The Tip East - Cape York

The eastern side of the Tip of Cape York features pristine 4WD access beaches, historical ruins and more for off-road travellers to enjoy as part of a journey to the northernmost point of the Australian mainland.

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4WD Adventure Pack
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Atlas & Guide
Atlas & Guide
Paper Map
Paper Map

Essential information

Grading Difficult – low range gearing and high ground clearance..
Time Two days minimum
Distance 80km, Seisia return
Longest drive
without fuel
80km, Seisia return; 74km Seisia to Bamaga
Best time of year Dry Season (May – October).
Warnings Crocodile infested estuaries and beaches. Alcohol restrictions apply.
Permits and fees None apply
Facilities Seisia, Bamaga
Camping Seisia Holiday Park; bush camping at Nanthau Beach; Somerset Beach
Important contacts Bamaga Information Centre Ph (07) 4069 3211; Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council, Seisia office Ph (07) 4048 6700; Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council, Bamaga office Ph (07) 4090 4100; Jardine River Ferry Ph (07) 4069 1369

The Track

The Tip East Cape York

From Seisia the road runs through Bamaga and back up towards The Tip, or you can take the back track that runs through rainforest and savannah, coming out south of the Croc Tent at Lockerbie.

Lizard on the track Bamaga Road
The Croc Tent

 

A track about 11km south of The Tip turns off to the east and runs out to the old Somerset ruins where there is basic camping and plenty for the history buff to explore.

South along the coastline (and signposted roughly) is a track out to Nanthau Beach via Fly Point and Vallack Point. This coastline is spectacular, with rolling hills, sandy beaches and ruddy headlands.

East Tip beach access track Cape YorkImage: Heading down to the beach at Somerset

Things to do

Despite the rich history of the area, the beautiful scenery and the sheer volume of travellers heading to The Tip each year, the facilities here are almost non-existent. The Somerset ruins show one part of the region’s history, and a sandstone cave to the north of the homestead site on the coast houses Aboriginal paintings that tell a much longer historical narrative. This may be the only known Aboriginal gallery north of the Quinkan sites around Laura.

Nanthau Beach Cape YorkImage: On the beach at Somerset near the Tip

Camping is available at Somerset overlooking Albany Island, with a toilet block and shelter. A tinnie can be launched here in the calm waters of Albany Passage, but the tides over the surrounding reefs can be treacherous. The beach run out at Nanthau is great for beachcombing or just camping away from the crowds of The Tip. The fishing yields queenfish, trevally and salmon.

History

One of the earliest settlements on the Cape, Somerset was established in 1864. John Jardine was placed in charge of the settlement, and after an epic ten month cattle drive from Rockhampton to Somerset, his son Frank Jardine would continue the family connection to this settlement until 1873.

Memorial plaque Somerset Ruins

As much a military outpost as a sanctuary for sailors wrecked on the numerous reefs and straits of the waters, the settlement definitely proved its worth to many stranded men. The graves of Frank Jardine and his wife remain in the shade of the trees along the beach at Somerset.