The Old Telegraph Track, from Bamaga Road to the Jardine River Ferry, is arguably the most iconic four-wheel drive trip on Cape York.
How to get there
The Old Telegraph Track can be reached by a turnoff on the right from the Bamaga Road. Fruit Bat Falls, a fantastic swimming site with day access only to the large, emerald-green pool and cascade, is accessible by a fork to the right. The track continues straight ahead from this point until the exit for Eliot, Twin, and Indian Head Falls is right before Canal Creek. One of the best swimming and shooting locations on the OTT is The Falls. There are numerous falls and swimming holes nearby, along with lots of camping spots and restrooms.
Canal Creek // Sam Creek
With a twisting left-hand departure to avoid the washed-out gullies of the old exit to the right, Canal Creek is a deep blue-water crossing. There is space to camp here, far enough from Eliot Falls' throng to drive there for a swim.
Downstream from the straightforward crossing at Sam Creek are good camping spots and clear-water swimming holes.
Mistake Creek // Cannibal Creek // Cypress Creek
The entry to Mistake Creek is steep and eroded, but it is easy to follow from there. Both Cannibal Creek and Cypress Creek may be spanned without difficulty while camping, and a decrepit old log bridge that has seen better days still appears to be functional.
Nolan's Brook // Bridge Creek
From here, it is a long drive until Nolan's Brook, or Bridge Creek, which is now the biggest challenge south of the Jardine River. With up to 1.5 metres of water and a soft sandy bottom, the bridge has long since fallen apart, and choosing the perfect course can make all the difference in whether you make it or not. The hard right line typically has a firmer bottom and is shallower.
Alternatively, there is a turnoff to the Bamaga Rd to take the Jardine River Ferry. The trail continues north to the historic Jardine River ford, where there is fantastic camping in open grassland.
Until the Jardine River Ferry was put in place, automobiles had to drive across this saltwater river that is 140 metres wide and home to crocodiles. Even now, a few crazy travellers still attempt the crossing by wading through the river, which is at least one metre deep. Travellers are asked not to cross, according to the Injinoo Aboriginal community, as a man was killed by a crocodile in 1993 while swimming to the ferry carrying a replacement part.
The cost of the ferry was $99 for a single vehicle ($129 with a trailer) or $39 for a motorcycle for the 2015 season.