the the OTT you drive through a part of it before you come to Jardine River.

Here is also the Old River Ford, where people used to drive across this river - nowadays catching the Jardine River Ferry is more usual.


Below are what used to be separate pages for each creek crossing. There was a need to merge them and the OTT page was already too long to add them there. With anchor links the navigation should be exactly as easy as it was before.

Palm Creek Crossing

Palm Creek is the second southernmost creek crossing on the OTT.

It is not a hard crossing, but if you are a total beginner it will be your first challenge on this track. UPDATE lower down the page!

If it feels scary, you are probably better off turning to Bypass Roads before Gunshot Crossing because everything north from there will gradually only get worse.

   palm creek old telegraph track

Palm Creek has quite a steep entrance (I am talking from the south to north because this is the way you normally do the Old Telegraph Track),

   palm creek entrance

a bit less steep exit,

   palm creek crossing

... and is dry well enough into the Dry Season.

   palm creek cape york

UPDATE 2014 - the Palm Creek crossing has gradually changed over the years, and by now it is deep enough that it is a serious challenge, with people regurarly stuck in the bottom.

   palm creek 2014  palm creek 2014

But that's only if you take the wrong crossing - there is two of them.

   palm creek 2014 southern entrance

The easier one is the one that I did years ago (above),

   palm creek 2014 northern exit

... and it has en easy northern exit.

   palm creek 2014 northern entrance

Going the other way though - from north to south, 
even that crossing is hard to exit.

   palm creek 2014 southern exit

Here is Rob trying ...



... and finally getting it ...
 


Always handy when you have others to pull you up :-)

   palm creek 2014 pam and matt


Dulhunty River Crossing

Dulhunty river is a great place for a cool dip.

As you make your way up along the Old Telegraph Track, it is the first wet crossing you have, even when you travel during the late Dry Season.

After miles of red soils, termite mounds and dry open woodland, the vegetation suddenly turns green and lush, and the red soils change to white, soft sands.


   dulhunty river

It's not a hard crossing to do
, not during the Dry Season.

   dulhunty river crossing

Even though it's northern slope first looks quite serious, the real exit is on the right hand side and it's not steep at all. The bottom is rocky and easy.

   dulhunty

It is a beautiful river with lush vegetation around it, and clear clean water perfect for a cool dip.

   dulhunty creek

This is also the southernmost place where I have seen the famous carnivorous pitcher plants, have a look right at the water's edge, on both banks, and you'll see their pitcher flowers.

Cockatoo Creek Crossing

Cockatoo Creek is a beautiful creek on the Old Telegraph Track.

It is in the middle of some exciting parts of the Old Telegraph Track, north of Gunshot and south of Sam Creek.

   cockatoo creek sign

It is a great spot for a cool dip (there are crocodile warning signs so take care),

   cockatoo creek

... surrounded by lush green vegetation including the carnivorous tropical pitcher plants.

   cockatoo creek old telegraph track

The crossing itself is not too bad.

   cockatoo creek cape york

The bottom is mostly rocky,

   cockatoo creek old telegraph road

... but there are bogholes in the bottom that you need to avoid.

   cockatoo creek crossing

Not a bad idea to walk it before you drive it for the first time.

Canal Creek Crossing

Canal Creek is a great creek crossing.

It is right in the middle of the Old Telegraph Track, where the OTT for a little while joins with Bypass Roads.

The crossing is just north of the beautiful Fruit Bat Falls and Twin Falls.

   canal creek crossing

It is the southernmost creek crossing in the northern half of the Old Telegraph Track, which is more difficult than the southern half.

   canal creek old telegraph track

The bottom is uneven so you should walk it and find the best route through it before you drive it.

   canal creek cape york

Canal Creek crossing gets a fair few onlookers - more than the other crossings on the Old Telegraph Track, because it is so close to the Bypass Roads and all the popular waterfalls.

Sailor Creek Crossing

Sailor Creek is a small bridged creek on the Old Telegraph Track.

It took me a while to find it. It is on the map, but after my trips I seemed to never recall it, and it was missing on my photos too.

I finally worked out that it is the creek that you cross on a small bridge, right after Sheldon Lagoon.

   sailor creek cape york

It's just before you come to the junction where the Old Telegraph Track joins in with Bypass Roads (and stays so until you come to the Fruit Bat Falls and Eliot Falls sign).

   sailor creek

Just north of the Sailor Creek Bridge is an old Telegraph Line workers' shelter and an old bush dunny.

Sam Creek Crossing

Sam Creek is a small creek crossing on the OTT.

It is in the northern half of the Old Telegraph Track.

It is the southernmost one of the four crossings close to each other - Sam, Mistake, Cannibal and Cypress.

   sam creek

It is not too tricky, but you should go out and walk it and make your mind up where exactly to cross it. 

   sam creek planning

The bottom is a bit uneven so find the best way through it.

   sam creek crossing

On your right hand side is a small waterfall

   sam creek waterfall

... very nice for a cool dip.

Mistake Creek Crossing

Mistake Creek is one of the crossings on the Old Telegraph Track.

It is north of Sam Creek and south of Cannibal Creek.

Like the others up here, it is wet even during the Dry Season, but it is not deep.

   mistake creek

It has a sandy bottom, but it's not too soft.

   mistake creek cape york

Just take it slowly and you should get through no worries.

   mistake creek crossing

Cannibal Creek Crossing

Cannibal Creek is a the great crossing on the OTT.

It is in the northern half of the Old Telegraph Track.

It is the third southernmost one of the four creek crossings (Sam, Cannibal, Mistake and Cypress) that are right after each other.

   cannibal creek

It is a beautiful creek with lush green vegetation and carnivorous pitcher plants on the banks.

   cannibal creek old telegraph track

The track around it is quite rugged and the entrance and exit points are a little steep.

   cannibal creek cape york

It is not very deep though, not in the Dry Season anyway.

   cannibal creek crossing

Nice for a quick dip too, but always remember the possibility of crocodiles.

Cypress Creek Crossing

Cypress Creek is famous for its old log bridge.

It is the northernmost one of the four creek crossings right next to each other in the northern half of the Old Telegraph Track.

   cypress creek

The bridge has seen better days and the logs are half loose so you have to be careful and put your wheels right.

   cypress creek crossing

It is a good idea to have someone guiding you because it's hard to see where exactly your wheels go while driving.

   cypress creek old telegraph track

It should be no problem though, if those OKAs weren't too heavy for the bridge, you should be alright.

   cypress creek cape york

Logans Creek Crossing

Logans Creek is good fun :-)

It is also one of the deepest ones - the only one deeper (or about as deep) is Nolans Brook.

The water is murky but people do walk through it to check the bottom before driving.

   logans creek

Maybe I have been living with crocs for too long, but for me it looks too bad. They can live in fresh water and I know too many examples.

   logans creek cape york

On my first trip when I was on my own and still had my old Jackaroo, I met these Oka guys from Victoria.

   logans creek old telegraph track

They pulled my Jackaroo through because I had no snorkel.

   logans creek crossing

Without them, I wouldn't have made it that time.

   logans creek crossing

If it's too deep at the time you are there, you can turn back to Mistake Creek and there is a bypass track from there.

   logans creek ott

It is the second last crossing on the Old Telegraph Track.

Nolans Brook Crossing

Nolans Brook is the last crossing on the Old Telegraph Track.

And it is also the hardest one, at least considering how many vehicles it claims.



(video by Bruce Schmidt)

To make it safer, you can put a tarp across the top of the bonnett if you're unsure.

   nolans

The water is often deep and what happens most often is that people get their engines drowned because of leaks in snorkels, or because they lack the snorkels like my old Jackaroo did at the time.

   nolans brook old telegraph track

Walk through it, check where is the shallowest track to get through it, make sure your snorkel-side is higher up if it's uneven, and make sure no water gets into your engine.

   nolans brook cape york

Once through it, there is a very nice swimming hole where the old bridge used to be.

   nolans brook

I am hanging off what used to be the much-photographed bridge that gave Nolans the nickname "Bridge Creek".

   bridge creek

It used to be a hairy one to cross, but this is all that's left now.





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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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