How difficult is the Bloomfield Track?

Steep inclines on the track

Bloomfield Track is one of the most iconic 4WD tracks in Australia. It stretches between Cape Tribulation and Wujal Wujal Aboriginal community.

What makes the track special is the majestic rainforest scenery, creek crossing, big ascends and descents and spectacular views.

The track is only 31 km in length, but don’t think you can do it in an hour or so. It is quite a challenging adventure and your vehicle has to be prepared well.

Most of the questions people ask are:
– can you do it in your own vehicle?
– do I need a 4WD?
– what gear should I engage on ascends and descends?
– can I tow a trailer?
– can I tow a caravan?

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We answer all these questions here so read on and find out.

Why should you drive the Bloomfield track?

When planning your trip from Cairns to Cooktown or Cape York you have two choices: drive on Mulligan Highway (266 km – 3-4 hours) or take the Bloomfield Track. What to choose?

Don’t get me wrong – the trip through Bloomfield Track will still take 3-4 hours, depending on the track conditions and stops you make on the way.

If you have enough time and you prefer to see many interesting spots we recommend driving the Bloomfield Track on the way up to Cooktown and taking Mulligan Highway on the way back when you return home.

On Bloomfield Track there are many places to stop like Daintree Rainforest (with many walks), Daintree Discovery Centre, Cape Tribulation, sandy beaches and spectacular lookouts.

Where does the Bloomfield Track start?

The track starts 500 meters after the coffee shop in Cape Tribulation. There is a sign at the beginning of the track warning you that you enter a gravel road and steep conditions.

Information sign in the begining on the Bloomfield Track
The information sign at the beginning of the Bloomfield Track

Where does the Bloomfield Track end?

The track ends in the Wujal Wujal community. Right there, 2 km from town visit the roaring Bloomfield Falls (stay away from the water edge as the salties inhabit this area).

From there join the bitumen road that goes to Cooktown. On the way, enjoy a glass of gold beer in the famous Lion Dens Hotel. Why not stay for a night and celebrate the successful completion of the track?

On the way to Cooktown make sure to stop at Black Mountain National Park.

Bloomfield Falls
Bloomfield Falls

Do you need a 4WD to drive the Bloomfield Track?

Yes, the only way you can tackle the Bloomfield Track is with a 4WD.

There is a simple reason for it – you need to engage a 4WD low gear to safely climb and descend the hills.

Usually, the track is closed in the wet season. In dry months, there is still occasional rainfall so always check for the track conditions before going. Don’t attempt the track in the heavy rainfall.

There are two steep ranges on the way – one with 20 % and the second with 33% ascend/descend. The steepest parts are covered with concrete slabs so there is better traction. However, if water is pouring over it is still more slippery.

Some uphills don’t have any gravel or concrete so it can be really slippery on this muddy, clay surface. After all, you driving through the rainforest.

Creek crossing on Bloomfield Track
Creek crossing on Bloomfield Track

What gear should I engage on ascends and descends?

Before attempting the Bloomfield Track, make sure you know how to use low gear in the 4WD. If you are new to 4WD driving practise gear switching beforehand on a small hill.

Every car is different, but usually, the second low range gear will do the job.

Engage the gear at the bottom of the hill when ascending. Drive to the top and don’t stop or change gears on the way.

When descending, you can use the 2nd low gear, but if it’s very steep descend even 1st gear. Engage the low gear on the top of the hill, and descent slowly, pushing your brakes occasionally. The engine will do a good job by itself and by pushing on the brakes a bit the car should safely move down.

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The gear selection is based on our car and experience only. Always check your vehicle specification and do your own assessment and research before attempting the Bloomfield Track.

Descending from the hill
Descending from the hill

Can you tow a trailer?

This is the question I was looking for the answer to when driving the track the first time. We had Nissan Patrol and a Stoney Creek camper trailer.

When we arrived at the Cape Tribulation Cafe, we asked the locals about it. They said the track is pretty easy but has two big hills on the way – we should be fine with the trailer.

I had driven many 4WD tracks and hills, so wasn’t too afraid to tackle the track, so we did it with the trailer!

I engaged the 2nd low gear at the bottom of the two ranges, and our Nissan Patrol did a good job.

To be honest, even though the drive was smooth and we did not have any problems, I would not recommend towing a trailer (unless it is a very light one).

Imagine what would happen if the car could not make it to the top? You can’t really stop in between as the brakes would not hold the whole weight of the car and trailer. As a result, you would roll down…

Steep inclines on the track
Steep inclines on the track

Can you tow a caravan?

Definitely not. I know there are people who strongly believe in their 4WD power, but we really don’t recommend it.

What are the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenges are coming from the rainforest and its natural events like seasonal flooding, slips, potholes, and fallen trees. In general, the track is wet, even in the dry season.

Most of the track is made of clay and you hardly find any gravel. and this is especially important when going up and down hills.

Steep Climbs

As we mentioned there are two ranges to climb on the way.

Donovan Range – 20% climb
Cowie Range – 30% climb

Creek Crossings

Normally the crossings on Bloomfield Track are straightforward, but that is depending on the recent rainfall. The crossings can have different water depths.

Never attempt a crossing deeper than 80 cm after heavy rainfall. Your 4WD can be washed away quickly.

Boggy Patches and Washouts

In general, the Bloomfield Track is very wet. Occasionally you find areas that are very soft or washouts.

Try to steer the vehicle to a harder surface and avoid being bogged. The track is pretty busy and you don’t want to block all traffic!

Dust

I would not consider dust as a big risk as the track is usually wet. However, if it doesn’t rain for a while the road becomes dusty.

Don’t drive right after the other vehicle. Leave a reasonable space between the vehicles, so the dust settles a bit improving visibility.

Paddles washouts and creek crossings
Paddles washouts and creek crossings

How dangerous is the Bloomfield Track – Summary

Bloomfield Track is one of the tracks in Australia that a dedicated 4WD driver would not like to miss. Due to its specific climate (Daintree Rainforest), the track is wet and can be challenging in many places, but it is definitely worth it.

Make sure to prepare your vehicle by giving it a good service and you won’t be disappointed.

Have you done the Bloomfield Track? What gear did you use for climbing and ascending?

Please share your comments and stories from the track below.


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4WD Equipment Checklist

GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency

Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks

Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places

Additional fuel canisters


Read more from our travel guides

Are you planning a trip to Northern Territory? – Read our comprehensive travel guide

Are you planning a trip to Western Australia? – Read about everything you need to know

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