Cape York ... one of Australia's last great wilderness regions, extends 1000 kilometres north of Cairns, Queensland. This vast, remote region is the approximate size of our State of Victoria or of England, Scotland and Wales combined, covering some 115,000 square kilometres.
There's a magic here, spun by its vastness and amazing variety. You'll meet the animals and plants of the Australian bush in a habitat of crystal clear spring fed creeks and waterfalls, huge termite mounds and carnivorous plants. And you'll feel the emotion and pride when you stand at the very Top of Australia!
A region of diverse landscapes and true wilderness it is an adventure and Four Wheel Drive (4WD) recreational Mecca for many Australians and international visitors who visit the Cape each "Dry Season", between May and December.
Many of its 20,500 (approximately) inhabitants of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians rely on the annual migration of tourists to supplement the Peninsula's mining, fishing and pastoral industries which are the basis of its relatively small economy.
Ecologically, the region is very important, supporting a diverse range of environments from tropical rainforest, open forest, savannah grassland and heath communities in a region that remains relatively unaffected by our industrialised society. Many National Parks protect these natural assets, the most notable being Lakefield and Jardine National Parks along with the famous World Heritage listed Wet Tropics a short distance from Cairns.
The region's indigenous history is a combination of the rich cultures of the Australian Aborigine and Torres Strait Islander. The ancient rock art near Laura is a highlight of Cape York. Known as "Quinkan" rock art, there are literally hundreds of galleries hidden in the sandstone escarpment of the Great Dividing Range. The collection is held to be one of the largest bodies of primitive art in the world which depict the activities and culture of the Australian Aborigine in bygone years.
UNESCO notes this collection of art as one of the top ten rock art bodies in the world.
Today you can visit Split Rock, an accessible site. Torres Strait Island culture can be seen on Thursday Island.
The most well known visitor was Captain Cook in 1770 when he repaired his ship "Endeavour" where Cooktown now stands. Later, significant influences began with Kennedy's 1848 expedition to be followed by the Jardine family who established the outpost of Somerset in the 1860's.
However, it was the discovery of gold at the Palmer River that brought significant population and the establishment of Cooktown in 1873. In the years that followed, the Cape York Telegraph, pastoralism, World War II, bauxite mining at Weipa and the emerging tourism industry have all added their intriguing stories to the region.
Our Cape York Safaris: