Unless you’ve got a 4WD, Cooktown is as far north as you can get in Queensland and even getting there without one requires some determination; but this lovely historic coastal town is definitely worth the effort. It is relatively isolated, and has very limited services during parts of the wet season, but its charm and frontier feel make it a popular destination for those seeking an authentic experience. The views of the surrounding countryside, ocean and river are stunning from town and the Grassy Hill Lookout, where there is a small, old lighthouse. The James Cook Museum is an inexpensive and fascinating tribute to Captain Cook, and it has an Aboriginal learning centre and accounts of the Palmer River gold rush.
Cooktown has some great fishing, and if you have a 4WD, taking the Bloomfield Track from Cape Tribulation is the best (read: most adventurous) way to go. This is the world’s oldest rainforest, and simply cannot be missed. You can take 4WD tours from Cape Trib, or hire a vehicle for a self-guided trip. On this route, be sure to stop in at the Lion’s Den Hotel for some food and a beer with the locals.
Coming & going
Coral Reef Coaches run between Cairns and Cooktown. The buses take the scenic Bloomfield Track through the Daintree Rainforest calling in at Cape Tribulation and Port Douglas.
If you’re driving, this route is recommended for 4WD vehicles only as it involves several river crossings. There is an alternate inland route if you’re driving a regular car.