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Cape York

Photo © KobusM

Travel Guide Oceania Australia Queensland Cape York

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Introduction

James Cook statue, Cooktown

James Cook statue, Cooktown

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Cape York is Australia's largest area of unspoilt wilderness. Located in Far North Queensland, it is a challenge to travel around, but an interesting destination for the adventurous traveller. Although Cape York basically refers to the top end of, this article is about the entire peninsula with the same name.

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Geography

The west coast borders the Gulf of Carpentaria and the east coast borders the Coral Sea. At the peninsula’s widest point, it is 430 kilometres from the Bloomfield River, in the southeast, across to the west coast (just south of the Aboriginal community of Kowanyama). It is some 660 kilometres from the southern border of Cook Shire, to the tip of Cape York. The largest islands in the strait include Prince of Wales Island, Horn Island, Moa, and Badu Island. The backbone of Cape York Peninsula is the Peninsula Ridge, part of Australia’s Great Dividing Range. To the east and west of the Peninsula Ridge lie the Carpentaria and Laura Basins.

White Lipped Tree Frog

White Lipped Tree Frog

© All Rights Reserved KobusM


There are several outstanding landforms on the peninsula: the large expanses of undisturbed dunefields at the eastern coast around Shelburne Bay and Cape Bedford-Cape Flattery; the huge piles of black granite boulders at Black Mountain National Park and Cape Melville; and the limestone karsts around Palmerston in the Cape’s far south.

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Towns

  • Cooktown - administrative and commercial centre
  • Weipa - largest settlement, mining centre on the westcoast

Other small settlements mainly along the main road are Laura, Lakeland and Coen and also at the northern tip on Thursday Island.

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Weather

The climate on Cape York Peninsula is tropical and monsoonal, with a heavy monsoon season from November to April and a dry season from May to October. The temperature is warm to hot, with a cooler climate in higher areas. The mean annual temperatures range from 18 °C at higher elevations to 27 °C on the lowlands in the drier southwest. Temperatures over 40 °C and below 5 °C are rare. Annual rainfall is high, ranging from over 2,000 millimetres in the Iron Range and north of Weipa to about 700 millimetres at the southern border. Almost all this rain falls between November and April. Between January and March, the average monthly rainfall ranges from about 170 millimetres in the south to over 500 millimetres in the north and on the Iron Range.

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Getting There

By Plane

Skytrans Airlines offers regular flights to/from Cairns, from the Cooktown Airport (CTN).

By Car

You can reach Cooktown by car, taking the inland sealed road or the much rougher coastal Bloomfield Track. The latter one is only possible by 4wd vehicle and might be impassable during the wet season.

By Bus

Buses travel between Cairns and several other towns and Cooktown, both along the coast (high clearance 4wd buses) or inland sealed road.

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Getting Around

By Car

There are two major roads penetrating the Cape York region: the Peninsula Developmental Road (PDR) and the Northern Peninsula Road (also called Bamaga Road and Telegraph Road). Bamaga Road now bypasses the overland telegraph line (OTL) track, which is often referred to as the tele track. The tele track was used for construction and maintenance of the OTL until it was superseded by fibre optic cables, and is now used by four-wheel drive vehicle enthusiasts in the dry season. Many crossings, such as the bridge over the Wenlock near Moreton station, have been upgraded; however, many fords remain.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 19:51 on Jul 5, 13 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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