Driving to Weipa can be a pretty challenging task if you are not prepared. Many travellers plan stop there as a halfway point on the way to the Cape Yorks tip. For some, however, it is the final destination for their fishing adventure.
Few facts about Weipa
Weipa is a coastal town located in the far north of Queensland, Australia, on the eastern side of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The area is rich in history and was first visited by Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon in 1606, making it one of the earliest known European contacts with Australia.
The town is also known for its stunning landscapes, including the picturesque Rocky Point, which is a popular spot for fishing and camping.
Township is part of the Cook Shire and is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, including lush rainforests and rugged mountains.
Visitors can explore the town’s rich cultural heritage at the local museum, which showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the area’s Indigenous and European history.
What is the best time to visit Weipa?
Weipa, a town located in the far north of Queensland, Australia, experiences a wet season from December to April each year. During this time, the town receives heavy rainfall and high humidity levels.
The wet season in Weipa is characterised by frequent thunderstorms and occasional cyclones. As long as there are unsealed sections and no bridges on Peninsula Developmental Highway, getting to the town is only possible in the dry season between April and October.
Once the rain starts to pour the roads are unpassable. However, the best time to be there is between June and August. The temperatures are milder and there is almost no rain.
We visited Weipa at the end of June and it was great.
Driving to Weipa – how much of the road is sealed
As of 2022, only 200 km of Peninsula Developmental Highway (PDR) is unsealed. For a driver, it means driving between on and off-road sections all the way to the Rio Tinto PDR boundary that is under sole maintenance of this mining company.
Driving on unsealed parts of PDR can be challenging especially during the peak season between May and August.
Importance of Traditional Owners
The name ‘Weipa’ comes from the aboriginal ‘Waypa’ meaning ‘Fighting Ground’. Interestingly, when the town was built by Comalco in 1967, it was called North Weipa by the Queensland Government.
There are eleven Traditional Owner Groups in the area: Alngith, Anathangayth, Ankamuthi, Peppan, Taepadhighi, Thanikwithi, Tjungundji, Warranggu, Wathayn, Wik and Wik-Waya and Yupungathi.
The groups are part of the Western Cape Communities Co-Existence Agreement (WCCCA) and support Rio Tinto mining activities in return for land use. The agreement provides employment opportunities, training, cultural heritage and site protection, cultural awareness and support for ranger programs.
Weipa is a mining town
Town is famous for bauxite deposits. Wherever you go there you see that this is a mining town. It is actually recognised as the largest bauxite mine in the world with deposits that can last for up to two centuries.
Nowadays, the town is popular as a tourist attraction as it offers many activities and is also a base for Cape York adventures.
Where to stay in Weipa
Weipa Camping Ground is a caravan park where most people come with their 4WD rigs before heading to Cape York. For some, it is the final destination as you can really relax in this beautiful, warm spot.
The caravan park offers cabins, rooms, villas, lodges and camping sites. They have got the famous ‘Barramunchies’ cafe where you can get the best fish and chips in town or a barramundi burger. It is a very popular place, so arrive early, purchase your meal and sit at the table admiring the sun hiding on the horizon.
In the reception shop, you can purchase basic food, snacks, or ice creams and organise any tour booking.
The location of the caravan park is also very convenient as next door, there is a small shopping centre with Woolworths, so getting supplies is easy without even starting the car.
Accommodation in Weipa
If you want to have a break from red dust and taste a bit of luxury find your spot in one of the town resorts. There are three options:
- Anchorage Weipa
- Heritage Weipa
- Weipa Motel Resort
What to see in Weipa
Weipa is a quiet township, which boasts a strong community spirit and a range of recreational activities for visitors and locals alike. One popular spot is the local bowls club, which offers a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for those looking to unwind and socialise.
The club is a hub for the community and hosts a range of events throughout the year, including tournaments, social gatherings, and fundraisers. It’s a great place to meet new people and get involved in the local community.
Mine and Town Tour
The best way to learn town history is on a Mine and Town Tour. It is a 3.5 hours tour where you intake everything about the town and the Rio Tinto company.
Book at the Weipa Camping Ground. The tour departs twice, at 8.30 am and 2 pm. Weipa Sunset Cruise
The sunset cruise is one of the best activities in Weipa. Bring your hat, water, sunscreen and sunglasses and learn about region history, saltwater crocodiles, mangroves and the region. If you are lucky you will see big crocs which are plentiful in the area.
Western Cape Cultural Centre – Achimbun
Western Cape Cultural Centre offers an exhibition showing the history and culture of town and surrounding communities. On-site you can buy souvenirs, coffee or light refreshments. The centre has been refurbished in 2012 and now it is a very popular spot.
The centre is located within walking distance to the wharf, so park your car, visit the cultural centre and go fishing off the wharf afterwards.
If you feel like having a long swim and you want to stay away from crocs visit Weipa Aquatic Centre. It offers an 8 lane, 25 meters pool with beach access and water features for toddlers.
There is always a qualified guard on-site during opening hours. Around, you find a picnic table and BBQ on a large grass area overlooking Albatross Bay.
Weipa is titled the barramundi capital of Queensland. As such it is on the bucket list for many anglers as fishing is great here. If you did not have luck catching any good size around town (see below) find yourself a charter and you won’t be disappointed.
- Weipa Fishing Adventures
- Far North Fishing
- DJ’s X-Stream Fishing Charters
- Eclipse Far North Old Fishing Charters
- Weipa Sports Fishing – offers Heli fishing too
Where to go fishing in Weipa
Coast of Cape York is famous for fishing and you perhaps heard many fishing stories from your mates who had been there. The coastline is quite long so there are many places to go fishing.
Remember that all waters around Cape York are crocodiles infested so always be cautious and stay away from the water edge.
Great fishing location on the northern part of Mission River on the left of the Mission Bridge. Wait for a high tide to catch a king salmon, queenfish or barramundi.
Mission Bridge, located north of town, is a one-lane long bridge that goes over the Mission channel.
You cannot fish off the bridge due to safety reasons but great fishing can be done from under the bridge, especially on the southern part.
Park the car on the east part of the bridge (accessed by a dirt road off the Andoom Rd) and find a nice spot there.
During the day you can catch golden trevally, bream, or queenfish. Stay late and try finishing in darkness to get salmon, mangrove jack, black jewfish, barramundi or golden snapper. Look for bright lumps that attract baitfish that attract predators.
For those who don’t have a boat, there is a small pier and boat ramp at Evans Landing. The wharf is set 2 meters over water, so fishing so you don’t have to worry about the saltwater crocodiles.
Note, that the wharf is often closed due to ships staying there to load the cargo.
What to see around Weipa
Mapoon is located 88 km north of Weipa. It is a small, Aboriginal town but we recommend visiting it as it has a few interesting things to see.
The dirt road to Mapoon is well maintained and if you experienced the Cape York corrugations, the road to Mapoon should feel like a highway.
As soon as you arrive in town, your eyes are immediately drawn to the wild horses that roam freely throughout the area. The town also has a general store, a cafe, and a cultural center for visitors to explore.
When you drive further north you get to Cullen Point Campground. The campground is located almost on the tip of Cullen Point close to the beach entrance. It is a quiet spot, so if you look for camping away from people this place should be perfect.
When we visited it in June, we saw crocodile marks on the sand, but we heard it is common for crocks to rest on the beach. I must stay, this place felt pretty wild and isolated.
Going back from Cullen Point, only 1 km from the campground on the left there is a historical site called Old Mappon.
In 1963, the Aboriginal residents of Mapoon were forcibly removed by the government as the place was meant to be used for mining. Most of their homes were destroyed, and people had to start leaving in the new Mapoon.
Can I take my caravan to Weipa?
Yes. For many people, Weipa is the final destination. However, those who are going to the Cape York tip, often leave their caravan in town and drive further north only in their 4WD.
Peninsula Developmental Highway (PDR) is a pretty good road in comparison to other roads leading to the northernmost tip of Australia. Mainly, due to big corrugations caravans are not suitable for it.
During our Cape York trip in 2021, we saw a few caravans, but we really don’t recommend them, unless they are fully off-road heavy-duty structures.
Another option going to the tip is to leave the caravan in Bramwell and drive further north with the 4WD only.
Driving to Weipa – Summary
Driving to Weipa is a unique and rewarding experience, offering visitors a chance to witness some of Australia’s most stunning scenery and landscapes.
The journey takes travelers through the remote and rugged terrain of far-north Queensland, passing through lush rainforests, ancient rock formations, and charming outback towns along the way.
The road can be challenging in places, with unsealed sections and river crossings to navigate, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
Weipa is a good place to stay and relax before heading north for Cape York. Also, it is the last stop to get supplies at reasonable prices from Woolworths.
Fishing here is great, but the best option to get a good catch is on a fish charter.
We spent four days in Weipa, before heading north. The best for us was the sunset tour and we recommend booking one early when you get there.
Driving to Weipa is a memorable and unforgettable journey that offers a true taste of Australia’s wild and untamed north.
And evenings at Barramunchies are great!
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Enjoy outdoors with Tentworld equipment
4WD Equipment Checklist
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