Northern Queensland for 2 weeks - what to do?

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Northern Queensland for 2 weeks - what to do?

1. Posted by davver79 (Budding Member 10 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!


I'm travelling to Cairns in May for 2 weeks and am planning on hiring a 4wd van with 3 friends and traveling around the North Queensland area, maybe as far up as Cape York and as far west as Karumba or Mount Isa?

I've been to Cairns before and did the Barrier Reef then travelled down the coast so did not see much of the surrounding area. I'd like to explore the tropics a bit more and also see a little more of the outback.

Can anyone give me any advice of where to travel to around this area and where the best places to go may be? I'm looking to stay away from the crowds and want to visit more of the wilderness areas.

Thanks! :)

2. Posted by timtravels (Respected Member 350 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hi davver79,
I was up in north QLD in July last year, some of the things I enjoyed up there were the waterfall circuit in the atherton tablelands and the undara lava tubes, although both of these are fairly tame and touristy. Some of the more remote stuff that was good was Lawn Hill National Park and travelling up Cape York.

Cape York might be a bit challenging in may for a 4x4 van as it is coming out of the wet season and some of the rivers might still be fairly full. It would also be worthwhile to check what kind of insurance comes with the rental. This being said I had lots of fun towing several tourists out of a couple of rivers, some happy (vehicle still running) some not happy (vehicle drowned and not running) and somehow managed to get water in through the doors of my 4x4.

If you do decide to try and go all the way up Cape York I recommend taking your common sense lots of food and water, sufficient communication (NO CELL PHONE COVERAGE) and letting someone know where you're going and when you'll be back. Is it a 4x4 "Wicked" van you're hiring for the trip?

Karumba was good because I got to see the gulf of carpentaria, Mt Isa was good, and there are some interesting sites around it. Look out for the abandoned Mary-Kathleen Uramium mine.

Most of all, have fun!


3. Posted by davver79 (Budding Member 10 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hi Tim,

Thanks for your reply. I was thinking of going up to Cape York, I don't have a lot of 4wd experience apart from 3 days on Fraser Island last year. I was thinking of hiring a Britz 4wd. Do you know of any other good places to hire from? I'll be sure to check out the insurance - thanks for the heads up.

I was thinking of going up to Cape York but not if it's going to be too dangerous!? I want an adventure but not with too much risk... Are there places to camp up there?

I'll have a look at some of the other places you mentioned. Do you think Cape York - Mt Isa - Cairns is possible in 2 weeks without having to rush?

Thanks again for your advice.


4. Posted by timtravels (Respected Member 350 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hi David,

I haven't ever hired a 4x4 so I'm not sure about companies, when I was on the road there were a lot of hertz, britz and travellers auto barn ones around but I don't know who has the best deal and I would definitely read the insurance agreement if you were taking it off-road

I think 2 weeks won't be enough to go all the way up Cape York and to Mt Isa. Generally people recommend 3 weeks up Cape York if you want to see everything. Maybe you would have to choose between going up Cape York for the whole two weeks or doing a round trip to Mt Isa - Lawn Hill - Karumba. Best way to get an idea of how long it will take is to measure out how many km it is between destinations and then have a guess. Remember dirt roads will be slower than sealed ones and dirt tracks will be really slow :)

If you want to get an idea of what Cape York is like, go to youtube and do a video search for Cape York, quite a few people have added trip highlights. Just take a note of what month the video was taken in. There are plenty of camping areas up there, most good maps will have them marked or usually you can find a secluded area off the beaten track.