Palmer River Goldfields

Palmer River Goldfields are worth the side trip if you're into history.

Only an historical site today, in the days of Palmer River gold rush this goldfield was the centre of activity of the whole Cape York peninsula.

Not only that, it was the richest alluvial goldfield in Australia, and the reason why Cooktown was established - it started out as a port town for the gold from Palmer River.

Maytown was the capital of Cape York, and if you are into history and gold rush ghost towns, this is a great place to explore.

palmer river goldfields queen mill

Palmerville was another important place, but today nothing much remains there and being away from the Maytown area is not even worth the drive.

palmer river goldfields

Around Maytown, there are many different groups of mines and mills to discover, depending on how interested you are, you may want to take more than one day.

palmer river goldfields comet mill

The main road in - the White's Creek Road - is a reasonable gravel road, nothing humpy bumpy and doable in 2WD in dry weather.

palmer river goldfields mine shaft

Some of the tracks between the sites are smaller and a 4WD vehicle is recommended.

palmer river goldfields ida mill

White's Creek Road

The road from PDR to Maytown is called White's Creek Road, and while there are others, this is the main road to Palmer River Goldfields.

whites creek road to maytown

It turns in about 20km south of Palmer River Roadhouse.

whites creek road pdr to maytown

It is a very spectacular road, despite it being dry country and not a green environment late in the dry season.

whites creek road hilly

The road crosses a hilly country, so there are lots of ups and downs,

whites creek road water

... some great views,

whites creek road lake

... and even some water.

whites creek road hilly

As you see it is a good gravel road that does not require four wheel drive gears,

whites creek road

.. but could at times require reasonably high clearance.

whites creek road hill

It is not particularly slow going but still takes a good part of a day, so if you want to visit the goldfiels on a day trip you should start early in the morning.

whites creek road lookout

Also during the dry season they are back-burning so there could be grass fires in there.

whites creek road


Maytown was the capital of Palmer River Goldfields.

And not only that - it was the capital of Cape York peninsula at the time when the rush was on.

There are a few roads in but the easiest one turns in from PDR south of Palmer River Roadhouse.


After the drive in you first arrive to the monument in the beginning of the main street.

maytown monument

If you walk down along the street, there are signs what stores the ruins are from.

maytown palmer river

There is also a replica of an old miner's hut, and stumps of a post office, a court house and a police station.

maytown miners hut

There is an old toilet ...

maytown dunny

... and shower, ...

maytown shower

... and a lot of different ruins around.

maytown ruins

cape york travel

Plan Your Trip... the FREE Cape York Travel Pocket Guide

Get this 50 pages guide totally for FREE. It 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 around, where to stay (general info), what will it cost.. and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.

Plan and Bring to the Trip... the full Destination Cape York Travel Guide

visit 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 Telegraph Track). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)

If 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 about it...

Every link helps other travellers!

Thank you for doing the right thing and letting others know :-)

destination cape york

Latest Pages

Notice Board

Ask a Question

YOUR Adventure

YOUR Cape Memories

Keep yourself updated
on the latest -
weather, roads,
free travel tips,
and get the
FREE Cape York
Pocket Guide!




Don't worry - your email address is totally secure.
I use it only to send you the Cape York News.

Get the FREE Pocket Guide:
cape york travel free pocket guide

Get the Big Destination Guide
destination cape york book

Available with the Big Destination Guide:
cape york dog caravan trailer

cape york businesses

cape york mechanics

freebird arts and crafts