Things to do in Cooktown

THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Cooktown

Things to Do in Cooktown

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Top Attractions in Cooktown

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What travellers are saying

  • 746ballfamily746
    Sydney, Australia364 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    One of the best lookouts in Australia for sure! Good informative signs and amazing views 360 degrees. Don't miss this!
    Written 4 November 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • 746ballfamily746
    Sydney, Australia364 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A very interesting museum with lots of history from European and Aboriginal perspectives. Also a good history of the building itself can be found. Lovely ladies at the front desk can answer any questions you may have. Worth a visit!
    Written 4 November 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • OrderintheHouse
    Brisbane2,819 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A three night visit to Cooktown was the ideal “add on” to a successful Cairns Outback bus and train trip undertaken by my wife and I in June and July 2022, which included stays in Georgetown, Karumba, Forsayth and Mount Surprise.

    Cooktown is around 230 kilometres north of Cairns along the coastal road and well worth a visit.

    On our third day in Cooktown (Thursday 7 July) we arranged a family history day. Our first port of call was the Cooktown History Centre to find out information, for a small cash donation, about a local deceased Cooktown relative on my wife’s mother’s side who achieved the worthy status of a centenarian ( a person living to an age of over 100 years). Our second port of call was then to do the 2 kilometre walk along Charlotte Street to the Cooktown Cemetery to find and view various old graves of my wife’s mother’s Cooktown relatives.

    The History Centre is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Charlotte Street, the former post and telegraph office and Shire Council Chambers and dating back to 1876. It is now the home to the Cooktown Historical Society’s archives and research centre. It is next door to the equally impressive looking Cooktown Post Office dating back to 1880. At the History Centre we were well looked after by an enthusiastic lady volunteer who went to extraordinary lengths to find out so much about this centenarian in the family. As she expected this historical research would take some time to complete, she suggested we look around the very well organised history displays in the front room and also the rooms at the back.

    Throughout our one hour history tour, we were inspired by the many wonderful, informative posters showcasing every facet of Cooktown’s fascinating history. One “stand out” display in a glass display case offered a brief glimpse of the 41 local servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War I, which included among other items, letters from the warfront and a sobering roll call of all the names of the fallen. It was sobering for us because included in the list of names was one of my wife’s relatives who was killed in action in 1917, aged just 23. There was another good display providing information about the influential Bowditch and Parsons families. Yet another wonderful display focused on one of Cooktown’s finest moments – when on 22 April 1970 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II came to town. To these three displays we can add some impressive insights into the Palmer River Gold Rush, the Cooktown-Laura Railway, the early influence of the Chinese community and the challenges for the local aboriginals and so much more. Indeed for the modest sum of $5 admission fee one gets to enjoy a fabulous smorgasbord of local history, so beautifully displayed.

    After our history tour, our lady researching our family relative had completed her search and was able to hand us 25 pages of very useful information, which included not only insight into our centenarian, but also some other Cooktown relatives of my wife’s, as well. This volunteer went out of her way to be ever so helpful – we could not thank her enough.

    I can’t leave this review without commenting on the beautifully restored very old Cooktown Lion’s head, which originated from Zhanjiang in China and took centre stage in the front foyer. What an absolutely stunning exhibit. This is a wonderful work of art with the theme of “Cooktown – 250 years through the eyes of a Chinese Lion”. It has been restored by local Cairns artist Hayley Gillespie who has captured through her illustrations the story of Captain Cook’s landing, his interaction with local indigenous people and the story of early Chinese immigration in Cooktown when the Palmer River gold rush commenced in 1874.

    Travellers to Cooktown with a thirst for history who have a few days in the town should aim to visit both the Cooktown Museum as well as the Cooktown Visitors Centre – they both successfully dovetail each other with their portrayals of Cooktown history and as we found to our satisfaction both are well worth a visit.
    Written 1 March 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • David S
    Bendigo, Australia425 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Friendly staff and great food and coffee. The gardens are well kept and demonstrate the plants found in the area. Great walk to Finch Bay with easy access.
    Written 13 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Diane A
    Miami, Australia473 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Wow, incredible spot. We weren't quite sure what to expect. But waterfall was stunning and great swimming spot. Certainly worth a little strip of corrugated road to get there
    Written 21 September 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Kat-wood6
    Victoria, Australia135 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful walk through the botanical Gardens. Very easy walk to Finch Bay. Even for kids. Watch out though if you take a dog. Some non caring older couple with 2 large dogs and one small one have absolutely no care factor about any other dogs and will allow their 2 big dogs to hassle your dog without calling their dogs back. Very scary especially when one of the big dogs started growling at my friend when we wouldn't let it near my very scared dog which was on the lead.
    Other than that the beach was beautiful and I allowed my dog to get her paws wet while attached to the lead. Croc nervous.
    Also picked up a lot of rubbish from the Beach
    Written 24 November 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • OrderintheHouse
    Brisbane2,819 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Following on from our successful Cairns Outback bus and train trip in June and July 2022, which included stays in Georgetown, Karumba, Forsayth and Mount Surprise, my wife and I undertook a short stay in Cooktown. We travelled from Cairns on the Trans North bus service on Tuesday 5 July, stayed three nights at the Seaview Motel then returned to Cairns by Trans North Bus on Friday 8 July.

    On Wednesday 6 July we enjoyed an energetic day’s touring, which included a lot of walking with visits to the Cooktown Museum, the Cooktown Botanic Gardens, and the Reconciliation Rocks Precinct.

    The Cooktown Botanical Gardens were first proclaimed in 1878 and remained opened to the public until 1917 when funds to maintain the Gardens diminished and a forced closure resulted. It was not until 1986 that the Gardens enjoyed a renaissance with the Cook Shire Council commissioning a conservation report on the Gardens Reserve which ultimately resulted in the very beautiful Botanic Gardens we have today. The Gardens are located within the 62 hectare Gallop Botanic Reserve, situated 1.5km from the centre of Cooktown.

    Our walk from the Museum to the Gardens, mostly along Walker Street, took 30 minutes and by the time we arrived we were in need of a drink, as the weather was very hot for walking. As it was lunchtime, we opted to have lunch at the café located in the very impressively constructed Nature’s Powerhouse Facility. The café is essentially a large open air deck with a roof over the top containing tables and chairs and it provides a nice atmosphere to enjoy lunch with lots of lush, green vegetation growing all around the deck providing added relief The menu choices are limited; however my wife and I did enjoy their cheese, bacon and tomato croissant as a light lunch meal and for drinks my wife had a vanilla milkshake and I had a very delicious iced coffee.

    After lunch, before embarking on a tour of the Gardens, we had a look at some of the features in the Nature’s Powerhouse facility, namely a very comprehensive gift shop and the very impressive Vera Scarth Johnson Gallery. The Gallery features the botanic works of artist Vera Scarth-Johnson (1912-1999). Entranced by the beauty of the Endeavour River valley, Vera became passionate about the need to graphically record the flowering plants found in this unique region before they became endangered. This she achieved through her collection of completed works to the people of Cooktown she kindly donated in 1986. Prints of Joseph Banks Florilegium ( a collection of literary extracts) are also to be found in this Gallery. This is an absolute “must see” when visting the Botanic Gardens – it will totally captivate you as you admire the rare talent of Vera on display here. There is a ‘no photographs’ policy in the Gallery which needs to be observed and admission is free. One of the bonuses at the gift shop was the excellent example in a composted wire basket of a magnificent live Cooktown Orchid specimen; this purple flower being Queensland’s official floral emblem. It was as good a specimen of this flower as you would want to see anywhere. It was sitting on a bench next to a bookcase and definitely took pride of place competing with a stuffed snake specimen beside it.

    The Botanic Gardens are divided into various plant themed sections for ease in viewing the trees and plants. There are around 20 individual plant sections including the Orientation Garden, the Vera Scarth Johnson Garden, First People’s Grove and the Banks and Solander Garden, to name just four. We decided to just do a leisurely walk along the very impressive walking paths and admire whatever caught our eyes at the time. We found this a nice way to enjoy the flora highlights on offer. It would have taken us too long to try to concentrate on all the plant sections in these extensive Gardens. Some highlights we noted included the Palmetum featuring beautiful, exotic palm trees, an incredible flowering Zamia Nut tree, Cycas media (collected by Banks and Solander in 1770); a delightful fan shaped Bismarck Palm and an excellent rich red flowering Crepe Ginger. There were more plants observed, of course. However these are just four to mention for this review.

    Another area of consideration is the abundance of beautifully carved polished wood seating dotted throughout the Gardens to ease the weary walker. Two that stood out for us included the one constructed from Moreton Bay Ash and the seat paying tribute to Bert and Una Mason. A celebration plaque attached to this seat, donated by the Cooktown community in 2010 and located under a pair of paper bark trees growing near the gate leading to the walking track to Finch’s Bay reads simply “ Bert and Una Mason welcome you to this place we loved. Wait a while to enjoy the sunbirds, wallabies, little purple orchids, paperbark trees and green tree frogs". Bert Mason, who passed away in 2000, was a renowned geologist who with his wife Una in the early 1990’s used to live in Cooktown half of the year and down in Victoria the other half . He was an active member of the Endeavour Lions Club and a great supporter of the Cooktown State School, mentoring students.

    Adjoining the Botanic Gardens is the Queen’s Park Cricket Oval, separated from the Gardens by a purposeful painted fence. A novel piece of signage at the entrance to the Gardens walk gave typical North Queensland warnings - regarding falling tree limbs, falling mangos, snakes and crocodiles. The warnings were next to a great map of the Gardens to make the task easier to find where everything is located. Very considerate.

    We really enjoyed our short two hour visit to these wonderful Botanic Gardens. We are so glad we did not let the challenging walk to and from the Gardens make us change our minds. This visit was well worth the effort and we could have so easily given ourselves more time here, had that been available to us.

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    Written 7 January 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Silver Back Explorer
    Cooktown, Australia371 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    I have visited the lagoon several times and have always been impressed with the amount of bird life. The lagoon is located minutes from town and has easy access. Well worth a visit.
    Written 11 March 2019
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • JElliot32
    New South Wales, Australia3,811 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    A pleasant, small waterfall right besides the road west of Cooktown, easily accessible. It is quite scenic and definitely worth a stop ... it can be a long time between drinks on this road. We were assured it was safe to swim here, though we didn't try. The only downside was the amount of litter that thoughtless or lazy travellers had left around the site.
    Written 30 September 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Desiree1956
    Cooktown, Australia67 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Alkoomie Station is only accessable during the dry season. Strictly 4W4 and it does also help to book so the station owners are aware of you coming. The drive is just amazing, the view from Alkoomie Station breathtaking to say the least. The station owners are lovely. Can only recommend this amazing trip. They also have camping facilities available.
    Written 13 August 2016
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Paul B
    Chesterfield, UK1,661 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    The majestic highest peak in New Zealand is a magnificent site. Snow covered top and slopes leading down to blue lakes. A must to visit. The weather can be changeable so have the right clothing.
    Written 20 January 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Indigo2011
    Albury, Australia43 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    The kids loved seeing the tanks and the information was quite interesting. Plenty of room to run around and easy to get to.
    Written 13 April 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Cooktown Attractions Information

Attractions

34

Attraction Reviews

2,110

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Local Time

Saturday 12:58 am