Visit Cooktown Qld (BL22)
Cooktown is the most northerly town I will get to on this trip. The bitumen does go a little further up but you need a 4wd to get to the tip of Cape York.
Driving north one gets the sense of this town’s remoteness the closer you get to it. It has a fishing village feel to it. The main street is very different to most I have encountered. Nothing unusual about its width or length, but the actual shops are not continuous. Shops are few and far between vacant blocks and parks. Being right on the water makes it an idyllic setting though and everything about this town relates back to Captain James Cook, after which the town is named. There are monuments and references everywhere to his landing and spending 48 days here back in 1770.
They have an annual re-enactment of the original landing each year in June. Next year marks the 250th anniversary of The Endeavour sailing up the river and several festivals are planned during the June – August period. One local involved in the celebrations told me all the accommodation was all but booked out but that they would set up additional “tent style accommodation” to cater for the expected influx of tourists. The same lady told me the local Aboriginal people are very much on board with the planning and have told southern mobs to “bugger off” and not use the occasion to protest on their country.
The replica “Endeavour” will sail into Cooktown during this period. It should be a great time to visit next year. Could be a bit too crowded for me.
The wharf precinct is very picturesque with plenty of places to cast a line. Finch Bay is a lovely beach but with signs depicting crocs in the vicinity it sort of takes the lustre off this pearl of a beach. Other places worth looking at included the James Cook Museum, Botanical Gardens, Nature Powerhouse, Grassy Hill, Cemetery, The Boathouse and History Centre. The History Centre was especially worthwhile. Some great information and easy to get immersed in the history for a couple of hours. All for a $5 donation. The James Cook Museum was one of the better ones I have been to and value at $15.
Grassy Hill is the lookout on the top of Mount Cook and was the steepest I have ever encountered. I had to drop back to first gear at times as the gradient was just too much at times as Rhonda struggled. But she made it and the view at the top was super. There is a lighthouse at the summit as well.
A couple of interesting facts that impressed me were that there were 50 hotels in the town in 1874. Today there are only 3. Of these one is called “The Sovereign”. After the 1949 cyclone that destroyed much of the town, including most of this hotel, the hotel was known as “The Half Sovereign” until repairs were completed.
I was very impressed with Cooktown and very much enjoyed a few wonderful days here.
No trip to Cooktown is complete without stopping at the iconic Lions Den Hotel some 20km to the south. Friendly backpackers are eager to provide a cool refreshing drink for the thirsty traveller.