How many people get to live their dreams? I am..........!

This is my story from the time when Capt'n John and I first decided to sail around the big block, to circumnavigate this great land of ours, AUSTRALIA.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Steeped in History, the Port of Cooktown (huge)

sunset over the Endeavour River
Steeped in History, the Port of Cooktown – Friday 28th to Sunday 30th Sept 2012
15’27.542S - 145’14.893E
sunrise at sea
It was an early start from Low Island on the Friday morning, 0500hs and we were away in the dark heading for Cooktown 60n/m on the coast to the north. The change of tide was still three hours away, high tide, but we knew that we would pick the outgoing tide on the way. Tides in Queensland, north of Thirsty Sound, Broad Sound or Shoalwater Bay just south of Mackay, all flood (come in) south and ebb (go out) north with the exception of some island chains where the tides tend to be a bit more east west. South of this area for the rest of the eastern coast including Queensland, NSW and Victoria the tides flow the other way.
There were rain squalls about making the seas lumpy; we were heading in a NNW direction with rollie seas from the E rocking our side.
At 0700hs AR was off the Daintree River Cape Kimberley when the SICYC radio sched with Andy off PAWS came through. We will keep using this radio sched till we get through to Darwin and then maybe see what we can do for the Kimberley’s and the run down the western coast next year.
Rain, rain and more rain! MrJ was on the helm, out in the cockpit getting very wet while I sheltered inside. Hey, it is no good both of us getting wet!
By 0900hs AR was off Cape Tribulation and it was another seven hours before we were safely anchored in Cooktown Harbour. At 0330hs we were entering the harbour and it took another half an hour to find a good anchor spot in a very shallow harbour, even then we bumped the bottom during out first night’s stay.
It was time for a beer!

MrJ and I stayed in Cooktown Harbour for three nights, each night at the low tide, the depth gauge would drop out, meaning that we were on the bottom but we touched bottom only on the first night as the strong wind and lumpy wavelets bounced our hulls up and down. With each bounce AR would bump keeping us away that night. The next two nights the low tide was a few mils higher and there was no bumping to keep us awake but there was the growling of the anchor chain rubbing together in the extra shallow waters. This always happens with tide and current shifts when anchored in rivers.

Saturday morning MrJ and I took the rubbish ashore along with our yellow diesel jerry’s strapped to a trolley each, to do a fuel run. From the waterfront toting our trolleys we had to walk through the small downtown shopping area of Cooktown past the Lions Park where the market stall were and a lot of tourists were in town, up the main road to the petrol station, fill up and then walk back again.

 Many people would stop, smile and say G’day. Even on couple who were sitting on the bench outside one of the shops said something like “here they come again, with them all full now”. Gotta love the outback way of life; these people were just sitting there watching the morning go past.

MrJ took the fuel back to AR while I waited back on shore for his return and then we took a slower stroll through the park and town

and came across this ship.
A Russian replica of one of their Viking-type warships, PYCHY (Russian Warrior): Perfectly reproduced by modern craftsmen, she stood out like the anachronism she is, with high stern and bow, the tip of the latter carved into a ferocious looking head. The nine man crew knew enough English between them to get them by. Complete with mod cons and the techy stuff is carefully disguised. She had sailed from the Black Sea, through the Bosporus and into the Med, thence into the Red Sea and on across the Indian Ocean (with armed personnel on board for the Gulf of Aden area, but had no problems at all). The ship stopped in India, and then progressed directly to Langkawi from there she continued to the South China Sea and Japan, then south to Australia. The plan is for her to return home, but the exact route has still to be decided.
For more info on other such ships: http://vikingnevo.naroexpeditions/2004-rusich.html.

MrJ and I decided to have a bite to eat at the Sovereign Resort Bar and Cafe where there seemed to be a crowd of people on the eastern veranda. It is usually a good sign when a place is very popular. The cafe had some specials on the board, MrJ and I both picked the roast lamb for $15. The food was good, a small serving with little vegetables. We meet some people up from Mosman near Cairns and got chatting. It was a long weekend and it is quite common for local, Cairns, people to just drive up for a weekend. About an eight hour drive I think the man said through unsealed but graded roads. After a rather long lunch MrJ and I strolled back through the town to catch our dingy ride home. I did see another boat we know, Sans Sousi, anchored further up the river. They must be on their way back from Lizard Island already.

Cooktown is certainly full of some interesting history:
Pre 1770 - Endeavour River area was inhabited by the Waymbuurr people. The Aboriginal (Bama) people of the Guugu Yimithirr language group have inhabited this area for thousands of years. Australia’s pearling industry began hundreds of years ago with Aboriginals harvesting abundant shallow water pearl shell from waters of the north coast of Cape York. By the time of European settlement, the Aboriginals had a well established trading network for pearl shell, both within Australia and with Beach-de-mer fishermen (collectors of sea-slugs) who, since the late 17th and early 18th centuries, visited northern Australia to trade with the indigenous inhabitants of this remote coastline. Cooktown and most of Cape York once boasted a large fleet of Pearl luggers to service the roaring trade that followed, Beche-de-mer fishing.

1770 - His Majesty’s Bark Endeavour struck a reef – 10th June.
‘Endeavour’ sailed into Cooktown harbour to begin repairs – 17th June.
7 weeks later Cook sailed out of the harbour naming the river ‘Endeavour’.
The area was first put on the map in 1770 when Lt. James Cook beached his ship the HM Bark Endeavour, and tethered it to a tree in the mouth of the what was to be named the Endeavour River. Lieutenant James Cook needed to carry out urgent repairs after coming to grief near Cape Tribulation on the Great Barrier Reef.
The tree was replaced many years ago with a commemorative stone and plaque where the Endeavour was moored for several weeks.With no choice but to investigate their new surroundings, naturalist Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander explored the area collecting over 200 new botanical specimens and many animal species, including the first Kangaroo.

1819 - Captain PP King and A Cunningham aboard HMS Mermaid visited.
1820 - King and Cunningham made a second visit to the harbour.
1843 - Captain FP Blackwood aboard HMS Fly and Lt CB Yule aboard HMS Bramble visited the harbour on a survey voyage.
1872 - In late 1872 William Hann’s expedition party discovered gold in the Palmer River, which Hann named for the colonial secretary, later premier of Qld. A report appeared early 1873 which attracted the attention of James Venture Mulligan who at the time was based in Etheridge. With his party Mulligan staked a claim mid 1873 and by October the same year had 102 oz of payable gold 1 mile north on the Palmer River. His report later advised that the Palmer would yield 1oz of gold per man per day, the rush was on. On hearing of the rush it was decided by the Queensland government that the site of Cook's landing on the Endeavour River (Wabalumbaal) would be used as a port for the trek to the Gold fields and would become a busy remote Far Northern seaport.
1873 - James Venture Mulligan investigated Hann’s claim of gold.
After gold was discovered in 1873 the steam ship Leichhardt brought with it the hopes and dreams of several miners in search of gold discovered in the Palmer River. The SS Leichhardt carrying a Gold Commissioner, Engineer of Roads, Police Officers and over seventy miners and prospectors arrived in Cooktown – 25th October. Over 300 miners had arrived on the Palmer. The small tent city was named Cook’s Town and the population grew to thousands within months, reaching 4,000 by 1880. Prospectors poured in from everywhere and the town grew quickly. The town boasted 65 hotels, 20 eating houses and 32 general stores. By 1885 Cooktown's population exceeded 35,000 including Irish, English, German and thousands of Chinese.
1873 - Dalrymple arrived at the Endeavour River – 24th October.
George Augustus Frederick Elphinstone Dalrymple (1826-1876), explorer, public servant and politician, was born on 6 May 1826 in Scotland. In October 1871 he was given a government post as assistant gold commissioner on the Gilbert diggings in. The next year he had charge of the diggings and was also sent to find a route for a telegraph over the Sea View Range near Cardwell. In September 1873 he led an official exploration of the coast north of Cardwell. They reached the Endeavour River in October, just before Cooktown sprang up as the port for the Palmer goldfields. They returned to Cardwell in December and Dalrymple, sick with fever, went to Brisbane. He hoped to explore the coast north of Cooktown but in 1874 was given charge of the government settlement at Somerset on Cape York. He sailed for Somerset in May but soon after he arrived was incapacitated by fever and a stroke. He was taken south by mail steamer and granted leave in September. After a summer in Scotland he went to St Leonards, Sussex, where he died, unmarried, on 22 January 1876. Dalrymple had been elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in November 1867. He was a successful explorer, a dashing leader, restless, impatient of official parsimony and red tape. Through his policy of vigilance and restraint he seldom had trouble with the Aboriginals on his expeditions. Dalrymple's appreciation of natural beauty is amply expressed in his exploration reports. Many features of northern Queensland commemorate his name and many more were named by him.
1873 - The first wharf was completed, #2 and #3 wharves were built in 1874 and  #4 wharf became the railway wharf. Located not far from where Captain Cook beached the Endeavour.
1874 - Approximately 2500 people were living in Cook’s Town. Cook’s Town officially named Cooktown.

Passenger train stopped at the Cooktown Railway Station, around 1907
1884 - The first section of the Cooktown to Laura railway was completed.
Hailed as Australia's most unusual railway, the creation of the Cooktown to Laura Railway was a direct result of the discovery of gold in the Palmer River. The road to the goldfields was extremely hazardous, the transportation of goods was expensive, difficult and time consuming. When officials refused to upgrade the road, pressure mounted for an inland railway. The Government, realising the richness of the Palmer fields and a large voting population, finally agreed to build a railway. Alderman D'Arcy, Mayor of Cooktown 'turned the first sod' of the rail line on 4 April 1884. 1888 - The railway reached the Laura River. Due to labour shortages and the wet season the first section between Cooktown and the Palmer Road, 48 km (30 miles), was not completed until November 1885. In the first month of operation the section carried more than 570 passengers and 125 tonnes of goods! Within three years the line was extended to Laura with stations at Sandown, Sandy Creek and Welcome. It was here construction ran into difficulty. There was a change of government and concern grew over escalating costs. It was estimated that the 75 km of line from Laura to Maytown would cost almost £lm sterling ($2m). After much debate, Parliament decided that the Maytown line would be built when a feasible route was found and in the mean time agreed to build the Laura River Bridge at the cost of 12,500 pounds. Normaby River Rail Bridge, comprising five 80ft spans of iron lattice girders on concrete piers, was 536ft long and 55ft high. It took 17 months to build and was ready by October 1891. A locomotive and rolling stock were sent across it as a test - the maximum deflection at full speed being half an inch. That 90 ton train was the first and the last to cross the bridge. Although Cooktown people lobbied long and hard to have the line completed, the Cooktown Railway had effectively come to a full stop. However, the railway was an important element of early Cooktown. By 1885, the landscape was dotted with related facilities - station and residence, carriage and engine sheds wells, a coal stage, horse ramp, railway store, goods shed weighbridge, double-tier tank-stand and a crane for the wharf. As passenger and cargo tonnage figures dropped and operating expenses rose, it was decided to close the line. The government offered a lease of the line and rolling stock to the Cooktown council for 1 pound per week. Council assumed control of the railway in September 1903.The first motor on the Cooktown Railway, RM6, Captain Cook, was converted from a Napier motor car at Ipswich workshops in 1916, and went into service at Cooktown in November of that year. Captain Cook ran until 1924, travelling 80,000 miles on the Cooktown Railway, this is in addition to over 100,000 miles covered as a road vehicle. After about 12 months - during which time the council made a profit - the government resumed control of the railway but it never really picked up again and by 1960 the government was ready to close the line again - this time for good. After a stop/start history spanning 76 years to 1961, the Cooktown railway was sold for scrap. A sorry end for what could have been a major tourist drawcard to the area today. The station was sold and removed. However, the top section was relocated to Anzac Park and now houses the Cooktown Creative Arts Association.
1886 - The railway wharf, situated between Nos 1 and 2 wharves was completed.

1887 - A monument to Captain Cook was erected in Charlotte Street.
1887 - St Mary’s convent opened, now the James Cook Historical Museum. A rare, nineteenth century brick building of substance, one constructed during the period of the 1880s boom. Five Sisters of Mercy arrived in the goldfield port of Cooktown in 1888. St Mary’s Convent, designed by architect FDG Stanley, opened within a year. 1889-1941 The Sisters of Mercy at St Mary’s Convent educated young women of North Queensland until war forced their evacuation to Herberton. As well as regular classes, music, dancing and deportment were taught the young boarders and day students. 1942-69 mostly unoccupied, the convent building deteriorated. Eventually it was offered for demolition. Were it not for the interest of locals and NTQ in the late 1960s, the deteriorated convent building would have been lost. 1970 HRH Queen Elizabeth II opened the museum, restored after a mammoth fundraising effort by locals and the NTQ. 1970 to today The Museum is open to tourists keen to see relics of HMB Endeavour and the history of Cooktown. Pride of place in this museum’s collection is an anchor and cannon from Cook’s HMB Endeavour, housed in its own gallery.
1889 - The Annan River Bridge officially opened.
1907 - Cooktown was hit by a cyclone, the Government Ketch the ‘Pilot’ was lost with local Member Legislative Assembly (MLA) John Hardgraves being on board.
1919 - Fire in Charlotte Street demolished several shops and warehouses, Hann Divisional Board and Daintree Divisional board became the Cook Shire and Cooktown was hit by a cyclone; many buildings were damaged beyond repair.
1932 - The Cooktown Municipal Council was abolished.

Cooktown War Memorial

1941 - Women, children and Aboriginals were evacuated from the town, due to the threat of invasion.

After the Cyclone. January 1907

1949 - A severe cyclone struck the town demolishing many buildings.
A clipping from The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 - 1954) on Wednesday 23 January 1907:  CYCLONE AT COOKTOWN - THE WHOLE TOWN DAMAGED - MANY NARROW ESCAPES - APPALLING FORCE OF THE WIND - PEOPLE HOMELESS AND DESTITUTE. COOKTOWN, Tuesday. The most disastrous calamity that has ever befallen Cooktown was experienced during Friday night and Saturday. On Tuesday and Wednesday the heat was abnormal for this town, registering 102 degrees in the shade in some places, and 90 degrees in others. On Thursday a good downpour of rain cooled the atmosphere, but on Friday it was very evident that something unusual was about to happen. In the afternoon the barometer began to fall, and very dirty weather set in. Indications were such that Captain Thomson, of the steamer Aramac, decided not to put to sea until Saturday morning. During the night it began to blow heavily, and the wind increased in violence as the day wore on. The first sight that met the gaze of those early astir was that the municipal baths had collapsed, and it transpired that the lessee, Mr Frank Guilser, who slept in the building, had had a very narrow escape, owing to falling debris from which he extricated himself and dropped into the river. Then it was noticed that the balcony of the Shamrock Hotel had blown away, and the street was strewn with limbs of trees. This, however, was only the beginning of one of the most violent cyclones that have visited the extreme north for some years. As the glass was still falling, Captain Thomson decided to further secure the Aramac, by putting out more lines. Upwards of l8 lines and two springs were used to secure the ship to the shore. The wind, still increasing in velocity, caused one or two lines and both springs to carry away, but steam was kept up and the anchors were ready for immediate use. As noon approached there was no sign of abatement, and roofs and balconies of buildings begin to give way before the gale which increased in fury. At about 4 o'clock the Masonic Hall, a two-storied building, was blown down. The semaphore on Grassy Hill disappeared, and the boys’ and girls' State schools were removed bodily from their blocks in quick succession. The cyclone had now apparently reached its height, and from 5 o clock till 8 o'clock it raged furiously, wrecking the greater part of the town. The Roman Catholic Church was completely demolished, and the convent and school were unroofed. The roof of Miss Timothy's drapery store was ripped off and alighted with a crash on Messrs. John Clunn and Sons' stores, which immediately collapsed. The principal of the firm and several employees were within at the time securing the stock, and with difficulty they extricated themselves. The Presbyterian Church, recently acquired by the Oddfellows' Society for £400, next became a tangled mass of iron and timber, and the top story of the Edinburgh Hotel, close by, was blown away. The roofs and balconies of the Commercial, Captain Cook, Sovereign, Great Northern Club House, Shamrock, New Guinea, Courthouse and Carlton Hotels were torn off. Clunn's bulk store at the wharf was demolished. Weiss's huge tank containing 75 tons of water, leased by Mr. Quilllam for supplying ships, was toppled over with the force of the wind. The Council Chambers, wharf sheds, Church of England and rectory, Methodist Church and parsonage, Federal Hall, and Messrs. Westcott and Savage's were more or less unroofed, while nearly all private residences were either completely razed to the ground or rendered uninhabitable.
1960 - The Cooktown to Laura railway was closed.
1968 - Mains Power was connected to Cooktown.

one of the cannon's now can been seen in the James Cook Museum

1969 - Six cannon jettisoned by Captain Cook recovered from the reef.
1970 - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the James Cook Museum that previously was the Convent School of St Mary on the 22nd April.

1986 - There were several major building developments in Cooktown – Sovereign complex, River of Gold Motel, O’Connor’s Arcade, Backpackers’ Hostel, the new Hospital and the High School opened.

1988 - Bicentennial Park officially opened and a statue of Captain Cook was erected.

Cook was less than complimentary about the area, which, given his circumstances, is understandable. He left descriptions in his diary from which the area is still recognisable today:

18 June, 1770. I climbed one of the highest hills among those that overlooked the harbour, which afforded by no means a comfortable prospect; the lowland near the river is wholly overrun with mangroves1, among which the saltwater flows every tide; and the high land appeared everywhere to be stony and barren. In the meantime, Mr Banks had also taken a walk up the country and met with the frames of several old Indian houses, and places where they had dressed shellfish.

Mr Joseph Banks - the expedition's botanist - made the most of the enforced time ashore and collected 186 hitherto unknown plant species, which are still held at Kew Gardens in London, and wrote the first European description of a kangaroo. The company included an Aboriginal who had joined them earlier in the journey, as a translator, but who was not native to this area. Legend has it that when asked What is that bouncing beast?, the translator - not wanting to look stupid - replied in his native tongue Kangaroo, translation: I don't know .

1998 - Mick the Miner was erected to commemorate 125 years of Cooktown.

Despite the developments and industrial activity that took place, today the region in many respects remains as is it was 1000’s of years ago. By the late 1800’s Cooktown was a busy commercial port which underpinned its existence for welcoming supplies and dispatching the regions produce whether it was gold, beef or timber. With the development of roads and alternative transportation regions south of the Cape like Cairns and Atherton out grew Cooktown. By the early 1990’s Cooktown’s economic windfalls had all but disappeared. With time new modern minerals were found and new industries created and our little village sprang to life again to become the heart of Cape York. Cooktown depended on the mining of gold for its survival, and after the removal of 55 tons of alluvial gold, 8 years later production began to decline. By the turn of the century the population was barely 2,000, but with the growing pearling, tin and cattle industries the town managed to survive with its town status. During the Second World War most of the town was evacuated.
Cooktown survived once again and today it is the Heart of Cape York and slowly increasing interest as a tourist attraction. As the gold attracted the prospectors some became attracted to tin. Tin fields were established south of Cooktown at Helenvale, Rossville and Shiptons Flat. With the removal of forest to get to the tin the timber industry boomed alongside the tin. 18 or so tin mines flourished on an area called the Big Tableland a highland rainforest area accessible from Helenvale and Rossville. The most famous was the Lions Den Tin Mine, 2 50yard shafts from which drew clean payable tin which can also be found lying on the ground in the surrounding forest. Shafts, water cannon and water races were used to extract the tin which one could smelter at low temperatures. Rich in exotic dry country and rainforest timbers this region was frequented by timer getters from the onset of European arrival. Large rainforest giants were felled to provide exotic timbers to the growing country and world.
The timber industry thrived until the establishment of World Heritage areas and Wet tropics by the Queensland and Federal governments. Today there are vast tracts of intact virgin rainforest and even larger areas which contain 130 years of re-growth rainforest. The invasion of the pastoral industry to Cape York for the Aboriginal people must have been the biggest shock to their lifestyle after the mining period. Stock driven from the south were brought to Cape York, large stations were established by early European pioneers on crown leases. Fencing went up and large tracts of land we blocked out to its former owners. The Pastoral industry was tough going for the early pioneers. Heavily debit burdened farmers established stations across Cape York under harsh conditions. Initially attracted by the governments reports of vast Plaines of grassland and an abundance of water there was little or no mention of the wet season, flooding rivers and Plaines, English live stock not being able to withstand the conditions and strong willed Aborigines in any of these reports; all resulting in a number of stations later being abandoned and the Native Police force being established. Today the cattle industry is a major economic industry for the region for both European and Aboriginal Australians. The cemetery of Cooktown is the final resting place for many of the diverse nationalities, religions and cultures that inhabited this pioneering frontier region. The stories that unfold bear witness to the tragedies, triumphs and mysteries experienced by the people in times of exploration and adventure. Many of the events and individuals that contributed to the Cooktown regions development are recorded at the cemetery. During the Endeavour’s voyage, Banks & Solander studied the plant life of the Cooktown region and made detailed notes. Years later, during the gold rush, the plant life was again studied, land set aside by the Queensland government to protect and study the environment enabled one of the oldest botanic gardens in Australia to be established
walking the street of Cooktown
Sunday morning MrJ and I went trolley toting again this time to the service station further out in search of a gas bottle refill. Silly us what were we thinking? It was Sunday and the gas bottle filling man only works through the week and sometime on a Saturday morning. We had to buy a new gas bottle for $74. We did the same as the day before, MrJ taking the supplies back to AR and then dinghying back in to me waiting on the shore before we stroll uptown again. The town was very quiet with not many people about. I suppose the market stall would help bring the people in on the Saturday.

This time MrJ and I had lunch at the quaint Cooktown RSL Club. We both had an Angus Steak Burger. The meals were excellent; you couldn’t jump over the burger. We got chatting to some other people who had come up for the long weekend from Cairns. The man has a brother who was in the Navy at the same time as MrJ and who also served on HMAS Moresby around the same time as MrJ. We gave him one of our boat cards asking him to pass the information onto his brother and maybe the brother will get in contact. Who knows!

ALANA ROSE  anchored in the Endeavour River
Other places that we saw:

The Cooktown RSL Club was built in 1885 as the Daintree Divisional Board Council Hall. In 1903 it became the shire council hall. Then in 1919 the Hann & Daintree Divisional Boards amalgamated and became known as the Cook Shire, who operated here until 1932.

the RSL Sub-Branch building across the road
inside the club house

Post Office in Charlotte Street, located at the intersection of Green Street, this heritage building was erected in 1887. And they have an ATM!

Cooktown Bowls Club, a recent addition, where visitors are welcomed to join in social bowls. (no we did not!)
Jackey Jackey Store. Built in 1886 by Joseph Neuman as a general store and living quarters, it was part of a flourishing trade between New Guinea, Cooktown & southern markets. Neuman arrived in Cooktown in 1873 and made his start carting goods by horses and dray to the Palmer River Goldfields. Though now a private residence, the owners display memorabilia of Old Cooktown in the former shop window.

Cook Monument & Cannon. The monument dating from 1887 commemorates the landing in 1770. The cannon was brought to Cooktown at the request of the town Council. On April 10th 1885 Cooktown Council carried the following motion. "A wire be sent to the Premier in Brisbane requesting he supply arms, ammunition & competent officer to take charge against a threat of Russian invasion." The cannon, cast in Scotland in 1803, 3 cannonballs, 2 rifles and 1 officer were sent. It is still fired on the Queen's Birthday Weekend in June.

The Cooktown School of Art Society's "Elizabeth Guzsely Gallery" displays and sells original art works from the Cooktown area. It was formed in 1978 by a Cooktown group interested in improving their artistic skills. In 1988 the dream of having an art gallery to call theirs was realised and in 1998 named for Elizabeth Guzsely.
#Balinga Story by Helen Gordon
Art works by are by local artists in a variety of medium and styles. These include oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolour, mixed media, charcoal, graphite, pen & ink and indigenous art linked to local cultural traditions. Individual artists have the chance to improve their artistic skills through learning, sharing, exhibiting and selling their art.

The Old Town Well and the Cairns to Edward Kennedy: Kennedy landed at Rockingham Bay in May 1840 on an expedition to explore Cape York and was fatally speared in December 1840.

The Bicentennial Park which was opened in 1988 and is the setting for the annual re-enactment of Cook's landing. BP Australia donated the James Cook Statue to the people of Cooktown. The bronze statute is the work of the Australian sculptor Stanley Hammond. A large granite rock on the foreshore bears a plaque with the inscription "This cairn marks the spot where Captain James Cook beached his barque "HMS Endeavour" in the year 1770".

The Milbi Wall (The Story Wall) built by Gungarde Aboriginal Community.

The Statue of the Miner commemorating the Palmer Gold Rush.

And of course the Cooktown Wharf, where a lot of people try casting a line or simply chat with the locals; locals consider this to be one of the best fishing spots in the world with large barramundi, trevally, mangrove Jack and Spanish mackerel there for the taking.

Sovereign Hotel, Charlotte Street 1940

Sovereign Resort Hotel: The original Sovereign Hotel was built in 1874 and was one of the first double storey buildings in Cooktown. Partially destroyed during the cyclone of 1949 it attracted the nickname "The Half Sovereign". It has since been demolished to make way for a new building in the Queensland theme.
The Ferrari Estates, built in 1886 for the Bank of North Queensland, and Seagren's Inn, erected in 1880 by a former mayor P.E.Seagren as a store. The old Queensland National Bank built in 1886, was sold to the Bank of New South Wales in 1935 for 250 pounds. It still retains the original red cedar counters and its original set of gold scales used during the Palmer Gold Rush.

Mrs Watson's Monument is dedicated to Mrs Watson, who survived an Aboriginal attack on Lizard Island, to die later on Number 5 Island of the Howick group. The wife of a beche-de-mer fisherman, Captain R.F.Watson, she remained on their fishing station with her infant son and 2 Chinese servants while he was away fishing. In September 1881 they were attacked by Aboriginals. One of the servants was speared, but Mrs Watson, her infant son and Chinese servant escaped in a boiling down tank to Number 5 Island. Due to there being no fresh water they finally perished. Their remains together with her diary were found in 1882.

West Coast Hotel is another survivor of the Gold Rush days built in 1874. Locally known as the 'middle pub' and located in the centre of Charlotte Street.

Cooktown Railway Station: This fine old building was originally the nerve centre of the Cooktown-Laura Railway, originally built in Adelaide Street in 1885 it served as ticket & booking office, waiting room and station master's residence. The 67 mile line operated from 1885 to 1961. It was moved to its present site in 1965 and is now the home of the Cooktown Creative Arts Association.

On the corner of Walker Street is the Cooktown Hotel, formerly the Commercial Hotel. The hotel was built in 1875 and re-named the Cooktown Hotel in 1982, it is known locally as the "Top Pub".


Back on board our home and boat ALANA ROSE, MrJ and I had a command view of this picturesque location called Cooktown. Particularly in the early morning when the rising sun begins to cast its light upon the grassy slopes of Mount Saunders on the opposite shore,
or in the late evening when the setting sun also plays it’s magic with shades of red, blue and grey upon the waters of the Endeavour River.

Did you know that The Great Barrier Reef is closer to Cooktown than to any other town in Australia?

I loved Cooktown and will probably come back again one day!


  1. Thanks for a good reading article. We live in Cairns and I have been to "Cooky" many times for work but learnt a lot more from your interesting article.

  2. Wow, how exciting Nancy. Last time I was in Cooktown was in the 60's and loved it then, I really think I could settle there with the lifestyle etc and having lived in the Norther Climes for most of my adult life, love the climate and slower pace of life. What a well written Blog, well done, keep up the good work

  3. Adelaide wedding djMitchy Burnz located in Adelaide South Australia. A hospitality professional with over 10 years experience as an Adelaide wedding dj.

  4. Adelaide wedding djMitchy Burnz located in Adelaide South Australia. A hospitality professional with over 10 years experience as an Adelaide wedding dj.

  5. Thank you for Delightful and beautiful post.crane hire brisbane

  6. Wedding dj Facebook · Twitter · Youtube. Affilate DJ's. DJ David James -. Affilate Wedding Photographers. James Devine.