Cape York is a pretty large area. In fact, it is one of Australia’s largest wilderness areas, still as remote and harsh as ever. And giving our map a quick looking over, it truly began to sink in that it was. Its vast eminence is surprisingly devoid of the comforting little circles with names beside them you usually see on a map indicating the availability of essentials you are used to – Pepsi, hotels, medical facilities with electricity – and at the same time is thrilling in its abundance of areas signifying the unspoiled wonder of national parks, which quickly leads one, as in our case now, to get caught up in endless considerations of exactly what fascinating things lay out there to discover, and if 3 weeks is going to be enough time or should you plan on being out there, lets say, the next 6 months.

After a brief consult, we agreed that our path getting to the tip would be somewhat direct and, hopefully, uneventful. We would still stick to our original idea of not having a set itinerary, but, after all, we did want to get there. Side trips to exotic and more remote destinations would be saved for the return journey.

“We don’t want to be dickheads and not even make it all the way up,” Glen said somewhat bitterly, “because I do want to make it to the tip, mate”

“No worries,” I said, “I’ll try not to, but you know, it’s just my nature to get into precarious situations.”

I was thinking back to just a few weeks ago when I spent a few lonely days in the bush because a wheel had fallen off the Land Rover – a long story in itself which I won’t bore you with now, suffice to say that these mishaps are all to commonplace with me.

“I know,” Glen smiled, “that’s why I’m telling you now.”




And so it was decided that we would take the Peninsula Developmental Road north, through Laura, Musgrave, Coen, Archer River, and all the way to Bamaga and “The Tip”. We had little choice in this, really. If we wanted to get there at all, it would have to be the PDR, as it is basically the only road that leads in that direction. The only continuous one, at any rate.

“After we get there,” Glen was saying, “then we can start making side treks on the return drive, to Portland Roads, Iron Range, Captain Billy Landing, or wherever else.”

Captain Billy Landing was a personal request of mine. It is a beach with caves eroded into its cliffs by the constant tormenting of the ocean, and which now house millions of bats. There was also an interesting history behind it, something to do with an attack and, I’m sure bloodshed, back in the 1880’s. Apparently one of the attackers called himself Captain Billy, and, judging from the name now, there is little room for interpretation as to the success of his little skirmish.

As a bonus for us, along for the trip would also be two English girls Glen met while backpacking through Nepal four months earlier, Sue and Fiona, who promised to visit him while passing thorough Australia, and who were now unknowing participants in our misguided but well-meaning voyage. They were a little apprehensive, but more than eager.

“That’s the spirit,” I thought.

Provisions were assembled. Plans were finalized. Beds were enjoyed for one last night. Tomorrow, it was decided, we would depart.



Copyright 2007 drivenbydiscovery productions