Cooktown QLD

About Cooktown

Cooktown is justifiably famous as the site of the first white ‘settlement’ in Australia when Captain James Cook, having struck the Great Barrier Reef off the coast north of Cape Tribulation, struggled up the coast and beached the H.M. Barque Endeavour on the shores of the Endeavour River. Cook and his crew were to stay on the river’s edge from 17 June to 4 August, 1770. Today, with a sealed road from Port Douglas and Cairns, it has become a popular northern point for those not wanting to make the long, arduous and difficult journey to the top of Cape York. It is a charming town which wears its history – lots of statues of Captain Cook and a number of impressive buildings constructed during the gold mining boom at Palmer River in the 1880s – with ease. In recent times it has been driven by tourism and, particularly, fishing (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

There are 2 ways to get to Cooktown from our last location at Cape Tribulation. The 1st is 104 kms via the famous Bloomfield Track (maplink) or the 2nd is 318 kms via the inland route (maplink) which is the one we took so we didn’t end up with a destroyed caravan. The Bloomfield Track is notorious for destroying all types of vehicles let alone caravans.

Cooktown Holiday Park

We settled into the lovely Cooktown Holiday Park with plenty of room around us plus heaps of shade and soon learned that with this shade came heaps of duco destroying bird poo. They would have to have the ‘sickest birds’ we have ever come across! The plan is to return here after our trip up to Cape York but will be definitely be looking for a campsite with no overhead trees 😀.

Town Walk

A walk along the recently completed $11million (according to a local) Cooktown Waterfront Park (maplink) which was rewarding with lots of eating shelters and a fabulous water park for the kids. There was lots of info about Captain James Cook and the story of his stranding on the great barrier reef, in 1770, outside of what is now Cooktown.

Grassy Hill Lookout

Just a short drive from the town centre is Grassy Hill Lookout with its mini-me sized lighthouse. This is where Capt James Cook surveyed the reefs surrounding his stranded ship to plan a way of escaping the reefs clutches.

Point Archer

We took a 20km drive south of Cooktown to check out Point Archer as we’d heard that there is a great ‘free camp’ there (the only one near Cooktown) as well as fantastic views of the coastline. It didn’t disappoint and after a stony & dusty 15kms we found this lovely location. It also had a mini-me lighthouse too.

The Lions Den Pub

So many people had recommended we must visit the historic Lion’s Den Pub when you’re in Cooktown. Well, they were absolutely correct. Built in 1875, this very eclectic pup has so many bits and pieces; like hats, beer coasters, beer coasters, money and old miners ‘IOU’s stuck and written all over the walls.

It took us both back to the Daly Waters Pub in NT, which we visited in 2018 on our ‘half lap of Oz’ trip (click here to view that blog).

A nice lunch on the pub veranda then a stroll through the caravan park out the back – even saw another Bailey caravan there.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Cooktown Holiday Park is a nice park, just try to get a site away from the trees so you don’t end up with bat shit all over everything
    • Cost per night$44.10 (@ 23-Sep-2020)
    • Facilitiesnot bad but were a bit of a walk if you needed to get there in a hurry (get the drift?)
    • CP Locationnot bad, about 1.5kms from town. (maplink)
    • Our rating/score7/10 but might try Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park or even the Lions Den Pub next time we’re in town
  • Was it a nice town to visit? yes. Loved this place
    • Activities & places of interest plenty to do here. Make sure you check out the Lions Den Pub
    • Tourist info centre?1 Walker St, Cooktown (Facebook)
    • Would we return?yes, but it’s along way from the last stop
    • Overall Score8/10
  • Summing up – it was a great place to visit. “Nicko” the prawn guy was fantastic allowing us to leave our van on his property for the time we were up on Cape York.

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