Elim Beach Hopevale

Elim Beach is exactly 72Kms from Cooktown. You drive through Hopevale on some very beautiful roads and head direct to Elim Beach 32 Kms from Hopevale. Its very hilly and the outgoing trip has some steep climbs. Coming back its more downhill and easier. You head along sealed road until the sign saying ‘Report to Campground’. This last kilometre is unsealed and quite rough in places and sandy but my 2WD campervan managed to get to the campground without incident. Camping is $15 for grassed areas and $20 for waterfront. I chose the grassy to be near the facilities. I also worried about my little dog as there are crocodiles in the water. However, it was quite safe and my little dog and I were able to walk the sandy shores and enjoy the scenery and the fresh spring water trickles as it flowed to the sea.

Set in a picturesque valley, Hope Vale Aboriginal Community has a wonderful cultural centre, and is gateway to one of the most spectacular sand dune environments on Cape York. Although the township was built in 1949, the original community dates back to 1886, when the Lutheran Church first established a mission at Elim, Cape Bedford, to protect the Guugu Yimithirr from the devastating effects of the Palmer River Gold Rush. Hope Vale remained under mission control until 1986, when the community became the first in Queensland to receive community land under a Deed of Grant in Trust, and the right to self-government. The drive from Hope Vale to Elim takes about an hour on a partly sealed road which winds through white silica sand hills, rugged escarpments and heath lands

The stunning beach at Elim is home to the famous Coloured Sands, and a popular spot for Hope Vale people, many of whom have a shack here and visit at weekends to go fishing. It is also a popular camping spot, and the Elim Beach campground  belonging to Thiithaarr-warra Elder, Eddie Deemal, now run by his son Ivan, is right on the water’s edge with fabulous views to Cape Bedford, providing the perfect base from which to explore the area.

The Lutheran Church originally established the community in 1886 as the Cape Bedford Mission at Elim Beach. During World War II the military interned the German Lutheran missionaries and the population evacuated to southern communities such as Woorabinda. More than 28 deaths were recorded from disease after the evacuation. Over the next 8 years more than a quarter of the population died. In September 1949 Hope Vale was re-established as a Lutheran Mission and the first families returned in 1950.

Elim is home to the famous Coloured Sands and is now also a popular fishing spot for locals. The Elim Beach campground is right on the water’s edge just south of the Coloured Sands, with great views south across the very tidal bay to Cape Bedford. You can buy the required camping permit at the service station in Hope Vale before you leave, or you can just square up the $10 per person cash fee when you arrive.

The beachfront campground is shaded by mature paper bark trees, perfect for setting up the hammock, and idea to spend a few days soak up the tranquillity of the area.

There are plenty of opportunities for fishing, best exploited with a tinnie, which can be launched from the beach at high tide and moored there for the rest of your stay. You can even explore the coastline by boat to Cape Bedford in the east, or McIvor River to the north.

However, the main visual attractions of the area are the mesmerising dune formations of the neighbouring Coloured Sands, which are just a 300m walk north along the beach. Alternatively, you can exit the camp and drive there along the beach, but this is something you should do only at low tide and in a 4WD.

The campground is very beautiful with all the very old paperbarks and Palm trees. The facilities include shower, toilets and sink. There are two communal areas with sinks, fish cleaning areas, and tables. Wifi is with Starlink and available around the Admin area and the Communal area. There are plenty of walks around the campground, out and along the road, and of course along the water at low tide and you can walk easily to the Colored sands, a distance of approximately 5 kms return. Firepits are there if you wish to have a campfire, and plenty of wood is lying around waiting to be collected. The camp areas near the waterfront are very beautiful, but the toilets are towards the rear end of the Campground which is where I stayed.


Published by Ladymaggic

Artist, Traveller, Researcher and Writer, currently living in Australia where I photograph and share experiences and events as I travel. Travel photos and videos about many places in Australia​ and the world

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