Cooktown was the location of the first European settlement on Australian soil, Back in June 1770 Captain Cook and his crew set up camp in Cooktown after damaging their ship the Endeavor on coral on the Great Barrier Reef near Cape Tribulation. They lived on Cooktown’s river edge for about 6 weeks. Cook and his team were said to be on friendly terms with the local Aborigines. One of Cook’s tem famous naturalist Joseph Banks collected many samples of native animals and plants document or take back to England.
|Cooktown has some lovely old historic buildings which are quite grand.|
Gold was discovered in the nearby Palmer River in 1873 which brought many miners to the area, it was estimated some 30,000 miners were looking for their fortune in the Far North Queensland area in the years that followed, After the gold rush the population dropped back to around 1500 but rose to nearly 20,000 when in the early 1940′s Australian and American troops were stationed in and around the town. The Cooktown airfield played an important role in the Battle of the Coral Sea against the Japanese force.
Cooktown, today is a laid back rural town with a distinct tropical feel home to about 1500 people. Cairns is south, located 236 km by inland road (about 4-5 hours) and 236 km by costal road (about 7 hours and 4wd required in many parts). The town serves as a centre for the surrounding agricultural and fishing areas. IT has a airstrip for light aircraft and good port facilities.
There is are a wealth of small scale tourist attractions in the area along with the spectacular landscapes and coastline, some of the more interesting include the James Cook Museum which is home to several items from James Cooks voyages, The museum building it’s self is quite fascinating, it was originally the and the St Mary’s Convent and built on a grand plan with the thought that Cooktown would become one of the great cites of Australia. The Westpac Bank is also a grand old lady, its spectacular cedar joinery and heavy masonry columns make it one of the most beautiful banks in Queensland.
Cooktown’s highest peak is Mount Cook and a great vantage point to see the town and surrounding area, there are several monuments on the top including a monument to the first European sighting of a Kangaroo, this lovely bronze statue is well worthy of a photograph or two.
Another worthy attraction is Cooktown’s beautiful Botanical Gardens, set on 154 acres it was established in 1978. Recently there has been restoration done on some of the lovely stonework and walking tracks which lead to the lovely Finch Bay and Cherry Tree Bay beaches.
With the inland road nearly fully sealed Cooktown is becoming a important tourist destination for people visiting Far North Queensland. Many travel the Bicentennial Heritage Trail which starts in Healsville just out of Melbourne and travel the 5330 km to Cooktown.
The region has several good choices for accommodation, from motel, hotel and camping ground. The town is well serviced with several pubs, restaurants and RSL and bowls club where you can get refreshing beers and a tasty meal.