Where the rainforest meets the sea and the most northern tip of Australia’s mainland meets a scattering of islands rich in history, culture and natural beauty, our Cape York and Torres Strait Explorer is a journey of soft adventure into Australia’s last frontier via 4WD.
From wild Indigenous encounters and European explorer history, through to WWII relics, incredible sunsets and remote glamping at a pearl farm, this adventure north has something for everyone. Savour the countries freshest seafood prepared fresh from the azure waters that surround you. Swim in crystal clear waterfalls and bob in horizon pools. Hike through contrasting landscapes of rainforest to savannahs and try your hand at spearfishing and mud crabbing as you wade through lagoons of mangroves.
Welcome to Queensland! You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel in Port Douglas where the remainder of the day is yours at leisure. Port Douglas was the traditional home to the Yirrganydji people before it was converted into a fishing village after European settlement. Enjoy exploring the marina and strolling along stunning beaches or simply relax at your hotel.
Your accommodation this evening is one of National Geographic’s ‘Unique Lodges of the World’, located on a private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas. Complimentary experiences are provided for guests including nature/wildlife walks, star gazing nights and specialist talks from local experts. Why not dine in the treetops this evening, at the hotels popular Ospreys Restaurant (not included)?
Overnight Thala Beach Nature Reserve Resort or similar
Departing this morning, set off north towards Australia’s last frontier, Cape York Peninsula. Leaving Port Douglas behind, head north along Queensland’s Captain Cook Highway towards the Daintree Rainforest. Your first stop this morning is at Cooya Beach, where you will be met by your Aboriginal guide from the Kubirri Warra tribe and taken on a fascinating experience as you follow the traditions of Aboriginal ancestors and learn about their cultural importance of their traditional country.
Participate in a traditional fishing activity of spear throwing and handling as is still practiced today. Hunt whilst stalking and observing wildlife, and how to find plants used for bush tucker and bush medicine. Following your guide as they hunt and gather for their families, you will weave through mangroves and onto the mudflats. This unique coastal place has three diverse ecosystems – beach, mangroves and coastal reef – that are connected to each other by the ever-changing tidal lagoons. You will be amazed as you completely immerse yourself in the local Aboriginal culture.
Continuing on towards Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the reef, here you will enjoy lunch at a local café. You will have time to take a walk along this magical beach. After lunch, explore the coastal headlands and long sandy beaches before engaging 4WD and travelling along the Bloomfield Track. Make a stop at the Bloomfield Falls, a place of great significance for the Kuku Yalanji people who have lived here for thousands of years, before arriving in Cooktown late afternoon. Time permitting, you may make a stop at the legendary Lions’ Den Hotel. (B,L,D)
Overnight at Sovereign Resort or similar
Following breakfast, it’s an early morning hike to the summit of Mt Cook. The spectacular vantage point from the top of Mount Cook offers incredible views of Quarantine Bay and Walker Bay. Looking seaward, it is easy to see Captain Cook’s dilemma – a maze of reefs that stretch to the horizon in every direction. About 20 kilometres to the northeast lie Boulder and Egret Reef. Dawson Reef is five kilometres to the east and Cowlishaw Reef is 10 kilometres southeast. In the distant east, Osterland Reef lies north of Rosser Reef and Cairns Reef. The Hope Islands, visible in the far south-southeast are almost 30 kilometres away. Take in the exhilaration before heading back to the base.
Return to your vehicle where you will head into town to visit the fascinating James Cook Museum and learn of his accidental visit to Cooktown in 1770.
Form here, head west along Battle Camp road towards Lakefield National Park. The Lakefield National Park is a stunning and diverse area. Travel deep into the heart of this region with plenty of time to stop and enjoy the views. Giant termite mounds will start to punctuate the scenery along the scenic river valleys. Lunch today will be a picnic along the way, before making a stop at the historic Old Laura Homestead. Learn all about this heritage listed building and the remarkable history behind. it. Later in the afternoon, arrive at your overnight accommodation at the Lotusbird Lodge. Featuring just 10 individual bush style cabins, Lotusbird Lodge is perched on the edge of a magnificent billabong and named after the native birds that inhabit the area. Take some time to relax in your surrounds before meeting again for sundowners and dinner. (B,L,D)
Overnight Lotusbird Lodge or similar
Continue your adventure along the Peninsula Development Road this morning. Admire the changing scenery and the endless lowlands before arriving at the small town of Coen. We refuel here and have some time to grab a coffee and morning tea. Continuing north, make a stop at the Archer River Roadhouse for some lunch. Admire the quirky surrounds and meet some of the locals. After lunch, head north west now towards the mining town of Weipa. The country changes to savannah grass lands, as you make your way towards the west coast of Cape York.
Cruise the tranquil waters of the Embley River into the golden glow of a sunset over the water, whilst enjoying a cold drink and canapes – keep your eyes peeled to spot crocodiles and native birds along the way. (B,L,D)
Overnight Heritage Resort or similar
This morning you will make a stop at the Western Cape Cultural Centre. The Cultural Centre showcases the history of Weipa and its surrounding communities. It plays an important role in preserving traditional language and culture from the region, through its informative displays and artwork. Take time to peruse the centre and learn about the indigenous culture and beautiful artwork. You have the opportunity to meet with a local artist and learn firsthand about their artworks, stories behind their art and local culture.
Continue to explore Weipa visiting the site of two downed P-47D Thunderbird planes that crash landed in 1944 on the beach at Duyfken Point during operations in Papua New Guinea. The wrecks of two WWII fighter aircraft, made forced landings on the beach on 29 October 1944 after running out of fuel and they were later scavenged and blown up by US Air Force personnel. Enjoy lunch at a local café in Weipa.
With the afternoon ahead of you, drive towards Merluna Station, a working 416,000 acre cattle station and your overnight accommodation. Merluna has a prolific birdlife of migrating and endemic birds that can be seen at the station, along the rainforest encroached creek and lagoons.
There is also an abundance of wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes, brumbies, reptiles of all sizes, such as skinks, frill necked lizards to the elusive saltwater crocodiles. The cuscus has been seen on several occasions along the creek.
On arrival, Cameron and Michelle, the station owners, take you for an exclusive tour of their magnificent working cattle station. Discover what station life is like on the cape and admire the beautiful property. Understand the workings and challenges of a Cape York cattle station – it is always a hive of activity.
Settle into your cabin and have some time to freshen up before a sumptuous station dinner. Enjoy a few drinks with new found friends around the fire pit, gazing up at the millions of stars. (B,L,D)
Overnight Merluna Station or similar
Departing Merluna Station early this morning, stop at Bramwell Station for morning tea. Continuing north, pass through one of the Capes largest cattle stations, Batavia Downs, making another stop at the interesting Morton Telegraph Station; this important link in communication to the far north and the cape operated till 1960, and is the main reason why Cape York was opened up in the first place.
Drive along original Telegraph Tracks and stop for a picnic lunch (conditions permitting). Visit the stunning Fruit Bat Falls. This is a fantastic place to refresh and wash off the dust from your adventure so far! The broad, natural weir is croc-free and has plenty of shady picnic tables, making it the ideal place for a pit stop. Enjoy a swim and cool off in the crystal clear waters.
Following lunch, join the Bamaga Development Road before arriving at the Jardine River ferry. We cross the river before arriving at the picturesque Seisia Wharf. It is here, where you transfer to a private boat for a short 20-minute transfer to Roko Island. Roko is a part of 274 islands which form the Torres Strait, and at less than 9,000 m2, it is one of the smallest. It consists of only 2 permanent residents and will be our base for the next 2 nights. Your accommodation is in a stunning Glamping Tent. On arrival be met by your hosts before enjoying a sundowner and experiencing the sunset over the ocean.
Later enjoy a specially prepared dinner. (B,L,D)
Overnight Roko Island – Glamping or similar
After waking up on your own private tropical island today, enjoy a relaxed breakfast overlooking the crystal waters of the Torres Strait.
We have arranged a fascinating tour of the nearby Horn Island today. Horn Island was an important outpost during the Second World War where almost 5,000 Australian and US troops were stationed, defending Australia from the advancing Japanese through Papua New Guinea. Take a behind the scenes look at many relics left behind from during that time, including underground rooms, gun emplacements, magazines, the airstrip, abandoned aircraft, slit trenches and more. Learn of the history and hear the stories from a local guide.
Enjoy some lunch before visiting the Heritage Museum, full of artefacts and history of Horn Island.
Later in the afternoon, reboard your private boat and travel to the nearby Thursday Island and visit the Gab Titui Cultural Centre. The Gab Titui Cultural Centre is a contemporary art gallery and a keeping place for cultural artefacts, located on Thursday Island – land of the Kaurareg nation, the traditional custodians of the Kaiwalagal region (Inner Islands) of the Torres Strait. The gallery’s goal is to contribute to the preservation and revitalisation of the region’s rich cultures, and to the development and promotion of local Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal art.
Upon entering the gallery, you will experience a unique insight into the vibrant art and culture of the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area, including artworks that include sculptures, headdresses, intricate lino-cut prints, wood carvings and paintings, as well as jewellery made from local materials, such as pearl and sea-shells. Artworks on display represent the unique Indigenous cultures of the surrounding communities and illustrate Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal myths, legends, and connection to the sea and land.
Afterwards, reboard your boat again for the transfer back across the Torres Strait to Roko Island.
Enjoy sundowners again before sitting down to a specially prepared dinner featuring local seafood, fresh from the local waters. (B,L,D)
Overnight Roko Island – Glamping or similar
You will have some time to relax and enjoy your beautiful surrounds this morning. Have a late breakfast or maybe cast a line and try your hand at fishing.
Later, join your guide again on your private boat, as you travel through the piercing blue water to Friday Island. Today we have arranged a wonderful tour of the extraordinary Kazo Pearl Farm. 40 years ago, a Japanese entrepreneur came to Friday Island with the idea of establishing a state of the art pearl farm in the beautiful calm tropical waters of the Torres Strait.
On arrival you are treated to a 7 course Japanese style lunch with fresh sushi, sashimi, tempura, all using locally caught reef fish.
After lunch, it is now time to explore the Pearl Farm. Your guide will show you through the entire farm, explaining in great detail each step of the pearling process, including showing examples of how small clam shells are surgically grafted into a donor shell to start the growing process. To produce a perfect pearl can take up to 2 years.
You will also examine the lustrous white and yellow pearls up close and see the many variations.
Next, take to the water to see firsthand dozens of pearl shells lined up, all hanging in the water, as they begin to grow in the warm tropical conditions.
Reboard your private boat and head back to Seisa on the mainland. Your guide and vehicle will be waiting to transfer you to the nearby Bamaga and Cape York Lodge for your final evening on Cape York.
Be greeted by sundowners on arrival before enjoying dinner at the lodge. (B,L,D)
Overnight Cape York Lodge or similar
After breakfast this morning, join your guide for the final journey to the tip of the Australian mainland. Cruising through rainforest tracks before the ocean is able to be seen on both sides of the vehicle – you know you are getting close! The last 400 metres to the tip is on foot, as you climb across rocks to arrive at the most northerly point of mainland Australia. Enjoy the wild and pristine views out across the Torres Strait. An amazing and truly iconic Australian experience.
You will have time to soak in the moment and take some photos. You may even want to pause and enjoy a celebratory drink. Return to Bamaga in time for your afternoon flight to Cairns (not included). (B)
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 4 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.