The most northerly part of Queensland, Australia, the Cape York Peninsula extends from Cape York south to a line between Normanton and Cairns. The length of the peninsula is 700 km and only 150 km separates the tip of the cape from New Guinea. The Great Dividing Range extends for the length of the peninsula (and indeed for most of the length of the continent).
Willem Jansz discovered the west coast of the peninsula in 1606 when he anchored off Weipa on the west coast. The east coast remained unknown until James Cook sailed north along it in 1770 and landed there on what is now the present site of Cooktown.
Europeans did not make any inroads into the peninsula until a cattle-driving expedition by Frank and Alexander Jardine in 1864-65. In 1870 gold was found near the Palmer River which attracted many prospectors but few stayed after the ore was exhausted.
Cairns on the east coast and Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria are the main ports of access to most of the peninsula. A large port has been established at Weipa for the loading of bauxite.