Monday, 2 August 2010


We arrived in Cooktown to find our misgivings about the weather largely unfounded although the wind more than makes up for the intermittent rain which is just enough to increase the humidity. Never mind it’s a lot better than being at work!
We found a caravan park which was quite busy to say the least, every spot had a van on it and some very long power and water leads were in evidence. We haven’t found an opportunity to free camp for a while but after our next stop we hope to be able to test the new battery at a roadside stop.
We have found Cooktown to be very interesting and enjoyed seeing the various sights and attractions which tell the earliest history of Australia. We walked along the shore starting with the River of Life Walkway which tells the stories behind the historic sites. The Milbi Wall was made by local Aboriginal artists and the tiles depict local history from the creation of the Endeavour River to the present day. We saw where Cook landed in 1770 and the steps which were made especially for Her Majesty’s visit in 1970 when she came to open the James Cook Museum. The museum is a magnificent building which was built in 1889 as a convent school and is now a very impressive museum housing amongst other things the anchor and cannon from the HM Bark Endeavour. We also saw the cannon which the people of Cooktown requested be sent to them by the Queensland Government in 1881 to protect them from ‘Russian invasion’. Obviously that says a great deal about local government and makes you wonder what was in the teapot when they had meetings!
We also walked through the Botanic Gardens which were established in 1878 only to fall into disrepair as the fortunes of Cooktown faded. Now however, they are being restored, not to their former glory but to a more than interesting walk. Included in the Gardens is the Visitor Information Centre, always a stopping off point for us and the Charles Tanner Gallery which has the most incredible selection of botanical illustrations of Vera Scarth-Johnson. They were as detailed as any photo and quite breathtaking.
We also drove down to Finch Bay and although the wind was blowing the sand along at a rapid pace it was spectacular.
In the evening we drove up to the Lighthouse at Grassy Hill which is having a new road made up to the top. It was quite a hair-raising walk from where we left the car although the view at the top made it all worthwhile if you could hold your feet. One of the few times I’ve been pleased to have large feet and a substantial body to hold them down!
After the lighthouse we had booked in to see a video re-enactment of Cooks Landing by the local re-enactment society and also some live re-enactment of the landing at Botany Bay which was very entertaining. Sitting beside us was a nurse who works with Ian’s sister at the Womens’ Hospital! After we introduced ourselves she remarked that she could see the family resemblance. I remarked “Poor Jan” but I’m sure Jan will take it in good humour.
We left Cooktown on Saturday morning to travel to Endeavour Falls which we reached via a fairly rough unmade road for 10kms. We’ll stay here for three nights to take in some falls, an indigenous tour and the coloured sands.

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