So you’ve survived the Overland Telegraph Line track, paid and arm and a leg ($40) for a 50-metre ferry ride and had your picture taken beside the sign at the very tip of Cape York. All that’s left to do now is turn around and head for home, right? Wrong! The Northern Peninsula Area (NPA), as the region north of the Jardine River is officially known, has so much to offer that you should plan to spend at least several days here during your Cape York 4WD adventure.
The traditional land of the Injinoo people, now also home to Indigenous Australians from other areas as well as Torres Strait Islanders, consists of five communities - Bamaga, New Mapoon, Seisia, Umagico and Injinoo. The district offers the visitor a great variety of things to see and do: World War 2 relics; the ruins of historic Somerset; the dense vine forests of the Lockerbie Scrub; glorious beaches, rivers and creeks; pearl farms; the interesting islands of Torres Strait; stunning views; scenic freshwater lakes and what has often been described as some of the best fishing in the world!
Many visitors dream of landing ‘the big one’ on their Cape York trip and the NPA is one of the best places to try your luck. Local fishing guides (Gary Wright’s Wilderness Safaris (07) 4069 3155, John Charlton’s Cape York Adventures (07) 4069 3302, Jardine Adventures (07) 4069 3460, Ocean Gem Fishing Trips (07) 4069 3900) can take you fly, sport or reef fishing to target species such as barra, mangrove jack, giant trevally and tuna. Tinnies can be hired at Seisia and even dropping a line off the famed Seisia Wharf can produce amazing results.
The pace of life at the top of Australia is very laid back but all the requirements of the modern traveller are met here with a friendly smile. There’s a good range of accommodation from air conditioned rooms and beachfront camping areas with facilities to bush camping near the Jardine River or the beaches of Somerset. Try one of the following places: Resort Bamaga (07) 4069 3050, Seisia Holiday Park and Campground (07) 4069 3243, Umagico Wilderness Lodge (07) 4069 3108, Loyalty Beach Campground & Fishing Lodge (07) 4069 3587, Punsand Bay Safari & Fishing Lodge (07) 4069 1722, Alau Camping Grounds (07) 4069 3108.
There are service stations for those much-needed repairs after the rough trek north, supermarkets and hotels to resupply for the journey south, a bakery, post office, police station and hospital, as well as various shops selling ice, bait, tackle, camping gear and souvenirs.
A cruise over to Thursday or Horn Island (Peddells T.I. Tours (07) 4069 1551) adds another interesting dimension to a visit to the top and once again there’s a reasonable range of accommodation on Thursday Island if you wish to make more than a day of it. For those whose ‘better half’ has had enough of roughing it, there’s an airport with direct daily flights to Cairns or a weekly supply ship capable of delivering you and your vehicle back to Cairns in a couple of days for a reasonable price (SeaSwift 1800 424 422).
Whatever you do, if you make it this far on your Cape York 4WD adventure, spend some quality time at the very top of Australia. You won’t go home disappointed!Reads: 952