Cape York, view from top of Australia

Where to go

Cooktown & Cape York

Cape York is the Very Tip of Australia

Traditional Owners of the land at Pajinka at The Tip have worked together with Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (NPARC) and will continue to welcome visitors to The Tip. Visitors are required to pay a $10 per person fee at the Jardine River. Guests must respect the area and ensure it remains a place of significance for future generations. Find out more about how to be a conscious traveller in Cape York. 

 

Welcome to the Cape, an immensely diverse region dotted with rugged national parks, pristine waterways, secluded beaches and rich Indigenous culture.

Every day is an adventure in Cape York. Go camping, fishing, four wheel driving, walk along the beach and discover the incredible Aboriginal and early European history. Cape York is somewhere that everyone must visit once in their lifetime.

Jack Colquhoun – Cape York Camping Punsand Bay

Cape York Roadtrip

THE DRIVE OF A LIFETIME

Cape York is Australia’s ultimate self-drive location – in fact, you’ll find more 4WDs here than anywhere else in the country. You’ll need one if you want to access most of the region as paved roads are a rarity, which adds to the sense of adventure. A 1200km strip of road connects Cairns with Cape York and will take about seven days to drive, visiting Cooktown, the Lockhart River, remote campsites and vast cattle stations.

Plan your trip

fruit bat falls Jardine River National Park cape york

PARK LIFE

There are more national parks in this region than anywhere else in Queensland. Spread over the central and eastern parts of the cape, they feature a range of diverse landscapes. Swim in the crystal-clear (and crocodile-free) waters of Twin Falls in Apudthama National Park (Jardine River National Park) at the northern edge of the cape, or spot waterbirds in the extensive wetlands of the vast Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park.

Cape York’s National Parks

 A SLICE OF HISTORY

Cooktown is the capital of the Cape York region, a small coastal town about 330km north of Cairns. The town holds a significant place in Australian history, being the site of Captain James Cook’s first interaction with Indigenous people. After his ship Endeavour was crippled on a nearby reef, Cook and his crew spent 48 days here, during which time they made the first records of native fauna and Aboriginal words.

Things to do in Cooktown

Fishing rods on beach at sunset

AN ANGLERS’ PARADISE

Cape York is also a bucket-list destination for anyone serious about fishing. The Wenlock River has the richest diversity of freshwater fish in the country, with some 48 species including the rare rainbow fish, fimbriate gudgeon, Buffon’s River garfish and freshwater sawfish, as well as barramundi and saratoga.

Fishing from Cairns to Cape York

Indigenous dancers perform at the Laura Dance Festival

CRADLE OF CULTURE

The culture here is a fascinating mix of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and the local communities have rich traditions dating back tens of thousands of years. Cape York is also the birthplace of the incredible Laura Dance Festival. More than 500 artists from 20 communities in the region attend this biennial Aboriginal performing arts festival, which attracts thousands of spectators from all over the world.

Indigenous Cultures

Tips

  • You need to properly prepare for four-wheel driving in Cape York. Make sure you pack extra supplies like fuel and water, always carry at least one spare tyre, and have some knowledge of basic maintenance. If you want to venture far off-road, a driving course could be a good idea. And always take crocodile warning signs seriously.

  • Spend the night at the most northern address in Australia at the Punsand Bay campsite. There are spectacular views up to the tip of Cape York and out over the Torres Strait Islands. You can watch the sun rise from the Coral Sea and set over the Arafura. This camping guide also provides fantastic information about camping in national parks.

  • Snorkel on some of the most isolated reefs in the country in the far northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. These reefs are largely untouched, with excellent wall dives, pinnacles swarming with fish and huge coral heads. Thousands of green turtles can be found in these waters between November and December.

  • Travel consciously to keep Cape York beautiful and preserved for future generations. Respect the environment and area by taking any rubbish with you, only having fires in designated areas it is safe to so, consider leaving your pet behind, and ensuring that you are not illegally accessing private land. Read this guide for more ways to be a thoughtful traveller in Cape York.

Discover More

Visit the northern tip of Australia and discover a land full of natural wonders, epic 4WD tracks, sensational fishing and secluded campsites.

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Cape York is calling: Planning a trip to The Tip

Ready to tackle one of Australia’s most remote landscapes, Cape York? Just you, a car and 1,200km of untamed, World Heritage-listed, 180 million year-old rugged rainforest beauty – aka The Tip.

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No car, no worries – try these Cape York Tours

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.

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10 things to do in Cooktown

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8 Cooktown and Cape York waterfalls to discover

Refresh yourself in nature’s swimming pools, sliding into these waterfalls and waterholes across Cooktown and Cape York.

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Add these beautiful Cooktown beaches to your bucket list

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Experience an incredible Aboriginal rock art tour

Discover what true connection to country feels like at a 20,000-year-old Aboriginal rock art gallery with Jarramali Rock Art Tours. Fly in via a scenic helicopter or jump in a 4WD with a Traditional Owner guide for the full overnight experience.

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Fishing from Cairns to Cape York

Cairns to Cape York is an angler’s Nirvana: a pristine environment that is both challenging and inspiring. With the largest diversity of fish species in Australia and the ability to fish all year round, a visit to Tropical North Queensland should be on everyone’s bucket-list.

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Cooktown accommodation guide

Considering exploring is in Cooktown’s DNA, you’ll want to spend a night or two in the capital of Cape York to discover what’s on offer for yourself. This Cooktown accommodation guide will help you choose your perfect home away from home.

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Cape York’s big three national parks

If you’re looking for the ultimate national park experience, there’s no better place in the world than the tip of Australia. With ten national or regional parks to choose from, here’s a closer look at three of the most popular.

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Cargo ship your way to Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands

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Ways to connect with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander cultures

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Grassy Hill Cooktown

Getting here

  • Sky trans aircraft in Cape York

    By air

    Skytrans connects Cairns with the main communities on Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands and offers the most diverse route options. REX Regional Express also operates a service from Cairns to Bamaga and Qantaslink offers daily return flights from Cairns to Weipa. Daintree Air Services offers scenic tours and charter flights between Cairns, Cooktown, Lizard Island and the tip of Australia.

  • Car driving on dirt road in Cape York

    By car

    Self-drive or hire a car. Two-wheel drive vehicles can enjoy sealed roads on the inland route to Cooktown via the Mulligan Highway. The Peninsula Development Road (PDR) is also sealed all the way from Lakeland to Laura. A four-wheel drive vehicle is required to journey north of Laura or hop on a tag-a-long tour and let a guide do all the hard work for you.

  • Bus

    By bus

    Trans North Bus & Coach operate three services weekly between Cairns and Cooktown via the Great Barrier Reef Drive and the Bloomfield Track in Cape Tribulation. They also operate three services weekly on the inland route via the Mulligan Highway.

  • Boat to Cape York

    By ship

    Cruise ship to Cooktown. Or take the cargo ship MV Trinity Bay all the way along the coastline. You’ll cruise 1,000km in azure-blue waters along the Great Barrier Reef on a vessel destined for the northernmost point of Australia. A stunning, unique, bucket-list experience like no other. Why not put your 4WD on the vessel heading north, and drive back to Cairns through Cape York – an untamed wilderness that has to be seen to be believed.

Stay

Where to put your feet up after a day of adventure.

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

You might not have realised, but you could be waking up in paradise on your #CapeYork adventure 🌴 ​Found just 10 minutes from the stunning #ChilliBeach, @thetemplecapeyork  offers an off-grid, isolated getaway 😌☀️ This is the perfect location for fishing addicts, dirt bike enthusiasts, bird watchers, history buffs & anyone finding themselves on an epic Cape York adventure wanting to chill out and soak it all in 🧘✨ 
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​The best bit? They are pet friendly! So you can bring your four-pawed friends along for the ride 🐶
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​#seeaustralia #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland #explorecairnsGBR
Thinking of spending some time in #Cooktown on your next holiday to the tropics? 🌴☀️ We've got you covered! Welcome to a town whose history & heritage draws thousands of visitors each year. If you find yourself yearning to explore, chart your course with this guide to 10 things to do in Cooktown 👇
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​1. Explore the gardens & grab a bite at the Visitor Information Centre
​2. Try a historic pub crawl for size
​3. Turn back time at the museum
​4. Enjoy the sunset at Grassy Hill
​5. Spot a croc in Cape York
​6. Drop a line & get the catch of the day
​7. Discover local Indigenous artwork
​8. Retrace the town's colourful history
​9. Soak up the laid-back atmosphere on the waterfront
​10. Get on country with an Indigenous tour
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​Click the bio link for more! 👆
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​📸 @valeriecornet  #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland
Crikey! 🐊

What better way to celebrate the life and legacy of the legendary Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin? Much like Steve, some residents of Tropical North Queensland spend their lives dedicated to wildlife conservation 🍃 

Spend some time at one of the regions’ incredible wildlife parks like @hartleyscrocodileadventures or @wildlifehabitat to learn all about native wildlife, or get a taste of wildlife rescue at the @cairnsturtlerehab centre or @tolgabathospital 🐢🦇

The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve protects over 450,000 acres of precious habitat throughout the state, including in Tropical North Queensland! The Reserve, located on Cape York Peninsula, is a vast mosaic of rainforests, wetlands and savannahs; set aside as a tribute to the conservation work of Steve Irwin and a place for scientific research and discovery 💚✨

📸 @queensland#exploreTNQ #seeaustralia #explorecairnsGBR  #thisisqueensland

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