A great 4WD adventure to start your Cape York journey.This trip takes you through the Palmer River Goldfields where mining relics can still be seen. It is dry and rugged country with numerous tracks, and camp sites along the Palmer River.
Follow the Burke Developmental Road through Palmer River Goldfields, or start from the Mulligan Highway to Maytown Ruins, at the Whites Creek Road turnoff 17km south of the Palmer River Roadhouse (see map). During Qld’s largest gold rush, sparked by the discovery of alluvial gold in 1873, 30,000 people descended on the Palmer River area, and Maytown was the main settlement at the
time. It is located in very harsh, dry, and rugged terrain, supporting open woodlands of scattered ironbark and bloodwood trees with paperbarks fringing the creeks. Today you will find old mine shafts, rusting machinery, alluvial workings, and other remains of the Maytown settlement which once supported a thriving industry. There are still active mining leases operating in the area, but prospecting, panning and metal detectors are not allowed. Some areas are fenced off and should not be entered, and care should be taken around open mine shafts. The reserve is about 70km from the Peninsular Development Road turnoff, and although theroad has been improved in recent years, it will still take a while to get there.
The ‘Old Coach Road’ goes from the ruins north to Laura, and is very rough, so it should only be attempted with all the ‘Adventure 4WD’ gear and preferably with 2 or more vehicles; this road is fine once you reach the Jowalbinna access road, about 40km from Laura. There are many side tracks in this area due to the current mining leases, so make sure you stay on the track that is signposted. The area is also prone to flash flooding so be aware during the wetter months.
There is only one official camping area in the NP reserve, located on the southern side of the North Palmer River. You will need to be completely self-sufficient, and purchase a camping permit to camp from Queensland Parks Wildlife Services. More information can be obtained from Queensland Parks Wildlife Services 4046 6600 or Cook Shire Council 4069 5444.