Cooktown Cruise Port

Port of Cooktown: An Overview

Cooktown is a town like no other. It still feels like a frontier town -- tropical, sleepy, remote but filled with stories from an extraordinary past. Located on the mouth of the Endeavour River on Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland, it's the northernmost town on the east coast of Australia.

The first nonindigenous visitors were Captain James Cook and his 70 crewmembers in 1770. That legendary seafarer guided his sailing ship, Endeavour, into the safe waters of the river after the vessel had been damaged on the Great Barrier Reef.

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At the James Cook Historical Museum, you can discover how Cook and his crew survived 48 days repairing the vessel. This small but impressive museum also showcases an anchor and cannon from Endeavour, which were jettisoned overboard when the ship took on water after it hit the reef.

It's hard to imagine the bravery of those men, and yet, when you wander the wide streets of Cooktown, past stone buildings dating back to the 1870s, you get a sense of the grit required to settle so far away from everywhere.

There are tales from the Palmer River gold rush and evidence of Chinese settlers; Cooktown even has one of Australia's oldest cricket ovals. You'll find it at the Botanic Gardens, which also houses a collection of local orchids.

Visit Grassy Hill Lookout for 360-degree views of the tropical surroundings and untouched beaches. But beware of swimming. It's crocodile country. Take a croc-spotting tour along the river instead, or learn about the region's 40,000 years of indigenous culture from an elder. You could also opt for a fishing tour or simply relax over a coffee in a cafe and absorb the geographical isolation and special qualities of this unique town.