Old Telegraph Track will most likely be the best part of your trip.
Whenever I think back to my
trips around in Cape York, it always is the best part of it.
It can be slow, but it's
exciting, and along the track are some of the best spots
there is nothing to be scared of even if you are a beginner - you can
always turn back should you come to a creek crossing
too much for you.
There are also several
bypass roads that help you to get around the
The Old Telegraph Track Is
track is best done from south to north, mainly because it gets
gradually harder the further north you get.
Some people get disappointed with the OTT. Why?
Because they are experienced four wheel drivers (if you are one the Old
Coach Road is a
must), but by hearing about
this 'great four wheel drive track' they get their
right up and then realise it wasn't challenging enough for them. Remember - everything is relative.
What is too easy for some, is too challenging for others. The Old
Telegraph Track has its reputation because it is challening enough for the average
adventure traveller - not for over experienced four wheel drivers.
someone with no experience, it can even be too much - the northernmost
are. How challenging it is for YOU
YOUR experience and YOUR vehicle, even the time of the
the recent weather (rains). Below are photos and
descriptions of all the crossings so that you can get the best possible
idea before you go
Still, the day you go the conditions may be different from what you see
If you are only a half-brave four
wheel driver, and unless you have the vehicle properly prepared with
a snorkel and all, you are probably best off doing the southern part of
it, which is easier, and avoid the northern half by taking the Northern
start of the Old
Telegraph Track at Bramwell Junction
starts at Bramwell
Junction, where you can turn left to the Old
Telegraph Track (Bypass Roads
go straight ahead, past the roadhouse).
Bramwell Junction to Palm
it is really
easy-going with a few holes like on the photo below, but nothing
first, easy "creek crossing".
If you are
a total beginner, your first challenge is Palm
Creek (please check the link for updates!).
is quite steep in both ends, although it is a dry creek well enough
into the Dry
Ducie, South Alice and North
The next creek north is
Ducie, which is an easy one, and like Palm and the others
down here, dry in the Dry Season.
After Ducie you come to an easy part with quite a level road and the South Alice Creek,
which is so easy you most likely don't even notice it.
South Alice Creek.
is easy too, and like others down here, it is dry well enough into the
After North Alice you cross the border to Heathlands Nature Reserve.
Dulhunty, Bertie and
that you come to
the first crossing that is wet even during
the Dry Season - the beautiful Dulhunty
River. It's not a hard one to cross, at least during the Dry
Season. It's a beautiful river with lush vegetation, and
it is a great spot to camp.
The next creek north is Bertie,
which is also wet even during the Dry Season (as are most crossings
north from here). The shallowest and easiest place to cross it is
after a little drive east along the southern river bank - the exit is
where I stand taking the photo.
you come to a
crossroad where you can turn onto the Gunshot
Bypass (to avoid the infamous Gunshot Crossing), or keep
rest of the Old Telegraph Track, which after Gunshot will gradually get
more adventurous - the crossings get deeper and it's easier to damage
to continue, you
first come to Cholmondeley
crossing, which is shallow during the Dry Season, and shouldn't be a
Gunshot - the Most Famous
crossing north, after
a few kilometres drive through an open
heath country, is the famous Gunshot
Creek - which, if done properly (using one of the steep drops
instead of the "Slingshot"), is the
scariest of all crossings on this track.
the Gunshot you come to a
which belongs to an Old
Telegraph Line linesman, and has quite an
interesting story written on the plaque.
grave of W.
J. Brown, a telegraph linesman.
Cockatoo Creek - The Old
crossing north is Cockatoo
a beautiful creek with clear water and green vegetation around it (away
from the creeks it's not always so green!). The
bottom is rocky but there are some bog
holes you need to avoid so make
sure you walk the
crossing first (and others north from here), and find
the safest route to get through it.
Sheldon Lagoon and Sailor Creek
by the Sheldon Lagoon
... and then you cross Sailor
on a small bridge. After the bridge, on your left hand side is an old
linesmen's shelter with names of previous travellers under the
old linesmen's hut at Sailor
The Old Telegraph Track Joins
the Sailor Creek you
come to the crossroad
Old Telegraph Track and the Bypass
will join in and go in one for a while - until, you come to the sign
that shows you to some of the absolute highlights of not only this road
but the whole peninsula.
Old Telegraph Track - Bypass Road junction.
Fruit Bat, Eliot and Twin Falls
are the Fruit
- I have heard people saying that they haven't seen a better swimming
spot in the whole Australia.
track to Fruit Bat and Eliott Waterfalls.
visited, the water
has been so
clear you can see the bottom, and it has been reasonably shallow (this
depends on the season, of course), and perfectly cool.
It's a fantastic spot for a lunch and very popular too, since it is
close to everyone whether they travel along the Old Telegraph Track or
Bypass Roads, and
whether they are on their way up or down the
North of the Fruit Bat Falls is the crossing of Scrubby Creek, which
doesn't look like much on the map, but can in
fact be deep enough so take care.
Fruit Bat and Twin/Eliot Falls.
After the ford there are Eliot
Falls, and a short stroll from them are Twin Falls-
another beautiful swimming hole.
While the Fruit Bat Falls are day-use
only, at the Eliot and Twin Falls there is a national parks camping ground
where you can stay over the night. It can get crowded,
particularly during the height of the Dry season.
Canal Creek - the Old
creek north of the
waterfalls is Canal
which can be quite deep and also has an uneven bottom worth walking
through and checking out the best route before you drive it.
Sam, Cannibal, Mistake and
there are four
crossings right next to each other.
The first one is Sam
which is not too bad but the bottom is uneven so walk it to find the
shallowest route through it.
The next one is Mistake
Creek, which is not too bad. It has a sandy bottom but is
not too deep, not well enough into the Dry Season anyway.
The next one is Cannibal
which is a beautiful creek and a great spot to camp. The entrance and
exit are quite steep, but the water is not too deep well enough into the Dry
The next one is Cypress
Creek, famous for its log bridge, which is quite wonky so
the Cypress you follow the red-soiled track through tropical savannah
vegetation with grass trees
forest palms, past the poles of the Old
that seem to be in better condition here than elsewhere - until you get to Logans
- one of the deepest crossings on the whole track.
Track north of Cypress.
Logans and Nolans - the
that the water is murky and the whole area looks like a croc
however there are no croc signs unless I have missed one, and people do
walk it to check the bottom, which is a smart thing to do for the sake
of saving your vehicle. If you feel it's too
hard, you have the opportunity to turn back to Mistake Creek and
take the bypass.
Your next one north is Nolan's
also called Bridge Creek, although the days when the bridge was
driveable are history. This is often the deepest of all the crossings
is the crossing that claims most vehicles. So many people get their
vehicles stuck here that nowadays there are towing ads in trees.
The bright side of Nolans
- where the old bridge used to be (I am hanging in some of the last
remains on the pic there), - as you can see, is a wonderful swimming
hole. Beautiful emerald green water, clear and clean, and just right
temperature to cool down :-)
Brook swimming hole.
The End of the Old Telegraph
Nolans Brook, the Old
Telegraph Track is effectively over. You
continue to Jardine
National Park and have the opportunity to continue all the
way to the mighty Jardine
River, or turn left to the ferry crossing (which takes you
across the river on the Jardine
cool-down and croc watch in Jardine
cheeky people still try their luck to save $130 and cross the river at
the old river
instead, however it is nowadays considered too risky even
though I have seen people doing it and getting across too!
old Jardine River Ford.
case, don't do like Rob
on the photo above and walk in the
middle of Jardine - people have been
taken by crocs
and I have seen crocs in this river myself.
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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