Our night at Archer Point

I remember pulling into Archer Point so clearly. We’d spent the day travelling the CREB, then headed north through Black Mountain NP before pulling into a dusty track lined by fire-scorched gums with burnt amber leaves. The track rose and fell, meandered around bends, through a dry creek-bed and past a small campground, before finally reaching a small hill - we could see the tops of palm trees poking out in the distance.

Reaching the peak of the final slope, it was better than we had imagined it to be. Behind us, there were huge tree-lined hills, before us the coast was wild and rugged, a small beach lay between two rocky points, and a lighthouse perched high on one of the numerous headlands that overlooked the ocean. A small rocky island lay just offshore, and beyond the bay was the most incredible mountainous coastline… and not a single building in sight.

There were a few groups around the place, some down at the lower point near the beach, some sheltered behind a hill, but we were probably joined by no more than 5 other parties in total, and each had plenty of room and privacy. We drove up the hillside a little more towards the lighthouse, keen to pick a spot that made the most of the amazing vista. We selected a spot on the second highest hill, parked, and set up.

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It was windy, but naively I think we all didn’t fully realise just how windy it was. It’s one thing to sit in the wind chatting, even to cook, but another to try and sleep - something we became incredibly aware of just a few hours later. We’ve been camping all over the place for over a decade now, so I think there was a level of assuming we’d be fine.

We watched the sun go down over the hills, turning the grassy hills into a firey orange. We cooked our dinners and then we watched the moon rise over the ocean - a huge, bright, full moon.

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A few hours later we decided it was finally time to go to bed. When we had set up earlier Matt had climbed into our rooftop tent and said it was really windy, but I had foolishly not climbed in to see what he meant. On the ground, it did feel windy, but I was sure we’d camped in the same conditions just a few nights earlier. Boy was I wrong.

The tent was flapping and flailing about, whipping in the wind vigorously, all 20-something zippers clinking, and just generally sounding like it was probably going to be in tatters by morning. We tried in vain to fall asleep, and eventually Matt got out of the car and decided to take the fly and it’s securing poles off in an attempt to mitigate the noise. It helped, but trying to do it in pitch black with the wind treating it like a parachute was not the most fun. Getting back into the tent we found it was still pretty noisy - albeit slightly better - but it was also now brighter (a full moon and no fly isn’t great). With our pillows wrapped around our heads to deaden the noise, and with an over-the-counter sleeping pill in hand, we managed to get a few hours of broken sleep.

In the morning, we spoke to the others. One couple had slept in their car, and even it wasn’t great - the entire car rocking in the wind all night. The others had slept in their swag, and tried to place in behind their car, but they hadn’t fared much better. No matter - we had breakfast, packed up our gear and ventured up to the lighthouse to look north of the point, before heading into Cooktown and then onto Rinyirru NP. And whilst we hadn’t had the greatest nights sleep, the happiness of waking in a beautiful spot and the adrenalin of adventure to come fuelled us well into the evening.

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I guess if there’s anything to take from our experience, it’s this. Visit Archer Point. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. I honestly can’t wait to return. But next time, I’ll definitely pick a sheltered site.

And I’ll never, ever, ever underestimate wind again.

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Visiting Archer Point Conservation Estate

Location: Archer Point is a 4 hr drive north from Cairns via the Highways, or roughly 5-8hrs via the Bloomfield or CREB, depending on conditions.

Information: Camping is free with permission from the Yuku Baja Muliku people, and you can contact them on (07) 4069 6957  or visit their website here.

Facilities: There is nothing here, so you will have to be entirely self-sufficient with waters, toilets, etc.

Do the right thing and help ensure that amazing places like this stay open for generations to come.

Brisbane-based lover of travel, off-roading, camping and photography.