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Cooktown, QLD

Cooktown – the gateway to the wilderness – was founded in 1873 as the port for the Palmer River Goldfields. This was more than a century after Captain James Cook spent 48 days in 1770 on the banks of the Endeavour River repairing his ship. Every June the town celebrates Cooktown’s status as Australia’s first, if brief, European settlement at a Discovery Festival which includes a colourful re-enactment of Cook’s landing.


A highlight of a visit to Cooktown is an extended tour of the James Cook Museum – built in 1888 as a convent school run by Irish nuns. The Museum documents Cook’s voyages, Aboriginal and natural history, the gold rush days and their Chinese legacy. Walking tracks in the area allow for visitors to explore areas of beach, bush and mountains. Closer to town is Grassy Hill where one can share the same view as Captain Cook.

Distance from Brisbane (State Capital): 2,047 kilometres on North Coastal Road or 2,137 kilometres via Peninsula Road.

Go to the top!

One of the world’s last wilderness frontiers, the Cape York Peninsula is a unique area of incredible contrasts.

Measuring some 11 million hectares in size, it extends 1000 kilometres north of Cairns to Cape York, the tip of the peninsula, which extends out beyond the islands of Torres Strait.


The Cape begins at Cooktown and from here a wild, unexplored habitat awaits – dusty tracks, abundant river systems, crystal clear creeks, spectacular waterfalls and prolific wildlife.

The further north you venture, the more diversity you’ll discover – windswept beaches where time and tide have eroded cliffs into fascinating shapes and mountains clad in rainforest, gently sloping down to the sea.

Beyond Cooktown, most residents live in Aboriginal and cattle station communities and in small mining towns dotted among enormous national parks.

Cape York Peninsula is home to the Injinoo Aboriginal people, who know the land intimately, allowing their survival in this harsh land. Visit the Pajinka Wilderness Lodge at Pajinka, owned and operated entirely by the Injinoo people who offer lodging, field trips and tours to visitors.

There are only two seasons on Cape York Peninsula the ‘wet’ and the ‘dry’. The wet from mid November to April is by far the most spectacular but access is only by aircraft. At the end of the big wet, south-east trade winds return to dry the land, leaving it green and lush and covered with wild flowers.

Nearest Airport: Cairns

Where to stay?


  • Caravan and Camping
  • Farm/Station
  • Cultural
  • Historic/Heritage
  • Mountain
  • Relaxation
  • Self-Drive
  • Soft Adventure

Popular Activities

  • Off Road Driving
  • Bird Watching
  • Bush Walking
  • Cruising
  • Driving
  • Golfing
  • Horse Riding
  • Scenic Flight
  • Sightseeing
  • Swimming
  • National Park
  • Fishing
  • Rainforest
  • Wilderness
  • Fishing - Game
  • Outback
  • Scuba-Diving
  • Fishing - Beach
  • Beach
  • Fishing - Deep Sea
  • Fishing - Estuary
  • Diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Reef
  • World Heritage

About Cooktown

  • Locality: Urban locality
  • Cooktown Postcode: 4895
  • State: Queensland
  • Region: Outback Queensland
  • Latitude: -15.46749
  • Longitude: 145.2495
  • Elevation: 18m
  • Population: 2631
  • Median Income: $31252
  • Area (Sq/km): 2156.728
  • Timezone: Australia/Brisbane

Accommodation In Cooktown

Discover some of the accommodation in and around Cooktown

Tours In Cooktown

Discover some of the tours options around Cooktown

Explore The Outback

Australia has a vast remote interior, much of it largely untouched. By night, the outback is deathly quiet, with the only light provided by the stars and the moon - a perfect oportunity for stargazing. Explore the isolated heart of the country, meet and connect with Aboriginal people and experience one of the oldest living cultures in the world. Go ‘walk-about’ and immerse yourself with Australia’s endless outback horizons.

Outback Experiences

Luxe Accommodation

Enjoy a distinctly Australian luxury experience, such as the unforgettable reefs, islands, beaches and coast; rugged mountain ranges, rainforests and vast national parks; and the many vibrant food and wine regions. Take a once in a lifetime adventure and discover the sheer indulgence of experiencing the wonders of Australia in style and stay in total luxury.

Australia has wide variety of accommodation options to suit most budgets and travelling preferences. Choose from luxury lodges, boutique hotels, serviced apartments, motels, bed and breakfasts, caravan parks as well as youth and backpacker hostels.


Glasshouse Mountains

The Glasshouse Mountains in the hinterland of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast are actually the cores of 20 million year old volcanoes. The sides of the volcanoes have eroded away leaving only the hardened rock spiremountain cores we see today. Learn more about this awe-inspiring landscape.

Glasshouse Mountains