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What will I Do in Cape York?

16 July 2023
Top 10 Things to do in Cape York

Cape York is a large peninsula located in Far North Queensland, Australia. As one of the largest unspoiled wildernesses it is a popular destination for those who want to experience some of the best Australia has to offer.

The land is mostly flat and about half of the area is used for grazing cattle. The rest is made up of amazing places to stop off. See the Daintree Rainforest, explore beautiful coastal beach retreats and dive into stunning waterfalls to cool off. The best time to venture to the northern peninsula is during Australia’s dry season. Take a look at some inspiration for what you can do in Cape York.

Explore World Heritage Sites

Cape Tribulation

Starting off in Cairns most people stop off at Cape Tribulation. Known for its scenic beaches and the world heritage listed Daintree National Park, it is fondly described as “where the forest meets the sea”.
Cape Tribulation is a headland on the easternmost tip of the Daintree Coast in Far North Queensland, Australia. Its stunning natural beauty makes is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Its tropical rainforest, white-sanded beaches and tropical islands create a perfect blend of ecological wonder, adventure and scenic beauty. The only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, meet.

The area is alive with cultural and ecological history, and a variety of activities. From crawling through ancient rainforest walks and kayaking with saltwater crocodiles to stand-up paddle boarding on the calm waters of the mangrove estuaries. Cape Tribulation is a magical place that offers breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences.

Sleep under the stars

Camp oven Cape York Tours

Camping in Cape York is an unforgettable experience. You have the chance to explore the outback wilderness of the far north, filled with unique plants and wildlife. Take in the stunning views, swim in crystal-clear rivers and go fishing in remote bays.

The majority of the camping areas are located around the western side of Cape York, in Cooktown, Weipa, and Bramwell Station. You can also find camping areas on the eastern side of Cape York, such as Seisa, Bloomfield, and Bramwell Junction. Additionally, some campsites are located on the northern tip of the Cape near the town of Horn Island. Whether it’s sleeping beneath the stars or visiting small towns and remote homesteads, camping in Cape York will leave you with fond memories that will last a lifetime.

With Cape York being a popular destination for travelers, caravan parks provide a comfortable and budget-friendly accommodation option. From four-star resorts to basic caravan parks, you will find a variety of options to choose from.

Road trip to Pajinka (‘The Tip’)

Aerial of the Cape York Peninsula
View of the tip of Australia from the air.

No Australian trip to Far North Queensland would be complete without a 4wd to the northernmost point of the country.

Cooktown

Start your journey in Cairns and head towards Cooktown as you start your off-road adventure. The World-Famous Lion’s Den Pub – another classic Aussie Icon is worth a stop. Then you may like to visit the Mysterious Black Mountain. In Cooktown there are variety of activities to choose from. The Grassy Hill Lookout, The James Cook Museum, Botanical Gardens & Powerhouse Museum to name a few.

Iron Range National Park

Crossing the Pascoe River, head to Iron Range National Park. Here you can see the spectacular Mount Tozer at the peak of the Table Range. Explore the many wonders whilst marvelling at the dense tropical rainforest. It is the largest remaining area of lowland rainforest in Australia.

Weipa

Located in the Gulf of Carpentaria is the largest town in the Cape York Peninsula. With a population of about 3,000 people, Weipa is a great place to visit. Its main industries are mining and cattle exports. Catch your breath at the Western Cape Cultural Centre. It is rewarding and you will be impressed with the stunning and truly authentic aboriginal artwork on display. You can also learn all about the Aboriginal culture while you are here.

Chili Beach

Chili Beach is another stunning tropical north Queensland beach. Its expansive shoreline and plentiful palm trees make it a perfect paradise for any outdoor adventurer. It is the place to be if you’re looking to explore stunning landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and untouched nature. Located on the tip of Cape York Peninsula, it boasts some of the most spectacular coastal views in the world.

From Windy Hill Lookout you can savor panoramic views. You can see the stunning white offshore coral cays and Islands, as well as a backdrop of pristine rainforest stretching west to the Atherton Tablelands. Enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as beach walks, fishing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and camping in the surrounding national parks. Take a stroll along the sandy beach and listen to the sound of the waves crashing against the rugged shoreline. Alternatively you can grab a surfboard and catch a few of the great waves. With its breathtaking views, serene coastline, and abundance of outdoor activities, Chilli Beach is the perfect place to escape and relax.

Pajinka

And then make your way to the last part of your road trip, the northern tip of Queensland, Pajinka. Take a cruise along the coast or explore remote nature reserves and hamlets. Places such as the Mungkan Kandju National Park, which has a range of activities including camping, bushwalking, fishing, and bird-watching. Visitors can also explore historic aboriginal sites, observe the unique wildlife, or just relax on secluded beaches.

Chase some waterfalls

The majestic Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland is home to some of Australia’s most spectacular and untouched waterfalls and waterholes. From secluded cascades tucked away in deep rainforest gorges, to thundering coastal falls beside the azure Coral Sea, the Cape offers an abundance of picturesque and inviting swimming spots. Celebrated for its ancient Aboriginal cultural heritage, diverse range of waterholes and waterfalls are a cornerstone of many well-known local Dreaming Stories, and are also part of the wider environment, which sustains and nourishes life in this unique and beautiful part of Australia.

Twin Falls and Eliot Falls

In the middle of one of Australia’s most iconic 4WD tracks, the original Telegraph Track, are two of the Cape’s most scenic waterfalls: Twin Falls and Eliot Falls. Take a short detour just before the Canal Creek crossing to enjoy these natural wonders. They are spring-fed and clear, making them perfect for a swim. Eliot Falls also has several walking tracks if you want to explore the area.

Fruit Bat Falls

Fruit Bat Falls is located on the Archer River in northern Cape York, Australia. The cascading falls provide a stunning, picturesque backdrop to the area, and serve as a haven for lush wildlife and beautiful local flora. The area is teeming with tropical fruit bats, giving the falls its name. The nearby Archer River is perfect for boating and fishing, or just a dip in the cool waters. With its unspoiled beauty, Fruit Bat Falls is a must-see destination for any nature lover venturing to the top of Australia.

Waterholes

Cape York waterholes are some of the most pristine natural wonders, located within the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland. Starting near Cooktown and ending near the tip of Australia, they offer intrepid explorers the chance to dive, snorkel and swim in the crystal-clear water with a stunning range of reef and rainforest life. Combining breathtaking marine and inland experiences, the unique and isolated spots provide an exciting adventure in a truly special corner of the planet.
The most popular Cape York waterholes are located in the Lakefield National Park, the Jardine River, Weipa, Musgrave, and the nearby Normanby River. Additionally, many smaller, hidden waterholes can be found across the region.

Explore Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park

Nestled among the dizzying blue waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park is an amazing spot to explore. From the prehistoric savannah woodlands and lush palm forests to the unique roving sand dunes and breathtaking water views, Rinyirru has something for everyone. There’s bird watching, fishing, and canoeing, as well as 4WD touring, camping, and swimming. Catch a glimpse of crocodiles, wild horses, and kangaroos while visiting, and experience the culture of the traditional owners. Visit Rinyirru and experience a living tropical wilderness.

Cruise the Islands

Since you have made it this far why not take a boat cruise across to the small islands that form an integral part of Torres Strait Island culture and history. The islands are situated between Cape York and Australia’s nearest neighbour New Guinea.

Thursday and Horn Islands, off the tip of Cape York, make for an amazing, off the beaten track journey for travelers who are looking to explore the vast beauty of Far North Queensland. These islands provide the perfect opportunity to escape your everyday routine, with lush national parks, white sandy beaches, and spectacular local wildlife. Thursday Island, in particular, is an ideal spot to soak up the atmosphere of the vibrant Torres Strait – a real slice of paradise with its harbor-side cafes, art galleries, and hiking trails. Visitors can explore the historical Thursday Island Museum or take a ferry boat to Horn Island and stroll through its wartime ruins. Whether you’re going bushwalking, kayaking, fishing, or just looking to relax on the beach, Thursday and Horn Island are sure to create an unforgettable travel adventure.

Reflect through Rock Art

Quinkan-Rock-Art-sites-Cape-York

Rock art in Cape York, Australia, is some of the most ancient artwork in the world. Created by Indigenous Australian Aboriginal peoples, the artwork is believed to be tens of thousands of years old. Found in caves and rock shelters, the artwork often depicts stories, animals, symbols and aspects of the Dreaming (Aboriginal mythology). These rock artworks provide insight into the spiritual, social and cultural history of the local Aboriginal people, and are an important part of Australia’s cultural history.

Cape York is a true nature-lovers paradise, and for those looking to explore the region’s rich heritage, rock art is an excellent way to do so. Explore the famous Laura Art Site, the Dip Festival rock mural near Coen, the Quinkan rock art near Laura or Aussie Creek rock art near Weipa to gain an insight into the local history. With so many incredible sites around Cape York, there is sure to be a piece of history to be found in every corner of the cape.

Explore a Cattle station

Visit Somerset, which was established by the Jardine Family as a Government outpost and Cattle Station. Enjoy the secluded beach and keep a lookout for the elusive dugongs and majestic sea turtles.

Somerset Cattle Station is a secluded and picturesque oasis situated on the banks of the Wenlock River in Australia’s stunning Cape York region. Set on sprawling acres of unspoiled bushland, this family-run cattle station offers a true outback experience with plenty of exciting activities and amazing scenery. Enjoy an authentic taste of rural Australia, with horse-riding, croc spotting, sunbathing on white sand beaches or even an overnight stay in the cosy homestead. Make legendary memories at Somerset Cattle Station and explore the captivating wonders of Cape York.

There is so much more to do and see in the Cape! Time will be the biggest factor in what you can cover while there. Although many people like to tour the region and drive themselves, unless you have the right vehicle and are prepared to do all the planning yourself the easy option is to go on a 4WD tour. There are options for both camping and staying in accommodation as well as cruise options. There is even a Self-Drive Tour.

This takes all the hard work out of planning your QLD holiday and ensures that you learn much about the local area, its history and the people who live in Cape York. These tours also take you to the best locations in Cape, some which are exclusive to tour groups.