Cairns to Karumba across Cape York
A memorable cycling journey through an incredibly diverse range of landscapes, starting on the beautiful tropical coast, then taking in rainforest, savannah, and rivers as you cross Australia’s iconic Cape York. This 11 day tour provides a once-in-a-lifetime chance to accomplish something most people only dream of, with each leg carefully planned to be achievable for the average cyclist. Escape to the bush and experience the outback first-hand: fresh air, endless blue skies, and rainbow sunsets.
Leave Cairns’ tourist strip behind and head west, up the iconic ‘Gillies’ climb that will take you to the Atherton Tablelands, known for its gorgeous crater lakes, orchards, and tea and coffee plantations. Gillies’ smooth bitumen winds through dense, ancient rainforest for 17 kilometres, but maintains a steady gradient and provides plenty of reward in stunning views before emerging on the plateau. Yungaburra is a quaint old dairy town with lovely shops to browse and plenty of great places to have coffee when we arrive.
This day could be one of the most challenging on the tour, with a tough climb over the range between Atherton and Herberton before a lunch stop with options to explore this historic mining village. The road then takes in the rich pasture and orchards of the Tablelands, including a few hills, before arriving at Ravenshoe, Queensland’s highest town, at 930 metres elevation.
- Kool Moon Motel
While we will be returning to Ravenshoe tonight, we’ll complete about half of the journey towards Undara today, then return to where we left off tomorrow. You’ll cycle past Innot Hot Springs, where water was once hauled by mule over the Cardwell Range to Townsville for bottling and export to Europe, and Mt Garnet on the edge of the tablelands.
- Kool Moon Motel
We’ll return to where we left off yesterday, on the Savannah Way. One of Australia’s best-known and most popular outback drives, the road links Cairns to Broome and crosses 15 National Parks and five World Heritage areas. As the road to Undara descends off the Tablelands, you’ll see where this famous road gets its name. Touring into savannah country today, the bush opens up into patterns of red earth, rolling grassland, and wide blue skies.
Today you are free to put your feet up and relax under a tree or join us to explore our incredible natural surroundings on a tour taking in Undara National Park and the famous Undara Lava Tubes, incredible cave systems of global significance that formed when a large volcano erupted some 190,000 years ago. In the evening we’ll be treated to a delicious dinner at Fettlers Iron Pot Bistro under a sky full of million stars.
Today we’ll ride through the heart of cattle country, the sprawling savannah grasslands that support Queensland’s vital grazing industry. While cattle may populate the earth, there’s a high chance we’ll see plenty of native birdlife in the skies as the Georgetown-Mount Garnet Road skirts along beside Elizabeth Creek and Whitewater creek, which feed the surrounding countryside.
Today we’ll experience the spectacular scenery of the Newcastle Range, with its red earth, sparse gums, ancient hills, and abundant birdlife, and enjoy the sensation of having it all to ourselves. We’ll stop regularly under shady trees to take photos and enjoy a bite to eat before arriving at the Etheridge River, where the gold rush in the 1870s brought prospectors who established Georgetown on its banks. One of Georgetown’s most fascinating attractions is the Ted Elliot Mineral Collection, which we’ll investigate in the afternoon or, if time is short, on our return to Cairns.
There are 146 kilometres between Georgetown and Croydon, and we’ll be cycling about half way today before tumbling into the support vehicles to complete the route. You’ll enjoy outback views, an incredible variety of birdlife, and an endless blue sky. We’ll aim to cycle at least as far as the Gilbert River, about 75 kilometres, whose flow can vary from a tiny trickling stream in the dry season, to a vast raging torrent in the wet.
Today the group will decide on whether to return to where we left off yesterday and complete the ride into Croydon, or take a break from cycling and explore the Croydon Heritage Precinct. In 1885, gold was struck in Croydon and the town rapidly filled with 34,000 prospectors, shopkeepers, migrants, blacksmiths, and their families to become the third largest in Queensland, servicing an 18-kilometre gold field that lasted for about 30 years. The town has preserved its incredible mining heritage and the area is overflowing with artefacts from the gold rush days, including the steam machinery that powered the mines.
Otherwise known as the ‘Tin Hare’, the Gulflander is a heritage-listed rail line and one of the world’s ‘must-do’ rail trips. Originally built in 1888 to service the goldfields around Croydon, the track was probably the first in the world built with steel sleepers, with 99 per cent of the original track still in use. The 152-kilometre trip takes just over five hours. Part transport, part tourism experience, the train driver delivers a fascinating commentary and sometimes stops at points of interest along the way. Our support vehicles will be there to meet you in Normanton for lunch at one of the iconic local pubs.
The final leg of our tour takes us from Normanton to Karumba, At our morning tea stop at Waters Creek you might start to notice the smell of salt air as we near the coast and the conclusion of the cycle tour. Crossing through open grasslands (Brolga habitat) for the last 30km, we’ll finish with an undulating run into Karumba Point, which is known for its unforgettable sunsets.
Today your tour ends at checkout.
You can choose to stay another day in Karumba and explore and enjoy the many local attractions,such as the 3.5km walking track from Karumba Point into Karumba, the 'Croc and Crab' tour, bird-watching, or fishing tour, all of which take in gorgeous natural surrounds and make the most of Karumba’s unique Gulf environment. Select "Stay an Extra Day" in the booking form.
There are a few options for your return to Cairns:
- With Mulga Tours: Two-day drive to Cairns with overnight stop in Mt Surprise, departing Karumba on Sunday 15 July (day 13) arriving Cairns Monday 16 July – Cost $208 per person, includes transport, dinner, accommodation and breakfast. If you choose this option, you will also need to select "Stay an Extra Day" when booking.
- Rex Airlines has flights from Normanton to Cairns. Please check their website for current timetables.
- Trans North Bus & Coach Service has coach services from Karumba to Cairns. Please check their website for current timetables.
If guests are unable to transport bikes back to Cairns, via Rex or Trans North, Mulga can return bikes to Cairns via their two-day service.
- Your booking fee is not refundable, but is transferrable with at least 61 days’ notice.
- Guests are responsible for choosing a trip that suits their abilities, fitness level, and state of health. See How Mulga Bicycle Tours Grades Its Tours for more information.
- Guests are also responsible for ensuring they are adequately and appropriately prepared both physically and mentally for the tour. If you have any health issues or doubts prior to the tour, you should seek appropriate medical advice and contact us.
- We make every effort to stick to our plans, but tour details, such as accommodation, menus, and sometimes routes, are subject to change.
- Guests must read all correspondence and information provided by Mulga Bicycle Tours before and during their tour.
- You may choose to hire a bicycle from us. The price of hire will be added to the tour price.