Cairns Visitors Information Guide
Tropical Far North Queensland


COOKTOWN -341 km north of CAIRNS is (the gateway to some of our very own local history) - was founded in 1873 as the main port for the Palmer River Goldfields, although this wasn't until more than a century after, "Captain James Cook" spent 48 days in 1770 on the banks of the Endeavour River repairing his ship, after damaging it on the Great Barrier Reef.

Every June on the Queen's birthday long week-end the town and surrounding areas celebrates Cooktown's status as Australia's first, if brief, European settlement at a "Discovery Festival" which includes a colourful re-enactment of Cook's landing.

Re-enactment of Capt James Cook's landing


This festival is not only popular with the locals it also attracts visitors from far and wide. It's only a short 35 minute flight from the Cairns airport.

For those wishing to drive there is the scenic route via the coast which is not suitable for caravans or trailers and a 4wd is recommended. The inland road, which is almost completely sealed,passes through the heart of the lower Peninsula and the famous Palmer Goldfields.

A highlight of a visit to Cooktown is an extended tour of the James Cook Museum - built in 1888 as a convent school run by Irish nuns. The Museum documents not only Cook's voyages it also gives information about Aboriginal and natural history, the gold rush days and their Chinese legacy. Walking tracks in the area allows for visitors to explore areas of beach, bush and mountains. Closer to town is Grassy Hill where one can share the same view as Captain Cook.

Lighthouse at Cooktown overlooking the ocean



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