For most of us, Cape York is a long way away, and good preparation is essential to make sure have an enjoyable time away with your family and friends, rather than have it become a nightmare. Some people tend to overthink the Cape a bit, though. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to have all of the gear, but truthfully, keeping it simple will always be better. It also depends on how you want to approach the Cape, as you can get there via the iconic Old Telegraph Track, or you can take the development road and just duck in to see some of the sights along the old track instead. I recently spend some time up the Cape but I was mainly going fishing, rather than hardcore 4wding, and I’ll go over all the camping gear I wouldn’t be caught without.
A portable icebox is essential, and the better quality it is, the more likely it will be to be able to stand up to some punishment. The Adventure Kings portable ice boxes are perfect for this situation. The corrugations won’t shake them to pieces, yet they are available in sizes big enough to hold enough food/drink and ice for over a week if you plan effectively. It’s hot up there year-round, so having enough cool drink is a lovely way to finish off a tough day on the tracks.
Any recovery gear you can carry and are confident with will be ideal, and luckily, 4wsupacentre sells Hercules kits with everything you’ll ever need. For me, the Kwiky tyre deflator is invaluable, as the road conditions up there change frequently and getting those tyre pressures right will ensure a comfortable ride and good traction. The other part of this equation would be a Thumper MKII air compressor to inflate your tyres back up once you’ve let them down. Throw in a Hercules recovery folding shovel for good measure and you’ve got basically everything you need in a nice compact package. This is exactly the gear I used to get myself off a beach on the Jardine when I hit a spot that was way softer than I anticipated it would be. Of course, a winch is always good, but if you aren’t hitting the really gnarly tracks, you can get by without one.
Driving at night isn’t ideal, but the reality is, sometimes we get caught and it’s unavoidable. I drove a fair section of the PDR at night when I was up there and I was seriously glad I had some LED spotlights on the front of my car. The LED technology makes these lights super tough and they won’t rattle to pieces on the bumpy roads. There is all sorts of wildlife up there and plenty of it is bigger than a kangaroo, so avoiding animal strikes is a must. Also, let’s not forget, that most of us will be pulling some serious kilometres in our vehicles just to get to the Cape, so the LED driving lights come in handy on those bitumen runs, too.
Most of us will be sleeping in swags up the Cape, and all of the Adventure Kings swags are great choices because they are able to be pitched to keep off your body while you sleep, but they offer great ventilation and solid mosquito netting. On those hot nights, I find having the swag up and off your body really helps with airflow, and a good sleep is important if you’re spending many hours behind the wheel each day. For a bit of extra comfort, lay down an Adventure Kings sumo stretcher.
While much of a Cape holiday involves being behind the wheel, some of us choose to stay in an area for a few days at a time to really soak up the atmosphere. If this is you, and you have a few bits of gear that run on a separate battery for your car, I recommend getting an Adventure Kings solar panel of some description. It’s usually sunny up the Cape and hooking up one of these panels to your second battery will ensure you don’t run it flat and lose the use of some of the bits of gear you’ve brought with you.
The great thing about Cape York is that during the most comfortable times of the season, there are heaps of other people up there, so the chances of you getting really stuck and in big trouble are slim. There are also stacks of people who have done it before, and many of them have put their experiences up on various forums and other places on the internet. As has been stated earlier; there is an infinite amount of gear you can take on a trip up the Cape, but keeping it simple and then figuring out other little bits and pieces you may need is the best way to go. You don’t have to break the bank to have a good time up there. Get out there and enjoy it.