Cooktown has over two centuries of rich history, starting with Captain James Cook's landing in 1770 and then the gold rush in the 1870's. A visit to Cooktown will allow you to explore Cooktown's history and culture, not only by walking through town, but also by visiting the museums and monuments of Cooktown.
Our early pioneering history is reflected in the Cooktown Cemetery and Chinese Shrine on McIvor Road, and the James Cook Museum, which features the original anchor and cannon from the ‘HMB Endeavour’, Captain Cook’s famous barque. There are many walking trails around Cooktown’s scenic rim; one of the most popular is the road to Grassy Hill, a popular spot for shutterbugs because of its 360 degree views.
Cooktown is where the tropical rainforest meets the reef. The town is surrounded by some of the largest national parks in Cape York. Exotic animals and plants that can’t be found anywhere else abound here. Unique natural wonders, such as waterfalls, coral reefs and lagoons can often be found with a short trip. Explore these national parks and bask in the beauty of Cooktown's natural surroundings
Bloomfield Track - The Coast Road
The Coast Road, from Cairns to Cooktown pushes through the pristine rainforest of the Daintree & Wet Tropics region. The area is renown for its picturesque waterways, magnificent beaches & rugged mountains and makes for a spectacular drive.
From Cairns the Cook Highway leads you along through some of the most scenic coastal areas along with view of sandy white beaches and views out along the Coral Sea, through the villages of Port Douglas, Mossman and Daintree. The Daintree River Ferry operates from 6am to 12pm 7 days a week and is the only way to cross the river. The Daintree Ferry operates on a cable system and can carry up to 16 vehicles at a time.
The road is sealed from the Daintree Ferry all the way up to Cape Tribulation. This is a spectacular drive through the Daintree World Heritage Rainforest area, one of the largest rainforest wilderness areas in Australia.
Travelling further brings you to Cape Tribulation. "I named the north point Cape Tribulation because here began all our troubles" wrote Lt. James Cook in 1770 after his ship, the HMB Endeavour, founded on a reef. At Cape Tribulation you can take a walk along the ultimate tropical beach, 'where rainforest meets the reef' or explore the rainforest on the Dubuji boardwalk.
From Cape Tribulation the sealed road ends and the Bloomfield Track begins. The famous Bloomfield Track was built to connect Bloomfield to Cape Tribulation and was the subject of a blockade and major confrontation by conservationists in the 1980's. Through suitable for 4WD vehicles only the Bloomfield Track is of major benefit to tourism allowing for easier access to a wild and beautiful region with pristine rainforest.
After passing Woobadda Creek you will travel past remote South Cowie Beach and Emmagen Creek. This is a popular and beautiful spot and a great photo stop.
Bloomfield Falls is a place of particular cultural significance to the Kuku Yalanji people. Visitors can now visit the waterfall with members of the Walker Family, traditional owners of the area, and see this special place through their eyes. At Wujal Wujal before crossing the river continue 1.3kms to the Bloomfield Falls car park. Then take the short 500m walk to the falls.
From Wujal Wujal travellers can either continue north for 46km through tiny settlements of Bloomfield, Rossville, and Helensvale before meeting the sealed Cooktown Developmental Road that after another 28km brings you to Cooktown.
Cooktown Development Road – Inland Route
The Route from Cairns takes you over the range and away from the coast via Hwy 1, the Kennedy Highway, to Mareeba where you strike north along Highway 81.
Once over the ranges, the lush tropical rainforest is replaced by more open tropical savannah as you travel through the tiny settlements common to Lower Cape York.
Mt Molloy was named after a teamster who discovered copper here in the 1880's. When ore reserves ran out in 1909 the township survived on government timber concessions until the 1960's when the saw mill was closed down. The Post Office, in its pretty setting, provides local information. The Mt Molloy National Hotel, built in 1903, illustrates the township’s historic past. There is a camping area with facilities, on the river side to the north of town.
Mt Carbine was founded after the discovery of extensive wolfram deposits in 1890. The mines were worked intermittently, subject to demand and world prices, until the 1980's. The Mt Carbine Caravan Park, in its peaceful bushland setting and surrounded by Brooklyn Station, is noted for its prolific birdlife. The small community has a roadhouse and pub.
Bob's Lookout at the top of the Desailly Range offers spectacular views over remote and harsh savannah.
The Palmer River Goldfield, once Australia's riches alluvial field, is now a resource reserve managed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. The discovery of alluvial gold in the Palmer River in 1872 led to Queensland's largest gold rush. It became legendary for its hardships and the large numbers of Chinese miners which peaked at 17000 in 1877. A place of significant national heritage, the Palmer area is rich in the artifacts of early Chinese mining and lifestyle and the relics of pioneer technology and settlement. A small museum can be found at the Palmer River Road House.
Lakeland Downs lies in a natural basin formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago. The fertile earth found in the part of the Laura River Valley provides a wealth of agriculture, particularly the production of Laura Valley Coffee. There is a roadhouse with fuel, hotel motel, and a cafe and store which serves excellent local coffee.
Here the road strikes north to Laura or north east on the Cooktown Development Road, passing the Annan Gorge and Black Mountain, on the last leg of your trip to Cooktown. Black Mountain, named by the local indigenous people ‘Place of Spears’ is a mysterious pyramid of stones and is a natural geological formation thought to be 150 million years old. The ‘black’ colouring comes from the lichen that covers the thousands of stones making up the mountain.
The ancient rock art near Laura is a highlight of Cape York. Known as ‘Quinkan’ rock art, there are literally hundreds of galleries hidden in the sandstone escarpment of the Great Dividing Range. The collection is held to be one of the largest bodies of primitive art in the world which depict the activities and culture of the Australian Aborigine in bygone years.
Destination: Cooktown via inland and coastal routes Duration: Day Tour
You will be collected in an air-conditioned four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle. Begin your journey travelling north along the Captain Cook Highway, one of Australia’s most scenic coastal drives towards the World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park. You will cross the Daintree River by cable ferry and journey through this spectacular…
Destination: Cooktown Via 4 Wheel Drive Coastal Route & Return Scenic Flight Duration: Day Tour
You will be collected from your accommodation in an air-conditioned four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle and will travel north along one of Australia’s most scenic coastal routes towards the World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park. Crossing the Daintree River by cable Ferry, you will journey through the Daintree Rainforest a spectacular…
Destination: Cooktown Inland & Coastal Rainforest Routes Duration: 2 Day Tour
You will be collected by air-conditioned four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle from accommodation. Travel north along the Captain Cook Highway, one of Australia’s most scenic coastal drives towards the World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park. You will cross the Daintree River by cable ferry and journey through this spectacular example of…