Day Two, Archer River to Bramwell Junction Roadhouse

Archer River to Bramwell Map

After driving nearly 500km over rough,corrugated gravel roads on our first day, we decided to have an easier second day. We would drive to Bramwell Junction Roadhouse and stay the night there. It was only 166km but the road condition meant it would still take us about 4-5 hours to get there.  On the way up we had noticed small ant/termite hills on the sides of the road. Gradually they were getting wider and taller. As we entered the road to Bramwell Junction, the ant/termite hills were huge.  Jude, in particular, was fascinated by them and took loads of photo’s of them, from daylight, to moonlight to sunrise!

Termite not ant – Cape York certainly is full of termite mounds. Termites live in nests that are under ground.  Even the mound building termites have a nest under ground, under the mound. The mound is built on the top of the nest for ventilation, so it makes sense that the mounds are built by termites that live in hot, tropical climates.Inside the mounds, there is an extensive system of tunnels that, together with the shafts that go down to the nest, create ventilation to the nest.The mounds come in different colours depending on the soil, which is used in construction.They also come in different shapes and sizes, and that depends on the species of termites (it sometimes also happens that a different mob of termites may take over an abandoned nest and it may in fact be a different species). Some are tall, some are thin, others are short and/or thick. Some are large, others are small.

Magnetic Termites. Some that are distinctive are Magnetic Termites. They build nests that are thin in one way – to avoid sun exposure during the hottest time of the day. So their mounds are all lined in the same way, usually in the south-northerly direction.

We arrived at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse just after lunch and were able to choose from a number of great sites. We chose one with an undercover area with picnic table and chairs plus a fire pit close by. The amenities were a row of ensuite cabins with separate toilet and shower. Much better than we had anticipated. We set up our tents and swags, then spent time gathering wood for the fire, preparing the evening meal and having a well earned beverage or two.

Another exciting moment at Bramwell happened when Shane went over to set up his swag and bedroll. It was relatively early but the sun had set by 6.30pm so it was rather dark by the time he went to his car. He came back and called to me, Jude, to follow him quietly. He also made sure I had my camera with me. I was so excited because sitting on his bedroll was a beautiful Tawny Frogmouth. An even better opportunity than those seen at Mt Carbine.

Day Three, Bramwell Junction Roadhouse to Umagico

We were up early and on the road by 8.30am. We had a 170km drive to the Jardine River ferry crossing and wanted to get there before their lunchbreak between 12.30-1.30pm. We had also been told the road 20km south of the crossing was pretty bad and would slow us down big time.

Yahooooo!!! We were across the river and it was only a short 50km to Umagico and the campground we were going to stay at for the next few days. The road in was pretty good and before long we were back on a bitumen road. We stopped in a little town called Injinoo for fuel and then into Umagico to find the campgrounds. We got a little lost but some workmen gave us directions. We headed down the hill to be greeted with the most beautiful sight of blue water and white sands! Oh yes, this was paradise! We checked in and set up camp in quick time!

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Alau Beach

Day Four – to the tip, Pajinka!

Pajinka was only about 40km away but again then were some unknown dirt roads to drive on. We set off in convoy with Ray and Jude leading the way. We were heading first to the Croc Tent an iconic venue when going to Pajinka. The Croc Tent is renowned as a meeting place. At the junction of the Punsand Bay and Pajinka roads, it is an ideal place to stop and get a free map and up to date advice on the road conditions before heading on to the last leg of the journey north. It also the place to pick up great souvenirs. We stopped at the Croc Tent and the ladies there were brilliant. Great sense of humour and lots of good advice about the roads. We bought some lovely souvenirs too.

So off we went to our final destination – Pajinka. Red dusty roads, through beautiful green canopied trees either side of the road. Really breathtaking scenery and lots of comments made over the radio between the three cars. We also had our first real water crossing which, although it wasn’t that deep or difficult, generated great excitement. Then finally around a bend we come into a clearing and a sign that we had made it to the beach car park.  We parked up and discussed which way we would walk to the tip. It was low tide so we decided to walk around the edge of the hill. This was fine until we realised we had a bit of a tricky climb up over the rocks before descending down some more rocks to get to the sign on the water’s edge. But we were so excited and pumped that we pushed through, up and over. Then we saw the sign! There were a few other people on the hill and one of them was very kind and offered to take our photo.

We had made it.

We were standing at the northern most point of the Australian continent!


Mount Carbine Caravan Park – Last year when we first began researching our Cape York trek we made numerous enquiries about where we could leave our caravan. The name that kept coming up in a variety of forums was Mt Carbine. There were a number of reasons for this and they included the stunning bushland location, great amenities, fabulous owners/hosts Nikki and Darryl, and the icing on the cake, free storage for the caravan.

Well we weren’t disappointed, it was everything, and more, that we had heard about. Nikki and Darryl were incredible people and hosts and really enhanced our stay.  We had an area all to ourselves with some undercover parking and a great fire pit.  We spent a couple of days doing final preparations for the trip.

We were so excited to see a family of Tawny Frogmouth birds which are very similar to owls but are actually part of the Nightjar family. They are very hard to see as they blend in to the trees where they roost.  We also had amazing moonlit nights.


Day One, Mt Carbine to Archer River

We set off with great excitement and anticipation of what was to come. Shane led the way, followed by Ray and I, then Doug and Sue.  We had about a 200 km drive before we hit the first of the gravel roads just north of Lakeland.

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Each car was fitted with a two way radio and we were Oddbods 1 (Shane & Kerry), Alby1 (Ray & Jude) and Emu1 (Doug & Sue). We kept in regular radio contact with each other and the chatter was initially about the stunning countryside we were driving through. Before we knew it, we were onto the first of the gravel roads. Overall the first section was in pretty good condition as it had recently been graded. However there was plenty of dust kicked up by each car so we had to keep a fair distance between us so we could be sure of seeing clearly. Shane was great on the radio constantly advising us of any deep dust holes/dips/corrugations/cattle on the road etc.

We stopped for a break at some of the roadhouses which were quaint and full of character. Hann River Roadhouse had an emu which followed us very closely, Musgrave Roadhouse was first built as an overland telegraph station in 1887, Moreton Telegraph Station also built in 1887 on the Wenlock River.

Finally late afternoon we made it to Archer River Roadhouse where we would camp for the night. There weren’t too many people there and we made camp at the bottom of the paddock. We were able to have a fire and cooked jaffles for tea.



PART ONE – Pajinka (Cape York), An Epic Adventure!

“You are standing at the northernmost point of the Australian continent.”

The Germ of an Idea – In Winter 2017, we were caretaking at a caravan park in Tasmania. Fed up of howling winds, torrential rain and the biting cold, we started dreaming of warmer climes. Many of the guests at the park were from Queensland but they were trying to escape the heat! We had driven to the southern most point of Australia, Cockle Creek in Tasmania. Therefore why not drive to the northern most point of Australia, Cape York in Queensland. So began the initial research into achieving this goal.

In October 2017, Jude had a phone call with Sue, a friend from Perth. They discussed Cape York and that led to the idea of Sue and her husband Doug joining us.

In November 2017, we had to return to Perth for Jude to have knee replacement surgery and Cape York was put on the back burner. However recovery was quicker and easier than expected so Cape York was back on!! The end of May, beginning of June 2018 was chosen to head up and hopefully beat the crowds

Planning and Preparation – We decided to leave our caravan at Mount Carbine Caravan Park and head up in our Nissan Patrol and sleep in our Oztent RV-2. The caravan park had a deal where you could leave your caravan for free as long as you stayed there, the night before and after doing Cape York. Many other parks charged between $6 and $12 per night. That was money better spent on fuel as we were facing much higher prices in the Cape. Ray had the car fully serviced and checked out to make sure it would survive the many gravel and corrugated roads we would encounter. We bought a roof rack luggage bag so we could store our tent and other equipment.

Sue and Doug were driving across from Western Australia and visiting various friends and family along the way. We met them in Cairns at the Big 4 Coconut Caravan Park.


Now the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that there were 6 of us in the picture taken at the tip…….well read on McDuffs!

On our journey to Cairns we spent a night camped at the back of the General Gordon pub in the middle of the cane fields near Mackay. There was only one other van there. Whilst having a drink in the beer garden, the chap from the van joined us. His name was Shane and he too was travelling around Australia. We enjoyed a couple of beers, much laughter and shared tales of our travels. The next morning we went our separate ways.

A few days later, Jude found a message on her phone. It was Shane and he was asking if he and his friend Kerry could join us on the trek to Cape York. Shane had been as far as Weipa but never to the tip. Ray and I discussed Shane’s request and sent a message to Sue and Doug. We actually managed to catch up with them in Ingham later that day and decided, why not, the more the merrier! Unless of course Shane was an axe murderer!! Well you are reading this story so some of us must have lived to tell the tale!

We all met up in Cairns where we spent a few days sorting out details for the trip. Shane was also going to leave his caravan at Mount Carbine. The day before we left Cairns and civilisation, we all decided to go on the Kuranda Scenic Rail and Skyrail. Wow, what an amazing experience and the town of Kuranda is beautiful. We went up on the train and down on the Skyrail. The Scenic Railway rises from sea level to 328m, passing spectacular waterfalls including the stunning Barron Gorge. The Skyrail is a 7.5 km scenic cableway running above the Barron Gorge National Park, in the Wet Tropics of Queensland’s World Heritage Area. Highly highly recommend doing this trip.