I think every 4WDer has Cape York on their bucket list, and for good reason too. It is one of those places that has just about everything from great tracks to some of the best campsites in the country. And don't think once you visit the Cape that you will be able to say, “been there, done that”, because once you get a taste of this place you'll be forever wanting to return. I have been up to the Cape every year for the last three and have plans to go again next year and I simply can't wait. I am literally counting down the weeks until I drive north again and roll out the swag under a palm tree somewhere on a Cape York beach.
I speak to many people who say that they would love to get up to the Cape but need to wait until they bolt every imaginable accessory to their 4WD first. I think too many people put off their Cape York dream because they are under the impression that they need to throw an open cheque book at their 4WD before they go. I think that this couldn't be any further from the truth and probably stops more people from living their Cape York dream than just about anything else. There are a few things that you need to know about the Cape and in this blog I'm going to give you some advice that will not only save you some coin, but make you realise your dreams sooner.
- Before you get worried about what aftermarket accessories you need and what you don't, make sure your 4WD is reliable. Replace anything that you have doubts about and stock up on spares of key things that you know are a weakness on your 4WD. For me that includes things like a spare alternator (I've been through a few of late), old hoses and belts from my last service, and a manual locking hub. Most people blow their budget by not properly preparing their 4WD before they leave home. If something does go wrong miles from home you will be paying a premium.
- This point might surprise you, but here's what accessories I would deem as the minimum you will need to do the Cape safely and comfortably. A bullbar, winch, good tyres with at least 80% tread, newish shocks, dual batteries, a 12V fridge and a snorkel. With these basic mods I would be confident of driving every track in the Cape.
- Take the time to do it properly. I see way too many people rushing their Cape trip to the point they are barely skimming over the main bits. Spend at least two weeks from Cairns back to Cairns and explore some of the side tracks and lesser known spots. Everybody powers straight up the Development Road, does the Old Tele Track, camps at Loyalty Beach and gets their photo at the sign. While there's nothing wrong witht that itinerary, there are many spots just off the Development Track that are worth seeing and best of all you will escape the crowds.
- My best advice is to start saving your pennies and start saving up your holidays, and most importantly, put a date in your calendar right now and start working towards that plan.
Hopefully I will see you up there next year!