Bramwell Station is the most northerly cattle station in Australia and offers a wide variety of services to the Cape York Peninsula. Located 2 hours North of Weipa or Archer River and 4 hours South of The Tip, the station is probably more famous now for its location – the start of the famous four-wheel-driving challenge, the Old Telegraph Line track, fondly known as the OTL.
Rough dirt road conditions have been foremost the reason the far northern Cape has been regarded as isolated and remote, but since 2002, road construction works have vastly improved conditions and modern 4wd vehicles travel the main route up the Cape, the Peninsula Development Road and then the Bamaga Road with comparative ease – and then they can chose the OTL, Frenchmans and other 4wd skill and adventuring favourites – now also to include The Olive Track, Bramwell’s newest eco tourism initiative, a full day trip visiting this station’s eastern bush country.
Bramwell was first taken up in the early 1930s as a pastoral lease, owned by Frank Monighan, and then passed onto Rod Heinemann of the Coen area, who jointly held it with Rosie and Jack Kennedy until 2002, when it was taken up and operated by the family partnership of Vince Bowyer and Wendy Kozicka.
The Heinemann family – some of whom are buried at the homestead’s graveyard site, also took the initiative to welcome tourists for the first time in the early 1980s – though in those days it was just a few adventurous cars per season – partly because of the very poor cattle prices. Stations including Bramwell used to send their cattle south with droving teams, and Rod was one of the regular drovers with a team, mostly to the Mareeba yards, but poor seasons and the cattle slump in the 1970s and 1980s made it difficult to make ends meet for the remote area properties
During the early 2000s, there was a surge of traffic coming to the Cape annually for holidays, and cattle prices were not that bad, so on the back of improved economic opportunities, including the State Government’s interest in upgrading the main arterial road and community access roads in the Cape, Bramwell managed to ride the growth wave with the help of allowable diversification of businesses. The Bramwell Station Earthmoving Contracting team has been one of the Cook Shire’s major roadworks crews since 2003. Also in 2003, Vince and Wendy constructed Bramwell Roadhouse, at the junction of the Bamaga (Southern ByPass Road) and the OTL, a business which has grown with the traffic numbers and is a major meeting place for the Cape’s visitors. The Roadhouse offers takeaways and basic supplies, has a limited liquor licence and of course sells fuels.
Just a few kilometres off the main Bamaga Road is the main homestead, and the home of Bramwell’s Tourist Park, the business first opened for trade by Rod’s wife, Mrs Theresa Heinemann. The original Bar, where Mrs Heinemann used to serve drinks and was known for her excellent station cooking skills, now houses a pictorial museum of many of the old people who called Bramwell home.
Today, the Tourist Park has now been taken on by Mr Ken Godfrey, a long-term associate, almost 20 years, of Bramwell and its tourism industry, and Ken has introduced live entertainment in a very Bramwell style, as well serves up a very popular fresh food buffet in the Tourist Park’s open air and spacious Bar area.