Ask any Queenslander ... they'll tell you that their state has it all. The reef, rainforests, endless beaches and marine life, plenty of sunshine, an enormous outback and a cape reaching almost to Papua New Guinea with some spectacular scenery.
Cape York Air flies rural residents, mail and freight to most areas of the Cape and they take other passengers when seats are available. They fly a Cessna 208 Caravan, Piper PA31 Navajo, Pilatus/Britten Norman Islander, Partenavia P68 Victor and a range of smaller single engine aircraft. They have been flying for over twenty years and cover more than a million kilometers each year and are the life-line for 60 remote communities.
They employ six commercial pilots including Grade 1 flying instructors with check and training approvals, and they are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week from their bases in Cairns and Torres Strait.
Cooktown is a four hour drive from Cairns with some dirt roads which can be impassable in the wet season (December to April). A flight with Cape York Air takes 40 minutes and operates year-round.
Mal Coventry will meet the aircraft in his 22 seater bus and take visitors on a tour of the area. It takes in James Cook Museum, the old Westpac bank, Nature's Powerhouse, the Cook landing site, Grassy Hill Lookout and the beautiful Cooktown with civic buildings which were built on a grand scale during its boom time.
A visit to Undara Lava Tubes with Bram Collins is a must. Around 190,000 years ago a single shield volcano erupted over the course of three months. It spewed 233 cubic kilometres of molten rock with a temperature of 1200ºC at a rate of 1000 cubic metres every second. It eventually covered 1550 sq km, a flow which could fill Sydney Harbour in six days.
A surface crust formed on top of the flow and a river of lava continued to flow underneath, so it had the formation of a rock pipe. Because it was running downhill, gravity fed the lava through until the eruption stopped, it drained out and left a hollow rock pipe. It ran out 164km away and is the longest lava flow from one single volcano anywhere in the world.
For biologists and geologists the cavern is an underground heaven. Squeezing between boulders, roots and under dripping roofs is not for everyone. Bats are a major part of life in the tubes and they gather in huge nursing colonies to raise their young. Three of the major caves are closed to the public so they can get on with their baby raising without being disturbed.
From April to October you can fly with the postie all the way into the Torres Strait, over the coast, the Barrier Reef, the Tip and Thursday Island. Food and drink are taken at various stops.