Musgrave Roadhouse

We met the Peninsula Development road at the Musgrave Roadhouse.  Fuel, meals and minor vehicle repairs are available, and there is a camp ground if required.  There are a number of possible detours off of the road between Musgrave Roadhouse and Archer River, including tracks into the Mungkan Kandju National Park.  The township of Coen provides another alternate stop for supplies and an overnight camp.

Archer River

The Archer River is a clean shallow waterway with some excellent sandy campsites along its banks.  The roadhouse here also provides fuel, meals, and campsites.

Archer River

We chose to camp along the banks of the Archer River.  Lined by shady gums, with a clean sandy bottom, this river provided a peaceful backdrop for an amazing sunset.

 

Pinnacle Creek

Just a short distance north of the Archer River ford, we spent a short time at Pinnacle Creek.

 

The Wenlock River

The Wenlock River is one of the Cape's major waterways and it is crossed just before arriving at Moreton Telegraph Station.  There is an extensive grassed area for camping here, and it is a very popular spot to spend a bit of time.  Meals and accommodation are also provided, but there is no fuel available.
   

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Start of the OTT

Bramwell Junction marks the beginning of the Old Telegraph Track.  Once again the roadhouse has fuel, meals and camping facilities, and it has become a meeting place for those heading up the OTT and those who have just come down the track. 

 

   

Canal Creek Crossing

 

The Overland Telegraph Track is definitely 4WD only.  The track is generally narrow, with some sections being very rocky and eroded.  Our vehicle was not fitted with a snorkel, and we were able to navigate all of the creek crossings without incident.  We also carried a hand winch and all the straps and shackles that we might have needed to operate it safely.  With careful driving, and by walking all the creek crossings before tackling them in the vehicle, we had no need to use any of the equipment which we faithfully carried all the way. 

 

Unfortunately Stuck

 

The creek conditions change as the seasons change, and the entrances and exits may vary from year to year.  It is highly recommended that you be prepared with all the equipment necessary for a safe recovery should you find yourself in trouble.  The Useful Links may help with deciding on the best way to prepare your vehicle.  It is also a wonderful idea to travel the Old Telegraph Track in convoy with at least one other vehicle.   During our trip we did meet vehicles which had encountered problems, but some of them found themselves in trouble because they didn't assess the situation that they faced carefully.   The OTT need not be daunting, but should always be tackled with good preparation and a great deal of common sense.

 

Gunshot Creek

We travelled in August and found that conditions were favourable for all of the crossings except Gunshot.  The Gunshot by-pass road is a good choice for most travellers, although winching out of the creek when approaching from the north is a possibility. 
   

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The Old Telegraph Track

The first creek crossing on your way up the OTT is at Palm Creek.  The creek has a steep entry and care should be taken not to 'bottom out' as you make your way into the creek bed.  When we were there, the bottom of Palm Creek was a bit muddy and very slippery.  There are a few camping spots close to Palm Creek.

 

Ducie Creek

Ducie Creek is deceptively deep and murky.  The bottom of the creek bed is firm and sandy, and although it is not inviting, it is a good idea to walk the creek to make sure you follow the path which is most shallow.  Camping is possible on either side of the Ducie Creek crossing.

Dulhunty River

You cross the South Alice and North Alice Creeks as you head further up the OTT.  Both are very easy creek crossings and offer camping spots.  The Dulhunty River is another of Cape York's major waterways but the crossing is shallow and sandy.  There are numerous good camping spots, particularly on the south side of the Dulhunty, and the waters are cool and refreshing.

Bertie Creek

Bertie Creek is not far up the track from the Dulhunty River.  The creek bed is rocky and full of pot holes.  If you wish to cross it safely, it is best to travel along the creek edge for a short distance and then go straight over the creek to the exit.  We watched many vehicles just bang their way across and through some of the holes at this crossing!  The holes are deep, and have sharp edges so it would be easy to do irreparable damage to your vehicle's undercarriage.

There are limited camping spots on the north side of Bertie Creek, but the sites are shady and pleasant.

 

Bertie Creek

Gunshot By-pass Road

Four kilometres from Bertie Creek you will find the Gunshot Creek by-pass road.  We travelled this route, since we had been informed by others that the entrances to Gunshot Creek from the south were extremely steep.  The by-pass track turns to the east of the OTT, about 14 km before Gunshot Creek.  The route makes for an interesting change from the narrow and confined conditions on the Old Telegraph Track. 

 

Gunshot By-pass Road

Gunshot Creek Entrance

Upon joining the OTT again, we turned back for about 2 kilometres to Gunshot Creek, to see what we had avoided.  The entrances from the south were indeed extremely steep, with soft, muddy puddles at the bottom.  We were happy with our decision not to tackle the Gunshot. Others had travelled this way, and managed to negotiate the vertical drop into the creek and continue on their way.  The exit on the north side was easy and would have presented no problems.

Northern Exit to Gunshot

Papuan Frogmouth

While we were standing in the creek at Gunshot we were extremely fortunate to find that a Papuan Frogmouth had decided it was time for a bath in the creek-bed.  He sat there, as frogmouths do, making out to be a log.  What an amazing sight for a keen bird watcher!

Papuan Frogmouth

   

 

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Cockatoo Creek

 

Cockatoo Creek Video

Cockatoo Creek is about 9 kilometres further north.  This creek has a rocky bottom with large potholes.  We found that we crossed by navigating in an S-shape in order to avoid major holes.  The creek is one of the most attractive along the OTT, and suitable camping sites are available.  Sailor Creek is the last creek that is forded on the lower section of the Old Telegraph Track.  This is a small creek which you could easily 'blink and miss'.  Very soon after Sailor Creek, you rejoin the main Bamaga Road for about 10 kilometres.

 

The Track to Fruit Bat Falls

Take the turn to Fruit Bat Falls which is sign-posted on the Bamaga Road.  A short distance up the track, you will find the turn to Fruit Bat Falls.  This detour is definitely one of the highlights of the Cape and should not be missed.  Fruit Bat Falls, Elliot Falls and Twin Falls are all located along the Elliot Creek.

 

Fruit Bat Falls

Fruit Bat Falls

Fruit Bat Falls is a beautiful place and the clean waters under the falls make an excellent swimming spot.  The pool is the home of a number of fish species, and the bottom is generally rocky and clean.

There is no camping at Fruit Bat Falls, but the picnic area is well-shaded. 

 

Fruit Bat Falls

Elliot Falls

After a refreshing swim at Fruit Bat Falls, head back to the Old Telegraph Track and turn north once again.  About 7 kilometres on, you will find the turn to Elliot Falls and Twin Falls.  There is a short walking track to Elliot Falls, which are located at a very narrow section of the creek.  The shape of these falls is unusual and the creek flows relatively quickly here, so swimming is not recommended.

 

Near Elliot Falls

Twin Falls

Twin Falls are close by, and here the pool under the pretty falls is suitable for swimming.  The sandy bottom, and rocky ledges are often crowded with travellers looking for a cool place to rest.

All of these falls are easily accessible to visitors to Cape York.  If do not wish to continue along the OTT, it is necessary to retrace your steps back to the main Bamaga Road and head north once again.

 

Twin Falls

   

 

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Canal Creek

 

Canal Creek Video

Canal Creek is an interesting and complicated creek crossing.  The southern entrance to the creek is easily found, but there are numerous tracks which exit on the northern side of this small, shallow, but deceptively dangerous creek crossing. 

We spent quite a few minutes searching for the easiest and safest way to cross the creek.  We decided to head to the left along the creek edge before crossing, and then taking the exit which was the most westerly.  We had no trouble with Canal Creek, but others found it a challenge.  A number of drivers got into trouble here, mostly by not choosing wisely when planning their exit.

Canal Creek

Sam Creek

After the excitement at Canal Creek, the short, straight-forward crossing at Sam Creek seemed relatively easy.  Care does need to be taken here since there are deep sections, and the exit is eroded.  It is an attractive creek, with small cascades and some good camp sites.

Sam Creek Exit

Typical OTT Track

Soon after Sam Creek you can choose to head back to Bamaga Road via a track to the left, near Mistake Creek.  This by-pass is a good option if you do not wish to cross the log bridge at Cypress Creek (see below). 

Mistake Creek

Mistake Creek is shallow with a sandy bottom.  The crossing is easy and camp sites are available near its banks. 

Cannibal Creek Turn

A short distance further is Cannibal Creek.  True to its gruesome name, this creek seems deceptively devious.  The approach from the south is extremely steep and eroded.  The creek bed itself is sandy and smooth, but in order to exit the creek bed, it is necessary to perform a sharp u-turn within the creek's waters. 

Once you have turned at the bottom, the exit is a long, steep and rutted ascent.  We found it to be slippery and was one of the most difficult creeks to tackle.  Be careful of traffic coming from the other direction.  There are not very many good camping sites near Cannibal Creek.

 

Cannibal Creek Exit

   

 

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Approaching Cypress Creek

Shortly after conquering Cannibal Creek, the 'log bridge' of Cypress Creek approaches.  The creek itself flows along a narrow, deep 'gorge' where the bridge is located.  Despite the rickety appearance of the precariously placed timber, there were a couple of very well-placed, thick logs which we decided made a sturdy option. 

Cypress Creek

Cypress Creek Log Bridge

To be sure of our success, we measured the distance between the most secure logs and compared this span with the distance between the wheels on our car.  With careful driving and a trustworthy navigator outside of the car, the creek was crossed without any problems.

There are camp sites on the north side of Cypress Creek.

Cypress Creek Log Bridge

Ford after Cypress Creek

Although there are no major creeks for about 20 kilometres after Cypress Creek, there are a couple of areas where there may be significant water across the track.  One of these fords was soon after Cypress Creek.

Nolan's Brook

 

Nolan's Brook Video

Nolan's Brook, or Bridge Creek as it is sometimes called, is the last crossing before the Jardine River.  The creek bed is sandy and clean, but it can be deep.  Walk this creek carefully to decide on the best route.  We found a very unhappy traveller at this creek, who had the unenviable task of trying to get his diesel 4WD going again after crossing the creek without taking care about depth.  Since the water is so clear, it appears shallow, but it was the deepest crossing along the OTT when we crossed.

There are lovely shady camp sites south and north of Nolan's Brook.

 

Bamaga Road Turn-off

The Old Telegraph Track continues north for 7 kilometres to the banks of the Jardine River.  The Jardine is the biggest river on the Cape and its wide, deep waters are rarely able to be crossed by vehicle.  The local Injinoo community asks that all travellers now use the ferry.  Crocodiles inhabit the Jardine so take care near the river's edge.  There are camping areas on both sides of this mighty waterway. 

Old Jardine Crossing - North side

OTT Track

From Nolan's Brook we took the 11 kilometre track back to the main Bamaga Road and made our way towards the Jardine River Ferry.

The Jardine River Ferry

The ferry is operated by the local community from Injinoo.  The fee is payable at the kiosk on the south side of the river.  The ferry usually operates from 8 am to 5 pm seven days a week. 

The Jardine River

   

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