When we think about motorcycle bucket lists, surely riding to the northern most tip of our great country resonates for many riders. That’s exactly what we did recently, heading off road with the team from Cape York Motorcycle Adventures.
Roy Kunda is the owner, together with his wife Renae, tour leader and a local legend, and has been operating rides from Cairns to the Cape since 1991. His is the original experience and his local knowledge is second to none.
What was unique about our seven day return trip though was the bikes. While normally you’d set out on such a trip on the ever-faithful Suzuki DR dirt bikes, Cape York Motorcycle Adventures are the first to offer an adventure bike option.
It’s a choice that again sees them pioneering change in the region, and put us on board the CFMOTO 800 MT for 2,500km of adventure.
Day One: first up we were assigned our bike and met the friendly and experienced team who would take us on our trip, including tail rider Ben, who would handle any flat tyres and bike maintenance.
He was a wealth of knowledge on the trails and was backed up by Glenn, who would drive the support van; on hand at the end of each day with a cold beverage, a laugh, and some fishing rods.
From there we took to the bitumen, before hitting the trails, in what was the beginning of our off road adventure. Riding through a rainforest just outside of Cairns, we would eventually hit our lunch spot, and take on some fuel for the afternoon’s journey.
On that first day we travelled just over 350km, some of it on what was probably the biggest portion of actual tarmac we would see on the entire trip. Our destination was Hann river Roadhouse for dinner.
It’s here we’d spend our first night too. This is no 5-star glamour trip but you do get to bed down in a comfortable donga. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s clean, the food is good, and there’s plenty of cold beer.
That first dinner was a chance to properly meet our fellow riders, a friendly group of both guys and girls, who would spend seven days enjoying each other’s company, with plenty of good hearted banter.
The tours cater for riders of all capabilities, from those with plenty of experience, right through to novice off roaders. The key focus is to ride within your limits, with the Cape York Motorcycle Adventures team ensuring nobody was left behind.
Day Two: we would head out at 8am sharp for what would be a day spent mostly off road. Plenty of water crossings, dirt roads, a little sand and some rocky terrain made for an interesting, exciting and memorable ride.
The Archer Hotel would provide our digs for night two, again with dongas offering a good night’s sleep, after a few tasty beverages and a steak. The next morning, it was off to the Cape. Well, sort of.
Day Three: this was a day we’ll never forget. We pounded in just over 500km, again on all types of terrain, including more river crossings and the ruts from hell on Development Road, leading down to the Jardine River.
The ferry trip across the river would bring some relief as we headed over to see some decaying plane wrecks from World War II, and one of the most beautiful locations on earth, Punsand Beach.
Ideally located about 25km from the Tip, you’ll find basic but very comfortable beach huts on offer, with a magnificent view out to the horizon. Swimming with the local wildlife is a definite no-no though.
The view alone makes a perfect setting for verandah beers late into the evening, although we did pause for some wood fired pizza for dinner.
Day Four: undoubtedly the highlight of the trip is the successful journey to the northern most point of the Australian mainland. After a morning taking in the serenity and sights on offer, it was back to Punsand Bay for an afternoon of leisure.
The free time gave us the chance to reflect on the journey so far, and the fact that you can now do it a little more comfortably on the CFMOTO 800MT. For the better part of the trip, the bikes performed admirably.
In no way are they as capable off road as dirt bikes, but they do offer a more comfortable saddle, while the 800 motor is a bit of a blessing on some of the longer, straight dirt roads.
Day Five: another massive day, clocking in more than 500km on our way back to Cohen for the night. A highlight was a quick dip at Fruitbat Falls, which was refreshing to say the least, as well as a nice break form the red dust.
A good feed and few more icy cold beverages were on offer at the Exchange (according to the modified sign) Hotel.
Day Six: the penultimate day would have us completing another big session in the saddle off road, before a nice little tarmac section on the way to Cooktown and ultimately, the Lion’s Den Hotel for our last night together.
An evening of celebration was had, thanks in part to the fact one of the group was turning 50.
Day Seven: the last day of riding would give us the chance to witness a gorgeous waterfall, before heading through the Daintree to complete the final leg. The scenery was beautiful.
Our final ride included gravel, hills and of course, more water crossings (including the ferry).
The last 110km stretch of highway landed us back in Cairns, where the adventure of a lifetime had sadly come to an end. Despite this rider’s body saying it was time to rest, there’s a real sense of accomplishment in having completed the ride.
Not only had we visited the Cape, but we’d done it on a motorbike. Could there possibly be a better feeling? We think not (if my wife’s reading this, it’s our wedding day and the birth of our children).
We’d ridden nigh on 2,500km, most of that off road, crossing a variety of terrain in what can only be described as a true adventure; a trip so good we’d do it again.
Being able to complete it on an adventure bike definitely made a difference too. The trip to the Cape and back is sensational, no matter your capability level. That’s part of what makes it special.
Thanks to the team of experts on hand throughout the journey, you never felt out of your depth. Likewise, you knew the support crew were friendly, knowledgeable and had plenty of great tips and advice along the way.
If you are interested in this trip, you can contact Renae at Cape York Motorcycle Adventures on (07) 4055 0050 or head to the website for further information.