Australia’s Wild Things
Where else can you see wallabies, kangaroos, platypus’ and koala bears in their natural habitat? Cape York, at Australia’s northern tip, is an accessible wilderness area that rewards visitors with a feast of natural wonders.
Australia’s northernmost point, Cape York, is an accessible wilderness area that offers vast tracts of land to explore with relatively little sign of human impact.
The Cape offers many opportunities for the nature enthusiast, including bushwalking, bird watching and camping. It’s also a great destination for those who want to explore its wild coastline, lagoons and uninhabited islands by boat.
With lush vegetation and incredible biodiversity, Cape York is a perfect place to immerse deeply in nature. The peninsula’s rainforests, savannahs, wetlands and mangrove forests contain more than 1,000 plant species, many of which are rare and endangered. It’s also one of the richest birding sites in Australia, with birds such as the stealthy Grey Goshawk or the comically named Laughing Kookaburra providing a constant feast of sights and sounds.
A good place to start your outdoor explorations is at one of Cape York’s national parks, such as Lakefield, Iron Range or Mount Cook.
A visit to Split Rock, near Laura, will provide a glimpse into the rich culture of the area’s indigenous Australian Aborigine and Torres Strait Islander population through their collection of ancient rock art. Visit the Quinkan & Regional Culture Centre; and from there you can book a guide or otherwise choose to do the Rock as a self-guided tour.
An attraction high on the list for many is the point itself. The northernmost tip of Australia looks out at its nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, just 130 kilometres away. On the west coast is the Gulf of Carpentaria and the east, the Coral Sea. The Great Barrier Reef is just off the east coast, and plenty of islands surround the Cape should you want to continue your journey by boat.
There’s a popular misconception that Cape York is only accessible during the dry season, from May to November. If driving, that is the case as the roads are impassable during the other months due to rain.
But it’s still possible to travel during the wet months by plane or boat. Accommodation and tour guides operate 365 days a year. Many consider the “green season” from December to April to be the best months to visit.
To get there, you can rent a 4WD vehicle from Cooktown or Cairns; or fly to Cooktown from Cairns on a regional airline. Alternatively, you can drive to Cooktown. From there on through Cape York, though, it’s 4WD only. Make sure to check the RACQ’s road conditions page for updates if travelling in or near the wet season.
Cape York has a range of accommodation options from campgrounds to resorts. As Cape York’s main tourist hub, Cooktown has a number of places to stay, but there’s still plenty of options to choose from farther into the peninsula and on the islands.