Blog Post

No car, no worries – try these Cape York Tours

HannahStatham

TNQ Writer

Where else but Cape York can you stand on the tip of Australia, discover the oldest forest in the world and travel on roads few even dare to tread? Just because Australia’s last frontier is calling, doesn’t mean you need to travel it alone.

For the adventure of a lifetime, without any of the ‘going solo’ stress, join one of these guided Cape York tours.

The tip of Australia, Cape York, needs very little introduction for those who live and breathe rugged adventure. It’s big, it’s wild and it’s ripe for exploring – but it also needs serious preparation if you’re thinking of driving it solo. While it’s long been said a sense of adventure is the best packing essential for the northern neck of Australia, if you opt for an all-inclusive guided tour, aside from your clothes, there’s actually not that much more to take.

Save the hours of detailed planning, itinerary coordinating, and stress of driving and let a Cape York tour take care of the rest. All that’s left to do is sit back and watch the landscape ebb and flow between cattle stations, World Heritage-listed rainforest, wetlands, towering termite mounds and pristine beaches to name a few.

Cockatours

Fruit Bat Falls, Jardine River National Park

Explore the natural colour contrasts of Cape York with Cockatours, who lead a 15-day camping and 4WD expedition to the tip. With an itinerary designed to ensure your sightseeing is savoured rather than skulled, Cockatours will have you exploring the best of Cape York’s landscape, Indigenous history and seriously wild, wildlife (think: crocodiles and carnivorous plants).

With three Cape York tours to choose from, including one that’s entirely dedicated to those under 45 years of age, you’ll want to book in fast because they’ve sold out the last three years running. Led by an ecologist who specialises in Cape York, this is an all-inclusive trip where you’ll be immersed day and night (read: camping) amongst the iconic landscape.

Far North Escapes

Old Telegraph Track

If you’ve been spending too much time in peak hour traffic, it’s time to replace it with a road trip to remember, joining Far North Escapes for their nine or 12-day, small format, Cape York Tour. Either duration you choose, you’ll discover the tip of Australia in private 4WD vehicles, which seats a maximum of six guests.

With privacy on your side, you can expect to tick off your Cape York bucket list, the tip of Australia, Old Telegraph Track, Thursday Island and Daintree Rainforest – without compromising the serenity with even so much as the crowds from your own tour bus. The premise of this tour is built around flexibility – to ensure you are exploring the real Cape York – a destination famous for being off the beaten tourist track.

Australian 4WD Adventures

Musgrave Station

If being passenger doesn’t feel the same as hopping behind the wheel, join Australian 4WD Adventures, for a tag along tour to the top. You don’t need to talk the 4WD torque to join, so long as you’re a confident and competent driver, your hosts will teach you the rest in their fleet of customised rigs – built to best the Cape.

You’ll be given the keys to a ‘beast’, a Nissan GU Patrol, which have been workshopped for what Cape York’s tracks throw at you – river crossings, vertical drops and corrugations that show you what suspension is all about. Put tyres to the not-so tarmac of some of Cape York’s toughest tracks, including Old Telegraph Track, Frenchman’s Track, the 5 Beaches Track and Bloomfield Track. Your experienced hosts will take care of most things, including all your camping equipment across their tour which runs in a nine-day fly/drive combination or 16-day all-drive itinerary.

Discovery Tours

Horn Island

Short on time, but long for the big Cape York experience? Enter Discovery Tours Australia fly-drive tour, which sees you driving one way, 1200km, from Cairns to Cape York and flying back. The nine-day, all-inclusive Cape York tour package, covers the showreel of Cape York highlights including Daintree Rainforest, Lockhart River, Tip of Australia and crossing between the Cape and Thursday Island.

With space for only six guests, look forward to a premium touring experience, honed by a team who have more than 30 years’ experience on the Cape. Your tour price is all inclusive, covering all meals and accommodation – no swags or camping here.

Cape York Motorcycles

Rev your way to Cape York with Cape York Motorcycles

If you thought Cape York was best explored on four wheels, wait ‘til you see how it’s done on two. The original motorcycle tour guide to the cape, Cape York Motorcycles, will take you through the best off-road trails the Peninsula has to offer. No experience is required for this dirt bike adventure that will take you from Cairns to the top end, in six or seven days. While other Cape York tours in this list promise comfort, this one stands out with a guarantee of a bumpy ride. Action-packed and proud of it – there’s a reason this all-inclusive, dirt bike tour sells out so fast.

Riders can delight in covering just about every type of terrain – from shale and red clay flats, deep gullies and washouts, creek crossings, grasslands, wetlands, coastal estuaries and mudflats. Just when you thought it was all dirty work – don’t worry, the itinerary is peppered with swims in freshwater swimming holes and waterfalls in between. You’re in for a wheelie good time if the slew of five-star customer reviews are anything to go by.

Outback Spirit Tours

Wujal Wujal (Bloomfield) Falls

Running tours for more than two decades to Cape York, Outback Spirit Tours has honed its Cape York offering. With more two-night stays than any other tour to the region, you’re guaranteed the downtime to actually enjoy the spoils of Cape York, rather than feel like you’re in the car rushing to get to the top. This pace is important to immerse yourself in the wonder of the Cape. Take the Wenlock River for instance, which is home to more freshwater fish species than any other river in Australia.

Considering this tour spends its nights in hotel and lodge style accommodation – you’ll welcome the change of pace from the corrugations The Cape is so renowned. Across 13 days you’ll spend your time navigating north from Cairns to Pajinka, the northernmost tip of the mainland, before flying home from Horn Island to Cairns. With a group size of a maximum 20 people, you’re certain to leave with great memories and new friends.

AAT Kings

Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park

With 100 years of adventuring on their side, AAT Kings know a thing or two about running memorable tours. Their Cape York Frontier coach tour connects Cairns and Cape York in seven days of scenic touring through World Heritage listed Daintree rainforest, iconic outback scenery before finishing in the Torres Strait Islands.

Tick off the best of the Cape, with visits to the mining town of Weipa, a stay on a 325,932-acre working cattle station (Bramwell Station), before waving goodbye to the mainland altogether with trips to Thursday and Horn Islands. Expect to be fully accommodated (no camping here!) in a range of hotel, motel and holiday park style rooms. While you’ll only drive one way, you can enjoy a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef back to Cairns from Horn Island.

Cape York Guided Tours

The Tip of Australia

Got your own wheels, keen to drive but prefer to outsource the itinerary creation to someone who knows Cape York without needing to consult a map? Enter Cape York Guided Tours, who make short work of navigating the 207,000 square kilometre Cape York Peninsula – aka a geographical area that’s seven times the size of Belgium.

You bring the wheels, and they plan the trip, tagalong style, or you can join as a passenger for a ride-along guided tour. With tour vehicles and all the safety assurances, you can drive this rugged landscape with peace of mind knowing there’s a car in the lead and one in the rear of the group – no one gets left behind.

Tagalong Tours of Australia

Eliot Falls

Cash in that annual leave, it’s time to discover the northern frontier on an 18-day Tagalong Tours of Australia adventure. Your destination: the northern most point of Australia. Simply BYO-Rig, favourite playlists and get ready to travel the Cape, up and back, the equivalent of driving the UK north to south, twice.

Even if you’ve never taken your four-wheel drive more offroad than the traffic calming in your local shopping centre, your tagalong hosts will help you tackle the terrain you’re going to be travelling. The 18-day Cape York tour is on the adventure end of the Cape York spectrum, with a mixture of accommodation in Campgrounds, National Parks and Bush Camps.

Cape York Tours

Quinkan Rock Art

Choosing to go to Cape York is easy. Choosing how to see it is much harder, which is the whole premise of the Cape York Tours business model. They help connect you with the right camping tour, accommodation tour or air and sea tour of the bucket-list worthy region.

No matter which way you choose to discover the region, sign up for someone else to do the hard work – the itinerary, your meals, fuel stops and accommodation – making this unspoilt wilderness location all the more accessible.

Northern bound

Head north to the Tip and you’ll find plenty of pitstops along the way.

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