Cape York is stunning country but it is also remote and isolated with rough roads and limited infrastructure and supplies, so planning and preparation are essential to ensure a safe and successful trip.
With vast distances between small settlements and limited infrastructure available, you need to plan on being self-sufficient when travelling to Cape York. That means taking plenty of food and water, extra fuel, navigation equipment and recovery gear. The more prepared you are the better.
So we’ve come up with a list of useful travel items which you should definitely add to your packing list:
Part of your planning should include recovery gear for those moments when you may get stuck. And as we’ve found out more than once, Maxtrax are extremely useful to have if your vehicle gets bogged.
Nobody want to spend hours digging their way out of wet sand or boggy mud!
We can’t rave about our set of Maxtrax highly enough.
The way they work is you wedge each Maxtrax firmly against the tyre treads of the bogged tyres, then gently accelerate and drive out slowly. As the tyre tread grips, you are on your way.
And if you are planning on driving through tough terrain, on the beach, taking off-the-beaten tracks or heading up to the tip of Australia, Maxtrax will be your best friend.
Designed by an Aussie (Brad McCarthy), who is a keen four wheel driver, these are the best on the market. In fact they are also used by the Australian Defence Force, the US Military, United Nations and the police, they are THAT good.
2. rescue swag
This is another must-have travel item, even for day trips, as it is a light-weight, portable, all-in-one first aid kit designed by an Australian (Tracey Beikoff). It folds out with three separate compartments for treating major injuries, minor injuries, burns and snake bites.
The actual outer layer of the first aid kit also doubles as a splint, a sling or an immobilisation device which is incredibly handy.
The Rescue Swag has also been designed so it attached easily to the back of a horse saddle, to the front of a motorbike or racing bike, can be worn on a belt by bushwalkers and it fits easily into the car.
And best of all the Rescue Swag has a buddy app which can be downloaded for free straight onto your mobile and provide easy-to-understand CPR and first aid instructions when needed.
3. satellite phone
Communications are one of the biggest challenges of travelling to Cape York because mobile phones don’t work in remote areas (Telstra are the best network).
Regular travellers to Cape York generally take a UHF two-way radio but if you don’t have a radio then make sure you have a satellite phone.
4. satellite beacon
This really is a MUST-HAVE for anyone planning on driving to the Cape, especially if you want to veer off the main road and go exploring.
Having a satellite beacon is peace of mind if you get lost, stranded or have a medical emergency and need to reach help. Mobile reception cannot be guaranteed in all areas of Cape York but a satellite beacon will ensure you are not left stranded.
Once you activate the beacon it transmits your position by satellite link to a rescue co-ordination centre and you can get help.
There are many brands of satellite beacons on the market, it all comes down to your budget and what your personal preference is.
You can buy these beacons on their own or sometimes as part of a package with other products, or you can hire them which is sometimes a better option for those travellers only doing a one-off trip to the Cape.
5. go pro camera
Camera equipment is essential for a trip to the Cape and if you want to capture your off-roading adventures and driving on some of the toughest 4WD tracks, then a Go Pro camera is the way to go.
You can mount it onto the car and film the trip without having to hold the camera and also get some incredible footage.
There are also plenty of accessories now for the Go Pro so make sure you get everything you need before you leave.
6. Mechanical Repair Kit
When you’re travelling around Cape York you really do need to be as self sufficient as possible, which means being able to fix your vehicle if it breaks down.
Nobody wants to be stranded miles from anywhere so educate yourself in basic mechanics before you go and take a repair kit.
7. emergency food
Just in case you do get stuck make sure you have a stash of extra emergency food somewhere in your vehicle.
Also make sure you have plenty of water – our top tip is to bring a large stainless water tank so your water doesn’t taste of plastic.
8. quick drying clothes
The red dirt will get everywhere so pack clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and that will dry quickly after a quick wash.
9. sturdy rubbish bags
There are very limited waste disposal facilities on Cape York so plan ahead and plan on carrying your rubbish with you.
Many people buy those bin bags that attach to the back of your vehicle, which are very affordable and very convenient.
You might also want to take some study bags so you can tie rubbish to the roof (normal plastic ones will break and spill your rubbish everywhere – please don’t be a litterbug).
10. toilet paper
As more and more people travel to Cape York, one of the negative impacts has been the increasing amount of toilet paper strewn across the landscape.
And lets face it, nobody wants to pull up to a beautiful campsite and find somebody else’s used toilet paper.
So, dig a deep hole at least 15cm deep when you’re doing your business and bury your (plain unbleached) toilet paper in the hole with it. Also mix it all with soil to help with decomposition.
travel nq fast facts:
- The best times to travel to Cape York are in the dry season (June-October).
- The roads beyond Laura are unsealed and require 4WD.
- Fill up on fuel whenever you get the opportunity at towns and roadhouses along the PDR.
- Cape York has very limited waste disposal options so plan for this in advance. Take bulk water containers, cans rather than bottles and minimal plastics. Don’t leave anything behind including food scraps.
- Be croc-wise – don’t camp close to water and don’t leave food scraps around to attract them.