“The Wet Tropics is 80 million years older than the Amazon, a vast swathe of pristine wilderness running from Cooktown in the state’s far north to Townsville in the south. Within its 9000sq km (about the size of Cyprus), you’ll find an extraordinary array of landscapes and landmarks, including 30 national parks. Discover waterfall after waterfall on the Atherton Tablelands; witness where two World Heritage areas (reef and rainforest) meet at Cape Tribulation and Mission Beach.” – Tropical north Queensland.org.au
We stayed at Cooktown Holiday Park. Such a beautiful place, the sites were large, lush and less than I km to the town centre.
Cooktown Botanic Gardens
Established in 1878 on 62 hectares of rainforest, major upgrades in recent years include wheelchair friendly pathways, orchid house and cafe with art gallery and information centre.
The rare Jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) is such an amazing flower. Its clusters of flowers hang 1 to 3 metres long with hundreds of flowers.
From the botanic gardens we followed the Scenic Rim walk along to Finch Bay and Cherry Tree Bay. About a 3.5 km path, quite steep in places, but well worth the effort.
One of our favourite places in Cooktown is Cook’s Landing Kiosk on the marina. Not only do they serve the best fish and chips, but they are the home to ‘Groper Groupies’.
About 3 times a week, depending on tides, the local Gropers are feed at the Marina. Gropers are a protected species and grow to an average of 2.7 metres and 400 kg. There are 10 in the local group that come to feed, but not all come every night. I even got to feed one.
Laura is small town 160 km north west of Cooktown. With a population of 240 people it consists of a pub, grocery store (which is also the post office), school, caravan park and police station.
The Road up to the tip of Cape York Peninsula passes through Laura, and travellers are able to get here on bitumen then leave their vans here until their return.
Laura is also the home to the Quinkan Rock Art.
The rock art of south-east Cape York Peninsula forms some of the oldest and largest galleries in the world. Since 1956 two men, pilot Percy Trezise and his mate, indigenous artist Dick Roughsey have been instrumental in finding and protecting the Quinkan Rock Art.
Sadly we were not able to get a tour of the two main Quinkan Rock Art sites, but we were able to do a self guided tour of Split Rock art work.
Not all our adventures are successful. We had booked a tour to Hope Vale rock art sites with Willie Gordon, a lovely man with so much knowledge. Unfortunately the tour had to be cancelled at the last minute.
So we visited Hope Vale, 50 km north of Cooktown to visit the art gallery there. Unfortunately the Gallery was undergoing renovations and only one room was open.
We then headed for the coast to see the Hope Vale coloured sands, but they were inaccessible.
We did see a huge flock of bats, or maybe they were flying foxes, on the way. Not sure if they are called a ‘colony’ of bats or a ‘cloud’ of bats or even a ‘camp’ of flying foxes. Google seems a little vague on the term.
On our way back to Cooktown we visited Isabella Falls. Not the most spectacular falls, but still very pretty and, apparently, safe for swimming.
The Bloomfield Track goes from Cooktown to Cape Tribulation for approximately 140 km through some magical ancient rainforest. We stayed at Cape Tribulation in 2015 (check out the blog here) .
First stop was the famous Lions Den Hotel for coffee; this is where the bitumen ends and the fun begins.
Next stop was Bana Yirriji Art Centre in Kuku Yalanji Country. They have amazing artists here and their works can been seen in galleries all over Australia. We bought this piece of art by Florence Williams, depicting the Great Barrier Reef with the coral bommies and fish and the coral spawning.
So many things want to kill you in Far North Queensland.
If you want the best ice-cream in the world visit the Daintree Ice Cream Co..
On our way back to Cooktown we stopped again at the Lions Den Hotel, this time for dinner. Such an iconic place. You can also camp overnight here and the food and coffee are great.
Grassy Hill Lookout
Grassy Hill looks over Cooktown, the Endeavour River and The Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea. It should really be called Windy Hill as there is far more wind than grass. But the views are spectacular. We spent our final night in Cooktown watching the sunset and holding down our tiger prawns and champagne. Tim’s plate of prawns and bread roll took to the skies and down the cliff. Perhaps not the best place for picnic.
Cheers til next time, Helen and Tim