In a prime spot near the mouth of Endeavor River and Grassy Hill, Cooktown’s claim to fame centres on Captain Cook’s beaching of the Endeavor on its shores in 1770. Cooktown is now known for its first-rate fishing expeditions, historical museums and beautiful heritage buildings.
Things to do in Cooktown
Considered a major fishing destination, Cooktown offers year-round fishing in the Endeavour and Annan rivers as well as surrounding reefs. Its location is perfect for day trips to the family-favourite Elim Beach. In the evenings, you can enjoy fresh seafood and bush-tucker platters at the Balcony Café or fish specials on the waterfront deck of Restaurant 1770.
Heritage buildings and monuments scattered throughout town pay homage to Cooktown’s days as a bustling port for gold exports from the Palmer River Goldfields. Browse collections in the James Cook Museum to discover the anchor and cannon from the Endeavor, as well as exhibitions of Indigenous culture.
Stop by Nature’s Powerhouse, an environmental centre hosting Kindred Café and the Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery with its intricate botanical art. Admire the colourful landscapes in the 62-hectare Cooktown Botanic Gardens and follow the walking trails to the beaches around Finch Bay and Cherry Tree Bay.
For sweeping 360-degree views of Cooktown, climb the 162-metre-high Grassy Hill. Back on level ground, visit Bicentennial Park on Charlotte Street to see a looming statue of Captain Cook and the Milbi Wall, a 12-metre-long mosaic of the local Gungarde people.
Getting around Cooktown
You can travel to Cooktown via Cairns Airport, about 300 kilometres away. You can also rent a car or hop aboard a bus or train to Cooktown. After arrival, walking and taxicabs are the most convenient ways to get around.