The Daintree region in far north Queensland has a huge reputation, and when we found out that there’s a 4WD track going right through it, we became even more keen. We spent the better part of a day exploring the Bloomfield Track and its various attractions, and had one of our best days in a long time.
What is the Daintree Forest?
Let’s start at the very beginning, by trying to verbalise how special of a place that the Daintree Forest is. Try and imagine the most amazing rainforest in Australia (and parts of the world), and you’ll get a pretty good picture. It’s very untouched compared to a lot of Australia, and it butts up against a coastline that is very picturesque too.
The Daintree forest has world heritage listing, and is home to a massive array of wildlife including a substantial number of salt water crocodiles.
Where is the Bloomfield Track?
The Bloomfield Track is located in Far North Queensland, in the middle of the Daintree Forest. It runs from Cape Tribulation (roughly 2 hours north of Cairns and across the Daintree River Ferry) to Bloomfield, which is about an hour south of Cooktown.
How long is the track?
The track is touted as just over 100km long (Cape Tribulation to Cooktown), but the actual track is really only about 40km from Wajul Wajul through to Cape Tribulation.
Can you do it in either direction?
Yep; you can head north to south, or south to north. In both cases, you will need to pay to use the ferry to cross the Daintree River, unless you are heading down the track, and back up it again (like we did, from Bloomfield).
The track is fairly narrow, and you need to be very aware of oncoming vehicles.
Does it get closed?
Yep, when its really wet, this track will not be open, which means you need to make the leg from Cairns around to Cooktown, adding on a fair distance, but it’s a solid, bitumen road the entire way.
What are the attractions along the track?
Starting from the north, you’ve got the following attractions:
Woobadda Creek Bridge
Starting from the north, you’ll quickly arrive at a beautiful, old bridge that goes over the Woobadda Creek. This is absolutely gorgeous, and well worth a stop. You can also get onto the ‘beach’ just north of the bridge and the views of this creek are truly remarkable.
Cowie Beach is signed, and easy to get to with a short walk. The beach is huge, quiet and has lots of room for walking up and down.
Emmagen Crossing and swimming holes
One of the most popular places to stop is the Emmagen Crossing. This is the largest water crossing, and arguably the most picturesque, and a lot of people stop on the southern side in the pull off bays, or slightly further where there is more room to park.
The crossing is quite nice to sit and have a picnic at, or you can walk to various swimming holes upstream, which are absolutely mint, and completely worth a look. This is a bit of a rabbit hole though, and you could spend a lot of time walking around with limited signage and lots of tracks around the place!
The Bloomfield Track essentially ends at Cape Tribulation, which is a great beach to have a walk on, with good views. There’s plenty of other beaches further south that you can also check out, and you could easily spend more than a day exploring the area.
On a different day, we did the Daintree Ferry, and everything up to Cape Tribulation, which was a lot of fun. We did this from Port Douglas, and covered the Marrdja Boardwalk (absolutely amazing), Daintree Icecream, Daintree Village, Daintree Crocodile Tour, a heap of lookouts and spent a fair bit of time enjoying the Daintree region itself.
The rest of the Bloomfield Track
The whole of the Bloomfield Track is magic, and there’s a few places you can pull over and have a look around. I really enjoyed just walking up parts of the track itself, as the rainforest canopy and beauty is truly surreal.
Watch the vlog
Want to see this stunning track on video? Here’s our vlog:
How difficult is the track?
I was curious about how difficult the Bloomfield track would be, and in comparison a many of the other 4WD tracks we’ve done in Australia, it barely meets the criteria. Asides from some very steep sections (that are mostly concrete anyway), its just a gravel road, with a few little holes and divets. There are a number of water crossings, with the largest one at Emmagen crossing being the longest and deepest.
Even this was only about 30 – 40cm deep when we went through, and its really straight forward.
Some of the crossings (with or without water) are rocky and need 4WD engaged, with a gentle, but steady pace, but nothing is difficult or challenging, and any 4WD would be fine to do the track with in the dry.
If its wet, you’d probably want some reasonable all terrain tyres, but again, its pretty straight forward and you could do it in virtually any stock 4WD, with the right driver experience.
Do you need a 4WD to do it?
I’m pretty confident that a lot of people do this track without a 4WD. Of course, that doesn’t make it a good idea (as we go into more below), but you really only need a 4WD for the extra clearance. Most AWD’s with a bit of clearance would be OK too, but I’d probably not take 2WD vehicles on this track.
We had a bit of a sprinkle of rain, and it was very clear that the track conditions would change in a hurry with any substantial amount of rain. I’d certainly advise you only tackle this with a 4WD after any recent rain!
I’m going to recommend you only do this track with a 4WD, purely because of the clearance needed, and the depth of water crossings that can easily destroy your engine if you are unlucky, or careless.
Bloomfield Track tyre pressures
We’re very used to letting air out when we hit the gravel, and after a few hundred metres on the Bloomfield end, with 40km to go we decided to pull over and air down. It takes a couple of minutes, helps to preserve the track, gives you a much better ride and goes a long way to looking after your vehicle.
Whilst I’ve got no doubt you can do it at full tyre pressures, we were glad we deflated; it just gets rid of some of the knocks, corrugations and bumps, and it helps to care for the beautiful track.
We went down to 27 PSI on the front of the Dmax, and 30 PSI on the rear, which are fairly standard gravel driving tyre pressures for us. If you aren’t sure what to go to, remove 30% of your normal road tyre pressures. If you run 40 PSI in your tyres, go down to 28 PSI.
Can you tow a camper trailer, boat or Caravan on the Bloomfield Track?
On either end of the Bloomfield track, there is a giant red sign that says that the road is unsuitable for towing trailers and caravans. That said, there’s been a lot of discussion about it online, and the general consensus is that this is advice only, and its not a policed piece of advice. If you tow something on the Bloomfield Track, you aren’t going to get pulled over by the police and strung out to dry.
That said, the advice is in place for a reason, and if you are towing something big and heavy there is a lot of room for things to go wrong, particularly on the steep inclines and descents. Yes, its possible, but is it a good idea?
If you meet something else going the other way when you are going up a steep hill, how is it going to work out? Every year, someone ignores the advice not to tow, and ends up in a pickle, which blocks the track and upsets the locals, along with causing unnecessary damage.
I’m going to suggest that whilst you can tow a caravan on the Bloomfield track, doing so is not a wise, or sensible choice.
Take the ‘use low range’ advice with caution
I was intrigued by a number of signs suggesting to engage low range now, due to steep ascents, or descents. The concept is solid; you want to be in low range to climb steep hills, and for additional engine braking when coming down the other side.
However, given that almost all of the steep sections are concrete, and they have corners (some substantial), the idea of using low range seems absolutely ludicrous to me.
If you’ve never heard of transmission windup, it involves driving your 4WD in high range with the centre diff lock locked (if you have one), or low range on solid ground. You might notice when you are in 4WD that its harder to turn a corner even on gravel, and that’s because its forcing all 4 wheels to turn at the same speed.
On gravel, you get away with this as the tyres can slip on the ground, but when you are on bitumen or concrete there is no slippage going to happen, and its impossible to go around a corner with all 4 tyres turning at the same speed, and not built up a huge amount of stress. This stress goes somewhere, and usually results in something on your driveline breaking.
I’ve heard of people driving out of car parks with their 4WD’s engaged in high range and snapping a front CV, and it does this because the stress applied is significant.
As such, the idea of using low range on the Bloomfield track is completely and utterly absurd in my opinion, and we stuck to high range 4WD for the gravel sections, and 2WD for the rest of it.
If you have a 4WD that has a centre diff lock (like a Pajero, or Land Cruiser for example), you can leave it in 4WD high with the centre diff lock disengaged (basically AWD), and its perfect.
Now, I will say that the hills are pretty steep, with one topping out at 31 degrees. If you are towing something heavy (which you probably shouldn’t be), you might need low range to keep the automatic transmission temperatures happy. We had zero issues with our Dmax in high range not towing, but did see temperatures of around 100 degrees, and that would skyrocket if we were towing something heavy.
Can you swim along the Bloomfield Track?
It gets warm in Far North Queensland, and whilst you’re in lots of shade, a swim is something you’re hanging out to do somewhere along the track. There’s a heap of creeks and crossings, and whilst some can be safe, there’s always the risk of a salt water crocodile being there, so take due precautions.
We were told that it was OK to swim just West of the main creek crossing, and saw a heap of other people doing it including a tour bus, so also had an amazing swim, but you still need to accept the risk.
How long do you need to do the track?
If you weren’t going to stop and look at anything, you could probably do the whole track (Cape Tribulation to Wajul Wajul) in just over an hour. That said, you are mad to not stop and soak it up, and I’d recommend at least 3 hours to really enjoy it all.
If you are going both ways, then its a full day trip (like we did from Bloomfield Cabins and Camping), and you can easily spend longer in the area exploring the southern Daintree parts.
Is the Bloomfield Track worth doing?
I mentioned earlier that this was one of our most enjoyable days in Queensland, and we had a heap of fun. The scenery is truly amazing, and if you can do it on a day where you are just cruising and not in a hurry, you’ll soak up a heap more.
Our swim was one of the best I’ve had in a long time, and we thoroughly enjoyed spending some time at the first bridge, looking around and flying the drone for a truly epic perspective.
If you are after amazing scenery, a simple and easy 4WD track with plenty to keep you occupied, and a different way to get from Cooktown to Port Douglas, we’d highly recommend doing the Bloomfield Track; its spectacular in every way.