Cape York Top 10: Part 2

By: Catherine Lawson, Photography by: David Bristow


Secluded tropical beaches, spring-fed waterfalls and barramundi fishing spots will leave you spellbound.

MOREHEAD RIVER CAMP

Woman -with -a -child -swimming -in -the -Morehead -River -pool

Breaking up the 510km drive from Laura to Weipa, a string of top roadhouses tempt travellers with cold beers and shady campsites, but don’t overlook this quiet, riverside freebie. Wallow in the river’s clear, sandy pools, and watch all kinds of wild things at play including blue wing kookaburras and azure kingfishers hunting on the wing, colourful flocks of galahs screeching from the treetops, and as the sun goes down, great mobs of noisy flying foxes that descend to roost on the riverbank.

In the still of night, agile wallabies creep into the open, grazing right up to the caravan door, and at dawn, brolgas, herons and egrets stalk the banks of Morehead River. Despite offering little more than a grassy pull-off and a solitary fireplace, this roadside camp is a top choice for wildlife watchers.  

MUTEE HEAD

Family -sitting -at -the -campsite -in -Mutee -Head

Of all the free campsites included in your over-the-top Jardine River ferry ticket, Mutee Head is one of the best.

Perched on the edge of a deserted beach, this camp is little more than a grassy clearing beneath shady she oaks, but turtles floating in the sandy cove, great fishing and beachcombing make this a stellar spot to relax.

You can camp on both sides of the headland but we favoured the northern side where there’s enough level ground for a handful of off-road rigs and a couple of fire pits to cook up your daily catch.

To fish the bay you can launch a tinny on Mutee Head’s southern side and try for mackerel, queenies, trevally, flathead and threadfin salmon. Follow the sign to the sandy track north to the Jardine River for barramundi, mangrove jack and cod.

TWIN FALLS

Swimming -spot -at -Eliot -and -Twin -Falls

Despite the rather washed-out access track you won’t regret a stay at Eliot and Twin Falls, a spring-fed oasis in Jardine River National Park. Lounging on sandy banks at day’s end, red dusty feet dangling in the current, this spot provides a truly sublime experience in Cape York’s croc country and caters for campers generously.

Big caravan friendly sites are tucked into spacious, bushy nooks, and short walking trails lead directly to the Saucepan, Eliot Falls and two tiers of irresistible pools beneath Twin Falls.

There are wheelchair-accessible toilets, drinking water on tap, and picnic tables. Campfires are permitted but you’ll need to pre-book because there’s no self-registration or mobile coverage on site.

QUINKAN ROCK ART

Woman -looking -at -Quincan -Rock -Art

Before this adventure gets going, Cape York travellers will pass within metres of the most accessible Indigenous rock art in the far north. UNESCO rated this one of the world’s top 10 rock art galleries and it’s little wonder why. 13,000 year-old ochre paintings of friendly Quinkan spirits who inhabit Split Rock’s sandstone bluff lend their name to this extraordinary site. Taking a self-guided walk here is easy with the first of three galleries reached in a 10 minute stroll from the carpark. Totem animals dominate this scene - a dingo, garfish, turtle and echidna, kangaroo tracks, a hunt, and layers of paint-blown hands. There’s the appropriately named Flying Fox gallery and another 100 metres on, six thin, friendly Quinkans at the Tall Spirits gallery. From here the trail climbs the sandstone escarpment to Turtle Rock for excellent views before trailing off the other side into a magnificent maze of rock outcrops and the Guguyalangi Gallery. Tiny paint-blown hands crowd the multitude of caves and lofty overhangs here, and magical male and female figures painted sideways and upside down point to sorcery at this spot. Beyond Guguyalangi Gallery the carpark is within easy reach and a full 4km loop takes around two and a half hours (carry drinking water).

SEISIA

A-boat -at -the -Seisha -coastline

Mainland Australia’s most northern community, laidback Seisia rewards rattled off-roaders with a gorgeous curl of coastline and exemplary fishing in the swift-flowing channel that laps nearby Red Island.

Settled by Saibai islanders back in 1948, this tiny supply point is one of the prettiest on the cape, and today boasts a supermarket, fuel station and a beachfront caravan park where powered sites cost $40 for two. The Friday night fun at Seisia’s Fishing Club is not to be missed, especially after a fishing session with locals on the town jetty. Inland, Bamaga busies itself with The Tip’s administrative duties while Seisia moves on at its own, easy pace.

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #565. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!