One of the country’s great wildernesses is gearing up for a bumper tourist season, as thousands of visitors prepare to tick Queensland’s Cape York off their bucket list.
- National park camp sites on Cape York are at 80 to 100 per cent capacity over the winter months
- Some private camp sites are expecting hundreds of vehicles a day
- The spike in interest is due to international border closures
National park camp sites are booked out across the region, which spans nearly 1,500 kilometres from Cairns to the northern tip, as travellers look to conquer creek crossings and dirt road corrugations while doing a bit of crocodile spotting.
Ken Godfrey runs the Bramwell Station Tourist Park, on the country’s northern-most cattle station, about two hours’ drive north of Weipa.
Although the Cape is cut-off due to wet season flooding, Mr Godfrey said it hadn’t stopped the phone from “ringing off the hook” with enquiries from across the country, ahead of the June/July school holiday period.
“We will host at least 500 people a night during June, July and August, from all over Australia — that’s a 50 per cent increase on 2019, ” Mr Godfrey said.
“A lot of people we are hearing from have never been north of Cairns.
“They didn’t know that this part of the world existed, so they are in for a great surprise.”
Mr Godfrey attributed the increased interest in the Australian wilderness to the closure of Australia’s border.
Plenty of tourists but few staff
It is a similar situation at the Archer River Roadhouse, which runs a campground in the middle of Cape York.
Owner Brad Allan said he was expecting about 300 vehicles to pass through every day over the winter period, with many of those adventurers stopping to camp at the site.
“We’ve certainly had a lot of interest from people down south about travelling to the area, so we are expecting a huge season,” Mr Allan said.
“Our accommodation is heavily booked, but we are lucky in that we have a lot of room for camping.”
Mr Allan said one of the biggest challenges would be attracting staff to the area.
“Normally we have four or five backpackers working here every year, but there’s very few of them left in the country,” he said.
‘Always been on our bucket list’
Victorian couple, Emma Williams and her partner Dylan Veit, are among the hordes of travellers who will head to Cape York and attempt to tackle the famed Old Telegraph Track — an iconic but challenging 350 kilometre four-wheel-drive track.
Ms Williams, from Kilmore, north of Melbourne, said they would be visiting Cooktown, Cape Flattery and Archer River, before eventually ending up at Captain Billy’s Landing at the tip of the country.
“Cape York has always been on our bucket list,” she said.
“We will be camping in paid and free sites and spend a month in the Cape doing lots of four-wheel-driving. We can’t wait.”
You must book ahead
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Cape York manager Brett Stallbaum said the coming months were going to be a busy time for his staff.
“We’ve got anywhere from being fully booked out to 80 per cent booked out depending on the location, including Lakefield and Elliot Falls,” Mr Stallbaum said.
“My staff have to get to those camp sites and spend a good couple of weeks preparing, making sure they are safe and there’s no trees over the roads.”
He urged campers not to turn up to national parks without a booking.
“Also, when you are booking camping sites, make sure you use them. If your plans do change, let us know.”