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Cape York Sea Voyage on MV Trinity Bay

Welcome aboard working cargo vessel MV Trinity Bay

The MV Trinity Bay is approximately 80m long and carries an average of 35 passengers on its important journey to Thursday Island and Cape York each week. The vessel carries approximately 3500 tonnes of cargo and travels up to 13.5 knots.

The ship departs every Tuesday and travels north towards her most northern destination, Thursday Island, arriving there on Thursday. The coastline is in sight most of the way except when we cross at Princess Charlotte Bay just south of Lockhart River. An understanding of the route we take can be gained from the large map of Cape York located in the saloon area aboard the ship.

After leaving Cairns it's not long until Double Island is sighted. On this Island there is a resort which was developed by Robert and Janet Holmes-A'court. Next is Port Douglas and Low Isles, our first course change after leaving the Cairns channel. We then travel on to Cape Tribulation, Hope Islands, Gubbins Reef and Cooktown where Captain Cook repaired the "Endeavour". He entered Cooktown on the 17th June 1770 and departed on the 4th August 1770. As we keep heading north we pass Cape Flattery, the loading port for a silica sand mining operation, and Lizard Island with its well known upmarket resort.

Early Wednesday morning finds us at Cape Melville, the southern point of Princess Charlotte Bay and the site of one of Queensland’s worst maritime disasters, when on the 4th and 5th March 1899 a cyclone passed over the area. It destroyed the pearling fleet with the loss of 307 lives, 5 large vessels and 54 luggers. The cyclone was named Mahina, had a central pressure of 914mb and produced a storm surge of over 40 feet. Cape Melville is part of the Melville National park famous for its foxtail palms which were unique to the area and much sought after by horticulturists. This demand encouraged poachers who, each year when the palms seeded, mounted a harvesting program which produced an equal effort by the park rangers to apprehend the poachers. The poachers must have been successful as these palms can now be purchased in most nurseries.

Pipon Island is the point where the vessel deviates from the regular shipping channel and transits the Fairway Channel taking us between the Inner and Outer reef. At times the large ocean swells can be seen breaking on the outer reef. Not long after departing Pipon Island, the Flinders group of Islands can be seen on the portside of the vessel. These Islands are sacred areas to the local Aborigines and also posses some very impressive galleries of rock paintings.

As the vessel travels through an outer passage north of the Flinders group, numerous sand cays and reef outcrops become visible in close proximity. During the fishing season, a number of trawlers can also be seen in these grounds.

On Wednesday afternoon we arrive at Lockhart River, our first stop on the northern voyage. Here we meet another Sea Swift vessel the Temple Bay to which we transship to the Lockhart River Community cargo. The Temple Bay is a 23 meter landing barge which is used to carry the cargo to shore as there is only a barge ramp in this area and the surrounding shallow area prohibits access to the Trinity Bay.

After leaving the anchorage at Lloyd Bay we pass Restoration Island, which is significant as the first landfall of Captain William Bligh after he and his companions were forced into the long boat during the mutiny of the "Bounty" near Tahiti. A few miles further on is Portland Roads which until the 1980's used to have a large timber wharf used by the allies during World War 2 as a jump off point for the New Guinea campaign. The wharf was more recently blown up by the Navy because of its dilapidated condition. Portland Roads is a safe anchorage used by the fishing fleet and the motherships which supply them with fuel, water and stores, and unload their catch which is returned to Cairns for export. The community ashore attracts people who tend to follow an alternative lifestyle, avoiding the pressures of city dwellers.

Three hours further north we pass Cape Grenville and the Home Island group, most of which were named by Captain Cook after members of the "Endeavour" crew. Occasionally we stop at this location to deliver cargo to a couple of the small resort Islands.

As always there are small Islands and reefs that we pass on the way north. Some of these Islands and sand cays are popular turtle breeding grounds for turtles from all around the world. Every summer they converge here to lay eggs and breed. Each year in December we transport officers from the Department of Environment and Heritage to Milman Island to carry out research and gather information about the turtles, which goes towards a better understanding of their habits and needs and in turn helps to protect the species.

Early Thursday morning finds us close to Cape York and Albany Island. In the Albany Passage (an optional route sometimes taken by the ship) is one of the many pearl farms in the Torres Strait area and also the remains of the ill fated community of Somerset and the Jardine family residence. Just off Albany Island lies the wreck of the "Quetta", a passenger ship that sank in 1890. The ship hit an uncharted rock and sank in a very short time resulting the loss of 133 lives. Some relics from the "Quetta" can be seen in the Anglican Church on Thursday Island.

Thursday morning is spent at Horn Island. Here passengers are given the opportunity to learn about an often forgotten part of history - the role of Horn Island and the Torres Strait in the Second World War. A local tour is available with an expert guide, who is the curator/owner of the local museum. Some of the sites visited include two World War II plane relics, slit trenches, taxi ways, a 3.7 inch gun site, an underground command post, and the Torres Strait Heritage Museum. As well as the historic aspect, the tour also takes in scenic sites of Horn Island. Only passengers taking part in the tour are allowed to disembark at Horn Island.

Thursday afternoon finds us at Thursday Island (TI). TI was settled in 1877 when it was decided to re-locate the government administration point from Somerset to a more suitable spot. The island was chosen for its closeness to the main shipping channel and it's well sheltered port. The hunt for pearl-shell, beche-de-mer and trochus attracted many people from around the world to these shores and a number of whom decided to stay and adopt the island as their home.

Arrangements can be made for a personalised and informative bus tour of the Island by a local guide who will show you why TI is one of the most culturally and historically interesting places in Australia. The tour takes in spectacular views and visits the Torres Strait Museum (not always accessible on Sundays), Green Hill Fort (circa 1891), Quetta Memorial Cathedral and the Japanese Pearl Divers Memorial at the local cemetery.

On Friday the vessel travels back to the mainland of Australia to the jetty at Seisia, one of the communities in the Bamaga area, for approximately five to six hours. The jetty at Seisia is the only jetty at the top, and lays claim to be "Australia's Best Fishing Jetty".

Seisia is the coastal link to the larger community of Bamaga, which is the most northerly destination for four-wheel drivers heading up the Cape. Bamaga is the largest of the five communities located on the far northerly point of the Cape - the others being Seisia, Umagico, Injinoo and New Mapoon. Fishing safaris, accommodation, motoring assistance, fuel and groceries can be purchased in Bamaga.

Seisia Campground also offers accommodation and tours. Passengers on the Trinity Bay are invited to make the 4WD journey to the very 'tip' of the Cape - a half day journey whilst the vessel is in port.

The distance from Cairns to the tip of Australia is about 1,000 km where the finger of Cape York points to New Guinea which lies beyond the Islands of the Torres Straits.

After departing Seisia the ship commences its southern voyage along the same path back to Cairns.


Rates are per person. High season 01 Apr to 31 Oct. Low season 01 Nov to 31 Mar.

Valid 01 Jan 2013 to 30 April 2016
High Season
Low Season
Twin Share Cabin With Shared Facilities
5 Nights
Twin Share Cabin With Ensuite
5 Nights
Triple Share Cabin With Shared Facilities
5 Nights
Triple Share Cabin With Ensuite
5 Nights
Quad Share Cabin With Shared Facilities
5 Nights
Quad Share Cabin With Ensuite
5 Nights
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