story by Stephen Tuff
photography by Mark Petersen
Printed in Issue 4, 2003
When it comes to the big daddy of Australian dirtbike adventures, riding to the tip of the Cape York peninsula rates as the best of them all.
Riding to the Northern-most tip. Australia still has to rate as one of the best adventure rides of all time. The wilds of Cape York have everything to offer, including rainforest, remote station tracks, picturesque waterfalls, incredible fishing, beautiful views and history galore. But above all else it gives you the chance to explore a remote corner of Australia that previous few people will experience in a lifetime. It's an opportunity to conquer one of the last frontiers of this great country.
Not too long ago, the lure of adventure led me to Cape York Motorcycle Adventures at Carins in northern Queensland. I signed up for an eight-day fly-ride tour with little knowledge of what I was in for. But it didn't matter, because I was hungry for adventure. I left all the worry to Cape York Motorcycle Adventures, who I had full confidence in. CYMA chief Roy Kunda's been leading riders to the tip for 15 years so I figure he was the man for the job.
For my ride I'd be conquering the Cape from north to south - from Cape York to Cairns. The light plane flight from Cairns to Bamaga near the tip was a golden opportunity to take in a bird's eye view of Cape York peninsula and spy on one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Barrier Reef. Touchdown in Bamaga was followed by a short transport ride to Seisia where the adventure began.
The ride kicked off with a short journey out to the very tip for the regulation photographs with the solitary sign indicating you're standing at the most northerly tip of Australia. Then it was straight back on the bikes with the expectation that the real adventure was set to begin.
The best way to ride Cape York is just to kick back, get into the riding and let the adventure come to you. Cape York Motorcycle Adventures knows their stuff and they led me to some amazing places that I consider myself lucky to have experienced. Overnight camps at places like Twin Falls were a real highlight. The chance to cool off in a tropical waterfall with a cold beer while a great bush meal was being prepared for me was just ideal. And that's all after a full day of riding through unfamiliar and exciting country.
The eight days of adventure never let up. Along the way, the fun and games included fishing for barramundi, spotting crocodiles, walking our bikes through the sandy Wenlock River and riding right up to a genuine World War II plane wreck. All were standout memories. So, too was emerging back into civilisation and riding down the main street of Cooktown, as well as riding through the Daintree National Park the following day.
The riding itself wasn't hardcore. Obviously you need to be competent on a dirtbike but it was far from a torture test, which made the experience more enjoyable. The terrain was a surprise for me as it was ever-changing. It certainly wasn't boring. Dry and dusty roads quickly turned to lush rainforest four-wheel-drive tracks and at times Roy had us charging along what seemed like virgin ground.
The remoteness of the Cape and Roy's knowledge of the place ensure some pretty nice riding. And how many people can say they've ridden sections of Cape York's coastlines? Yes, a blast along a deserted tropical beach on a dirtbike was a dream of mine, too. And let me tell you, whistling down the coastline with the salt spray in your face is all it's cracked up to be!
The Final Word
My eight-day Cape York adventure was well planned and well executed. The eight-day, fly-ride format delivered great riding time without having to push past the enjoyable limit. Sure, we experienced the odd drowned bike at a river crossing and a punctured tyre or two, but other than that Roy and his crew had it sorted and we spent maximum time riding and enjoying ourselves. For me, riding Cape York is a gotta-go-back-and-do-it-again ride. The only question is when?