Historic Cooktown

Cooktown Travel Blog

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Vew from a lookout showing just miles of scruby small Gum trees.

Historic Cooktown.

After we had bought up all the goodies we could possibly need from the Port Douglas Markets, we drove around to the supermarket to get some hamburger and some sweet buns and water, to go with our picnic lunch, which we shall require on our drive up to Cooktown, we don’t expect to find many shops along the way.

It was around 10.30am when we finally left Port Douglas; we headed off toward Mossman and turned up the Rex Range Road up and over a quite steep mountain through the dense rain forest, a pleasant drive.

Captain Cook's Statue Cooktown.
Turned off at Mount Molloy on to the Mulligan Highway the inland route to Cooktown, stopping at every lookout to enjoy the view. Went through Mount Carbine enjoying the drive along the long straight highway. Came up over a rise where we could see the long straight road for about 5 to 6 km, somewhere in the centre we could see a couple of stopped vehicles, Erle said looks like someone has a flat tyre, but as we got nearer we could see that one of the vehicles was a Police car and he had already stopped someone. The Police officer stepped out from between the two cars, clutching his Lasar gun speed monitor, and signalled us to stop! Oh dear, we didn’t have our seatbelts on (as taxi drivers in NZ we do not have to wear them so it is hard to remember to put them on, though we had been trying to do so most times, this wasn’t one of those times) and it appeared we had been going a trifle to fast; like quite a large trifle, I was surprised our tiny car went so fast, it certainly hadn’t felt like we were going too fast, but we were, so he wrote out two tickets one for speeding and one for no seatbelts! He was doing really well; two more cars were stopped and ordered over while we were there, plenty of revenue being gathered.
Captain Cook's Cairn where he first stepped on to land after beaching his boat. Cooktown.

Just what we needed to improve our holiday! Actually it was a wake up call, after that erle concentrated more on the speed limit and we both concentrated more on wearing seat belts.

It was a more subdued drive on from there, and we decided to help other motorists by flashing our headlights to warn everyone else on the road, all the while keeping strictly to the speed limit.

This highway is mainly unfenced so the Brahman cattle roam across the road in places, big beasts with humps on their backs and big droopy collars hanging from their necks, twice I saw a dead one on side of the road, they are a hazard. Also there must be masses of kangaroos around here as the road is littered with dead carcases of poor kangaroos that were not fast enough, though we never saw a single live kangaroo on the whole journey.

Mrs Watson's Memorial water fountain.
We also saw two dead green tree snakes and a couple of dead bush rats size of small cats!

We were searching for a good place for a picnic by now, somewhere that was shady where we wouldn’t run into snakes, or crocodiles, no good place was found til we got to Lakeland where there are a couple of shops and a hotel, here there are picnic tables set out under big shady trees, that are full of noisy white sulpher crested  cockatoo parrots, such an interesting place for a picnic, we shared our table with a biker from Cooktown, which was great as we heard a few snippets of interest about the town, while we ate.

Between this stop and Cooktown there is an interesting lookout place at Black Mountain, where all the Mountains are solid black rock with just a few wild Fig trees growing among the rocks, we saw plenty of pretty lizards on and around these black rocks.

Mick the Miner and the Town wharf Cooktown
  Next stop Cooktown.

As we drove in we stopped off at the first caravan park we came to trying to get a cabin for the night,  he had no cabins, but he told us of Alamada Inn run by friends of his, he thought we would be happy there, so we went straight there, were quite impressed by the simple homeliness of the building, the friendliness of the owners and the nice shady conservatory area with tables and chairs for guests, there was a communal kitchen and bathrooms as well, for the price it as perfect, so we booked in for the night, then drove on into the town.

Cooktown with its wide streets and stately old historic wooden buildings impressed us. There were also some even more impressive stone buildings, quite a gracious town of old world charm and considering that until recently there was only sea access and all materials must have been shipped in made it all the more impressive.

The old Bank now a museum Cooktown
Amazing that this is the oldest town in Australia, the very first place settled by Europeans (Captain Cook and his crew) in 1770. Later it once again became a busy place when Gold was discovered in the Palmer River and tens of thousands of little Chinese men arrived to mine it.

Now it was time to start walking in Captain Cook's foot prints.

The population of Cooktown now days is abut 1600, but in its hey-day of mining days there were 30,000 odd, mainly Chinese men.

Armed with the tourist leaflet of sights and attractions, we started off on the Walk of Life a long meandering footpath along the parkland beside the Endeavour River from the Post office to Fisherman’s Wharf. Along the way there are wonderfully made tile panels set into the path telling various stories from the past of Cooktown, every one interesting.

There is along the way; a special Mibi Wall made by the Aborigine people to tell their side of the story. Also along this pathway you pass the statue of Captain Cook founder of the town and great explorer, a Memorial Cairn where the Captain beached his boat the HM Bark Endeavour in 1770, another monument to Captain Cook and his achievements; he is very important around here.

An old Canon that was to be used to protect the town from the Russians in 1881 (who knew the Russians were ever coming even back then?)

A large monument with drinking fountains on all sides to Mrs Watson, another important person who tragically was shipwrecked on Lizard Island in 1883 she and her child survived the ship wreck only to die of thirst as there is no water on Lizard Island, she tried sailing away in a raft she made but was found dead eventually, poor women. 

A musical model ship that the children (and me) can play tunes on about 6 different musical instruments set into the ship, things you hit, blow or pull all make music.

There is a great old Railway station now used as an Art gallery and souvenir shop, with interesting photos along the walls.

The Old Bank from 1891, a huge stone building now used as a museum.

 A statue called Mick the Miner in memory of the miners of the Palmer River Gold Rush.

Several wharves and many fishing boats plus a fine old pub now made into a restauant beside the main town wharf.

There is even a small monument to Queen Elizabeth who attended the grand reinactment of Cook's landing some years ago.

This was a very interesting walk that we both enjoyed; there is just so much history here. We must stay a few more nights to learn more of all that has taken place here.

chrislinford says:
The Bloomfield track is rather nice, Drove is september 2007.
Posted on: Nov 15, 2008
reikunboy says:
the road i think must of just opened because i think at Christnas when we were there it still wasn't opened to the public
Posted on: Aug 27, 2008
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Vew from a lookout showing just mi…
Vew from a lookout showing just m…
Captain Cooks Statue Cooktown.
Captain Cook's Statue Cooktown.
Captain Cooks Cairn where he firs…
Captain Cook's Cairn where he fir…
Mrs Watsons Memorial water founta…
Mrs Watson's Memorial water fount…
Mick the Miner and the Town wharf …
Mick the Miner and the Town wharf…
The old Bank now a museum Cooktown
The old Bank now a museum Cooktown
Cooktown Hotels & Accommodations review
We had this Inn recommended to us buy the Caravan park and I am happy to recommend it to others. we stayed in the cheaper rooms without a kitchen or e… read entire review
photo by: glennisnz