We stayed in Cooktown for 6 nights. There is so much to do all within an hours drive of here.
For the first 3 nights we checked in to Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park which is in the middle of the town and walking distance to the local shops and pub. You cannot book into this campsite so its luck of the drawer if they have spaces. We did telephone when we were about half an hour away and were told she had a few sites available so went straight there. This park is lovely and the owners are just beautiful, nothing was too much trouble. The amenities are spotless, and the kids enjoyed the pool.
For the last 3 nights we stayed at the RV short stay which is on the outskirts of town. This is a free camp and you need to be self contained. There is no toilet or shower facilities here. It also gets busy so try and get there early. We saw lots of people drive in and back out because there were no spots. Once you have a spot there is plenty of room for the kids to kick a football about, ride bikes or just enjoy being kids.
Cooktown is a beautiful town full of history, as you walk through the town there are numerous information boards telling you about the story of Captain James Cook, the rich indigenous history and the gold rush glory days.
There is a Captain Cook statue and you can see where the HMS Endeavour was beached when Captain Cook first arrived.
We chose not to do the museum because the reviews were not great and the cost was $70 per family. We felt the walk through the town and information boards provided us and our kids with enough history for this trip.
The markets are held in the town every Saturday morning from 8am, there was stalls selling locally grown fruit and veg, there is also Asian food, plants, jewellery and much more.
There are a couple of places you can fish from in Cooktown. There is a jetty, or you can drive to the end of Cooktown where you will find the wharf. You can’t miss the fishermen stood here trying to catch one of the big fish on offer. We were lucky enough to catch a 64cm barra at 8:30pm one evening. We were fishing with live bait that we had caught in our cast net and it was high tide.
Whilst we are on the topic of fishing, you must try out the Groper feeding on a Saturday or Sunday at 5:30pm from the Cooks Landing Kiosk, $5 per adult and kids are free. Seeing these incredible fish isn’t guaranteed and apparently, we didn’t have a great sighting but we were happy with what we did see. These fish are huge and to watch them come out of the water to grab the large fish carcus they were feeding them was amazing. The staff hosting this are very knowledgable and give a good overview about the Gropers. We got there at 5pm and managed to see a couple swimming around before the feeding started at 5:30pm. It also meant we got a good spot to watch before the crowds came.
Day trips from Cooktown
Trevathan Falls - 30 minutes, 32ks
This place is amazing. The falls can be found off Mt Amos Road off the Milligan highway. A 4x4 is required.
We found the road in to be fine and we didn’t need to lower the tyres.
We parked within 500 metres of the falls and walked the rest. You need to have a certain level of fitness to walk to the falls. The paths can be quite tight with a steep drop down the side. You have to climb over large rocks to get access to the pool at the bottom of the falls however if you just want to view it then you can see these without having to climb over the big rocks.
The water was fresh but we swam across to the falls so we could take a closer look at the waterfall and really feel the impact of the water coming over the edge.
Further down from the falls are some big rocks that you can sit on and relax. The kids enjoyed throwing sticks in at the top and watching them flow down and swinging from the trees. We enjoyed a good 2-3 hours here.
Bloomfield Falls at Wujal Wujal – 1 hour 10 mins, 67ks
From Trevathan Falls we drove to Bloomfield falls – along the way we managed to see a large croc sitting on the opposite side of the river as we drove between the town of Bloomfield and Wujal Wujal. Its actually flagged as Big Croc sighting on Wiki camps. We decided to set up the drone for some closer footage. The croc wasn’t fazed by the drone at all, he never moved.
There is parking at the falls and the walk is an easy 5 minute, 400 metres walk to the viewing platform. Bloomfield falls were very picturesque, there was a lot of water flowing over the top. You cannot swim here due to the crocs.
The Lions Den hotel – 25 mins, 30ks
From Bloomfield we drove back towards Cooktown and stopped off at the famous Lions Den hotel for a beer and a game of pool. This place has been here since 1875 and people have written there names all over the walls or placed their logo stickers on the walls to prove they have been there.
You can eat here and camp if you want too.
Elim beach and the coloured sands – 1 hour, 72ks
We drove to Elim beach and were met with a sign that said turn right for the campsite or left for the coloured sands. We veered left and got to the track that led you on to the beach. We parked up and walked on to the beach. Your greeted with a very rusty car that is rotting on the beach.
We chose to walk about a kilometre up the beach so the kids could look for crabs under the rocks and we could take in the views across the ocean and of the coloured sands.
If you chose to drive on the beach then there is a path to the left of the beach that hugs the cliffs which people were driving on and heading up the beach. You need to time the tides right and make sure you go at low tide. The coloured sands remind us of Double Island Point and Rainbow Beach in South East Queensland but Elim Beach in our opinion is nowhere near as good.
Isabella Falls – 31 mins, 41ks
We think Isabella falls is up there with Trevathan falls and perfect if you have smaller children.
The river runs across the road and you can park up on the right before the river crossing or on the left in a free camp just after the water crossing.
There are rope swings up the top and the kids had fun swinging from these and dropping into the river. The pool at the bottom is quite shallow and great for sitting in or paddling around.
Mount Cook Hike
We were dubious about doing this one because reviews had suggested it was a 6km return and a pretty tough hike however we love a challenge so decided to give it a go. As always, we got there early to try and avoid the afternoon sun.
There are 3 lookouts. The first is 800 metres up and overlooks Cooktown and the Endeavour river. This is an easy walk.
As you head to the second lookout the path gets steeper and more uneven. The second lookout is approx. another 1.5ks and once you get there you can climb up the viewing platform and admire the views over the ocean and the reef. The views are spectacular and worth the hike.
The third lookout is a further 1km up the mountain and the path becomes very steep and uneven. You can also lose track of the path so someone has tied pink ribbons on the trees to help show you the way.
Once you get to the top you see a helipad surrounded by tall trees so feel pretty disappointed however from reading the reviews on wiki camps I knew you needed to proceed a further 200 metres. If you head to the back right hand corner and fight your way through the trees and branches walk straight ahead, don’t veer to the right like we did. Walk straight and you will see a large rock on your right, follow the path around the rock to the right and then to the left and you will be led to an opening onto a big flat rock that again overlooks the ocean and the reef. There are no safety barriers up here and it was pretty windy but we sat on the rock and celebrated making it up to the top and the amazing views we were greeted with.
The walk took us 2 hours and 45 minutes and was 5.68ks. This time included us getting lost at the top. We ended up veering right at the back of the helipad and getting lost in the forest for 20 minutes until an English backpacker came and rescued us and led us the right way. It was a tough walk but we were all stoked that we made it to the top and back.
People often ask if Cooktown is worth visiting. and we believe the answer to the os most definately yes.