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Cairns to Cape York

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by TTH, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. Looking to do this trek next year. Would love to hear from anyone who has done it. Organised tour or self drive? What bikes did you use? How long? Back up? I know its a long way away but need to start planning now. Thanks

  2. ive only heard about it from fellow riders.....
    not much info, cept for rutted roads, lots of fuel and water to carry
    and i "think" they had a support vehicle........

    other than that im completely jealous....... :p
    come links so road maps...

    firstly racq do road reprts ..
    type in you destination,, then check for any hazards
    secondly links to qld roads...
    have a browse and they do link to road maps of qld...

    good luck let us know when youre going.. im planning a trip up north november for two weeks.... :grin:
  3. Ok' I'll put me hand up. :LOL:

    I rode Sydney to Cape York back in 1989.
    Single cylinder XL 500cc Honda road trail.
    In those days the tarmac road stopped on the other side of the Daintree ferry river crossing, now I hear the road is tarred to Cooktown and is used by tourist coaches?
    The place to stay on the way up is the Jungle Lodge at Cape Tribulation.
    Backpackers place, jungle huts, very nice.
    Back then the road was ok until after you crossed the Wenlock River, then it started to get tougher.
    At the Wenlock you may need to push the bike across a four foot high deep river, somethimes there is a punt and sometimes not.
    The Jardine has a ferry, very expensive but the only way to get across the river.
    Unless you take a semi trialer inner tube, inflate it and float the bike across on it. A few blokes have done that.
    Be aware that it is NOT jungle and rain forest from Cape Trib to the Top.
    Much of it is boring corrugated dirt road, unless you head off towards the coast and use the various trails and tracks that meander around the Cape.
    You will need a compass for that if you have not been there before.
    You need to do it during our winter months, then you miss the rains, but it will still be hot during the day.
    Many sites on the Net about riding to Cape York, both alone, with mates or with a tour company.
    I personally won't do a tour because I like to do what I want, when I want.
    I also think they are too expensive.
    It probably is a tough ride, even today, but having said that blokes have done it on Harleys, Guzzis and BMW's and other road bikes.
    Postie bikes are popular also.
    Back up...I went with three other mates, who became one when we had different ideas about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see.
    No shops selling bike bits until you get to Weipa, and then only a limited stock obviously.
    The main route is well travelled, so if you break down someone will come along in a 4x4 in under an hour I expect.
    The Telegraph Track is still a tough ride. As are many of the little known side tracks.
    The record for the Tip to Cairns one way is a guy on a KLR 650 in 89. 13 hours, non stop. He was a local Cairns rider and knew the route well.

    Any help I can be, let me know. It was not my fave journey to be honest, I thought it would be rain forest all the way from Cape Trib, in fact a few miles after Trib the forest stops and the road is just hardpacked red dirt, many sandy sections and millions of corrugagtions.
    I have had much more enjoyable holidays riding the tracks thru the Snowy Mountains in the summer and also the Blue Mountains, the Yengo State Forest etc.
    In August this year I am probably going to Alice Springs to ride the desert for a week, I am looking forward to roosting thru the big red sand dunes. :LOL:
    Note: You cannot swim in the ocean at Cape York, stingers and sharks and freshwater crocs. DO NOT camp on a beach or anywhere near a river crossing.
  4. Thanks for the notes. Haven't talked me out of it just yet. Jaqhama how long did it take you? Should have been longer or shorter?

    But Look forward to getting to other treks eventually. Just got to get this dream out of the road. Trip # 2 is a boyhood dream to go from Nowra to Melbourne around the coast and go down any little dirt trak just to see whats at the end of it. But first things first.
  5. Man, if I keep reading these I'm going to have to get myself a real bike and have some real fun.
  6. How long did it take...ahem, in those days the speed limits were a little more relaxed than today.
    On the way up to Cairns it took us three and a half days from Sydney.
    On the return trip a mate and I did the Cape to Cairns in two days. Then I rode alone to Sydney in four days. But that's excessive by any standards. That's 10 to 12 hrs a day in the saddle.

    If you're riding from Bathurst you will need at least four days, non stop, just to get to Cairns. A better idea is to freight the bike to Cairns by train before you leave. Fly to Cairns and pick bike up from the storage sheds. Same when you return to Sydney.
    Saves heaps of engine wear on the bike and tires and chains.
    Cairns to the Daintree is a few hours as I recall.
    We overnighted on a picnic table at Mossman.
    Then crossed the Daintree the next morning. Then stayed at the Jungle Lodge overnight, cool place, heaps of backpacker girls, should have stayed longer...LOL.
    Next day we overnighted at Musgrave Telegraph Station. Next night were at Coen I think, then the next day we crossed the Wenlock and camped somewhere between there and the Jardine.
    After the Jardine you can reach the top some hours later.
    BUT: There are many more interesting tracks than just that main route, the old telegraph track is a rough bit of road. Then there is (I think it's called) the Gunshot River Track to Weipa, the biggest Aluminium mines in the world. Nothing at Weipa by the way, don't bother honest. Unless you need bike parts, which they probably wont have anyway.
    Lance and Jurgen came across a dead Japanese rider on the track, came off bike and broke his neck, so be advised that if you are alone you need to be rather catious.
    Body armour is a must. Most of us fell off once a day or more. My elbow and knee guards scraped to bits by the rough, rocky surface.
    My motorcross boots were worn thru on the soles by the time I got home.
    The Cape is not technically difficult, it's like spending a day riding around the Gardens of Stone Nat Park or Hill End. But, it's day after day, all day.
    And it's quite hot, so you need to drink plenty and rest often. We were guilty of doing neither, we were all prety tired by the time the sun went down every day.
    If you freight to Cairns I would take at least ten days to explore the Cape area.
    It's such a long way to go that you might as well spend as long there as you can.
    I think ten days would be about right. Then you won't have to rush to get to the Top and you will have plenty of time to explore all the side tracks.
    We took hammocks, small tarps, sleeping bags, no tents. Hammocks because you dont want to be sleeping on the ground at night outside of a tent. Lots of insects and snakes.
    If I went again I would take a tent and sleep inside it, the mozzies were relentless all night long. I also took a large military mosquito head cloth, worked great over a baseball cap or even the helmet. They dont come out till night time anyway.
    You don't need a big 600cc thumper either, that's just more weight to throw around in the heat, a KLR 250 or similar would be fine.
    Nowra to Melbourne...turn off at Albatross, go to Nerriga, then the dirt roads to Jindabine, then onto Dalgety and Suggan Buggan and Buchan alongside the river. Great dirt roads, fantastic scenery. On the way back from Melb do the Victorian High Plains and the hut where they filmed Man from Snowy River, then the Brindabella Track back up towards Canberra.
    Not a lot to see doing the coast road. Much of the coast area private property or National Park where they won't let you ride off road. Inland route much better.
  7. Thanks Jaqhama,

    Rough plan at this stage is carry bikes up, either on truck or utes with trailer. Leaning towards the ute as it may be handy for river crossings particulary if we go early in the dry season. 4 days up than 10-12 Cairns to Cape, a rest day then 4 or 5 home again.

    At this stage there is 5 of us on bikes with one of the guys dad's keen to follow in the ute with tents, beer, water and fuel.

    Reading different things it looks like cape trib is going to be worth at day or two, also read an article about a NP north of Weipa that they reckoned was worth the trip. Guess we''ll just run with it and see what happens as we get closer.

    Thanks heaps for your info atleast now we have a realistic timeframe to work with and a bit better idea as to what we are getting into.

    Hope you get to alice thru the big red dunes. Hopefully there will be a forum on your trip.
  8. A regular two wheel drive ute won't make it to the Top without some assistance mate.

    It will get across the Bloomfield at low tide, it wont get across the Wenlock unless the punt is in place (and a lot of the time it's not) or the ute has a winch cable on it. The Wenlock is always about four or more foot deep.
    And if it rains even the 4x4's get stuck and struggle thru the dirt roads that suddenly become mud holes.
    A 4x4 Hilux type vehicle will make it.
    It will deff need a winch and a few blokes with shovels on occassion.
    Be very wary of the killer hill north of Cape Trib, it is STEEP and has a sharp, loose, rocky surface.
    A guy with a Hilux failed to make it even halfway up pulling a small alloy boat.
    You need to hit the hill in second gear, in 4x4 and keep the power on without wheelspin.
    Lose the power and you won't make it to the top. And it's a bad hill to start sliding around on, drops off into jungle on the left going up as I recall.
    Great ocean views from the top when you get there...LOL.
    Take more than one spare tire for the ute and trailer, the rocks up that way are very sharp and slice and spike thru tires often.
    You can probably find more info about the Cape by going to a 4x4 site rather than a bike site, the Land Rover club does it every year, as do some others.
    Good luck mate.
    You wont starve, coconuts laying around all over the place up that way. We overdosed on them.
    They lay on the ground inside a big, smooth green husk, many people did not realise this and went looking for the furry balls one normally associates with coconuts.
    Oh yeah...they burn off the bush up the Cape in our winter months, dont panic if you see lots of smoke covering the road ahead, we were a little concerned at first till we discovered it was a burn off.
    Locals laughed at us, said you must be from Sydney.
    I said yeah, you see smoke when you're on a bush track in the middle of the Blue Mountains and you run for your fking life sunshine.
    That shut them up.
  9. Nup, wouldn't dream of it in a 2wd, we are on a farm so have have to 4wd navaras, one is set up for touring, long range tanks, extra tyres & winch. So is my mates dads though it is a rodeo. Have been reading 4x4forums as well, and many mention that the road is getting better but still hairy in places. How do you cross a 4foot river with a motorbike full of crocs anyway?

    Read a forum last night about a bloke who went on a backpackers tour in a 4x4cruiser from cairns. He said they went swimming in every river they crossed, except one which was a bit muddy. Crazy or are there places the crocs aren't.

    Not real keen on coconuts though, don't think I've eaten one for years. Got to watch those coconuts more people killed by falling coconuts than by shark attack, so I guess that means crocs too, every year. Any wild mangoes, that would be better.
  10. Nup, wouldn't dream of it in a 2wd, we are on a farm so have have to 4wd navaras, one is set up for touring, long range tanks, extra tyres & winch. So is my mates dads though it is a rodeo. Have been reading 4x4forums as well, and many mention that the road is getting better but still hairy in places. How do you cross a 4foot river with a motorbike full of crocs anyway?

    Read a forum last night about a bloke who went on a backpackers tour in a 4x4cruiser from cairns. He said they went swimming in every river they crossed, except one which was a bit muddy. Crazy or are there places the crocs aren't.

    Not real keen on coconuts though, don't think I've eaten one for years. Got to watch those coconuts more people killed by falling coconuts than by shark attack, so I guess that means crocs too, every year. Any wild mangoes, that would be better.
  11. Crossing rivers with Crocs: You stand around for a while and check the surface of the water carefully.
    Then you take a deep breath and push the bikes across. Only way to do it mate.

    people with kids were swimming at the Wenlock Crossing when we were there, fking incredible!

    A local girl told us a croc came out the water and took a stockman's horse only a week or so before we were there. He was drinking out of his cupped hands, the horse was right next to him.
    Just luck it got the horse.

    You can swim at Fruit Bat Falls. Croc free.
    You can ride along Cape Trib beach. Just make sure that IS a log you're about to ride over! LOL.

    Crocs wander around a bit at night, don't go walking around next to the rivers with a torch in the hope of seeing one, you may find he's in the bushes right next to you.

    Keep me updated about your trip, sounds like it will be good.
    I think of anything else I'll let you know.
    Cheers: Jaq.
    PS: I am going to be passing thru Bathurst in another month or so on my way to Dubbo and the Western Plains Zoo...care to meet up for a drink as I travel by?
  12. Now I am little concerned. But how often does it happen, once every couple of years or so, and bikes are going up there every day, I'm sure the walking handbags won't single us out. Man!! makes you wonder than you hear stuff like that about kids.

    Give us a yell when you're going through town, be good to catch up.
  13. Some blokes travel with cut down shotguns and rifles.
    We did not.
    Many people crossing the rivers every day in 4x4s.
    In 1989 bikes were less frequent than now I think.

    I don't think you need to worry about the crocs mate. As I said before, don't camp near the rivers, don't camp on the beaches.

    Put your boots and all your gear inside the tent at night, then you won't have some lil critter using them for a nice warm bed at night.

    I'll give you a call when I'm ready to head up to Dubbo. Will be end of next month or early the one after I think, just in time for winter, what fun.
  14. Update: Guy at www.horizonsunlimited.com, Aussie section, just told me that there is now a permanent bridge over the Wenlock River.
    And the dirt now starts at Cape Tribulation.

    Gee it's getting too easy these days. :LOL:
  15. Plans now starting to firm up. We have 8 riders I think and 3 or so 4wds set up to come to. So far we have 6 different bikes, a KLX 250, WR250, WR426, CRF450, KTM525, DRZ400, and two with bikes to buy. Should be interesting, maybe we should do a write up for a bike mag comparing the bikes on the trip.

    Still looking at ways to get the bikes to cairns from bathurst, with quotes ranging from $1k/bike to $6500 for a container, or drive my truck up with everything on the back, working on $2K in fuel alone plus 4 days on the road up and back. Anyway should test friendships, riding abilities and bank balances by the time all is said and done. Had one bloke suggest we go from the NT/Qld border and go up around the gulf, although there seems a major lack of roads that way.

    The fun is just starting, looking to do a training day at a MX/enduro park at Lue in July to start getting used to big days doing rougher riding.

    Hey Jaqhama did you get Dubbo?
  16. G'day mate...we had the bikes packed for this weekend just gone, I'm sure you understand why we changed our minds when awaking at 5am on Sat morn and seeing what the weather was like..LOL.

    RE: The bikes going up North...have you considered sending them by goods train and just picking them up from the Cargo Yards in Cairns, we almost did this in 94, but you need to put bikes on train weeks in advance.

    A semi trailer removal truck may also be backloading empty to Cairns, they will often take bikes for you.
  17. This weekend wasn't too bad although Friday and Today were bloody freezing. We topped out at 7deg today.

    Anyway............ the container price was for train transport, will have to check goods train prices. Hadn't thought of it.

    May try a couple of truck co's in Cairns and check for backloading, I guess if we are not concerned about when they go we may have a chance. I'm half thinking driving the truck might be good experience anyway, and check out some of that western country while I'm at it. Got to get agreement with other riders on fuel and other costs. Although it seems a hell of waste to travel over halve the eastern seaboard of Aus without going to the beach. Anyway will keep planning away.