Why you should take your kids to the tip (by 4WD)
You can take your family to a million different places for a holiday, but if you’re looking to create life-long memories, and show your kids what adventure really looks like, load up the 4WD and head for Cape York.
With its remote wilderness, rugged landscapes, and simpler pace, the Cape York Peninsula has the capacity to recalibrate your lust for life and child-like sense of wonder (no matter your age). Visiting Australia’s last frontier is never just a holiday; it’s a voyage of a lifetime.
Here’s 8 reasons why you should take your kids to “The Tip”
1. TO LIVE LIFE IN TECHNICOLOUR
Everything about the Cape York Peninsula is wild and extreme, from the landscapes, to the colours to the experience. The dirt is as red as paprika. The sea is living turquoise. The termite mounds are as tall as a road train and the bush is peppered with Jurassic jungle cycads.
On one day you may go fishing and almost land a huge barramundi, only to have it golloped by a huge shark. On another day you might watch two saltwater crocodiles fight over the prime sunbaking spot on the bank of a nearby island. And on yet another day you may watch a local Indigenous boy balance on the top of a shallow water pylon as he pulls in squid on his hand line, only to jump quickly to shore to make way for the barge arriving to haul away the cohort of broken cars, those that didn’t quite make it as far as you did.
Cape York is a destination that must be seen to be believed and will leave your family spellbound.
2. TO STRENGTHEN FAMILY TIES
There’s nothing like 1200 kms of dirt driving and isolated wilderness to fortify the family unit. Will you all get bored? Will you fight? Yes, probably, on occasion.
Cape York is definitely an extreme sport where relationships are concerned, but the beauty and wonder of this place, matched with the jubilation of having made it so far, fosters a bond that can rarely be won through the scuffles of everyday life.
Here, togetherness reaches a whole new level. Away from the hustle and bustle, the screens and the sports run there is time and space to do real playing, in a landscape completely untamed. A space to become fond of each other and share in the glory of ‘time well spent’.
3. TO BECOME EXPLORERS
We’d all like to be Robinson Crusoe from time to time, travelling the islands in search of new discoveries, finding treasure and drinking fresh coconuts. Luckily, the coastline of Cape York is lined with isolated beaches, just crying out for an escapade or two.
The eastern side especially is a treasure hunter’s delight, sewn with flotsam and jetsam picked up by the trade winds and swept in by the tide. Just don’t be tempted to swim, because the sharks and crocodiles are hungry at all times of the year.
4. FOR THE BRAGGING RIGHTS
There is nothing as sweet as a decent reward after a decent effort, and let’s be honest, reaching the tip of Cape York is no small undertaking. There is as much preparation involved as there is perspiration, not to mention quite a lot of dust, a fair bit of heat, a truckload of corrugations and quite possibly some tears. (Here’s 13 tips to help you to prepare.)
So, when you stand triumphantly as a family on the northern-most edge of the continent, the celebrations and accolades are well deserved. There is something mind-blowing about looking at the pointy end of the Australian map as your kids’ feet figuratively crease its outline.
It’s the kind of experience that makes you think of the world and how you sit within it. You can almost see the minds of your young saying, “I am here, on the edge, on this very line, at this very point”. Bragging rights are warranted.
5. TO EXPERIENCE TRUE WILDERNESS
We all know the benefits of time spent in nature: the fresh air; the break from technology; the realignment of self. Time spent playing in nature as a family, is like taking all those benefits, glueing them together and gold-plating them. It’s a mind, body, heart-lead extravaganza.
Cape York is a wilderness experience with a capital WILD. With little mobile reception, and hardly any WiFi, it’s easy to slip off the grid and become immersed in the outdoors: think bushcraft and Bear Grylls; swinging on vines, roping through ancient jungle, climbing rocky outcrops and hunting for animal tracks.
It’s enough to rejig the family blueprint and make outdoor-time a permanent fixture in home life.
6. TO TUNE IN
Lingering in a place as untamed as Cape York can take the nature game to a whole new level. Your kids may begin to tune in; they may even begin to build a heightened awareness of the world and how things happen around them.
Noticing as the landscape changes from scrubland to rainforest to plain, or that the dirt comes in 50 shades of red.
Or see that the trees you drive past are painted in dust, but return to green as you hit the bitumen. That may realise that there are nights with no moon, or days with a sun and a moon and that the same tawny frogmouth owl lands in your campsite each night.
Cape York surrounds you in a very vivid realm and returns you far wiser than when you left.
7. FOR ALL THE WILD HORSES
Cape York abounds in wildlife, but nothing can quite prepare you for the magnificence of its horses. There are wild horses everywhere: on the roadside; on the beaches; in the playgrounds. They are as common as the town dogs but significantly more novel and elegant.
Don’t be surprised if a small band of horses come roving through your campground at dusk looking for an easy supper, whinnying and cavorting like galivanting teenagers.
Just be sure to keep your food and scraps strapped down, and, remember, they are wild, so resist the urge to play with them.
8. FOR EPIC DISCOVERIES
It’s true that a journey to Cape York takes a lot of planning to get there and back in one piece, but once you’re there the opportunity for discoveries are endless.
The chance to feel like true explorers is a rare thing in this modern world, but the expansiveness of Cape York – with its abundant 4WD tracks, free bush camping and epic day trips – means you can easily stumble your way across an untouched wonder.
Just remember to keep your wits about you, follow all the warning signs, stay croc wise near the water and, if in doubt, seek local knowledge.
Cape York is a definite bucket-list ticker and could just be one of the easiest places to be an awesome parent. For tips on surviving camping in the tropics head here.