Cooktown is a coastal town and locality in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. Cooktown is at the mouth of the Endeavour River, on Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland where James Cook beached his ship, the Endeavour, for repairs in 1770. Both the town and Mount Cook (431 metres or 1,415 feet) which rises up behind the town were named after James Cook.
Cooktown is one of the few large towns in the Cape York Peninsula and was founded on 25 October 1873 as a supply port for the goldfields along the Palmer River. It was called "Cook's Town" until 1 June 1874. At the time of the 2016 census, Cooktown had a population of 2,631.
View of Cooktown from Grassy Hill
|Population||2,631 (2016 census)|
|Elevation||6.0 m (20 ft)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Cook|
Cooktown is located about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) north of Brisbane and 328 kilometres (204 mi) north of Cairns, by road. Cooktown is about 857 kilometres (533 mi) south of Cape York by road.
Cooktown is at the mouth of the Endeavour River, on Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland where James Cook beached his ship, the Endeavour, for repairs in 1770. Both the town and Mount Cook (431 metres or 1,415 feet) which rises up behind the town were named after James Cook.
Cooktown is one of the few large towns in the Cape York Peninsula and was founded on 25 October 1873 as a supply port for the goldfields along the Palmer River. It was called "Cook's Town" until 1 June 1874.
In the local Guugu Yimithirr language the name for the region is Gangaar Aboriginal pronunciation: [ɡ̊anˈɡaːr], which means "(Place of the) Rock Crystals." Quartz crystals were used in various Aboriginal ceremonies across the continent and are found in the vicinity; they were traded from the Cooktown region at least as far as Mossman, about 300 kilometres (190 mi) south of Cooktown, and possibly much further.
The site of modern Cooktown was the meeting place of two vastly different cultures when, in June 1770, the local Aboriginal Guugu Yimithirr tribe cautiously watched the crippled sailing ship – His Majesty's Bark Endeavour – limp up the coast seeking a safe harbour after sustaining serious damage to its wooden hull on the Endeavour Reef, south of Cooktown. The Guugu Yimithirr people saw the Endeavour beach in the calm waters near the mouth of their river, which they called "Wahalumbaal".
The captain of the Endeavour, Lieutenant James Cook, wrote: ". . . it was happy for us that a place of refuge was at hand; for we soon found that the ship would not work, and it is remarkable that in the whole course of our voyage we had seen no place that our present circumstances could have afforded us the same relief".
The British crew spent seven weeks on the site of present-day Cooktown, repairing their ship, replenishing food and water supplies, and caring for their sick. The extraordinary scientist, Joseph Banks, and Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander, who accompanied Cook on the expedition, collected, preserved and documented over 200 new species of plants. The young artist Sydney Parkinson illustrated the specimens and he was the first British artist to portray Aboriginal people from direct observation.
After some weeks, Joseph Banks met and spoke with the local people, recording about 50 Guugu Yimithirr words, including the name of the intriguing animal the natives called gangurru (which he transcribed as "Kangaru"). Cook recorded the local name as "Kangooroo, or Kanguru".
The first recorded sighting of kangaroos by Europeans was on Grassy Hill, which rises above the place where the ship was beached. Cook climbed this hill to work out a safe passage for the Endeavour to sail through the surrounding reefs, after it was repaired.
"The visit on the 19th of July 1770 ended in a skirmish after Cook refused to share the turtles he kept on the Endeavour with the local inhabitants. They set fire to the grass around Cook’s camp twice, burning the area and killing a suckling pig. After Cook wounded one of the men with a musket, they ran away. Cook, Banks and some others followed them and caught up with them on a rocky bar near Furneaux Street, which is now known as Reconciliation Rocks. A “little old man” appeared from the group of Indigenous Australians and they were reconciled. This was an important historic event as it is believed that this is the first recorded reconciliation between Europeans and Indigenous Australians ever."
Cook named the river the "Endeavour" after his ship, and, as they sailed north, he hoisted the flag known as the "Queen Anne Jack" and claimed possession of the whole eastern coast of Australia for Britain. He named Cape York Peninsula after the then-Duke of York and Albany ("The Grand Old Duke of York").
The next recorded European expedition to the area was nearly 50 years later, when another botanist, Allan Cunningham, accompanying Captain Phillip Parker King, visited the remarkable region in 1819-20. He also collected numerous botanical specimens for the British Museum and Kew Gardens.
In 1872, William Hann discovered gold in the Palmer River, southwest of Cooktown. His findings were reported to James Venture Mulligan who led an expedition to the Palmer River in 1873. Mulligan's expedition found quantities of alluvial gold and thus began the gold rush that was to bring prospectors to the Endeavour River from all over the world.
The Queensland government responded quickly to Mulligan's reports, and soon a party was dispatched to advise whether the Endeavour River would be a suitable site for a port. Shortly after, a new township was established at the site of the present town, on the southern bank of the river and Cooktown Post Office opened on 1 January 1874.
The Palmer goldfields and its centre, Maytown, were growing quickly. The recorded output of gold from 1873 to 1890 was over half a million ounces (more than 15,500 kg). Cooktown was the port through which this gold was exported and supplies for the goldfields brought in. Word of the gold quickly spread, and Cooktown was soon thriving, as prospectors arrived from around the world.
Population estimates vary widely, but there were probably around 7,000 people in the area and about 4,000 permanent residents in the town by 1880. At that time, Cooktown boasted a large number of hotels and guest houses. There were 47 licensed pubs within the town boundaries in 1874 although this number had dropped to 27 by the beginning of 1880. There were also a number of illegal grog shops and several brothels. There were bakeries, a brewery and a soft drinks factory, dressmakers and milliners, a brickworks, a cabinetmaker, and two newspapers.
The port of Cooktown served the nearby goldfields and, during the goldrush of the 1870s, a Chinese community many thousands strong grew up in the goldfields and in the town itself. The Chinese played an important role in the early days of Cooktown. They came originally as prospectors, but many established market gardens, supplying the town and the goldfields with fruit, vegetables and rice, while others opened shops.
However, largely through cultural misunderstandings, conflict broke out between the Aboriginal people and the new settlers, and the diggers. The Cooktown Herald, 8 December 1875, reported: "The natives wholly ignorant of the terrible firepower of fire-arms, and confiding in their numbers, showed a ferocity and daring wholly unexpected and unsurpassed. Grasping the very muzzles of the rifles they attempted to wrest them from the hands of the whites, standing to be shot down, rather than yield an inch...." It was an unequal struggle. Whole tribes were wiped out as European settlement spread over Cape York Peninsula.
In 1887, a Chinese Investigation Commission to South-East Asia arrived in Cooktown from Canton to investigate the social conditions of Chinese living in the colonies and to establish consulates in them. The visit went well, General Wong Yung Ho was pleased with what they had found, and cheers were exchanged between the Commission members and local residents as they left on 7 August 1887.
Transport was an ongoing problem for the new settlers. Getting supplies and people to the goldfields often took three weeks. After every wet season the tracks and bridges had to be remade. A railway line from Cooktown to Maytown, was planned, but it took five years to get the 67 miles (108 km) to Laura – and that is where it stopped. By that time the gold was petering out, so the Queensland Government refused further funding for the venture.
In spite of this, the train proved to be a lifeline for the Peninsula people connecting the hinterland to Cooktown, from where one could catch a boat to Cairns and other southern ports. The line was closed in 1961 after the Peninsula Development Road was built connecting Cooktown and other Peninsula communities with Cairns and the Atherton Tableland to the south.
Cooktown's magnificent Botanic Garden of 62 hectares (154 acres) was established near the town in 1878. Much work was done in the early stages – with wells sunk, water reticulated, garden beds enclosed, stone-lined paths, stone-pitched pools and footbridges made, and lawns, trees and shrubs planted.
Although the gardens fell into disrepair, in recent years they have been expanded and are a popular destination for botanists and nature lovers. Most of the early stonework has been restored, and beautiful walking tracks lead the visitor through the Botanic Garden to the magnificent beaches at Finch Bay and Cherry Tree Bay.
In 1881, a bridge over the Endeavour River was completed, which opened up the richer pastoral lands of the Endeavour and McIvor River valleys. Tin was found in the Annan River area, south of Cooktown, in 1884.
In 1886, Lutheran missionaries came to Cooktown to establish a secure place for the Aboriginal people who were living in abominable conditions on the edge of the town. Missions were established at Elim on the beach (later they moved inland to Hopevale), and Wujal Wujal, near the mouth of the Bloomfield River. Also in 1888, five Irish nuns from the Sisters of Mercy Order arrived in Cooktown and established a Catholic convent school. The original building is now used as the James Cook Historical Museum.
In 1893 the town was described as follows:
With the gold rush over, the number of people living in the area started dwindling. Two major fires struck Cooktown – in 1875 and, again, in 1919 when whole blocks of buildings in the main street were burned to the ground. A major cyclone in 1907 added to the destruction.
By 1940, little evidence of Cooktown or Maytown's interesting past remained. During the Second World War, Cooktown became an important base for the war effort. The civilian population of Cooktown was encouraged to evacuate in face of the Japanese advances and by 1942 the vast majority had left. The Aboriginal people of the Lutheran missions at Hope Vale and Bloomfield were forcibly removed - most being taken south to Woorabinda in May, 1942, while some of the elderly people were sent to Palm Island. The senior missionary, Pastor Schwartz (known as Muni to the local people), was arrested and placed in internment as he were suspected as being an enemy sympathiser. The Aboriginal people were not allowed to return to their homelands until 1949, well after the end of the war. Many Aboriginal people died when moved from their traditional lands, and many Aboriginal and white families never returned from their exile.
Some 20,000 Australian and American troops were stationed in and around the town. The busy airfield played a key role in the crucial Battle of the Coral Sea when Japanese expansion towards the Australian mainland was finally halted. The last military unit, the 27th Operational Base Squadron of the RAAF, ceased operations in Cooktown in April 1946.
In 1949, another cyclone devastated the town, and Cooktown's population declined further. With the closure of the rail link to Laura in 1961 and the "Peninsula Development Road" opened up to the south, the population declined to just a few hundred people before it gradually began to climb again.
Cooktown has recently grown in importance again and become a popular tourist destination. The paving of the Mulligan Highway now provides all-weather access by road for the first time. There are two flights a day connecting Cooktown with Cairns. The town now has good communications, more services, better roads, and offers residents a relaxed and healthy lifestyle.
Fewer than 2,000 people live in the town itself while about another 4,000 in the region use it as a service centre. Visitors enjoy the delightful tropical environment, the historical connections, and use it as an access point to the Great Barrier Reef, the Lakefield National Park, and for fishing.
Cooktown has a public library, bowling green, swimming pool, golf and turf clubs, historic cemetery, Chinese shrine, James Cook Museum, Botanic Gardens with walks through to the beaches, the heritage-listed Grassy Hill lighthouse, and a new $3 million Events Centre next to the Cooktown State School, built to double as an emergency cyclone shelter for Cooktown. The Information Centre and an Environment Display are in Nature's Powerhosue in the Cooktown Botanic Garden. Charlotte Street is the main heritage precinct. The Cooktown Public Library opened in 1995 and underwent a major refurbishment in 2013 and a minor refurbishment in 2015.
Cooktown is of particular interest to botanists since the time of James Cook's visit when extensive collections and illustrations were made of local plants. It is situated at the junction of several vegetation zones including tropical rainforest, sclerophyll forests, sandy dunes and lagoons. Vera Scarth-Johnson, a local resident, gave a priceless collection of her botanical illustrations to the people of Cooktown, which are now housed in a dedicated gallery at Nature's PowerHouse situated in the Botanic Gardens, and features displays of local flora and fauna.
Cooktown is the northern terminus of the Bicentennial Heritage Trail, which, at 5,330 km (3,310 mi), is the longest trail of its type in the world. The southern end of the trail is at Healesville, Victoria, a town 52 kilometres (32 mi) north-east of Melbourne. There is an active Aboriginal Community Centre on the main street called Gungarde (from the original Guugu Yimithirr name for the region).
The "Milbi Wall" (or "Story Wall")  marks the place of the first encounter between the British seafarers and the local Aborigines. The Milbi ('Story') Wall tells the story of Cooktown and the Endeavour River from the perspective of the Aboriginal people in tiles, and is an outstanding monument to reconciliation.
Cooktown has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 2,631 people in Cooktown.
Because the area around Cooktown is unusually rich in biodiversity, being close to three major ecozones, it contains a large proportion of the 3,000 plant species and the more than 500 terrestrial vertebrates recorded for Cape York Peninsula. The region contains many rare or unusual species which are of great interest to botanists and zoologists.
When Lt. James Cook beached his ship, HM Bark Endeavour, at the mouth of the Endeavour River in 1770, Joseph Banks, Daniel Solander, and Sydney Parkinson made good use of the enforced 7-week stay to make and illustrate an extensive collection of the plants of the area, where they collected the vast majority of plants they brought back to England from Australia. The illustrations were later published as the famous Banks' Florilegium.
Since then, Cooktown and the Endeavour River Valley area have become a major attraction to biologists and illustrators of plants and animals. Vera Scarth-Johnson (1912–1999), spent almost thirty years illustrating the flowering plants of the region and then gave her collection to the people of Cooktown. Following her wishes, a beautiful gallery and nature interpretive centre was built in the Cooktown Botanic Gardens to house her collection and promote the study and appreciation of the flora and fauna of the area, which she named "Nature's Powerhouse."
Cooktown is preparing to mark the 250th anniversary in 2020 of the visit of the British Expedition led by Captain James Cook including a major musical festival involving local people, international stars and a return of the replica of the ship "H.M.B. Endeavour".
Cooktown has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classification Aw). The wet season from December to April, is typically hot and humid but sea breezes and rainfall keep temperatures at bay. The dry season from May to November is less hot and humid, though unlike most of tropical Australia onshore winds still produce some light showers. The highest daily rainfall in Cooktown has been 405.4 millimetres (16.0 in) on 22 January 1914 and the record monthly rainfall 1,322.6 millimetres (52.1 in) in January 1979. The driest calendar year was 2002 with only 732.5 millimetres (28.8 in) at the newer Cooktown Airport site and the wettest 1903 with 3,128.1 millimetres (123.2 in).
Archer Point Light is an active lighthouse located on Archer Point, a conical, 60-metre-high (200 ft), grassy headland, about 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) southeast of Cooktown, Queensland, Australia. Originally an 1883 timber frame lighthouse, covered with galvanised iron, it was replaced in 1975 with a modern square concrete equipment room, topped with a lantern.Archer Point Wind Farm
The Archer Point Wind Farm, alternatively Jalunji Wind Park or Cooktown Wind Farm, is a proposed wind farm to be located at Archer Point, about 15 km south of Cooktown, Queensland. It is expected to cost A$250 million to construct.
The wind farm is envisioned to have 60 wind turbines in Stage 1. The total generation capacity for Stage 1 would be 138 MW. This would be enough electricity generation to power the entire Cape York Peninsula while supplementing the electricity needs of Port Douglas and Cairns. Archer Point is recognised as one of the windiest places in Queensland.The project would generate about 400,000 MW-hr of electricity - enough electricity to power over 75,000 average Queensland homes. In addition, the wind farm would make a very significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Queensland - reducing electricity emissions by over 370,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. This would be equivalent to taking 85,000 cars off the road. Once constructed, the wind farm would have twice the capacity of the largest renewable energy generation facility in Queensland. Towers are expected to be 80 m high.In May 2011, it was announced that a lease agreement between the traditional land owners and National Power has been reached.Athemistus assimilis
Athemistus assimilis is a species of beetle in the family Cerambycidae. It was described by Stephan von Breuning in 1939. It is known from Australia.It's 11 mm long and 4 mm wide, and its type locality is Cooktown, Queensland.Bicentennial National Trail
The Bicentennial National Trail (BNT), originally known as the National Horse Trail, is one of the longest multi-use, non-motorised, self-reliant trails in the world, stretching 5,330 kilometres from Cooktown, Queensland, through New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory to Healesville, 60 km north-east of Melbourne. This trail runs the length of the rugged Great Dividing Range through national parks, private property and alongside wilderness areas. The BNT follows old coach roads, stock routes, brumby tracks, rivers and fire trails. It was originally intended for horses, but is these days promoted also for cycling and walking, though it is not yet entirely suited to these two activities.Cape Flattery (Queensland)
Cape Flattery is a cape in northern Queensland approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of Cooktown, Queensland. The headland was named by James Cook on 10 August 1770 as he charted the eastern Australian coast.Cooktown (disambiguation)
Cooktown, Queensland is a town on Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland, Queensland, Australia.
Cooktown may refer to:
Cooktown, Georgia, a community in Miller County, Georgia
Cooktown, Kentucky, a community in Barren County, Kentucky
Cooktown, Virginia, a community in Fairfax County, VirginiaCooktown Airport
Cooktown Airport (IATA: CTN, ICAO: YCKN) is an airport in Cooktown, Queensland, Australia and is the gateway to Cape York Peninsula. The airport is 7.5 km (4.7 mi) from the town centre.Cooktown Cemetery
Cooktown Cemetery is a heritage-listed cemetery at Charlotte Street, Cooktown, Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. It was built from 1874 to 1920. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 8 April 1997.Cooktown Independent
The Cooktown Independent was a newspaper published in Cooktown, Queensland, Australia.Cooktown Powder Magazine
Cooktown Powder Magazine is a heritage-listed gunpowder magazine at Webber Esplanade, Cooktown, Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Francis Drummond Greville Stanley and built from 1875 to 1876 by Henry J Meldrum. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.Dictyophorine
Dictyophorines are a pair of sesquiterpenes isolated from the fungus Phallus indusiatus (Dictyophora indusiata). These compounds are based on the eudesmane skeleton, a common structure found in plant-derived flavors and fragrances, and they are the first eudesmane derivatives isolated from fungi. Dictyophorines A and B promote the synthesis of nerve growth factor in astroglial cells.Ferrari Estates Building
Ferrari Estates Building is a heritage-listed former bank building at 126 Charlotte Street, Cooktown, Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Eyre & Munro and built from 1890 to 1891 by John Armstrong. It is also known as Bank of North Queensland. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.Grassy Hill Light
Grassy Hill Light, also known as Cooktown Light, is an active lighthouse located on Grassy Hill above Cooktown, Queensland, Australia, on the south side of the entrance to Endeavour River.HMAS Paluma (1946)
HMAS Paluma was a 340-ton survey vessel of the Royal Australian Navy between 1946 and 1973. She was designed and ordered as a 120ft Motor Lighter for the Royal Australian Navy during World War II. Built as Motor Stores Lighter (MSL 252) at State Dockyard, Newcastle, she was not completed before the end of the war.
Refitted in 1958 for survey work at Garden Island Dockyard, MSL 252 painted white of the hydrographic service, was renamed HMAS Paluma. She undertook survey work in the St Vincent Gulf of South Australia, and Papua New Guinea in 1961, rotated in survey of Papua New Guinea until 1965. She then was based at Cooktown, Queensland. While undertaking survey work of the Cooks Pasage, she discovered a new barrier reef opening.
After further refits in Sydney, Paluma surveyed the route from Princess Charlotte Bay to the Torres Strait, the first survey of the route since 1890. She returned to Sydney and was decommissioned on 30 March 1973.James Cook Historical Museum
James Cook Historical Museum is a heritage-listed former convent and school and now museum at Furneaux Street, Cooktown, Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Francis Drummond Greville Stanley and built from 1888 to 1889 Hobbs & Carter. It was formerly known as St Mary's Convent and School. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.Kuku Nyungkal
The Kuku Nyungkal people (or Annan River Tribe) are a group of Aboriginal Australians who are the original custodians of the coastal mountain slopes, wet tropical forests, waters, and waterfalls of the Upper Annan River, south of Cooktown, Queensland
All Kuku Nyungkal people share in common social descent from ancestors who back to time immemorial have transmitted, from generation to generation, their Kuku Nyungkal dialect, knowledge, names (for people, places, and things), traditions, heritage, plus loreIn 1995 Queensland's Aboriginal Land Tribunal, relying on Kuku Nyungkal genealogical material submitted to them, estimated the total population of Kuku Nyungkal people to be "at least 900" (not including those people who had married into Kuku Nyungkal families)Mary Watson's Monument
Mary Watson's Monument is a heritage-listed memorial at Charlotte Street, Cooktown, Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. It was designed and built by Ernest Greenway in 1886. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.Westpac Bank Building, Cooktown
Westpac Bank Building is a heritage-listed former bank building at 120 Charlotte Street, Cooktown, Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Francis Drummond Greville Stanley and built from 1891 to 1891. It is also known as Bank of New South Wales and Queensland National Bank. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 11 March 1994.White-headed pigeon
The white-headed pigeon (Columba leucomela) is a pigeon native to the east coast of Australia, belonging to the same genus as the domestic pigeon C. livia.
The pigeon's habitat is from Cooktown, Queensland to southern New South Wales, with increasing numbers now found in eastern Victoria. It can commonly be found in tropical regions, subtropical rainforest, scrub, watercourses and street trees. Since colonisation of Australia, their numbers have decreased but they have thrived on the introduced Camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora).
The white-headed pigeon's nest generally consists of scanty twigs and is usually placed high in canopy up to 18 metres. It tends to lay one cream-white egg. Breeding is mostly from October to December.
The size of the pigeon varies from about 38 to 41 centimetres (15.2 to 16.4 inches). Plumage consists of a white head and breast with a glossy back area. Wings and tail are black. The bill is red with a yellowish tip. The eye ring and legs are red and the eyes are pale orange or yellow. Juveniles have a grey crown and breast.
These pigeons are often found alone, in pairs or in small flocks. They are very quiet and elusive. Their flight is swift and direct. Their call is loud and gruff sounding like "WHOO!" followed by a gruff inhalation sounding "uk" (repeated three times). Sometimes the call is a low "oom".
White-headed pigeons feed on fruit in canopy but can also feed on the ground in the open. It also eats fallen grains in cornfields.
|Climate data for Cooktown Post Office|
|Record high °C (°F)||41.7
|Average high °C (°F)||31.4
|Average low °C (°F)||24.3
|Record low °C (°F)||17.2
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||375.6
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||17.1||17.9||18.4||15.0||12.1||8.7||7.2||6.9||4.5||4.2||6.6||10.9||129.5|
|Average relative humidity (%)||79||82||80||76||76||76||75||73||69||68||69||72||75|
|Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology|
Main article: Local government areas of Queensland
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