'Cape York Dreaming is a comprehensive drive / fly journey through one of the most isolated, least populated places on earth. Roughly the size of Britain, population of 59 million, the Cape is populated by less than 20 thousand people.
Utilising the most unique accommodations that Cape York has to offer you will stay in properties ranging from safari tents on the shore of the Mareeba Wetlands to the eclectic Portland Roads Beach House. Wherever possible we utilise accommodations with ensuite facilities and meals are plentiful and tasty. Above all – the unique hospitality provided in the north is genuine, open and friendly.
Designed to take in the atmosphere this vast region has to offer and with a full 12 days of touring Cape York Dreaming provides not only the comfort and amenity of overnight accommodation, but also a relaxed pace with plenty of free time to enjoy the experience.
With a particular emphasis on the indigenous culture of Cape York this journey is a truly immersive experience. Visiting ancient art sites with a traditional owner in Laura and meeting the internationally renowned artists at the Lockhart River and Aurukun communities adds a depth to this journey not offered by any other operator.
As one of just eight guests your interests can be catered to and every endeavour will be made to ensure your Cape York experience is further tailored to meet everyone’s needs.
One of sixty or one of six hundred, the choice is yours. One of the large operators advertise themselves as "Cape York's most popular adventure" based on the number of people they carry each year. As we carry less than sixty guests each year on our unique journey through Cape York does that make us the least popular? We prefer to use the term “exclusive”.
So ... come with us to see, to touch and to learn ... come with us on a ride to adventure ... on a journey of discovery. Come with us to capture the emotion and romance, the tragedies and triumphs of Australia's amazing north!
Plus – some exclusive sites only available to OUR GUESTS
Off Road Adventure Safaris wish to acknowledge, with respect, the traditional custodians, both past and present, of the many lands that we travel through on this journey.
Arrive in Cairns (T/D/E)
On your arrival at Cairns airport you will be met by Southern Cross Limousines and taken on a short tour of the Cairns Foreshore and CBD before checking in at the Double Tree by Hilton. With views of the foreshore or the surrounding mountains and its stunning central atrium and rainforest, Double Tree by Hilton is the perfect location for you to get the feel of this picturesque tropical city. With only a short walk into the heart of Cairns you will have time to explore your new surroundings.
Join your Guide and fellow travellers for dinner tonight at The Doubletree in preparation for your journey into one of the world’s last great wilderness areas.
Cairns to Mareeba Wetlands (B/L/D/T/E)
The Wet Tropics rainforests contain an almost complete record of the major stages in the evolution of plant life on earth. Many of the rainforest species of the wet tropics originated when Australia was still part of Gondwana. Taking you away from the mass marketed areas of Mossman and Daintree we travel into an area with restricted access that is used for scientific research and wildlife studies. To ensure that you get the most of this experience we will be joined by a specialist Wet Tropics Guide, who will explain the intricacies of this ancient environment.
After lunch we continue on to Jabiru Safari Lodge on the Mareeba Wetlands, our accommodation for tonight. This 2000 hectare private reserve is owned by the Wildlife Conservancy of Tropical Queensland and is managed by former Cape York graziers, Greg and Marg.
Your introduction to Savannah Wetlands, once again led by a specialist guide, commences with a cruise in the lodge’s battery powered boat on Clancy’s Lagoon. You will then travel into the heart of the reserve stopping at Pandanus Lagoon where wildlife is abundant. The Mareeba Wetlands is a birdwatcher's paradise with flocks of Jabirus, Brolgas and their rare cousins, the Sarus Crane. It is not unusual to twitch between 40 and 50 species of birds during your time at Jabiru Lodge.
To say that the contrast between this morning’s rainforest and the savannah is dramatic is an understatement in itself.
Mareeba Wetlands to Cooktown (B/L/D/E)
Start your day with a complimentary canoe paddle on the lagoon as the sun rises behind you. After a relaxed breakfast we make our way into the Byerstown Range. Revered by drovers as one of the toughest areas in Australia to drive cattle the views on this drive are, at the least, spectacular.
The isolated settlement of Cooktown, situated on the Endeavour River, is steeped in the early history of the area. From Captain Cook beaching the Endeavour for repairs after running aground on a reef, to the gold rush days that saw Cooktown grow from nothing to over 20,000 inhabitants in less than two years, this town has plenty to see and experience. James Cook Museum is well worth a visit and a stroll through the main street is part of the experience. You will be impressed by the view from Grassy Hill Lookout, where Cook encountered his first Gungaru (Kangaroo).
Our accommodation for tonight will be at Mungumby Lodge. With the World Heritage Black Mountains as a backdrop and tropical rainforest at the front door Mungumby Lodge offers quality private accommodation.
Cooktown to Laura (B/L/D/T/E)
Retracing our journey to Lakeland Downs we join the Peninsula Development Road. Locally known as the PDR this is the road that will take us the full length of the Cape York Peninsula.
In Laura we visit the Quinkan Cultural Centre before meeting our guide/traditional owner who will take us into what is considered one of the most significant Indigenous art sites in Australia. UNESCO rates the over 1200 art sites of the Laura Region as being in the top ten in world importance. Giant Horse Gallery and the Quinkan Galleries are sure to impress even the most discerning traveller.
The town of Laura, until recently, spent 5 months of the year cut off from the rest of the world. Step into the Laura General Store and you will feel that you have stepped back in time. Have your photo taken with the fully restored Baby Austin, the same model of car that, in 1928, made the first overland trip to the Cape setting a record of twenty five flat tyres in one day. We spend the night at the Laura Motel as guests of Harold and Jenny.
Laura to Musgrave Telegraph Station (B/L/D/E)
Leaving the sealed roads behind us we make our way into Rinyirru National Park (Lakefield). At 537,000 hectares (1.25 million acres) this is Queensland’s second largest National Park.
Open savannahs, water lily covered billabongs and a mosaic of forest types support a diversity of wildlife and birds and a large population of saltwater crocodiles. There are so many beautiful places to stop in Rinyirru it becomes hard to choose however we will be visiting White and Red Lilly Lagoons and the Nifold Plains. We also cross the Laura, Kennedy, Hann and Morehead Rivers.
Accommodation tonight will be at Musgrave Telegraph Station. Musgrave was one of the repeater stations that boosted the signal up and down the original telegraph line for this still remote part of the world. A walk to the property dam will reveal a range of wildlife including a number of fresh water crocodiles that call the dam home during the dry season.
Musgrave to Melanie Camp on Silver Plains Station (B/L/D)
Heading north from Musgrave we travel through the land of the Lama Lama People to Melanie Camp on Silver Plains Station.
Today’s journey has the most diverse range of landscapes that we encounter on our way up the Cape. From ridge forests to sand dune country, remnant rainforest to harsh termite plains and a lagoon with a massive population of crocodiles, wide roads to narrow tracks it is a day of contrasts.
The original homestead on Silver Plains Station, built in 1946, is a classic example of settler ingenuity and a more simple time when corrugated iron was practical, not trendy.
Melanie Camp is an exclusive Cape York experience set amongst rainforest on the banks of the pristine Massey River, on the remote eastern coast of Cape York. Each of the permanent tents has its own deck overlooking the river where massive Jungle Perch swim in the clear waters.
Operated by Bungie Helicopters in partnership with the Lama Lama People as an exclusive, fully equipped, remote camp for birdwatchers and travellers looking for a relaxing, stress free bush experience Melanie Camp is the epitome of low impact, environmental tourism.
Melanie Camp to Archer River(B/L/D)
A stay at Melanie Camp is an experience to be savoured so there is no need to rush this morning.
For the bird watchers an early morning walk along the banks of the Massey River is sure to delight. After a relaxed breakfast try your luck for a Barramundi in the lagoon downstream from the camp or just sit back and enjoy the serenity that comes with such a remote location.
The Great Dividing Range is our constant companion during the journey up the Cape and at no point is it more rugged that in the McIlwraith (Kulla National Park) Section. This rugged plateau of dissected granite has an average height of 450 metres and a high point of 824 metres. Our journey today takes us through the heart of the range as we make our way to Coen.
Gold was discovered on the Coen River in 1876 and the town first came into being as a small fort built by gold miners and prospectors in 1877. Today Coen provides a range of services to the region, and is an important supply point for the northern communities. Coen also marks the half way point of a journey up the Cape.
Our final destination for today is the Archer River, one of Cape York’s largest river systems. With its headwaters in the Great Dividing Range on the eastern side of the Cape this magnificent river flows into the Gulf of Carpentaria on the Western Cape.
We spend the night at the Archer River Roadhouse in their motel units. This establishment, a piece of Cape York tour history, was the first roadhouse established specifically to service travellers on their way to the Tip of Cape York. Meet the locals while we have dinner on the verandah of the roadhouse and be amazed when you view the flood level marks on the side of the motel units.
Archer River to Portland Road (B/L/D)
Our journey today takes us off the PDR to the remote village of Portland Roads where they try to keep the population under ten to avoid rush hour gridlock. During WW II this was a supply port for the military bases that were established in the area.
Our drive through the Iron Range (Kutini-Payamu) National Park exposes views of the cyclone swept mountains that, for eons, have protected the largest remaining lowland rainforest in Australia and one of the last in the world. This area is doubly important as it supports the northern-most community of Australian Cassowaries.
For those interested in Indigenous art we visit the Lockhart River Art Centre, the birthplace of modern Indigenous art on Cape York. We will also visit Quintell Beach with its massive boulders and the Iron Range Airport with its memorial to the WW II heavy bomber base.
Staying at Portland House on the shores of Weymouth Bay is an experience in itself. It is your chance to live the way that the people of FNQ live. Houses up here are open to the world with shutters that are only ever closed during the wet season. Portland house is totally self-sufficient with solar electricity, composting toilet and the freshest rainwater that you will ever shower in.
Our hosts, Greg and Sheree, will treat us to the freshest seafood dinners and friendly hospitality to complement our stay.
Portland Road (B/L/D)
No need to pack your bags today as we will be staying a second night at Portland House.
Sleep in, have breakfast at your leisure and just enjoy the laid back attitude of what is one of Australia's smallest and most isolated communities. Most supplies to this area arrive by cargo barge from Cairns.
After lunch at the Out of the Blue Cafe we will return to Portland House for an afternoon at leisure. For those keen to wet a line Portland Road is renowned for its Cape York fishing. We supply the rods, you supply the fish.
Portland Road to Moreton Telegraph Station (B/L/D)
A short trip will have us at Chili Beach and in view of Restoration Island. Once the refuge of Captain Bligh and the men that remained loyal after the mutiny on the Bounty, for the past 28 years it has been home to Australia's own Robinson Crusoe.
Returning to the PDR our next destination is Moreton Telegraph Station. Along the way we visit the remains of The Batavia Gold Fields.
Officially proclaimed in 1892 following the discovery of gold by William Baird at Retreat Creek, a tributary of the Wenlock River, the initial yields were quite high with output in 1893 being around two thousand ounces. The mine continued operation till after World War II.
Situated on the banks of the Wenlock River, Moreton Telegraph Station is steeped in the history of the pioneering days of Cape York. Take a stroll along the tree lined banks of the river where clear water flows over a sandy bottom. This deceptively calm river becomes a raging torrent during the wet and, until the introduction of the bridge, was one of the major impediments to travel along the Cape.
Moreton is a bird watchers delight. There is a good chance that we will see Cape York’s iconic bird, the Palm Cockatoo. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon flocks of Red Wing Parrots come to Moreton to feed on the numerous fruit trees. Large Barramundi and Saratoga are a regular catch in the river below the campground.
Moreton Station to Punsand Bay (B/L/D/E)
The road that has brought us this far is, in essence, the modern version of the initial Overland Telegraph Track (OTT) and mostly follows the route initially surveyed between 1883 and 1885 during an expedition led by John Richard Bradford.
The last remaining original sections of the OTT begin at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse, 40kms north of Moreton. We feel that the OTT is an integral part of a Cape York journey so we venture approximately five kilometres into the track to the first of the major obstacles, Palm Creek.
Re-joining the main road we travel on to Fruit Bat Falls for a refreshing swim and a break for lunch. The journey through Heathlands Reserve reveals some excellent scenery while a morning tea stop at what our guests have named ‘Secret Creek’ is sure to delight.
Continuing north we come to the Jardine River, Australia’s largest perennial river. Even at the peak of the dry this river flows at approximately four million litres of fresh water a second (no – that is not a typo). Crossing the river by ferry we continue on to Punsand Bay. With the tip of Cape York in view from the beach and spectacular sunsets over the Arafura Sea, Punsand Bay is the perfect staging point for the culmination of our journey.
Punsand Bay to Pajinka - The Tip (B/L/D/E)
Start the day with a helicopter flight over what is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most stunning coastlines. Hidden beaches, coral fringed islands, pockets of rainforest and of course Cape York itself. This stunning 30 minute flight will give you an overview of our journey for today.
Cape York (as opposed to The Cape York Peninsula) was named by Captain Cook in honour of the Duke of York. It is properly known as Pajinka and commonly referred to as ‘The Tip’. Whatever you call it, there is a magical feeling to stand at the end of our continent and know that there is no-one further north than you on mainland Australia. This is our goal for today.
On the way we pass through Lockerbie Scrub, isolated pockets of monsoonal rainforest more at home in Papua New Guinea than Australia. We also visit Somerset, the failed ‘Singapore of the Pacific’, established by the famous (and sometimes infamous) Jardine family. We also include the beautiful Lake Witcheura as part of our journey for today.
Lake Witcheura is a perched dune lake, the type of lake that Fraser Island is famous for. With less than one hundred of this type of lake in the world Lake Witcheura is especially intriguing as its pure fresh water supports a resident population of approximately thirty juvenile estuarine crocodiles.
No trip to Pajinka is complete without a visit to ‘The Croc Tent’. This Cape York icon, originally established at the Wenlock River in 1984, was instrumental in supporting the growth of tourism to the Cape. Currently under the tenure of Dale, Lea, Jaxson and Benji, this young family is the epitome of the pioneering spirit of the Cape.
To avoid the crowds we time our day to arrive at Pajinka in the late afternoon. This usually means we have it to ourselves as we enjoy sunset drinks and a platter before returning to Punsand Bay.
Punsand Bay to Thursday/ Horn Island and Cairns(B/L/D/T/E)
It’s an early start today to catch our privately chartered vessel for a trip through the Torres Strait to Thursday Island where you will join a personalised tour of the island with one of the traditional owners. Following your tour spend some time at the Gab-Titui Cultural Centre to
Transferring to Horn Island we join Vanessa and Liberty from Torres Straits Heritage for a tour of the Island and the World War II sites. As part of a 5th generation Torres Strait family they will share their world with you and give you an insight into the conditions during the war. After an Asian buffet lunch at the Torres Strait Resort you will have time to explore the Torres Strait Heritage Museum before being transferred to the airport for your flight to Cairns.
Undoubtedly the most magnificent scenic commercial flight in Australia you will be able to retrace your journey up the Cape and, weather conditions permitting, have the most incredible views of the Great Barrier Reef. On your return to Cairns you will be met by Southern Cross Limousines to be taken to your accommodation at Double Tree by Hilton.
Depart Cairns (B)
Depending on your departure plans a late checkout can sometimes be arranged with prior notification to reception. Breakfast is included with your stay and Southern Cross Limousines will transfer you to the airport at the appropriate time.
If you would like to extend your stay we can do that for you at our considerably reduced rates.
On this tour we travel to very remote regions. Occasionally things happen which may require a change to the itinerary and/or accommodation. To enjoy the full benefit of your Cape York tour you are asked to be flexible, open- minded and prepared for the unexpected.
Codes & Meals
Your holiday price includes all meals and tours as coded. Please note that alcohol is only provided at sundowners. Every effort is made to meet dietary requirments in this remote locality.
PLUS surprise inclusions that we can't tell you about or they wouldn't be surprises
$11,495 per person Twin Share
$1,595 single supplement
Group discounts for 4 or more. Please see FAQs for Deposits and Payments
2018 Departure Dates available on request.
Book for 2018 at 2017 prices
What is included in my tour?
Off Road Adventure Safaris have nationally qualified, professional, Cape York tour guides with extensive 4WD touring experience – ready to show you the wonders of Cape York. Included in the cost of your tour are the following:
In simple terms, except for personal purchases, our prices are fully inclusive
How much is the deposit for the tour and when do I have to pay it?
We require a deposit of 20% within 7 days of booking your safari. This confirms your booking. Please refer to Terms and Conditions for full details.
When do I have to pay the balance of my tour price?
The balance must be paid in full two month prior to departure. Bookings made within two months of travel must be paid in full within 72 hours. Please refer to Terms and Conditions for full details.
What happens if I need to cancel my tour?
If cancellation occurs more than 60 days prior to departure an administration fee of $500 per person will be deducted from your refund. Cancellations occurring 60 – 30 days prior to travel a 50% cancellation fee applies cancellations occurring less than one month prior to departure will incur the following charges: 29 - 14 days prior 75% of total, less than 14 days prior 100% of total. Please note that cancellation of any flight component of this tour will be subject to the terms and conditions of the ticket purchased by Off Road Adventure Safaris from the airline – in the case of cancellation occurring more than 60 days prior to departure any costs associated with the flight component will be in addition to the administration or cancellation fee outline above.
Our 2017 itinerary has come about through a process of evolution guided, in the main, by feedback from our previous guests. While the mine tour at Weipa has been well received the general consensus is that it is a long detour (400 klms) to do a mine tour and that with a population of nearly 3000 and all the facilities that you would expect in a town of that size, Weipa is no longer the remote outpost that it was 20 years ago. To this end guests have told us that it overpowers the feeling of remoteness that they have come to Cape York to experience.
By leaving Weipa off the itinerary we have been able to include the restricted art sites at Laura, an inclusion not offered by any other tour operator. The art sites of the Quinkan Country are rated by UNESCO as in the Top 10 Primitive Art Sites in the world. We feel that this is an inclusion more in keeping with the interests of our guests.
What vehicle will I be travelling in?
In 2016 we introduced a custom built Merceded Benz 4wd mini coach. This impressive vehicle will ensure you the most comfortable ride possible while still allowing access into sites that the larger tour groups cannot reach. Being a full bodied vehicle it offers extensive viewing spaces not just to the side but forward as well. A formal seat rotation is used to ensure that all guests enjoy their travels with us.
What is the standard of food supplied?
On our tours we provide you with all meals as coded in the itinerary.
Our accommodated safaris are catered and the meals are exceptional. Continental and/or cooked breakfasts most mornings, fresh sandwiches and wraps for lunches and 2 course dinners to finish the day and recharge the batteries for the next stage of the adventure. In some of the destinations that we stay you will be able to order your preference off the regular menu. Where menus are pre-decided special food requirements can be catered for.
Please note that alcohol with meals is not included.
What climate can I expect?
The Cape York Tour season runs from May through to October. Early in the season the days are warm and nights are pleasant. Towards the middle of the season (August) the days become mild and nights can get quite cool. By the end of the season the days can be warm to hot however the nights are still comfortable. Contrary to popular belief winter weather on the Cape is very enjoyable from a comfort perspective.
How much luggage can I bring?
Upon final payment you will be sent a good quality, personalised duffel bag (42 ltr capacity). In the past we have had guests who have had to pay substantial amounts in excess baggage for the return flight to Cairns and varying size bags have caused issues with storage space on the vehicle. By supplying our guests with a standard size bag the guess work is removed. We have suplying this size bag for the past 4 years and they have been well received both for size and useability. You may also have a small day bag or pack however most guests tend to carry a bottle of water and their cameras only. Baggage other than that indicated cannot be carried without prior arrangement.
What else do I need to bring?
Shorts, trousers and shirts for the tropics (clothing should be casual and footwear comfortable). Swimwear, a hat, sunglasses, and sun protection (insect repellent may be required) – some form of fast-drying wet-shoe would prove useful on these tours. If travelling mid-season a jacket of some sort is advisable. Most guests bring more clothing than they need. There are opportunities to wash clothing if desired.
Personal toiletries, if you are from overseas and want to use an electrical appliance you will need to bring an adapter. Don’t forget to bring your video or camera along with plenty of memory & spare batteries (recharge facilities are available). Money and / or credit card for personal expenses such as drinks, souvenirs and optional tours. You may wish to bring some alcohol (please bear in mind alcohol restrictions apply in some areas visited). There are no pharmacies between Cairns and Thursday Island so adequate supplies of medication need to obtained prior to departure.
Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance is not included with this trip. We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover any unforeseen circumstances which may arise (including, but not limited to, health, baggage, loss of monies through cancellation, additional expenses incurred through illness or personal liability prior to travel and early return, for example following a family emergency).
Are the tours strenuous?
Our tours have been designed to suit a reasonable level of fitness and our itinerary allows for a relaxed pace. Being able to do some walking along nature trails and cope with remoteness is essential. People suffering from lack of tolerance, or who are not of general good health should not consider these tours. If you need particular medication, it is necessary to bring your own adequate supply for the duration of the tour as there are no chemists along the way If you are unsure: We strongly recommend that you consult with your general practitioner for the all clear before booking on to one of our tours
Note: Clients over 70 years of age are required to have a clearance certificate from a General Practitioner. Some of our guests have expressed concern over this requirement.however your well being is our greatest priority. Bear in mind that while there are excellent medical services on the cape there is a lot of space .between them.
Hi Mark and Jody,
Many thanks for making our trip to the Cape and beyond so enjoyable. You took us to places we would never have got to otherwise, even if we had driven our own 4WD.
Mark, we were entertained and informed by your commentaries and always felt secure with your skilled handling of Ben. Such a rich cornucopia of experiences were compressed into such a full two weeks.
Jody, thanks for all your admin work – all the accommodation and tours went so smoothly.
And the limo finale- sheer panache!
And now for some doggerel ( I can’t call it poetry!):
Fancy Something to do?
See the llamas in Peru.
Want a different sort of pet?
Pick a lama from Tibet.
But for a veritable panorama –
Don’t go past a LamaLama
(One of the traditional lands that we travelled through)
Tour guide Mark was elated
Whenever “words” were debated
He loved phraseology
Robin, Helen and Nettie
Thank you Mark for a great trip.
We wanted to travel to the tip of the Australian continent by road which entails 4WD which is not in our capabilities. To us a group of 20 is NOT a small group.
We chose to go with Off Road Adventure Safaris who take a max of 8 people but we were very fortunate to be the only 2 on tour. We were blessed to be able to enjoy nature along the way with the sounds of bird song rather than people chatter.
Our guide, driver and companion on the trip, Mark, is a chatterer but his chatter was full of enthusiasm and knowledge of what we were experiencing from the small insects to crocodiles and the history of the places we visited. We learned a lot from him and could appreciate everything all the more for his explanations and stories of the land, people, indigenous history and culture, flora and fauna.
Accommodation covered the spectrum of excellent to average (was mixed) as is to be expected in such remote places but was always clean and comfortable. We had some memorable meals in fantastic settings. The bus we travelled in was excellent and even on the corrugations was only a little rough but that added to the experience.
Marg and Lee (NSW)
Ode To Mark
A trip to the tip of Cape York
Was suddenly more than just talk
Research was done to find someone
Who could take us for this Cape York jaunt
Off Road Adventure Safaris
With Captain Mark at the wheel
Was the choice of seven wise people
To provide us with the real deal
We started off well and very soon we could tell
That we had a treat in store
Mark’s Mountain of knowledge held us in awe
We couldn’t have wished for more
Morning and afternoon tea stops
Always seemed planned to delight us
More often than not at Mark’s secret spots
He had said that he was full of surprises
He doesn’t do jokes but he knows lots of blokes
Like Kevie and Jimbo and Steve
And Linda and Tat Girl, we even met Clancy
Their stories were hard to believe
The end of the trip and we’ve reached the Tip
Through dip after dip after dip
Through floodways’ and creeks, spotting feathers and beaks
We certainly weren’t disappointed
If you want a formidable team
To make sure you get to the Tip
By traversing the Great Divide
Mark and Ben are surely it
And now as we go away I think we all can say
We’ve had an AWESOME EXPERIENCE
A huge THANK YOU MARK
You are a credit to your profession
Jan and Barry (NSW)
(Ben is the name of our bus)
With a guide who really knows the area, takes you to places other groups never visit, is absolutely reliable and who works hard to cater to your personal interests - from ancient and modern rock art to wildlife of all kinds?
Do you like good food, with the freshest meals in really inaccessible places?
If you are reading this review you are already thinking about visiting Cape York, and if this sounds like your sort of trip you cannot do better than to go with Off Road Adventure Safaris.
We recently completed a 13 night safari for 6 persons, to Cape York/Thursday Is. I wish that I had had the chance to go there earlier.
This tour showed me a part of Australia that was entirely new. It was a real adventure, with many small side-trips not on the itinerary, to seek out something that one of us requested. Mark has a passion for outback Australia, is extremely well-informed, very caring of the needs of the group, an excellent organizer, a fantastic 4-wheel driver (the Telegraph track is a challenge!) and an overall very nice guy of good humour, who was full of pleasant surprises.
We learnt about people living in isolated communities, Aboriginal culture and art, early Australian settlers, the gold-rush and mining and their effects on indigenous people, birds inhabiting the North, crocs, waterways and rivers, and caring for our lands.
Accommodation was varied and mostly of a high standard. Food was generally excellent; although we did not get the mud crab!
My husband and I are 70+ and although the pace was steady, we enjoyed every minute. A minor point was that we would have liked a little more time to explore some of the places that were so new to us.
This is a stupendous trip. I will never forget the long expanses of red dust roads, the beautiful rainforests, streams that we swum in, the aboriginal rock art at Quinkan, chatting with artists at Lockhart River, new birds Joan spotted, sipping cool white wine on Pajinka (a surprise from Mark when we reached the tip), strolls on wonderful deserted beaches and the beautiful sunsets we shared with friends.
I have just spent the most amazing time on Cape York with Off Road Adventure Safaris.
Our tour guide and owner of the business was Mark. To say that he gave us a good time would be a massive understatement at least. Mark is a highly experienced tour guide who goes out of his way to cater for the individual needs of his guests.
Our tour was a private charter camping safari which involved seven participants and a second vehicle. Obtaining a suitable vehicle was a story in itself which endorsed Mark’s commitment to our satisfaction before we even met him.
The tour was run with a laid back style which meant that we never felt that we were being rushed from one point to another. All the main sites of Cape York were included in the itinerary with some hidden gems thrown in for good measure. The extras that Mark supplies (fishing gear, sunset platters, $50 dollar tinnies and more) make the journey all the more enjoyable.
The two night stay at Portland Roads and the visit to the Lockhart River Art Centre was well received by all in the group.
At our initial meeting Mark stated that his goal was that by the time we returned to Cairns he wanted us to feel that we had been part of Cape York, not just driven over the top of it. This goal was well and truly achieved.
Off Road Adventure Safari has given us an experience of a lifetime! A trip planned and executed by our favourite 4wd driver in flawless fashion - with every attention given to the smallest detail throughout.
Mark's knowledge and understanding of the country, the people, the flora and fauna was outstanding, and his knowledge of hidden gems off the beaten track added to our overall enjoyment. To say nothing of his capacity to anticipate all our needs and desires! The accommodation and meals were fantastic.
This particular safari should be on everyone's "must do" list.
Ginny & Tim (NSW)
Wonderful experience with a very informative and excellent guide.
There are many interesting areas visited that are not available to other tours, and the whole trip puts one in tune with the Far North and the local people.
Mark is a great driver and excellent guide who takes a lot of trouble to get to know what his group likes and wants and does his best to fulfil their wishes.
The indigenous art at Laura was one of the highlights of the trip.
A great trip to the top end and I highly recommend it to all who want to see Cape York; and what a wonderful surprise at the end of the journey.
We just came back from an amazing 4WD trip from Cairns to Cape York.
There were 6 of us in the Landcruiser with Mark. As a tour guide and off-road driver he has lots of experience from many years of outback tours and training work.
He is thoughtful, and well organized, got to know each of us and catered to our interests. He talked to everyone along the way and picked up local information; everyone knew him. And it was great fun.
We came away with precious memories and lots of photos of the birds and animals the vastness of the landscape, the corrugations and the informative flow of information from Mark.
The Sea Eagle and Wedge Tail at the same road kill and the slowly submerging crocodile are unforgettable; but we missed out on catching a Barramundi.
There are different ways to do the Top End and most people with lots of time will use their own vehicle. A shorter accommodated trip like this one suited us, although perhaps not as flexible, but certainly in comfort (as can be) and with confidence.
The food was excellent and the accommodation the best for the locations we were in.
The WWII museum on Horn Island should not be missed and the Art Centre at Lockhart River is a great experience. Overall a great trip.
My experience taking this trip up Cape York was one of the most memorable trips I have ever had! I took the 12 night camping option and got to discover some of the most breath taking scenery on offer in Australia and explore remote locations by 4WD.
All camping equipment was supplied, comfortable camp stretchers to sleep on and all meals are provided as well (I specified gluten free and had fantastic meals!)
Mark, our tour guide, is definitely an expert in his field and has an extensive knowledge of Cape York and a great enthusiasm to provide each and every person a once in a life time experience on their trip.
I cannot fault one thing about this tour and would recommend it 100% to all age groups. The highlights for me were reaching the very tip of Australia, taking a helicopter ride, Seisia sunsets, magnificent waterfalls, 4WD the telegraph track, catching my first Barra and experiencing the most beautiful, crystal clear stars I have ever seen in my life!!!!
Do yourself a favour and book your adventure here!
With only 4 of us plus Mark, it meant we had plenty of room. Having 6 plus Mark would be a little uncomfortable for our age group.
That aside, Mark's organisation, his experience and enthusiasm meant we were never bored and were always being educated in the ways of the Cape. He is a very good guide and very considerate of his guests.
The accommodation in the main was what we expected, although Portland Roads was a little bit disappointing for a couple of the group and probably not up to the standard we expected. But it is quirky. The food in the café next door was just great as it was in Lotus Bird Lodge and for the rest of the trip, it was fine for what we were doing. Try the wood fired pizza in Punsand Bay as well. The wine was not as expensive as we thought it would be which was a plus.
Overall, it was just a great trip, with wonderful memories so thank you Mark.
To those who want to experience Cape York Peninsular, I have recently returned from travelling with 5 lady friends, all seniors, on a 12 day accommodated tour of Cape York Peninsular with Off Road Adventure Safaris, in the very capable hands of owner operator Mark Essenhigh.
Mark’s love and experience of ‘The Cape’ soon became evident as we set off from Cairns heading for the ‘tip’. Although we had an itinerary which promised to take us to all the ‘must see’ attractions along the way, we found our days were full as often we found ourselves enjoying an extra inclusion and other niceties in unexpected places.
The tour included a variety of accommodation, some equal to major city properties, a comfortable tent in the wilderness, a cabin in the rainforest just meters from the beach, and an unusual, very comfortable beach house at an ‘off the beaten track’ destination, all staffed with amazingly helpful, friendly people who were a delight to meet. All meals were included and just great, menu’s displayed a good selection including fresh fish, salads & vegetables, all prepared to perfection even though we were ‘ in the middle of nowhere’! All picnic lunches more than sustained us & were enjoyed by a shady creek or scenic area.
Mark’s knowledge of the history, wildlife, Aboriginal Culture, the characters that contribute to the Peninsula’s charm & way of life, the land & the road/ track system were all outstanding. His ability as a 4WD driver was very reassuring & at all times we felt very safe & in capable hands.
The scenery as we progressed was ever changing, interesting & held our attention each day and we delighted in the many creek & river crossings that contribute to the geology of the cape. The inclusion of the journey along the track of the original Telegraph Line to the cape was exhilarating to say the least, what an exciting day, not only because of the experience of the historic track & scenery but the wonderful ‘comradeship’ that exists among fellow 4WDers. Certainly a day to remember.
To stand at the ‘tip’ – the most northern point of mainland Australia was a feeling of achievement & though rocky & baron looking, a great place to be & one realises how close we are to our northern neighbours. We were all very happy to have ‘made it to the top’!
To conclude the tour with a visit to Thursday Island & Horn Island is an excellent way to learn & experience a little of island life and our WW11 history of our far north eastern shores was an informative & surprising conclusion.
I would strongly recommend this destination to all with an adventurous spirit who want to experience this unique part of Australia that is Far North Queensland and encourage them to travel with Mark Essenhigh, tour operator extraordinaire - you won’t be disappointed.
Just completed a fantastic 12 day trip from Cairns to the tip – there were 4 of us in the party.
Mark put together a great itinerary which was customised to our needs – the primary requirement being no camping! The accommodation that Mark found was the best available in the area and was, in the main, acceptable. One needs to consider the isolation of many of the places you will be staying at when you consider the quality of the accommodation. The best was Lotus Bird Lodge. The meals were great.
The key value points were:
1) Mark’s knowledge and experience enabled him to find terrific spots for our breaks for lunch, morning and afternoon tea.
2) Mark’s knowledge about local communities, fauna and flora – we certainly learned a lot.
3) Safety – the 4WD was well equipped and Mark’s driving ability and skills led to everyone feeling safe and confident. Some of the roads that you travel can be a little intimidating for city slickers.
If you’re considering this trip then I would certainly recommend this as the best way to go – it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see FNQ. Most of the options (tagalong, Outback Spirit etc) all come in about the same price range in the long run. I believe the extra couple of hundred dollars that a customised tour that Mark can put together is well worth it. Travelling in a small group 4-6 is a great idea, so put together a group of friends and go for it! You’ll be in good hands with Mark.
Recently enjoyed a 12 day camping trip to Cape York with Off Road Adventure Safaris.
Everything was well thought out and made camping very comfortable with easy to erect tents and stretchers and all linen supplied. Mark was very obliging and nothing too much trouble.
Marks experience and expertise, as well as his knowledge of the Cape, the people, flora and fauna made you feel you were in good hands. We were also treated regularly to ‘brought to you exclusively by Off Road Adventure Safaris’.
Would recommend Mark and Off Road Adventure Safaris for whatever trip you had in mind.
Just returned from 12 fabulous days driving to Pajinka (the tip of Cape York) with Off Road Adventure Safaris.
A 4-wheel drive with our own driver, Mark, who ensured we saw and experienced great scenery, toured unique private Aboriginal art sites and experienced the rough roads and wild rivers in absolute safety. Highly recommended.
Thank you so much for your very kind and generous donation to the auction at Mater Little Miracles Ball on Saturday, 18 February, 2012. The 11 Night Cape York Safari Adventure was very popular in the auction with frantic bidding for it! In the end, it sold for $3500, which is a great result!
Funds raised at the Mater Little Miracles Ball helps the thousands of seriously ill children and babies from across Queensland and Northern NSW who are cared for at Mater Mothers’ and Mater Children’s Hospitals each year.
We truly appreciate your donation, you’ve helped us to raise a record amount which will help make little miracles happen!
Amie Wiggins – Mater Foundation (QLD)
I had the most wonderful adventure. I loved every moment of it. Mark – you were extremely professional, the equipment was 1st Class. The small group was great. The experience and memories I will treasure always. Thank you.
Micheal & Margot (VIC)
To Mark – Guide Extraordinaire! – Thank you so much for all the places, things and people you’ve shown us, your amazing knowledge you’ve shared with us, your patience and flexibility and being an all round great guy. A fantastic Cape York experience!!
Thank you so much for a truly memorable experience. I have wanted to do this trip for many years and I have been ‘Blown Away’ by what I have seen and heard. You have put so much into providing a first class service and by taking us off the beaten track. Keep up the good work.
A trip of a lifetime. Mark was an excellent guide. The accommodation was an experience and varied and of a high quality. A great itinerary. Not enough space to adequately express my satisfaction with this tour. Fantastic!
Our adventure with Off Road Adventure Safaris surpassed all my expectations. Mark was a terrific guide and went out of his way to ensure that all ran smoothly and we all had a great time. I would like to go on another adventure with Off Road Adventure Safaris sometime in the future. Thanks Mark & Jody!
I still think about our trip at least once every day and the great time I had, I just wish I could start it all over again tomorrow!. Once again such a big thanks for the fantastic time I had on my way to the Cape. Mark, your platters to accompany our wine were superb, I really enjoyed our evenings all together, it was great. Don’t forget to work on a new location for another trip!
As a direct result of your generous donation of the 12 Day Safari for 2 people we have donated to the Queensland Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal $4,000. Please also find attached a letter of appreciation from the Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh. Thank you again for your support and we look forward to continuing our association in 2012.
Thank you for making our trip to Cape York a memorable one. We will definitely be recommending you guys to everyone we meet!
Tara & Rob (Qld)
Thank you Mark for being the competent guide, showing us parts of Australia that we would not otherwise have seen, explaining the culture of the environment, passing on your enthusiasm for that environment, and generally making sure that all your guests were looked after. We have many memories which will be supported by countless photos, and will have a great pleasure in sharing our experiences with friends. Again thanks to you for ensuring that our trip to Far North Queensland was a trip to remember.
Chris & Tony (Vic)