Historic Cooktown became a thriving port during the gold rush era after it was discovered by Captain James Cook when the HMS Endeavour hit a reef in 1770. Hardened, pioneering characters and years of geographic isolation have added to the frontier town's unique character which continues to charm adventurers today.... more
Indigenous, European and Chinese history come together in this once-bustling town where there is still plenty of evidence of Cooktown's prosperity from the gold mining days. Wide streets with impressive handmade stone guttering, quaint buildings that were once the hub of commercial activity, and graceful, well-preserved Queenslander architecture give a hint of days gone by.
Monuments and museums with carefully preserved relics are reminders of the town's rich history, while the well-maintained cemetery bears testament to the hardships endured more than a century ago. History is even evident in Cooktown's Botanic Gardens which were gazetted in 1878 and feature 62 hectares of native and exotic plants.
Indigenous culture thrives in this part of Tropical North Queensland. Join an Aboriginal family for a yarn and a meal at their home, tour the arts and cultural centre at a nearby Indigenous community or take a guided tour of the rock art sites high in the hills.
Each June, the landing of Captain Cook and his interaction with the Indigenous Guugu Yimithirr people is marked with a re-enactment ceremony as part of the three-day Cooktown Discovery Festival.
It's bitumen all the way if you travel the 330 kilometres inland along the Mulligan Highway from Cairns, or take a Four Wheel Drive for a fun adventure along the coastal route crossing rivers and creeks through World Heritage-listed rainforest and join the highway at the mysterious pile of rocks known as Black Mountain.
Cooktown has a regional airport with regular flights and a range of accommodation from camping to four-star hotels.... less
From Cairns take Highway 1, the Kennedy Highway through scenic Kuranda to Mareeba. Officially opened in March 2006, the fully sealed inland route then follows the Mulligan Highway north from Mareeba all the way to Cooktown. Several lookouts along the way offer expansive vistas of lush valleys and sparsely vegetated hillsides.
Roadhouses along the way are located at Mt Carbine, Palmer River and Lakeland Downs. Keep an eye out for wildlife and livestock along the roadsides as some sections are unfenced.
Cooktown is the gateway to the Heritage Wilderness of the Cape York Peninsular and the Great Barrier Reef. Founded in 1873 as a port for the Palmer River Gold fields, it has a rich history of European settlement, Aboriginal, cultural and natural historical developments. Every June the town celebrates with a re-enactment of the landing of Captain Cook to repair the Endeavour after striking the reef. An Aboriginal dance and cultural festival is also held bi-annually at near by Laura. Today fishing and tourism are the main industries. A variety of tours and self-drive adventures can be arranged. All modern town services are available as well as comfortable and affordable accommodation to suit all budgets.
Please note that Alcohol Restrictions apply for some Indigenous Communities within Queensland.
Access Public Transport
Regular air and coach services are available from Cooktown. A taxi service is also available in town.