Queensland has been shaped by events of the past and the people who pioneered its development. On an Outback Spirit expedition you'll hear about the history as you travel throughout this great state.
Edmund Kennedy was the first European explorer to attempt an overland expedition of Cape York Peninsula. He set out in 1848 with 13 men and the expedition turned out to be one of the great disasters of Australian exploration. Of the 13 men who set out, only 3 survived. Kennedy himself died of spear wounds, almost in sight of his destination in December 1848. The only survivor to complete the journey was an Aboriginal man from New South Wales called Jackey Jackey.
The Cape was finally conquered by the Jardine Brothers in 1864 when they successfully drove a mob of cattle from Rockhampton to the new settlement of Somerset.
Overland Telegraph Line (OTL)
In the 1860’s construction of the Overland Telegraph Line began. The northern section ran through some very difficult country and the survey expedition was only the fourth overland expedition who ever made it to Cape York. The line was finally completed in 1886 and operated for 101 years before formally closing in 1987. Many of the old poles still exist today, and can be seen along parts of the ‘Old Telegraph Track’.
The telegraph system worked by having an operator tap out code on an electric switch called a ‘key’, which sent pulses of electricity from a battery along the telegraph wire. The pulses were either short or long, representing the dots and dashes of Morse code. There were a number of repeater stations dotted throughout the Cape, in locations such as Laura, Musgrave, Coen, Mein (now ruins) and Moreton.
Many travellers and Four Wheel Drive enthusiasts who venture up Cape York attempt to traverse sections of the ‘OTL’. It can be great fun, and a real adventure, but it’s not for the faint hearted! There are many deep and boggy creek crossings to contend with amongst the pristine wilderness.
Our Cape York Adventure tour takes in sections of the ‘OTL’, so all passengers can still boast they have also done some of this infamous Queensland track.
The ‘Tip’- most northern point on mainland Australia
The most northern point on the Australian mainland can be found at the tip of the Cape York Peninsula. It was named by Lieutenant James Cook in August 1770 and after mapping much of the East Coast, Cook planted a flag of the Union Jack on a small island and claimed possession of the whole of the east coast of Australia. He named the island Possession Island, just off the tip of Cape York.
Standing at the ‘tip’ of our amazing continent gives everyone a tremendous sense of achievement, and makes for a great photo opportunity.