THE CAPE PART 2 – OLD TELE TRACK SOUTH, JARDINE RIVER, CAPE YORK & 5 BEACHES
FUEL & SUPPLIES
Fuel is available at the Jardine River, Bamaga and Seisha
It is essential to change your tyre pressures regularly on the Old Tele we were down to around 18PSI, lower if needed for the rougher sections. Back on the PDR it was around 25psi to soften the corrugations but give us the ability to respond to large holes in the road
PERMITS AND FEES
There are many permits and permissions required to travel Cape York, if you cross the Jardine by ferry your ticket is also your bush camping permit!
THE OLD TELE TRACK
The Old Telegraph Track is a rough road accessible only during the dry season in Australia, located on Cape York, in tropical north Queensland. The road has a length of 350km and it’s definitely 4WD only. The track is generally narrow, with some sections being very rocky and eroded.
The road passes through some beautiful country with several creek and river crossings, and there are several patches of deep sand. Bush camps are set up at most creek crossings. It follows the original telegraph line through the Peninsula, and for much of the Cape’s history was the only available route. Watch out for sudden loose-gravel breaks. And that pavement can ripple like a roller coaster track. The surface on this gravel road is often loose, especially along the sides of the road. It makes necessary to drive carefully and slow down whenever approaching an oncoming car.
The Old Telegraph Track has some famous obstacles:
Palm Creek. This crossing is one of the more difficult ones on the track, so if you manage it without too much trouble, you should be able to negotiate subsequent crossings.
Gunshot Creek. It’s a major obstacle that provides a challenge to most vehicles. It is not advisable to tow campervans or trailers through this crossing – there is a detour track, well signposted, before you reach Gunshot Creek.
Cockatoo Creek. This crossing has an uneven rocky bottom but is easy if you take the correct line. The condition of the track improves until it reaches the northern bypass road.
The track starts at Bramwell Junction and follows the now defunct telegraph line. It is still possible to locate some of the original steel telegraph poles. There are two bypass roads that allow travellers to get from the Peninsula Development Road to The Tip without having to navigate all of the creek crossings and rough roads. They pass mainly through the highlands to the east and west of the route, and are heavily corrugated which makes for a rough drive. Most visitors take the OTT track north and return via the Bypass roads, but the OTT is an integral part of this memorable journey providing adventure, tradition and stunning scenery
5 BEACHES TRACK
The ‘Five Beaches Loop’ is a collections of beach and headland driving that winds south from Sommerset Ruins past fly point and along the beaches to Vallack Point, the site of Frank Jardine’s Cattle Station.
The Road is actually called the Nanthau Beach Road, but was dubbed the 5 beaches loop. Each of the 5 beaches offers extremely firm sand driving with soft sand at the entrance and exit of each of the headland runs. While this isn’t the most difficult 4WDing ever, it is not recommended for soft road type vehicles. A number of the headlands have hard rock steps that require high ground clearance and very careful tyre placement. Because of the hard beach sections, we opted to reduce tyre pressures to 24 PSI, which is traditionally too hard for soft sand driving, but was a good compromise for the hard sand and coffee rock that makes up parts of the headland.