Cape York Camping

Cape York Camping

Good evening,

We are leaving on a 5-week trip from Cairns to The Tip in June/July 2012.

We have been told that Cape Melville is closed until August and are worried that we might have to cancel our trip. What are your thoughts on travelling at this time of year?

Also, the National Park people have stated that we must book the dates we will be staying at camp sites online prior to leaving on our trip......we are not wanting to plan our trip in that much detail and were wondering if we really do need to book first.......or is there lots of free camping spots just outside the national parks that we can stay at to avoid this issue?

Look very forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,
Evan and Larissa

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Early Dry Season and NPks New Booking System
by: Katrin

Hi Evan and Larissa,

First of all, congrats - you are the first people to ask a question on these brand new forums :-)

June/July is early dry season, and while Cape York used to start opening up earlier, in April/May, in the later years, with lots of rain late in the wet seasons, even some of the main roads have opened as late as in June.

Planning a trip early in the dry season means risking that some of the roads are closed, particularly the smaller tracks such as the one into Cape Melville. Also the driving is more challenging because the creek and river waters are still up - these drop gradually during the dry season. It is a beautiful time to travel with more greenery and wildlife, but it is more challenging and you may miss out places because of the closed roads.

I do believe that the Cape Melville track may be still closed in August. There are two different roads into Cape Melville, and the one that leaves from Musgrave is heaps better than the one that starts from north of Cooktown. The road from Musgrave is likely to open earlier, however the last bit into Cape Melville, after Wakooka, is a small track that is likely to open later.

Considering that, if you do want to enjoy more remote places, it would be good if you could plan your trip for later in the dry season.

Unfortunately the national parks new camping system is also true. Up until the last season you could use the self registration stations, but from February 2012 the new system kicked in and all camping has to be booked online or by ringing 13 74 68.

This makes it very hard for Cape York travellers as it is virtually impossible to plan a Cape York trip with so much detail. You can make a booking at your arrival provided there are vacant camping spots, however the problem is that in most national parks you don't have any mobile phone or internet reception to be able to do it.

There are places outside most national parks to camp, however, considering the large sizes of many Cape York National Parks, camping outside still leaves you with a day visit in the national park itself as most outside camping spots are too far to use as a base for discovering the park for longer than a day. You wouldn't drive such distances in and out too many times.

If you are interested in more details, i recommend you get yourself a good map so that you can see exactly where the national parks boundaries are; and also i am just about to release my Cape York Travel Guide which goes into detail with FREE camping spots, including where to camp outside national parks if you haven't made a booking (as i said just before they are not all that close). The guide will be available on this future page shortly.

Hope it helped and thanks for posting :-)

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