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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Off Road Adventure Safaris - Northern Adventure

Doing The Tip in style

Stylish and discreet accommodation at Jabiru, Mungumby and Lotusbird lodges and at Portland Roads Beach House are features of next year's Cape York 4WD tours released by Off Road Adventure Safaris.

Jabiru is on a lagoon, Mungumby is in a tropical rainforest, Lotusbird is on a billabong and the beach house is on the east coast in a Cape Weymouth community boasting just 10 permanent residents. Guests have two nights at Portland Roads.

The number of stand-alone cabins at the lodges range from five to 10 while the beach house sleeps just eight guests.

Eight departures of the 15-day Northern Adventure trip are scheduled between May and September.

Cape York (as opposed to The Cape York Peninsula) was named by Captain Cook in honour of the Duke of York.  It is properly known as Pajinka and commonly referred to as 'The Tip'.

Over 12 days, in a new custom-designed eight-passenger 4WD, tour owner Mark Essenhigh will guide his guests over some 1500kms of red dirt roads, soft white sandy bush tracks and rocky river beds from Laura to The Tip, following travel on sealed roads from Cairns. He has made the trip 40 times so has sound knowledge of the Cape York country and its people.

National parks, rainforests, wet deserts and savannah grasslands, ranges of The Great Divide, waterfalls and clear swimming holes, wide beaches, shady river crossings, the surviving section of the Overland Telegraph Track, Aboriginal and Torres Strait art, birds and crocodiles, barramundi fishing, mining and WWII sites and 'Toasting The Tip' are some of the trip features.

The tour takes ferries to Thursday Island and back to Horn Island for return flight to Cairns over The Great Barrier Reef.

The tour vehicle travels independent to other tour operators and tagalong 4WD groups and accesses surprise spots as well as sites not accessible to larger 4WD tour vehicles. The 50-km section of the surviving original Overland Telegraph Track is a good example, as are Lockhart-Portland Roads-Iron Range sections and the Five Beaches drive.

As well as the lodges, accommodation is in motels and park cabins. Apart from a roadhouse unit and Portland Road Beach House, all have ensuite bathrooms. Cabins at Punsand Bay, close to The Tip, are on the beach front.

Launching the 2016 program, Mark Essenhigh said May departures show The Cape at its greenest best following the January-April Wet Season. Peak season is June to August when temperatures are coolest. For the September departures this year, top temperature was around 28-30 each day, cooled by the prevailing South East Trades. Only one night guests had to slip on an extra layer.

Off Road Adventure Safaris was purchased in 2010 by Mark and Jody Essenhigh of Hervey Bay. Mark has 30 years experience as a tour operator and guide at Fraser Island, in The Outback, The Top End and Far North Queensland and Jody similar term of experience in business and tourism management.

Their Cape York Northern Adventure is designed for discerning travellers who prefer true small group travelling over 20-passenger tour groups, stylish comfortable accommodation over camping and flexible itineraries over rigid schedules. Half of last year's departures were booked by like-minded groups.

"Cape York, and The Tip, are on their 'Must Do' list," said Mark. "They see it is as soft adventure discovery, they are active, challenging and curious, they want high quality food and interesting accommodation experiences."

"Without exception, our customers see themselves as travellers, rather than tourists, which is why we structure the itinerary to arrive at key sites before or after large tour groups so passengers can fully appreciate the scenery and its solitude. They know it's a 4WD trek, they don't have 4WD skills and from their worldly travels appreciate the surety and value-add offered by an experienced driver-guide."

A "No Rush" philosophy also means the Off Road Adventure Safaris group is last to leave after breakfast, but they always arrive at the night's accommodation in time for sunset drinks. The day's journey is flexible to the needs of passengers. For instance, if the group wishes to linger at a swimming hole in preference to visiting an old mining site further on, so be it, says Mark.

"We're not a stop-watch tour," he said.

Earlybird deals

Off Road Adventure Safaris is adding a complimentary 25-minute helicopter flight over Cape York's tip (normally $200) for 2016 bookings made before December 31, 2015.

A further $300 pre-December 31 booking discount is offered on the May 13 departure. Discount price is $8,495 per person twin share (normal $8,795), which includes choice of local Cairns tours, 12-day road trip, Kuranda VIP Skyrail, return flight to Cairns, accommodation, all meals, tea/coffee breaks, park/guide fees, and ferry and airport transfers. Single supplement is $1,395.

See Northern Adventure departures at , call  07 4128 2049.

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The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
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