Mulligan Leads the Way.

cook11For those of us traveling to the tip, there is one area worthy of at least a few days stop-over either on the way up or the way back. That area is Cooktown. Just a short drive from Lakeland, along the newly named Mulligan Highway, you will find one of the best kept secrets of Cape York Peninsula.

The Cook Shire occupies some 80% of the Cape York Peninsula region of Far North Queensland.
The Shire’s main township is historic Cooktown. The town was established at the very site where in 1770 Lt. James Cook careened his ship the H.M.B ‘Endeavour’ for much needed repairs. A life-size statue of the famous explorer now stands at the very spot where he stepped ashore.cook3
The Shire is made up of several smaller townships – including Laura, Ayton, Lakelands and Coen. Each township offers the visitor something interesting and unique to the area. Laura hosts the annual Laura Rodeo and Race day, as well as offering the visitor the opportunity to see the most stunning Indegenous rock art in Australia. Coen offers travelers historic buildings, a cultural centre and pioneer mining history. Visitors to Lakeland can enjoy a cup of locally grown Arabica coffee.
Cooktown itself is a beautiful, unspoilt, small coastal town surrounded by stunning countryside. One of Australia’s most historically significant townships, Cooktown nestles between Mount Cook and the mouth of the Endeavour River. Easily accessible from Cairns via the newly sealed Mulligan Highway the drive takes less than three-and-a-half hours. Cooktown is the perfect location from which to base yourself as you explore the rugged beauty of the Cape York Region.
The surrounds of the township offer an abundance of natural features, including magnificent waterfalls, walking trails and tropical rain forest. The Little Annan Gorge is a spectacular waterway carved by nature from black granite. This nature feature is well worth a visit, and picnic facilities are available in the area. Just up the road you will find the Black Mountain Lookout. Black Mountain is a geological wonder, being made up of thousands of large black boulders. Local Aboriginal elders have stories about the creation of this unique place.cook7
Cooktown is the closest town to the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. Keen fishermen and divers can be at the reef in a matter of minutes after launching their boats from the local wharf. The fishing is spectacular, with an abundant variety of fish such as barramundi, spanish mackerel and the much saught after coral trout. For the big game fisherman, the marlin fishing season offers all the excitement and challenges of hooking one of these powerful fish. Game boats can be chartered from the wharf.
The township itself offers visitors many opportunities to walk or drive to a range of interesting sites. The historical James Cook Museum is a heritage listed building containing some of Lt. James Cooks personal items, as well as one on the cannons and the anchor from the Endeavour. History buffs will be able to spend hours in this beautifully restored building. The Nature’s Powerhouse Visitor Centre and CafĂ© can provide travelers with all the information they will need regarding accommodation, sites to see and tours to make their visit enjoyable. The Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery located at the facility is also well worth a look.

For more information on this article, be sure to get your copy of the 2008 Cape Yorker magazine by ordering online.