Nestled between the mouth of the Endeavour River and Grassy Hill, with Mt Cook as a backdrop, Cooktown is a charming, historical town, unspoilt by the urgency of modern life. Its close proximity to the Endeavour and Annan Rivers, and nearby reefs, make it an ideal fishing destination. Cooktown is a good base for those wanting to do day trips north to Elim Beach, across to Laura, or south to Bloomfield, but it is too out of the way to reach many of the other attractions of the lower Cape (people with caravans can leave them here or in Laura, to continue on to Cape York). Cooktown is known for is its well documented history, including the first known European contact with the Indigenous people of this region, after Captain Cook ran aground on some reefs off the coast. Later it became a bustling port, exporting gold from the Palmer River Goldfields, and had 47 licensed pubs within the town boundaries in 1874; today there are still a few along the main street to stop and grab a cold one.
So, step back in time and enjoy some of the heritage buildings, monuments, and centres around town paying homage to an era of great hardship and triumph. Cooktown has a visitor information centre within the Nature’s Powerhouse complex, at the end of Walker Street. This is a good place to start exploring Cooktown. Nature’s Powerhouse is within the historic Botanic Gardens, and features the Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery, the Charles Tanner Wildlife of Cape York – Queensland Museum Exhibition, a Book and Gift Shop, and Vera’s Café. While you’re there, pick up a copy of “Explore Cooktown”, a small guide produced by the local chamber of commerce to provide more detail on the local history and attractions.