The drive from Cairns to the tip of Cape York is about 1000 kilometres. At the half-way point, you’ll find the historic Musgrave Roadhouse. It’s about midway between Laura & Coen, not far from Princess Charlotte Bay, a few hours drive to Pormpuraaw. There’s fuel, food, somewhere to stay, and stories of life on Cape York Peninsula now and way back in the old days.
Musgrave was built in 1887, as one of the repeater stations on the Overland Telegraph line. The line ran through stations at Palmerville, Fairview, Coen, Mein, Moreton, McDonnell and Paterson. Musgrave was named after the then Queensland Governor. One of the last original poles that supported the Telegraph line still stands near the phone box outside the Musgrave road house.
It’s been welcoming travellers for over 100 years. They used to come by wagon and on horse-back. These days people drive the Cape York road in air-conditioned comfort, and some arrive by plane, landing at the adjacent air-strip.
Things have slowed down since the wet season got going this month, but back during the dry, Musgrave had an occupancy rate the envy of hoteliers everywhere — upwards of 90%.
John McDowall puts that down to old-fashioned good value accomodation and the district’s many natural delights.