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Sail to the mouth of the blue-green River Endeavour to follow in the footsteps of the famous Captain Cook. See the gold rush town of Cooktown for yourself, where the Anglican meets the Antipodean in the form of classical colonial architecture, surrounded by the lush green hills and pristine coastland of northern Australia.
There are beaches and mountain vistas aplenty to experience during your adventure to Australia's first European settlement; but look a little deeper and you'll also find a wealth of gardens, waterfalls and beautiful lagoons that may well tempt you back here again.
Both the town and its surrounds are places of incredible beauty; whether you're wandering the streets and shores of this charming colonial centre, or venturing into the countryside to see the rich local plants and wildlife which fascinated the botanist Joseph Banks during his explorations in the 18th century.
Mount Cook and Black Mountain National Parks
Originally called Waymbuur by the area's native people, a chance to climb the forested Mount Cook can give you some incredible views of the Great Barrier Reef beyond, as well as Cooktown itself far below. Alternatively you may wish to head to Black Mountain National Park, crowned by impressive granite peaks, full of spectacular local wildlife and the spiritual home of the Kuku Yalanji people.
James Cook Museum
Take a guided tour of this elegant brick building, once a convent, to learn about the spread of European culture and the development of education throughout Queensland. You'll also be able to find out about Cook's voyage and his time spent in the area, as well as having a chance to see a cannon and anchor from his ship, the Endeavour. This peaceful spot also makes a great place to relax and enjoy the views of the river and the northern shore.
Fantastic views can also be had from the top of Grassy Hill, where a diminutive lighthouse stands overlooking the sea – saved from decommissioning by the local residents, who bought it from the government long after its last keeper had passed away. Grassy Hill is a very popular tourist attraction in the area, and as Captain Cook found out, the peak allows for incredible panoramic views of the region – from the sea, the bay and the town itself to the far reaches of the River Endeavour and its surrounding flatlands.
The souvenirs, books and maps to be found locally often feature the area's flora and fauna, in keeping with the town's origins. There's also a selection of galleries and a botanical garden, which lie close to paths leading to the nearby beaches on Finch Bay and Cherry Tree Bay – the perfect place for a scenic wander after a leisurely browse and a stop at a local café.
As a fishing town, Cooktown's restaurants tend to specialise in seafood from the surrounding waters – like delicious battered wild barramundi and chips. There are also some Mediterranean eateries in the area, as well some great cafes serving fresh coffee, tasty snacks and tempting desserts – an ideal place to relax after your time spent exploring this beautiful slice of northern Australia.
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