Cairns to Karumba across Cape York

Cross the Cape for a great escape 

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Embark on a memorable cycling journey through an incredibly diverse range of landscapes, starting on the beautiful tropical coast, then taking in rainforest, savannah and winding rivers as you cross Australia’s iconic Cape York

Leave winter behind and escape to the warm embrace of Tropical North Queensland. With its wealth of rainforest and unique wildlife, clean fresh air, endless blue skies and rainbow sunsets, this is an Australian cycling holiday you’ll never forget.   

This 11 day tour is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to accomplish something most people only dream of – crossing the northern most tip of Australia - with each leg carefully planned to be achievable for the average cyclist. 

Small groups, delicious food and wine, fascinating tours, comfy beds and a focus on safety (not on beating the clock!) means a smooth ride with Mulga Bicycle Tours.

Read what Bike South Australia's Cycle! magazine wrote about this tour ...

What is included:

  • Accommodation in 3 or 4 star properties
  • All meals (except dinner on Day 9 in Croydon)
  • End of tour dinner
  • Guided tour of Undara Lava Tubes and visit to Kalkani Crater
  • Gulflander train trip from Croydon to Normanton
  • Hot/cold drinks and snacks from the support vehicle
  • Daily photos to capture your memories
  • Daily maps and elevation profiles
  • Support vehicles provided every day - ride as much or as little as you please
  • Custom built support trailer for careful and safe carriage of your bike and luggage
  • Luggage transfer between your accommodation
  • UHF radio link between yourself and the support vehicle
  • Mechanical assistance and support (limited spares) 
  •  Tour guides - the owners of Mulga Bicycle Tours are with you every day

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Cairns to Yungaburra - Cycling Distance 45km

Today we leave Cairns behind and head west, up the iconic ‘Gillies’ climb that will take you to the Atherton Tablelands, famous 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 stunning views before emerging on the plateau. Yungaburra is a quaint old dairy town with lovely shops to browse and plenty of great places for coffee.

Note: As the highway leading out of Cairns is getting busier each year, we will start our ride from Gordonvale - a rural centre on the outskirts of the Cairns metropolitan area. Transport from our meeting point in Cairns will be provided.

Day 2: Yungaburra to Ravenshoe - Cycling Distance 70km

This day is possibly the most challenging on the tour, with a tough climb over the range between Atherton and Herberton, prior to a well-deserved lunch stop and the chance to explore this historic mining village. 

The road then winds through the rich pasture and orchards of the Tablelands (including a few hills!) before we arrive at Ravenshoe, Queensland’s highest town at 920 metres elevation. 

Day 3: Ravenshoe towards Undara - Cycling Distance 75km

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 to Townsville for bottling and export to Europe, and Mt Garnet on the edge of the Tablelands.

Day 4: Undara via the Savannah Way - Cycling Distance 70km approx

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 into patterns of red earth, rolling grassland and wide blue skies. 

Tonight we’ll rest our heads in the beautifully restored, turn of the century railway carriages at Undara Experience. These award-winning carriages are set along the original Cobb & Co coach road and make for an unforgettable pit-stop. 

Day 5: Undara - Cycling Free Day

Today you are free to put your feet up and relax, or join us to explore these breathtaking natural surroundings.

Journey through the Undara Volcanic National Park and see 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 enjoy a delicious dinner at Fettlers Iron Pot Bistro under a sky full of a million stars.

Day 6: Undara to Mt Surprise - Cycling Distance 53km

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 alongside the Elizabeth and Whitewater Creeks.

Day 7: Mt Surprise to Georgetown - Cycling Distance 94km

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 before arriving at the peaceful Etheridge River and the adjacent village of Georgetown. If time permits, we’ll explore one of Georgetown’s most fascinating attractions, the Ted Elliot Mineral Collection

Day 8: Georgetown to Croydon - Cycling Distance 75km approx

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, incredible birdlife, and that glorious blue sky. We’ll aim to cycle 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.

Day 9: Croydon - Cycling Free Day

Today we will take a break from cycling and explore the Croydon Heritage Precinct.

Croydon has preserved its incredible mining heritage and the area is overflowing with fascinating artefacts from the gold rush days, including the steam machinery that once powered the mines.

Day 10 : Croydon to Normanton on the Gulflander Train (152km)

Otherwise known as the ‘Tin Hare’, the Gulflander is a heritage-listed rail line and one of the world’s ‘must-do’ rail trips. 

Part transport, part tourism experience, the 152km trip takes just over five hours, with the train driver delivering fascinating commentary along the way. Our support vehicles will then meet you in Normanton for lunch at one of the iconic local pubs.

Day 11: Normanton to Karumba Point - Cycling Distance 69km

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. Karumba Point is known for its unforgettable sunsets, which can be suitably admired from our superb beach front accommodation.

Day 12: Karumba Point

Today your tour ends at checkout.

There are a few options for your return to Cairns:

  • With Mulga Bicycle Tours: Includes an extra night in Karumba (accommodation and breakfast), two-day drive to Cairns with overnight stop in Mt Surprise with dinner and breakfast. Departs Karumba on Sunday, Day 13, arriving Cairns on Monday between 5 and 6 pm. Cost: $354.50 per person twin share; $505.00 single. Select "Stay an extra day with transfer back to Cairns" when booking.
  • Rex Airlines has flights from Karumba to Cairns and Normanton to Cairns on some week-days. 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 you choose to return to Cairns with Mulga Bicycle Tours you can use the extra day in Karumba to explore and enjoy the many local attractions, such as the 3.5km walking track from Karumba Point into Karumba, sightseeing, bird-watching and fishing tours, all of which take in gorgeous natural surrounds and make the most of Karumba’s unique Gulf environment. 

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.

For the perfect mid-winter escape, and an unforgettable experience to boot, what better adventure than to cross Cape York by bike. Book your spot on this tour now

Important information

  • Acceptance of your booking is subject to Mulga Tours receiving a signed Waiver And Assumption Of Risk Form for each member of your party indicating acceptance of our Terms and Conditions, Safety Guidelines, Code of Conduct and Privacy Policy.
  • 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.
  • A list of mandatory safety equipment that you must bring with you on tour can be found in section 10 of our Terms and Conditions. We will ask to see your safety equipment prior to the commencement of the tour and we may also check it during the tour. If an item is missing or we form the view that a safety item does not comply, we may decide to exclude you from joining the tour or riding until you have acquired the necessary safety item or it has been serviced or recharged.
  • We are unable to delay the start of the tour for anyone who does not have the appropriate safety equipment.
  • We make every effort to stick to our plans, but tour details, such as non-riding activities, accommodation, menus, and sometimes routes, are subject to change.
  • For the safety of our guests and staff Mulga Tours will cancel riding on days where we consider conditions are such that it is unsafe to ride. This may be due to high or low temperatures, high or gusty winds, heavy rain, low visibility or any other condition or circumstances which we consider makes riding unsafe. In these circumstances we will transfer guests to our next destination by vehicle.
  • Fire Danger Rating. Mulga Tours will cancel riding on days when a fire danger rating of Severe, Extreme, Code Red or Catastrophic has been declared. On these days we will transfer guests to our next destination by vehicle.
  • Guests must read all correspondence and information provided by Mulga Tours before and during their tour.
  • Hotel credit card pre-authorisations. The tour price includes the cost of your accommodation each night of the tour. At check-in some accommodation providers may require you to provide a credit card pre-authorisation to cover expenses you may incur on top of the accommodation costs covered by Mulga.
  • You may choose to hire a bicycle from us. The price of hire will be added to the tour price.