The Bloomfield Track is a 33 km stretch of road that is as politically contentious as it is beautiful. If you find yourself in Far North Queensland, then this 4WD adventure is definitely an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
Read on to get our take on how to properly take on The Bloomfield Track in a 4WD.
How Do I Get To Bloomfield Track?
The Bloomfield Track is approximately three hours north of Cairns.
The fastest route to take, which involves a ferry, places you on Captain Cook Highway (National Route 1) heading north (for about 100 km) past Mossman and Wonga, until you reach Cape Tribulation Rd just south of Lower Daintree. Take a right onto Cape Tribulation Rd, then prepare to board a ferry to cross the Daintree River. Once on the other side, follow Cape Tribulation Rd for about another 40 km, until you take a left onto Rykers Rd. The Bloomfield Track should start after you pass the Cape Tribulation Sanctuary.
Full Track Length: About 103 KM
Potential hazards: Inclement weather, crocodiles, cassowaries, snakes
4WD Bloomfield Track Adventure
For all intents and purposes, the Bloomfield Track will be divided into three parts; each section defined by nearby landmarks.
Bloomfield Track Part 1: Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield Falls
A rich, scenic start of the 4WD Adventure.
Length: About 33 km
Difficulty: Moderate-hard (Hard during rainy seasons)
Terrain: Rocky, dirt, gravel, mud, river, rainforest, sandy
This section starts you off from Cape Tribulation and stops at Emmagen Creek. It is highly recommended to proceed in low gear. Within 5 km’s from leaving Cape Tribulation, you should find yourself at a clearing that offers great views of both rainforest and sea. This is the Cape Tribulation Lookout. The rainforest is part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, while the massive system of coral in the sea in front of you is the Great Barrier Reef.
For the next 2 km’s you can expect the road to start getting rough; while it shouldn’t prove too much of a problem for 4WD’s, it may get very muddy during the rainy season, so be prepared.
During this part, you should find a walking trail behind a large strangler fig tree which should take you straight to Emmagen Beach. The beach itself is not made of fine sand and you will likely find yourself surrounded by mangroves, but this is a great spot to check out the local flora and for birdwatching.
About 1 km up, you should find yourself at Emmagen Creek. This area is notable because it is a wildlife sanctuary where you may encounter cassowaries and other animals.
After 6 km, you can take in more coastal scenery when you hit Cowie Beach. Sometimes, you may be able to find hundreds of thousands of crabs gathering in this area as they feed and propagate here.
In 13 km, you can get your swim trunks ready as you hit Woobadda Creek. This is a popular spot that is safe to swim in (no crocodiles!) and is home to many different kinds of wildlife for individuals looking to take in the entire experience. 6 km further north, you may choose to stop at the Bloomfield River Lookout to get some nice views of the Bloomfield River, but be mindful of sun-bathing crocodiles that tend to propagate in the sandbanks around the area.
Towards the end of this section, you should find yourself at Wujal Wujal, the local Aborigines town proper. Immerse yourself in local art by checking out the Bana Yirriji Art and Cultural Center on Bloomfield Falls Rd, then continue on this detour towards Bloomfield Falls (also known as Wujal Wujal Falls).
Bloomfield Track Part 2: Bloomfield Falls to Lion’s Den Hotel
Bushwalking inside the protected Cedar Bay National Park.
Length: About 40 km
Difficulty: Moderate (Hard during rainy seasons)
Terrain: Dirt, gravel, mud, river, rainforest
On the way up heading north towards Cooktown, you will cut through the Cedar Bay National Park, a State of Queensland-protected conservation area. This park is also part of the Wet Tropics, and comprises a significant portion of the “challenging” bushwalking on this itinerary. You may need to phone ahead and inform the folks at Home Rule Rainforest Lodge and Camping about your bushwalking plans. With the amount of foot traffic that passes through their lodge and accommodation experience they have, they should be able to brief and educate you well on how to handle the walking trails in the park.
The trail cuts through several creeks, boulders and is recommended for advanced and experienced hikers. However, if you decide to commit to this, you can expect to be greeted by lush green rainforest, freshwater bodies and calm, sandy beaches towards the coast. Points of note include Slaty Creek, Black Snake Rocks, Ashwell Creek and Cedar Bay.
When you’re done with the walking trails, head north on Bloomfield Rd for about 6 km until you take a right onto Shiptons Flat Rd. The Lion’s Den Hotel should be on your left, along the Annan River. Also, if you need a little “break” after all that bushwalking, inquire about the Home Rule Falls about 3 km away from the lodge when you get back.
The actual bushwalking trails can stretch for 14 km (one-way) and can take you a solid 12-16 hours to complete, so keep this in mind if you’re running on a time-sensitive schedule. In addition, if you plan on camping in the park, you will need to grab camping permits from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services Office in Mossman. Pack supplies accordingly, as fishing and collecting is strictly prohibited inside the park and anywhere along the trail or campsites.
Bloomfield Track Part 3: Lion’s Den Hotel to Cooktown
One last hurrah before Cape York.
Length: About 30 km
Difficulty: Moderate-easy (Hard during rainy seasons)
Terrain: Dirt, gravel, mud, rainforest, sandy
After recharging at the Lion’s Den Hotel, head north on Bloomfield Rd for about 4 km until you merge onto the Mulligan Highway (State Route 40). Follow it north for another 10 km, then take a right onto Archer Point Rd. This adds another 20 km onto your journey, but this leads straight to Archer Point Conservation Park, a nice camping spot where you can take in more great views of the scenic Coral Sea coastline.
Heading back to the highway, you can resupply and restock at the historic coastal town of Cooktown. Be sure to check out the Cooktown Markets if you get here on a Saturday for a taste of the local culture and inquire about the Cooktown Cultural and Aboriginal Tours for complete cultural immersion. You can also visit the James Cook Museum before leaving Cooktown to get schooled on Captain James Cook’s expedition, as seen through the Aboriginal perspective.
From this point, you can choose to continue your adventure north towards “The Tip” at Cape York or head back to Cairns via the Mulligan Highway and the Peninsula Developmental Road (State Route 81).
Things to remember
It should come as no surprise that this adventure towards the Far North is a multi-day trek and should be treated as such.
Although campsites are plentiful, pack as if there are few rubbish bins in between stops! The views are scenic but protected, so respect the local environment by picking up after yourself and keeping your campsite tidy enough for the next set of adventurers looking for a decent camping spot.
Make sure that your 4WD is outfitted and modified accordingly, particularly if you plan on heading towards Cape York. 33’ tires and higher suspension lifts are recommended as some track parts can become bogged (or even become downright impassable) during rainy seasons. Bringing an extra 4WD vehicle may also be necessary to avoid having a tough time during recoveries. Take your lightweight 1.8L Suzuki Vitara on this excursion at your own peril!
You also don’t have to complete the entire track; most of the culturally immersive experience happens in the first leg of the track. It is recommended that you check in with the local visitor’s center to enjoy a more wholesome and organized tour of the area. Still, its proximity to the Far North and the local experience at Cooktown ultimately pays for the investment.
Above all, it is good to remember that half the adventure is listening to and immersing yourself in the culture on the Bloomfield Track. Particularly during the first leg of this journey, the political and individual struggles to preserve the local Aboriginal presence and natural environment cannot be overstated. To put this into context, if it wasn’t for UNESCO getting involved and regulating local infrastructure efforts in the 1980’s, the Bloomfield Track could have completely obliterated a significant portion of Wet Tropics rainforest, making the whole point of calling it “The Bloomfield Track” completely moot.
If not politically, the rich, Aboriginal cultural heritage should provide a fulfilling experience in and of itself. The customs, events and rituals that they offer during your visit in Wujal Wujal and Cooktown are steeped in history and provides glimpses into the lifestyle and beliefs of the natives.
It really is a humbling experience.