Cooktown is one of my favourite far north Queensland towns. It sits on the banks of the Endeavour River, about a four hour drive from Cairns on the now sealed all the way Mulligan Highway. The town began as a port for the Palmer River gold rush in the 1870s. But it was first seen by Europeans a century earlier, when James Cook and the crew of the Endeavour sought refuge here after damaging their ship on a reef.
There’s plenty to see and do in Cooktown, and the rich history of the region is very accessible to visitors. The local historical society is a treasure-house of information, and each year the town re-enacts the Cook landing and the first interactions between Europeans and the local indigenous people.
When you visit Cooktown, make sure you take a wander through the local cemetery. Local tour companies will show you through and tell you stories of the people buried there. You’ll learn about the mysterious disappearance of a French naval vessel, the story of pioneer Mary Watson, and the still baffling tale of the Normanby woman – a fair-skinned and probably Scandinavian woman who lived with Aborigines at Normanby River in the 1880s.
LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear Wayne Brennan from Cooktown Tours guide us through the Cooktown Cemetery.
More about Cooktown Tours at http://www.cooktowntours.com.au/Cooktown_Tours.html