Southern Cape York Peninsula

Southern Cape York peninsula starts in Lakeland and Cooktown.

As opposed to the areas south of the actual peninsula, you are now in 'Cape York proper'.

A lot of travellers drive through it quite quickly, barely stopping in Laura and Musgrave.

But if you have the time the area is huge.

Cooktown and Laura have a lot of history, Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw have remote Aboriginal camping and fishing.

And the Lakefield - Cape Melville area is a destination on its own for many Australians.

The Inland Way

lakeland downs

Lakeland Downs
If you drive the inland way up (which leaves the tropical coast for the way back and which I always recommend), you are on the Peninsula once you are in Lakeland.
It's a small township, and it's here that the the main, inland road (Mulligan Hwy) turns off to Cooktown.

laura australia

But continuing on the Peninsula Developmental Road the next town is Laura. It's easy to drive through without turning into the town, but if you have the time there is some interesting history. North of Laura is Fairview - the start of the Fairview Wrotham Road and the Kimba Gamboola Road through to Burke Developmental Road.

hann river roadhouse

Hann River
The next spot north after Laura is Hann River Roadhouse.
It is just a roadhouse and a camping ground, with a nice swimming hole in the back, a resident emu and a few peacocks, and during the season, probably a backpacker serving you as in many other roadhouses.


North of Hann River, the road continues, red and straight, north past Artemis Station (which is where the Dixie Koolatah Road turns off), towards Musgrave - a historical roadhouse with a small restaurant, accommodation and a camping ground. It's on the crossroads east to Lakefield National Park and west to Pormpuraaw and to Kowanyama.

The Coastal Way
cooktown australia

If you come up the coastal way - the road from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Bloomfield Road, and Bloomfield to Rossville Road you come to Cooktown.
It is a Cape York town not to be missed, particularly if you are interested in history, fishing and good scenery.

north of cooktown

North of Cooktown
North of Cooktown is Hope Vale and the beautiful Cape Bedford area with some white sand dunes at Coloured Sands and Elim Beach.

Further north is Cape Flattery, the Starcke-Wakooka Track, Cape Melville, Bathurst Head and Lakefield National Park before you come to Musgrave and continue north.

Hann River Roadhouse

Hann River Roadhouse is a nice place to stay in southern Cape York.

It is in southern Cape York, between Laura and Musgrave, on the main road up north (Peninsula Developmental).

hann river roadhouse cape york

The roadhouse sells meals, takeaway food, drinks, fuel, some souvenirs and basic groceries.

hann river roadhouse fuel

It has cabin accommodation in dongas.

hann river roadhouse accommodation

And it also has
a large camping ground.

hann river roadhouse camping ground

There are a few resident peacocks ...

hann river roadhouse peacock

... and a funny resident emu that likes to put its head into every cup or pot on your table.

hann river roadhouse emu

UPDATE 2022 - sadly Aussie the emu was fatally hit by a car :-(

hann river

In the back of the camping ground is a nice swimming hole in Hann River.

Artemis Station

Artemis Station is a cattle station in southern Cape York.

It is not very well known for travellers, they haven't done as much advertising as some other stations do.

But in fact they do welcome travellers to stay on their camping ground.

artemis station turnoff

They are well known amongst bird watchers, and particularly famous for the wild and rare golden shouldered parrots that they can take you to.
   artemis station

There is a camping ground with toilets and showers
, and you are welcome to drop in and stay.
   artemis station camping

And even better if you are interested to see the golden shouldered parrot - endemic to Cape York. Artemis Station is the best place to take the tour to go and see it in the wild.
   golden shouldered parrot

If you happen to camp while there are many bird watchers, the camp ground can get crowded, but most often you have it all for yourself

Musgrave Roadhouse

Musgrave is a roadhouse on the PDR in southern Cape York.

It is on the crossroads of the tip of Cape York in the north, Pormpuraaw in the west and Lakefield National Park in the east.

It is a nice place to stay with accommodation and a camping ground.  

musgrave roadhouse

Or it may be worth a stop - the roadhouse sells takeaway food, meals, drinks, souvenirs and basic groceries.

musgrave fuel

There is also a fuel station and an airstrip.

musgrave airfield

It is a historical place that was built as a telegraph station for the Old Telegraph Line.

You can still see the graves of the early pioneers under a mango tree.

The station was named after Sir Anthony Musgrave who was Queensland's Governor when the station was built.

musgrave grave

In the 1930s Musgrave was bought into Shepard family - and is today still run by the members of the same family.

In the 1970s the station was turned into a roadhouse, and the accommodation and cafe were built in 1980.

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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

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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 vehicle-recovery-guy partner). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)

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