Our Last day in Cooktown, soaking up the history.

Cooktown Travel Blog

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The Chinese Shrine Cooktown Cemetery, with my red flower on the fence.

Our last day in Cooktown.

Today is our last day in Cooktown and we decide to really look into the historic aspects of the town.

So straight after breakfast out in the nice covered, but still outdoor area, we headed off to the old Cooktown Cemetery, where we had been told there was a shrine to the Chinese goldminers who died while mining in the Palmer River gold rush and others who were just killed off by aboriginal people during the walk to the Palmer River; apparently hundreds of them, as they intrigued the natives with their long pigtails and almond eyes.

After a pleasant walk through the bush we came to the Chinese Shrine, I had brought a red flower to put on the shrine, you can see it on the iron fence around the shrine.

The James Cook Museum, built 1899 as the St Marys Convent for the Sisters of Mercy.
We then walked all around the very old cemetery, reading what we could off the ancient head stones. The famous Mrs Watson who died of thirst and her infant son is also buried in here. I was surprised that Catholics and Presbyterian and Anglican people were all buried in very separate parts of the grounds, ofcause there was also part of the cemetery well apart from all others, for “bad’ people on non consecrated ground as was the case back then.

Next we went to the Big Captain James Cook Museum in a wonderful old building that was originally built in 1899 as a Nunnery and Catholic Children’s School. Apparently the Nuns were all evacuated during the war to Herbberton to safety as the Japanese were considered to be coming. We had no idea where Hebberton was, but we were to find out some days later.

The Museum was so interesting it houses Captain Cook’s huge, heavy, anchor and his canon both which he threw overboard when he go stuck on the sand shoals and rocks near Cooktown, these were retrieved and restored a few years ago.

Captain Cooks Anchor and Canon.
Also an ancient tree branch that is said to be the very tree branch The HM Bark Endeavour was tied up to when sailed into the river for repairs. Lots of other interesting facts and stories from his journeys are recorded, what an amazing man he was. There are very good displays of the Chinese history and some Aboriginal history too as well as early settlers relics, all of it was so interesting, I believe we read everything there was to read. Much was written of the Nuns occupation of the building too, so we became intrigued to know just where they ended up, as it was stated that the Nuns never returned to Cooktown.

We set out on a small Pub-crawl of the two big Pubs, the RSL and the Bowling Club, not like us at all, but we enjoyed stopping off at them all.

We just had to try Barramundi the quality fish from the area,  we had seen all those Abroriginal people catching small ones along the banks of the river, so we ended up at a Fish and Chip Shop the only place with Barra on the menu that night, enjoying some wonderful battered Barra back at the Inn on the communal tables.

The Palmer River, where gold was found.

 What a great end to our stay in Cooktown.

Next morning we checked out and drove back towards Port Douglas, when we came to the Palmer River Bridge, where the gold rush had been all those years ago, we got out and had a wander around soaking in yet more history and enjoying the scenery, the river is quite a rocky rushing stream, but there was no gold lying around.

We stopped off at all the Road Houses along the highway to look at the photos of olden times, all of them interesting and informative.

Arrived in Mossman to refuel and decided we might overnight here, but the places we asked were all full so we ended up driving on to Port Douglas to the Pandanus Caravan Park again.


reikunboy says:
Cooktown looks like a very interesting town.
What's the population anyway
Posted on: Sep 03, 2008
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The Chinese Shrine Cooktown Cemete…
The Chinese Shrine Cooktown Cemet…
The James Cook Museum, built 1899 …
The James Cook Museum, built 1899…
Captain Cooks Anchor and Canon.
Captain Cooks Anchor and Canon.
The Palmer River, where gold was f…
The Palmer River, where gold was …
photo by: glennisnz