Top Ten Australia Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Explore Cape York
By Ron Moon & Viv Moon

Cape York, extending like an index finger toward New Guinea, is one of the last great wild regions of Australia. A tough 4WD vehicle is about as much a necessity here as food and fresh air; it's a place where "civilization" is a single building on the side of the road selling fuel and beer, where "getting away from it all" means a 50-mile stretch of beach you share with no one but crocodiles.

The wave-washed rock at Cape York's tip is the Australian mainland's most northerly point. From here to Cairns, 500 miles away to the south, lies a wilderness of rainforest, tropical heathland, and open savanna. A solitary track traverses it—the Cape York Developmental Road.

As you get closer to "The Top" (as everybody is wont to call the northernmost tip), river crossings become more frequent and much more demanding. Spring-fed and always curtained by walls of verdant vegetation, these rivers are a delight to camp beside. Where they trickle over shallow rockbars, they offer a safe and pleasant way to cool off in the heat of a tropical day.

Some, like Gunshot Creek and Cannibal Creek, sound daunting enough by their very name; all challenge a traveler's driving skills and vehicle. But in the end it is Cape York's wild, remote nature and beauty that draw visitors back, time and again.


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