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Tour 4: Authentic Cape York: New & Improved

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117
7-20 August, 2020
Cairns
Cape York
Tour Details
Tour 4: 7-20 August, 2020

This Cape York camping tour is a 14-day camping safari starting from Cairns, taking you to the northern-most tip of Australia! Enjoy two weeks of camping, fishing, relaxing, exploring the outback, observing rare wildlife and learning the unique culture and history of Cape York. 

This year’s tours have improved tenfold from our 2019 itinerary with many exciting new tours and activities, with a few special tweaks by Rossy, based on his experience as an Ecologist and local in Cape York. We head up inland and make our way back home through the coastal roads of the Daintree & Cape Tribulation.

You will visit the most iconic, well-known places of Cape York including a full-day experience of Thursday Island with Peddells (includes Ferry ride over plus Air-conditioned Bus Tour), a night in Coen to witness one of Cape York’s best Aboriginal dance teams, jump on a boat tour to spot crocs and birds with Western Cape Eco Tours in Weipa, swim in the most refreshing waters at the beautiful Fruit Bat Falls and of course, to top off your adventure, celebrate reaching the tip with our unforgettable true blue sunset sausage sizzle at the Tip of Australia!

On the way home we wind our way through the Wet Tropics of the Daintree & Cape Tribulation!  Described by Sir David Attenborough as “the most extraordinary place on Earth”, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is the world’s oldest surviving tropical rainforest. A landscape so biodiverse, this ancient forest is a living breathing window into the past, where you’ll find flora and fauna over 100 million years in the making.

Ensure to read each itinerary to choose the perfect Cape York Safari for you. Remember we are limited to 14 seats and WE SELL OUT every year!

All itineraries are subject to change due to unexpected conditions, circumstances or driver’s decision based on what is best for the group.

Departure & Return Locations

Cairns

Price Includes
  • Tented accommodation
  • Breakfast, lunch & dinner *see itinerary for BYO (Buy Your Own) meals
  • Sleeping equipment (tall tent, quality foam mattress, sheets/blanket, pillow)
  • Additional tours & expeditions *see itinerary
  • All entrance fees to National Parks, Ferry's & Caravan parks
  • Unrivalled experience of Cape York
Highlights
What to expect

Cockatours is a family owned business who aim to create unforgettable experiences for everyone. We would love to share our experience and knowledge of the remote top end of Australia with you and show you places, experiences and wildlife you never thought existed!  We run smaller tours with a maximum 14 people so it still feels private and we expect everyone to be friendly, kind and work together as a team to create a positive experience for all. 

As a small business, we have the ability to be flexible and use this as an advantage for creating great experiences and adventures. Tours are subject to change due to roads, conditions and the guide’s decision to best suit the group. 

If you decide to join us on an adventure please note the following:

  • be prepared for true bush camps; some have no facilities – we have a bush toilet and shower for these occasions
  • tented accommodation; easy peasy to erect!
  • team work; everyone helps clean, cook, pack & set up
  • we offer camping meals to suit large groups - our meals are raved about!
  • we have limited access to stores/shops
  • we have a great reputation to uphold and endeavour to provide an amazing tour every time!
Prices

$2,970 inc GST/pp

Standard booking

  • Has there been a rise in tour price?
  • Yes, there has. In previous years we have been operating at a bare bones level to build our reputation and establish Cockatours as the best experience you can have in Cape York. Unfortunately, due to registering for tax, supplier price increases, vehicle maintenance due to road conditions and recently added extra tours, we have had to increase our price. Our goal is to still have these tours affordable for everyone and we take steps to keep prices down, like encouraging word of mouth marketing rather than paying for ads and huge commissions.
  • A portion of each ticket sale also goes towards providing free half-day tours for those at need in Cairns. This covers groups with mental or physical disability, veterans and other at-risk groups.
Your Guides
  • Your driver and guide is none other than Cockatours owner, Rossy. Rossy is an ecologist, photographer & speaker. He grew up in Bamaga (the Tip) and has lived & worked in Cape York for several years running feral pig & sea turtle projects with Indigenous Ranger groups. His connections & relationships throughout the Cape will make your tour that little bit more special and you will see it first hand throughout the tour! You can read more about him in our 'About Us' section.
  • In 2020, we are bringing on a professional chef, Courtney, otherwise known as 'Jeff' (the Chef)! We were already known for our amazing meals, but Courtney has turned it up a level with her phenomenal cooking skills! She came on a tour with us in 2019 and was so well received by our clients we had to bring her back! You will see her on our Cape York tours in 2020. She has an awesome personality, loves a laugh and has adventure running through her veins!
Cape York Guides at the tip
Courtney & Rossy
Itinerary
All itineraries are subject to change due to unexpected conditions, circumstances or driver's decision based on what is best for the group.

Day 1Cairns > Mt Carbine

Camp style: Private Camp Ground (no facilities – bush toilet, beautiful creek for shower)
Meals: L, D
Activities: Toxic Animal Research Facility, Opal Museum, Serene Camp on river with the chance to catch black bream!
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: Yes. No (until camp)

Departing from Cairns, with pickups starting at 8am, our first stop today is one we guarantee you will talk about for the rest of your life: a secret tour behind the scenes into a toxic marine animal research facility. Here we start our two weeks with insights into the lives of some of the Great Barrier Reef’s most notorious deadly animals. From here we head up the rainforest-clad Kuranda Range, through Mareeba and into Mt Molloy. Here we can see one of Australia’s best opal museums. We then head further north, nudging into the southern end of Cape York, for our first night camp at a secret spot on a beautiful river – one of the best of the trip! We should arrive early afternoon with plenty of time to set up camp, get familiar with the camp outlay and go swimming, birding or freshwater fishing!

Day 2Mt Carbine > Musgrave/Bush camp

Camp style: Private camp (facilities available)
Meals: B, L, D
Activities: Split Rock Hike; Difficulty Medium (enclosed shoes), Quinkan Cultural Centre, Very Old Bridge, Extremely Rare Bird Spotting
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: Yes. No

Taking the inland route, we will first stop at the famous Palmer River Roadhouse; a very unique location showcasing small museum on the history of the Gold Rush. Here you we grab a coffee and smoko and have a chance to check out the mini-museum, before heading north to reach Laura. We will explore the small town of Laura by first visiting Split Rock situated just south town, a well-known Aboriginal rock art site.

Split Rock: will be a self-guided Medium Level Hike with an inclined rocky walk. Some areas have handle bars for assistance but other areas don’t. Feel free to bring along a walking stick for extra help. You do not have to do this walk if you don’t feel comfortable. Ensure to bring water bottle for hot days. The walk is not long and there are a couple of sets of rock stairs.

We will continue to make our way into Laura town, where our next stop will be at the Quinkan & Regional Cultural Centre. At your own pace, you will enjoy learning about the history and aboriginal culture of Laura in this museum.

Quinkan & Regional Cultural Centre: A self-guided tour in an amazing and interesting museum full of information on the region. This centre showcases information on the local people, nature and the historical heritage of when the gold rush began.

We break for lunch at the Cultural Centre and afterwards head to an astounding artefact from the late 1800’s. After visiting Laura, we will continue to head north and hit the first dirt for the day. We may pull into Hann River to meet the animals before heading north and exploring a secret spot of ours. Today we camp at a private camp with a good chance to see an extremely rare bird endemic to this area.

Day 3Musgrave > Coen

Camp style: Private bush camp (no facilities)
Meals: B, L, D
Activities: Great Northern Café + Visitor Centre, Coen Heritage House, (S)exchange Hotel, Welcome to Country, Aboriginal Dancing
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: Yes. Yes

Today is a nice easy day, heading only 110km into the small cozy town of Coen, nestled in a gorgeous valley, flanked by the Great Dividing Range and full of culture and history. Our first stop today will be Coen where we will visit the Great Northern Café for a (very good) coffee. Here Rossy will show you where he used to live, parked a work helicopter in his backyard and removed a taipan from a toilet!

We will then pop into the Coen Heritage House, one of the old telegraph station houses, where you can learn much more on local history and stories and even see historical machinery up close. We can get some shopping done in town and if you like grab a coldy from the (S)exchange Hotel, before we head to a beautiful spot right by the Coen River for lunch and to make camp.

This afternoon, we head into town where one of our great mates, a local Traditional Owner, will welcome us to country with a special smoking ceremony. After we are welcomed to country, the ALLKUMO dancers will perform some local Aboriginal dances for us. These dancers are amongst the best in Cape York, regularly performing at the Laura Dance Festival, as well as the Opera House in Sydney!

Note: Depending on other options in town we may also check out a secret and very special site we have been given permission to access. We may also have an opportunity to visit a local Indigenous ranger base and one of their study sites where they monitor and control feral pigs, part of a project Rossy managed whilst working here.

Day 4Coen > Weipa

Camp style: Caravan Park (facilities available + laundry)
Meals: B, L, D
Activities: Coen Quarantine Info Centre, Big Lookout
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. No

This morning we farewell Coen and head north of town to the Coen Quarantine Information Centre. If lucky, staff may be able to play us a short educational video to teach us about Cape York Quarantine and its’ significance in keeping Australia safe. We keep moving north, passing Archer River and pulling into one of the Cape’s finest vistas. We start heading west and reach Weipa by early afternoon. Here we camp for 2 nights, giving ourselves a nice break from travel. We will have some spare time this afternoon.

Day 5Weipa Day Out!

Camp style: Caravan Park (facilities available + laundry)
Meals: B, L (B.Y.O Dinner)
Activities: Eco Boat Tour (Approx 2hrs, sun safe clothing & sunscreen), Weipa Cultural Centre, Lake Patricia, pottery shop, chance to wet a line!
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. No

Today you will venture out on a boat cruise with Western Cape Eco Tours (time will depend on tides).

Western Cape Eco Tour: a fantastic boat cruise sharing insight on the Mining Industry with a perfect view of mining shipping channel from the water. Crossing the shipping channel, you will explore the waterways discovering a diverse range of wildlife including saltwater crocodiles and bird species. Note: if interested in a fishing charter please let us know and this could possibly be arranged at extra cost – this could also be arranged at the tip.

We will also take you through the town to visit the local pottery shop, stop by at the Western Cape Cultural Centre and have lunch by Lake Patricia; another beautiful spot to observe the birds. Weipa is also the spot to chuck a line, so if the weather is looking good, we may decide to have an afternoon fish at the jetty. Tonight we will have a group outing with B.Y.O dinner at one of Weipa’s local café/restaurants.

Day 6Weipa > Bramwell Station Tourist Park

Camp style: Caravan Park (facilities available + laundry)
Meals: B, L, D
Activities: A beautiful lookout, massive termite mound, ice-cream at historic Moreton Telegraph Station, watching 4WD enthusiasts try and tackle one of the most challenging crossings on the Old Telegraph Track, live music and entertainment at Bramwell Station Tourist Park.
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. Yes (earlier trips only)

Today we will take a shortcut through Batavia Downs to take us onto the main highway. The start of the day has us looking for a very unique snake before we pull over at another stunning vista for an “ooh ahh” moment. We then make for Moreten Telegraph Station – here we can get an ice cream and bush walkers can go for an optional walk. We then dolly the trailer off at Bramwell Junction and duck down the Old Telegraph Track to catch 4WD enthusiasts tackle one of many incredible creek crossings called Palm Creek, while we boil the kettle on a fire, have lunch and relax! We will then take a short drive back south to camp at Bramwell Station Tourist Park where they have live entertainment every night for the season. A nice easy day!

Day 7Bramwell Station Tourist Park > Loyalty Beach

Camp style: Campgrounds (facilities + laundry)
Meals: B, L, D
Activities: Swim & chill at Fruitbat Falls (swimmers & towel), Kennedy Monument, Mapoon Memorial Centre, World War II Plane Wrecks, Fish at the Seisia Jetty.
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. Yes.

Today is an early start so we can get to Fruitbat Falls before the crowds! Cruising through the varying landscapes, we will have a quick stop at the Kennedy Monument. This is a memorial for one of Edmund Kennedy’s camps where a few of his men were left behind. If we have clear skies, we can usually see the sand dunes in the distance across the plains.

We will then make our way straight to Fruitbat Falls where we will spend a couple of hours chilling in the fresh water swimming hole. We’ll put the billy on have smoko and later on have lunch. After a swim we head further north, cross the Jardine River via ferry, and nudge into civilization at the tip of Australia. We will pop into the DC3 & Beaufort Bomber Plane Wrecks & fuel drum fields and a memorial centre on the way to camp. After setting up camp, we have the option to head down to the Seisia jetty and relax or throw a line in and learn from the locals! We now have 3 nights at Loyalty Beach at Seisia!

Day 8Tip Day!

Camp style: Campgrounds (facilities + laundry)
Meals: B, L, D
Activities: Site Seeing (sun safe clothing), Hike to the tip (comfortable footwear), Sunset sausage sizzle at the Tip!
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: Yes. No

Depending on how we went coming into Loyalty Beach on the day before, we should have a bit of free time this morning to do washing and bird watch: Palm Cockatoos!

Today we will explore the tip area: first visiting the Croc Tent (locally owned merchandise store) and the historical Jardine Homestead at gorgeous Somerset Beach. We will then make our way to Pajinka where we will hike to the Tip of Australia for group photos and a relaxed sausage sizzle by the sunset to finish off our celebrations! YAY!! WE MADE IT! You can even flick a lure up here if you’d like to! On the way home at night we always spot snakes on the road – Rossy will jump out and teach you about them!

Tip Hike Options
Option 1: Easy Level beach front walk with a rocky ending at the Tip. This is the easy and short walk for those who struggle with incline. Note: This walk depends on tide as this walk cannot be accessed on high tide. It is usually low tide when we arrive but best to hurry back before tide rises.

Option 2: Medium Level walk over rocky headland with descending & ascending incline. Highly recommended if you want to take great photographs and get most scenic view of the trek. Takes longer than beach front, approx. 15–20 minute walk depending on your pace.

Day 9Thursday Island Day Out!

Camp style: Campgrounds (facilities + laundry)
Meals: B. (B.Y.O Lunch). Dinner on us: fish & chips at the sunset bar!
Activities: Thursday Island day out; Morning ferry ride, guided bus tour, free roam of town, afternoon ferry back to mainland, group dinner at sunset bar.
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. No

Early morning rise to be at the Seisia Wharf by 07:45AM to catch the Ferry for your day out on Thursday Island. You will participate on a bus tour by Peddells and have time to explore the town, grab a feed (B.Y.O Lunch) and have a beer at the Northern most Pub of Australia!

Note: Upon arriving on the ferry, Peddells Ferry Staff will give you details on locations to meet, tour times & ferry times. If you would like to visit Horn Island, or do both, please see tour add-ons before booking, or contacting Cockatours.

You will return to main land by the afternoon where we will head back to camp where we will relax and celebrate your long, adventurous day with sunset Fish & Chips by the beach for dinner. Dinner is on us!

Day 10Loyalty Beach > Chuulangun

Camp style: Bush camp (basic facilities – shower & toilet)
Meals: B, L, D
Activities: Drive down to Chuulangun with a lunch at Bramwell
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. No (until camp)

Today’s drive is a big drive to get us back onto new roads. We will have an early morning start and depending on conditions, reaching Bramwell Junction for our lunch break while continuing through to turn off the main highway towards Lockhart. Tonight’s camp is only a short drive from the main highway and is a great, isolated Aboriginal-owned bush campground with basic facilities on a beautiful river (you can swim here). We have a secret in store for you this night!

Day 11Chuulangun > Kalpowar Crossing

Camp style: Bush camp (basic facilities – shower & toilet)
Meals: B, L, D
Activities: Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park site seeing (sun safe clothing, keep hydrated), Optional Kalpowar nature walk at camp (comfortable shoes)
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. No

Today will be our second big drive day, but it will definitely be a scenic one. We will start with an early morning rise, passing through Coen and turning off at Musgrave into Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park.

Rinyirru is a beautiful part of Cape York with a range of wildlife, plants, landscapes and hidden lagoons and lakes. Road conditions can vary which can shape our schedule for the day although there is always much to see on the drive. If lucky, we will see a number of iconic birds including Brolgas, sneak through some beaten tracks, spot some sunbaking crocs and see beautiful lily’s blossom!

We will camp at Kalpowar Crossing campgrounds situated right beside the Normanby River within Rinyirru National Park. For those who love nature, there is an optional walk through the forest that can be accessed from camp or an easy stroll along the river banks.

Tonight, Rossy will take you out spotting crocs along the Normanby River – their eye shine is phenomenal!

Day 12Kalpowar Crossing > Cooktown

Camp style: Caravan Park (facilities available)
Meals: B, L, D
Activities: Normanby River, Old Laura Homestead, Isabella Falls, Grassy Hill Sunset
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. Yes

We will finish exploring the last of Lakefield National Park, with a quick crossing over the Normanby River and a walk along a billabong to spot monstrous crocs. On the way out we visit the remains of the famous Old Laura Homestead (includes small undercover historical display) followed by a swim at the majestic Isabella Falls. We pull into camp early afternoon at a beautiful campsite near an estuary…go and chuck a line or go for a bush walk!

This afternoon we leave camp around 5pm to head into Cooktown to watch an absolutely magical sunset over the Endeavour River valley and its catchment area.

Day 13Cooktown > Rossville

Camp style: Campgrounds (facilities)
Meals: B, L, (B.Y.O Dinner)
Activities: Old Railway Turntables, James Cook Museum, Free time to explore town, Cooktown Botanical Gardens, Kalkajaka/Black Mountain (Scenic Lookout), Lions Den Hotel for dinner
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. No (until camp)

Today will be full of activities exploring the historical town of Cooktown! This will include our first stop to check out the old turn tables for the trains from the gold rush days. We will then take you to the James Cook Museum where a local Traditional Owner will interpret part of Captain Cook’s visit for you. You can have your own free time to spend soaking in the history and culture at the museum. We will give everyone enough time to spend here plus a couple hours to explore the main town, meeting us at the local park. From here we will head to the Cooktown Botanical gardens so you can have a soothing stroll while we prep lunch.

As we start to head south of Cooktown, our first stop will be at the spooky Kalkajaka/Black Mountain Scenic Lookout. We will then continue on to the famous Lions Den Hotel where we will catch a group photo with the old mate Lion and have a skim through this quirky pub & museum. Once we say our goodbyes to Mr Lion, we will head straight for camp at the beautiful, lushes isolated Homerule Rainforest Lodge tucked within Rossville’s rainforest. Have an afternoon swim here if you like, as we head back to the Lions Den Hotel for dinner tonight.

There is a walk to the impressive Homerule Falls which you can do, but you must be back by 5pm to leave for the Lions Den by 5:15pm. The walk takes 45 mins each way and is recommended for people with good fitness. It is hilly and at the end has a couple steep tracks.

Day 14Rossville > HOME!

Camp style:
Meals: B, L
Activities: Treacherous Bloomfield Track, Wujal Wujal Falls (difficulty easy), Daintree Ice Cream
Hiking Shoes/Swimmers: No. No

Today we continue south passing the Bloomfield River taking leading us to Wujal Wujal Falls (also known as Bloomfield Falls) which consists of an easy level walk. Please be cautious as the walk can rocky and sometimes slippery from sand – we recommend wearing comfortable shoes. Hopefully we get to see a croc on a rock here today!

As we continue on, we will see more of the Bloomfield River, spot crocs as we go, tackle the most challenging parts of the Bloomfield Track, zip through a number creek crossings and finally reach Cape Tribulation and the world’s oldest rainforest in the Daintree. The drive through the Daintree drive consists of a number of narrow windy roads surrounded within a thick, dense rainforest, with a chance of seeing cassowaries! Depending on time today we may stop for a B.Y.O ice cream (depending on time) at the original Daintree Ice Creamery, made from local and exotic fruits. Eventually we cross the Daintree river on the ferry and head back toward Cairns. Drop-offs today are expected to be around 5-6pm.

Map

The Truck
Cockatours tour bus and trailer
Tour Truck at Camp with people relaxing

Our 18-seater tour truck, Zeus, takes us on all our adventures. He is equipped with very comfortable seating perfect for off-road driving, a sound system with microphones for those who love karaoke and plenty of storage. The air-conditioning works extremely well and the tinted windows in the cab help keep the glare & heat out! Our trailer is our portable kitchen with even more storage which is perfect for any event; short/long term camping trips, weekend getaways, the list goes on!  There’s even a large awning for those rare rainy days! 

On camping tours, we take a maximum of 14 people as we remove the 15th seat in the back and replace it with an esky for your own snacks and drinks!

FAQ's

We highly suggest reading through our Frequently Asked Questions before sending through an enquiry or making a booking. 

Click here to visit our FAQs page.