You couldn’t possibly get any more remote in Australia than here. Closer to Jakarta than Sydney, the Cape York peninsula is a relatively mysterious chunk of land in northern Australia, rich in history and untouched landscapes. Travel north of Cairns and you’ll find indigenous tribes, lush rainforests and empty powder sand beaches. And there’s no better way to discover this area than with Willie Gordon, an inspiring Aboriginal elder with all the knowledge passed down from his forefathers. Meet locals, hear their true stories, see their art and swim in the sacred waterfalls which dot the area.
1 & 2: Boomerangs And Waterfalls
The best way to explore Cape York’s beaches is on foot. We’ll hook you up with two leading experts on the area for a beach, mudflat and mangrove walk, to hear about the fascinating Kuku Yalanji tribe. They are the indigenous people of the Australian rainforest and have thier own unique culture and language. Think white paint on brown skin and colourful cloth slung round them as they play didgeridoos. Learn to throw a spear, hunt and survive on this tropical coast (yes, that includes throwing a boomerang or two). After all this, and a snack of home made damper (a type of aussie scone) you’ll be whisked for way boat trip along the Daintree river and the thundering Niau Falls. Don’t forget your swimming gear – the pool at the base of the waterfall will provide a welcome dip from your humid day in the rainforest (not a croc in sight).
3: Mighty Mountains
Next, visit Daintree national park on the 4WD-only Bloomfield track which crosses rivers and mountains. If you feel like you’re being driven into the middle of no-where, well, the truth is, you are. Your target is the town of Wujal Wujal (meaning ‘many falls’), home to another, more remote aboriginal community. These people are so isolated that their only medical care is the weekly flying doctor: talk about living out in the sticks. Hear stories about the sacred waterfalls and how the tribe lives and grows in this distant spot, before stretching your legs on the geologically odd Black Mountains.
Giant granite rocks jut out from the ground, providing a home to frogs, wallabies, pythons, and a mythical being known only as the ‘Queensland Tiger’. Legend has it, a cannibal who was banished to these hills quickly turned into a goanna lizard on arrival, and still stalks the mountains today. Whether you’re captured by this mythical creature or not (to our knowledge, no-one ever has been), the aboriginal stories are certainly worth a listen while you explore the forested hillsides.
4 & 5: Nugal-Warra And Cooktown
And finally, hit the indiginous area south of Cooktown. You’ll be taken to stunning Nugal rock art sites high in the hills above Hope Vale by tribal elder and traditional story-teller Willie Gordon.
His tales are told like no other: you’ll hear stories which can only be told by elders of the Nugal-Warra clan, so vivid they will take you right back to cave-dwelling times. See six sights, learning how the rock art speaks of the essence of life. Who knows, they may even make you think about your own relationship with the land? Inspired by the thoughts of the tribesmen, you’ll head back to Cooktown for a final amazing photo opportunity of the Coral Sea and Endeavour river. You’ll end up wiser, and full of tales to take home. Just don’t forget your boomerang.
All Year Round
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
Cape York Peninsula, Daintree National Park, Wujal Wujal, Cooktown