Cairns to Cape York in a Caravan
We travelled in our 2019 22ft Jayco Journey Outback caravan with 3 kids and dog from Cairns to Cape York in our caravan to reach the furtherest point of our country, the Tip of Australia.
Would we recommend taking a caravan from Cairns to Cape York, to visit the Tip of Australia? Well, it's not a simple Yes or No. It totally depends on how precious you are about your van. But if you don't mind a bit of red dirt and expect a few things to be repaired upon your return, then go for it!
We would we take our caravan again? Yes!
Cairns to Musgrave
We left Cairns on our journey heading North with the caravan towards Cape York. Our first stop was Lakeland Roadhouse. There we had morning tea in the van and the kids had a run around to burn off some energy. It’s a good pit stop with fuel and food and your last chance to make a phone call for a while. Our kids are used to long drives, but it can be tough some days, here are our tips on surviving road trips with kids.
Our first overnighter was at Musgrave Roadhouse, which is 450km NW of Cairns and around half way to Weipa. The Roadhouse stop was a nice break after a dusty 5 hour drive up the corrugated Peninsula Development Road.
Freshwater crocs and turtles live in the dam and they feed them daily at 5pm. Plus there’s horses, cows, wallaby’s, birds.
Unpowered flat sites are $24 a night, toilets, hot showers plus pub style meals and cold beer.
Musgrave to Weipa
The next day we set off on-route to Weipa. It was a big driving day; kids count drives in how many movies they have (tough life these kids have) to watch in the car and this trip was a 4 movie trip, approx 5 hours.
We were warned that the roughest section of the road at the time was between Musgrave and Coen and this was fact! However between the dirt corrugation there is a bitumen reprieve every so often, which is such a relief.
After so many hours on corrugated road you see a mirage ahead of bitumen road, you question yourself as to whether you see it or not. Then when it appears and you hit bitumen from gravel, it’s like a plane landing on the run-way. You feel a sense of relief and it’s such a nice break and a chance to turn from inside to outside fresh air on the A/C. But don’t get too comfortable the red dirt is not far away again….
On the way we stopped at Archer River Roadhouse for a their famous Archer Burger.
The plan is for the road between Cairns and Weipa to be all bitumen which isn’t too far away. To this date there remains 200kms unsealed between Laura and Weipa, with advised funding to seal 17kms per year.
In Weipa we have been busy catching up with family who live here, we’ve had a lot of lunches out, we’ve been to the Bowls Club, Golf Club, the Albatross. We checked out the Western Cape Cultural Centre and even had a shoot at the Weipa Rifle Range.
If you don’t know much about Weipa it has the largest bauxite mine in the world and is the largest town in the Cape York Peninsula. The port of Weipa is mainly involved in the export of Bauxite which is used to make aluminum.
Weipa has everything you need and is a great place to stop to rest and stock up before venturing further. There’s a full size Woolworths supermarket, large pharmacy, hospital, hardware store, mechanics etc.
Leaving Weipa heading North
From Weipa we took the Batavia Downs shortcut to then head North. A few hours later we arrived at Bramwell Station. Bramwell was a good overnighter. We found it to be a great place to mingle with other travellers. The Station puts on a BBQ dinner with live entertainment. Unfortunately for us, dinner wasn’t served until 7pm which is too late for our little people to start eating, so we gave this a miss. Kids enjoyed seeing the cows. Small museum onsite with history of the station.
The next day we drove the rest of the way North, another bad section of the road was just north of Fruitbat Falls, this was heavily corrugated and we think we may have done a shockie on the car and one on the caravan.
Jardine River crossing
Jardine River Ferry is $130 return. We didn’t have to wait long to get over. However, the line up to get back across (Southbound) had about 1 hour of wait time. This was midday on a Sunday.
We arrived at Seisia Beach a few hours after leaving Bramwell. The caravan was dusty as hell. We had red dust in all cupboards and above the wheel arches. Draws had come out of their tracks. We didn’t realise it at the time but our fridge and microwave had come loose. Jayco identified this at our service. The tyres flicking up road debris had disintegrated 3 x electronic brake lines. Nothing that a crimping set and a bit of duct tape couldn’t fix until a permanent repair was sourced.
We stayed at Seisia Beach. Seisia wasn’t our first choice as everyone we spoke to about Cape York highly rated Punsand Bay. However, Punsand Bay didn’t have space at the time for a van our size.
Seisia Holiday Park didn’t have amazing reviews on WikiCamps, but you can’t believe everything you read and unlike Punsand they did have powered sites which was a bonus as we are always much happier in the mornings with a real coffee in the morning from our Jura.
Wherever you are in Cape York you will encounter stray dogs. Wild horses also roam freely. We had some horses wander through the camp, which was exciting. We just had to keep a close eye on the kids and our dog Ted.
But you know what we had a brilliant time and are happy we stayed there. Sites were large and easily accessible and amenities clean. The highlight was sunsets and our happy hour each evening on the beach. We also met some lovely fellow travellers.
Woke up to this note on our neigbours car, equally hilarious and smart. This happened because the night before we arrived, we were told there were some kids on the prowl who broke into a car. However local police were promptly onto it and caught up with the offenders. You do have to be careful in the Cape, at some caravan parks more than others. We always ensure valuables are put away and bikes locked up wherever we are.
The Tip is the Northernmost point of the Australian continent where the South Pacific Ocean and the Arafura Sea mix currents.
Visiting the top of Australia was an incredible experience and we loved it! We didn’t have expectations as all we’d seen was photos of people in front of the sign. We didn’t know about how great the actual journey to get there would be.
Leaving Bamago the drive to the Tip takes about an hour. We found the landscape lush and green which contrasts beautifully against the red earth.
On our arrival at the end of the road, where you can’t drive any further we found it was busy. We therefore had to squeeze our 4×4 in wherever we could find a space. From the carpark we had a 20 minute scramble over rocky headland to reach the sign for that all important photo.
The view over the emerald blue ocean and York and Eborac Islands in the background is spectacular. Hands down the best view I’ve ever seen!
Beyond is the Torres Strait which is made up of 274 islands including Thursday and Horn Islands.
On the way home we drove straight through to Musgrave Station for an overnighter. Woke up early and drove an hour South to Hann River Roadhouse for breakfast.
We’re rating this a must stop location if you’re on route to the Cape. This place is outstanding for many reasons!
We stopped in for an awesome breakfast and hands down had the best homemade sausage rolls in NQ! But we wished we had of stayed overnight at Hann River.
There are camp sites available at Hann River for $10pp and only $5 extra for power. Compared with Musgrave Roadhouse, which is $24 unpowered.
The kids loved meeting Aussie the Emu and Mish the not so mini pig! And Sue the Owner rescues baby Wallabies, which are so very cute!
The roadhouse had a lovely homely feel and the Owners and staff make you feel very welcome.
As the dust settled and upon reflection our journey from Cairns to Cape York in a caravan was an amazing experience with lasting memories. We are now more confident in both our car and caravan with it ability to navigate the roads with ease.
Surprisingly we found that the dusty roads add to the adventure. And for anyone considering it, I would do it sooner rather than later before all the roads become bitumen. Our van did need to be booked in for some minor repairs on the return to Cairns and we are still finding red dust everywhere! But that’s all part of the adventure.
Taking a trip from Cairns to Cape York with or without a Caravan is the adventure of a lifetime. And a bucket list adventure ticked off!
Travelling with Ted gave us the inspiration for HydraTED, our first product in our pet line. We prefer to use stainless steel over plastic for ourselves and thought our dog deserved the best too! Stainless Steel helps keep your water cool for hours and you have fresh water wherever you go. It's an essential for travelling with your doggo! Check it out here.