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Cooktown Queensland

An unspoilt jewel at the northern tip of Australia, the Cape York Peninsula.

At a Glance

Cooktown, despite being a relatively quiet and small town, has a rich history where the well-known explorer James Cook came ashore to repair his sailing vessel and encountered the native peoples. This historic event is permanently perpetuated in the town as a reenactment of Cook’s landing and encounter with the indigenous people is held every year during the Cooktown Discovery Festival.

Near to the tropical coast, Cooktown is renowned for its high-quality tasty sea products. It is also known for the black marlins that lurk its waters, attracting thousands of fishers to come every year attempting to catch this rare creature. Of course, Cooktown is not lacking in its natural charm too. A near distance away lies several natural attractions such as tropical hills, sandy beaches and colourful reefs that you can take time to explore.



Where is Cooktown?


Cooktown is 2034 kilometres northwest of Brisbane.

Cooktown is located on the eastern side of the Cape York Peninsula north of Cairns. It is located at the mouth of the rushing Endeavour River facing the Pacific Ocean. The town is flanked by a small 431 metres high Mount Cook. There is an airport present in the town and the best way to go to Cooktown is via plane flights.


Things to see in Cooktown


Grassy Hill

Grassy Hill offers 360° views of this small historical town steeped in Aboriginal culture with a healthy. Also, the views from the lighthouse in every direction are extraordinary! The Sunrise and sunset from Grassy Hill are worth a million dollars! Recommend to all of you have an early visit whilst staying in Cooktown!

Grassy Hill

Image Courtesy Tourism And Events Queensland


James Cook Museum

Housed in the old Sisters of Mercy convent and James Cook Museum are a great display and detailed accounts of James Cooks landing and the history of Cooktown. The old Sisters of Mercy convent has been repurposed, beautifully restored, and artfully augmented to tell a complete story of James Cook's arrival and how it affected the local peoples. History often reflects only one viewpoint on events from the past, but this museum strives to include perspectives from all involved. Not to be missed when in Cooktown.


Finch Bay

A lovely beach with huge rocks to clamber across, lovely sandy beach but don't go in the water as the crocodiles also live here. Stay well back & enjoy the scenery. You can also walk around to Cherry Tree Bay from here. Also, this is a beach frequented by local dog owners and offers a great area for kids to run around the way kids are supposed to. Water is shallow at low tide and great for a paddle.

Finch Bay

Image Courtesy Tourism And Events Queensland


Trevathan Falls

To arrive the Trevathan Falls, you require a 4WD and a bit of a hike. But because of the above, more often than not, you will find this magnificent place all to yourself. Heaps of wildlife e.gfrilled neck lizards, spotted monitores, blue tonges, two lined dragons, pythons. Several very flat rocks for unique picnic experience. Always tidy. Everyone who does manage to get up there, the place fills you with awe and respect. Waterpool is cool and deep throughout the year. Highly recommended. And poor access turns getting there into an adventure.



What's the weather like?


Located in the Tropical Far North, Cooktown has a tropical climate where rain mostly falls during the wet season and the winter months are dry. Despite that, light showers can still fall during dry season due to tropical winds. In Summer (December to February), the average maximum temperature is 31°C with an average minimum of 24°C. In Winter (June to August), the average maximum temperature is 26°C with an average minimum of 19°C.


Get to know Cooktown's history


The region around Cooktown was called ‘Gangaar’ by the native people, meaning the place of the rock crystals. It was a site to trade quartz crystals, which was used by the native people in religious ceremonies. In 1770, James Cook’s sailing vessel was damaged on the Endeavour Reef and a repair is mandatory. The vessel landed near the mouth of the Endeavour River for repairs and was met by the local Aboriginal Guugu Yimithirr tribe which were friendly. Here was where the name of the iconic animal - the kangaroo - came from as Cook learnt that the inhabitant of the land called it ‘gangurru’. A minor skirmish ensued after Cook failed to comply with a demand from the local inhabitants. Ultimately, said conflict was resolved and reconciled, marking the first ever reconciliation between Europeans and Indigenous Australians.

After gold was discovered in the Palmer River, a port is established to export the mineral on the Endeavour River in 1873. During the gold rush, there was a strong presence of the Chinese community, who played an important role in establishing market gardens and shops, providing fruits and vegetables. After the gold rush, the population began to decline and several natural disasters that has struck the town further accentuated the decline.

Today, Cooktown’s importance has been revived as it became a popular tourist destination, with proper transportation infrastructure in place to support the industry. In a 2011 census, Cooktown has a population of about 2,339 people.