Thoughts on Location No 96
Cooktown, Far North Queensland
After leaving the Daintree National Park, we headed inland, over the Great Dividing Range, and (eventually) north along Mulligan Highway to finally arrive as far north as possible up Cape York Peninsular. Granted we could have driven a little further, but not much. An hour south of Cooktown, you can turn west, off sealed roads, and drive to the tip of Cape York, a serious 4WD attitude is required to undertake this epic exploit and sadly, even though our hearts may have been willing, our mini home is not geared up for that type of adventure.
Cooktown was as far north as we could go on this amazing adventure.
A Quick History Lesson
The year was 1770 and on the evening of June 11, just before 11 pm, the Endeavour struck a reef and eventually limped up the coast in search of harbour. The local Aboriginal Guugu Yimithirr tribe cautiously watched the Endeavour beach in the mouth of their river “Wahalumbaal”. Cook named the river after his ship.
Repairs and gales delayed them for seven weeks, and during this time, Joseph Banks met and spoke with the local people, and recorded the first sighting of kangaroos by Europeans. As they sailed north, Cook hoisted the flag and claimed possession of the whole eastern coast of Australia for Britain.
Both Cooktown and Mount Cook were named after Captain James Cook.
We visited the James Cook Museum that is housed in a magnificent nineteenth century former convent. Displayed across the walls are the written accounts of the landing from both sides – the story as told through entries in the ship’s log, and a retelling of the Indigenous story “Visitors who may need help” by Eric Deeral, Gamay warra clan elder of the Guugu Yimithirr people. We sat reading both for quite some time as other visitors came and went around us.
We drove up Grassy Hill and surveyed the area as Cook had done all those years ago. Popular with locals for viewing either sunrise or sunset, we were not so lucky as the clouds rolled in.
We visited the Botanic Gardens and drove down to Finch Bay.
Sadly I didn’t see a Cooktown Orchid. The Cooktown Orchid is Queensland’s floral emblem, and although there was an Orchid House at the gardens, it was in a sad state of disrepair and the orchids were mostly dead or dying. Fingers crossed I see one somewhere before I get home.
And finally, no stay in Cooktown would be complete (for me) without visiting Cook’s statue.
We stayed at the Big4 Cooktown Holiday Park. It was lovely, set in lush tropical gardens, but so expensive we decided we couldn’t stay longer. But I have to say, it wasn’t the only reason we decided to turn around and start heading south. The rain was the other reason.