Before I start harping on about how much I LOVE Cooktown (It’s true, I’ve found the place I want to retire to!!) I should start by saying that before this trip all I knew about Cooktown was that it was named after Captain Cook for some reason that I could never understand, or bother to find out. (actually, I’m sure I learned about it in school and also taught about it when I was a teacher, but it is one of those tidbits of information that exists temporarily in my mind as I have no useful need to hang on to it).
Whilst travelling around Cape York, we’ve been listening to Audible books. I downloaded the app Audible and bought a few “educational” books that I thought I could force the kids to listen to and then claim that that was their history/science lessons covered. One of the books I bought was called “Girt” by David Hunt and it is a hilarious account of Australian History. Ben and I have loved listening to it. The kids not so much.
While listening to the book Girt, I finally found out why Cooktown was named after Captain Cook. After “discovering” Botany Bay (I say “discovering” as Indigenous Australians technically were the first to “discover” it some 65000 years ago, then the Chinese & Dutch also happened upon our shores centuries before Cook) he sailed up the East Coast in order to map it. Around Cooktown he ran into some reef and became stuck here for a period of time while he fixed the boat. So really it was the only part of Australia that Cook ever spent any period of time living on.
Cooktown was founded in 1873 as a port to support all the mining towns that were cropping up all over Cape York. Back in the late 1800’s it was a booming town which Ben told me had 140 pubs!! I did question the accuracy of this information (I don’t even think Brisbane city has 140 pubs!) but Ben assured me that whatever source he found this information out from was completely legitimate.
The whole town has a real colonial vibe. I love it. The roads are extra wide (to account for all the horse & buggies) and there are a lot of original buildings from the 1880’s. It is surrounded by beautiful beaches and has glorious views. It also radiates that small town charm and friendliness that good old suburbia lacks. It has all the modern comforts of a bigger city: cheaper fuel, IGA that’s reasonable, hospital, library, bowls clubs, botanic gardens etc, without the shallow emptiness that bigger cities can sometimes ooze.
Whilst here we have visited the Captain Cook museum, which I found to be very interesting and worthwhile, been to the local bowls club for dinner with our new friends (who we met as they were sandwiched beside us at the Big 4), visited the picturesque botanic gardens, wandered around town and explored the local area.
I love, love, love Cooktown. Eventually I want to move here. That way I’ll be closer to Rohan and Isabelle when they move to Umagico.
I had so much I wanted to write about Cooktown but all thoughts I’d had have vanished from my head so I might leave it here before I begin to waffle even more.
Tomorrow we are heading off to the Daintree for 3 nights. We are going back to National Park Camping as the NP camping at the Daintree (Noah Beach) has far better reviews on Wikicamps than any of the other campgrounds. God I love Wikicamps.
Thanks for reading and a special thanks to everyone who has been leaving comments!! They are the highlight of my day sometimes.
The kids outside James Cook museum which was originally a convent built in the late 1800’s.
Just one of the many colonial buildings in Cooktown.
Jazzy overlooking the Bay (whose name eludes me – Ben will correct me in the morning)