Queensland Backpackers explore Cooktown


This small town of roughly 2,400 thousand inhabitants might not seem like an obvious backpacker’s destination. Once you’ve scratched the surface, however, we’re sure you will find much to see, do, and experience. Situated at the mouth of the Endeavour River, nature abounds here. The area is actually of particular interest to botanist, known for its vast and varied wild fauna.


The site of Cooktown has historically been of great significance to the Guugu Yimithirr Aboriginal Tribe, in part because of the quartz historically found in the region. This quartz was frequently used in Aboriginal ceremonies. Interestingly, however, the name of the town refers to the James Cook, infamous British explorer and navigator. Cook landed on the site in 1770 during his first voyage on the aboard HMS Endeavour. The expedition stopped at the site after extensive damage was done to the ship’s hull by the Endeavour Reef. Cook and his crew spent seven weeks at the site repairing the ship and replenishing supplies.


It was not until roughly 100 years after Cook’s landing that Cooktown attracted international attention. In 1872 gold was discovered in the Palmer River, situated just southwest of Cooktown, subsequently igniting a gold rush that drew prospectors from all over the world to the site. During WWII, Cooktown became a base of war efforts, attracting even more people. It has been a small but vibrant hub ever since. Today Cooktown is small but thriving. Don’t miss the town’s best attractions while you’re here:


Hike the Bicentennial Heritage Trail: Cooktown is the northern starting point of this rugged 5,330-kilometer multi-use trail, which extends through Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT, ending roughly 60 km northeast of Melbourne at Healesville. This trail is one of the longest in the world and it may well be the most stunning, twisting it’s way through the Great Divide Range, the third-largest land based mountain range in the world. It links 18 Australian National Parks and more than 50 state forest areas, offering access to some of the world’s most remote pieces of virgin wilderness. It’s certainly an experience to check off of your bucket list.


Visit the James Cook Museum: Looking to learn a bit more about Cook and his fascinating voyages? Be sure to head to Cooktown’s very own James Cook museum. This beautiful structure was actually built as a Captain James Cookcovenant in the late 19th century and has since been repurposed, presenting a number of fascinating Cook artifacts.


Check out the view from Grassy Hill: This beautiful look out offer stunning 360-degree views of the town, river, and ocean below. The walk might be bit treacherous but you’ll be glad you made it.