If you want a truly Australian experience then head to Cooktown.
It takes a degree of commitment to get there but the journey is
an adventure in itself. Cooktown is a small, isolated country town that
has incredible views, great fishing, an abundance of history and
enough accommodation to ensure that you get a comfortable nights
sleep at the end of your day.
from closest major city
Cooktown is located 260km north of Cairns by the coastal road (unsealed
and recommended for 4WD vehicles only) and 350 km by the inland
road (accessible by conventional vehicles).
Captain James Cook first landed in Cooktown in 1770 to make repairs
to his badly damaged ship, HM Bark Endeavour. Since then Cooktown
has had a colourful history, becoming a supply centre around 1890
during the Palmer River Gold Rush when the population swelled to
over 35000. The civilian population was evacuated during World War
II and in 1949 a cyclone destroyed most of the town. Cooktown has
been rebuilt and is becoming popular as a tourist destination. For
many travellers this is the beginning of their journey to Cape York.
Cooktown serves as a trade centre for the surrounding regions with
industries that include mining, mineral exploration, cattle grazing,
fishing and tourism.
of the town
Cooktown is definitely a frontier town. Getting there involves a
minimum 4 hour drive on the inland road and longer on the coastal
road. It is worth the trip. If you are looking for a truly Australian
experience this is the place to find it. Frontier towns attract
people who work hard and play hard. The fishing is excellent, the
locals are friendly and the history mixed with the beauty of this
dry but tropical town makes for a memorable visit. Finding your
way around is easy as there are only a few streets. One of the best
scenic lookouts in the world is located at Grassy Hill, where you
really can see to the ends of the earth.
to see in Cooktown
Grassy Hill Lookout James Cook Historical Museum/Cooktown Museum
Cooktown Wharf Cooktown Cemetery Botanical Gardens (Walker St)
to do in Cooktown
River cruises, fishing charters and cruises, hire boats, dive trips
and scenic flights. Check with tour booking services in Cooktown
or in Cairns before your departure.
» Visit Tours To Go’s extensive range of Cooktown tours
There are a number of options for getting to Cooktown. Driving on
the inland road can be achieved by a conventional vehicle passing
through a number of small towns. The scenery is at times quite striking
as this is very dry country. The coastal road is popular however
it is only recommended for 4WD vehicles as there are a number of
creek crossings. The coastal road is stunning and by far one of
the greatest experiences in North Queensland. There is a true feeling
of being away from civilisation as you travel over very steep rainforest
clad ranges, stopping to look at sweeping beaches with romantic
names like Weary Bay. Once you get past Cape Tribulation the traffic
slows down and you see far fewer people. The best way to get the
most out of a trip to Cooktown is to travel one way on the inland
road and the other way on the coastal road. Always check road conditions
with the RACQ (Breakdown service) before heading to Cooktown as
the coastal road can be closed during the wet season (November -
June) for a few days at a time. There are a number of day tours
that leave from Cairns and Port Douglas on a daily basis. There
are also two and three day tours readily available. Coral Coaches
offer scheduled services from Cairns and Port Douglas. Scheduled
flights from Cairns to Cooktown are available on smaller regional
airlines such as Transtate Airlines, departing daily.
Cooktown has a good range of accommodation that includes hostels,
pubs, caravan parks, motels, hotels and guest houses. Prices are
very economical and there is accommodation to suit most tastes.
There are no high rise or luxury hotels. There are also excellent
camping facilities in and around Cooktown.
Most of the accommodation houses have restaurants that serve a good
range of food featuring local produce. Both the Burragi Floating
Restaurant and the Sovereign Hotel have excellent meals available.
» Visit Cairns Dining’s Cooktown restaurants section
Cooktown has a full range of services including taxis, mechanical
repairs, grocery shopping, doctors, dentists, photo developing,
chemist, car hire, tourist information, service stations, newsagent,
post office and banking.