Developmental Road is another great road to do.
It is just south of the Cape York peninsula, and goes from east to west
It goes all the way from Cairns
on the eastern coast, but is officially
only called Burke
Developmental Road from Dimbulah on.
East of Dimbulah it is called the Mareeba
- Dimbulah Road.
Between Chillagoe and Mareeba
it also has the nickname "Wheelbarrow
Way" (referring to the Great Wheelbarrow
Race that is held here).
Most Cape York
travellers only take the Peninsula Developmental Road to
Tip of Cape York, and
never use this road.
But, if you
drive from Cape York to the Northern
Territory or Gulf
Savannah, you are most likely to drive it.
It is also a
good southern entrance to Palmer River Goldfields,
and the best entrance to the smaller but equally interesting Hodgkinson
Mareeba to Dimbulah
West of Mareeba, you drive
along the sealed road, through some farming country, to Mutchilba, and
then Dimbulah - a small township with some mining history.
It is now a
main access point to Hodgkinson
Goldfields - there is a side track to the goldfields north of
Dimbulah to Chillagoe
After Dimbulah, you first
pass Petford and Lappa
... and after that, you come to the small township ofAlmaden.
Almaden the road is only partly sealed until Chillagoe (UPDATE 2016
- that stretch should get sealed very soon).
is a lovely little outback town with some mining history and some
interesting geology, mainly in form of the spectacular limestone
boulders that are everywhere.
Chillagoe to Wrotham
After Chillagoe, there are no
fuel or services for 560km, for the rest of the Burke Developmental
Road, until Normanton.
pass some limestone caves and the small historical ghost town Mungana, before
you drive through Rookwood
through the first Walsh
... to Wrotham (here is
also where you can turn off north to Palmerville, Palmer
Goldfields, Fairview and PDR).
Wrotham to Dunbar
After Wrotham, the road continues north and west,
... and there is another Walsh
... before you come to Gamboola turnoff.
After that the road continues west,
... and comes to Lynd
It is the third place (after the two Walsh River crossings
above) that gets flooded
during and right after the Wet Season.
After that, the road continues through the Highbury Station
... and you might come past some mustering.
It goes past a few signs,
... and the turnoff to Drumduff,
... and then continues ...
... to the Shire border ...
... and then the Kowanyama
and Koolatah turnoff.
After that the road turns
the direction with a sharp bend, and also changes in
Dunbar to Normanton
The road gets narrower,
but there is also a change in the
soil, you can tell you are now in the Gulf Savannah.
It is dustier,
the dust is softer and finer, and stays longer
in the air.
There are some water
crossings, particularly Staaten and
Gilbert Rivers, but also some of their tributaries at times.
And being a quiet and remote country, it's always the kind of
place where the crocodiles are out - there is one on the photo
below, but you can only see a slice of its back, as it went under the
water as soon as it saw me coming.
In the Normanton end, the road gets wider, better graded, and
finally sealed, but that only applies to about 30km from
Normanton and Karumba
a nice small township in Gulf
Savannah. It has
some lovely old buildings, an
old jail and a courthouse, the
famous Normanton Railway Station and the Purple
Pub. In the main
street is also the statue of the largest croc
ever shot in
Australia - eight metres long.
North of Normanton is Karumba
- the only town in the actual Gulf Savannah where you can see the water
(others are in river mouths), and consequently famous for its sunset
have seen the
sunsets (and the Animal Bar), you proably won't last here long unless
Karumba, you have about 40km back to the Burke Developmental Road
through some vast wetlands and grasslands country that is famous for
its birdlife, at least the wetter part of the year.
is in Gulf Savannah, just south west of Cape York.
drive this way if
you enter or leave the Cape York peninsula from the west, via Burke
centre is colourful
with beautiful old buildings,
and there are a few things in town that are worth your time.
At the town entrance is the Big
Barra, which in my opinion should have been in the nearby
fishing town Karumba.
also be fair -
Normanton already has the Big
The monster is a replica of Krys
- the largest croc ever
(by Krystina Pawlowski in the 1950s). The croc was eight metres long.
There are a whole lot of beautiful
old buildings in town, many in bright colours.
There is also the old
... the bank,
.. and many other beautiful and even cute buildings ..
But of course, none is more famous than the Purple Pub.
It is a hotel
so you can stay there, ...
.. and there are also other hotels and places to stay.
The town is also home for the
which departs once a week to Croydon, via small outback spots like
Critter's Camp, Haydon, Blackbull, Ellavale and Golden Gate.
is in Gulf Savannah, south west of Cape York.
It is the only town to actually be in
- both Burketown and Normanton are only on rivers. Consequently,
the town is hugely
popular with fishing; and also - just
like Darwin - has become very popular with its sunsets that you can
watch over the waters of northern Australia.
As opposed to Normanton
(which has a
amount of carefully painted historical buildings), Karumba looks like a
hastily thrown-together fishing village.
village is exactly
what it is - there is no better reason that brings people here.
There is even a barramundi
- to help the stock last but also educate people about Australia's most
popular gaming fish and what happens if fishing rules and regulations
are not obeyed.
The other main attraction is the Sunset Tavern, at the Sunset Point, where
lots of people
gather watching the sun setting over the ocean with a drink.
In the township itself,
is nothing much except this bar, popular with fishoes, and some times
you feel apptly named :-)
this 50 pages
guide totally for FREE.
contains information that helps you getting started with planning of your trip.
You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you
should take, how to get
there and get
to stay (general info), what
will it cost..
and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the
background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all
the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact
detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks,
at least 30 guaranteed FREE
camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to
the Cape), at least 40 best
swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things -
from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception,
how to deal with the national
parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits
and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery
gear by my partner
Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old
Not to mention locals'
tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
you liked the books or
this website, let others know about it!
Link to it from your website, your blog, your forum post... Share it on Facebook, Tweet
Every link helps other travellers!
Thank you for doing the
right thing and letting others know :-)
This site uses British
English, which is the English we use in
best efforts have been made to ensure that all the information on this
website is correct, this site is not to be blamed should there be a
As of Winter - Spring 2018 this site is getting upgraded, and the domain name changed from the original www.cape-york-australia.com to the new www.capeyorkaustralia.com While this is happening, you will find some things under construction, and some photos blurrier than normal, as their new dimensions affect their quality (until they get changed). They need changing one by one - with hundreds of pages it will take some time before the whole site looks good again, but I am gradually working on it as quick as I can.
At the same time the inbox is also getting done, which means that there can be a few temporary faults (some of the email might temporarily not come through) - if you get an (incorrect) error message saying the inbox is full, please go to the Contact Us page and fill the form as that comes through better. I am working on getting it all back to the usual - and meanwhile really sorry for the inconvenience!