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Cooktown War Memorial

Cooktown, Cook Area

Recruitment for WWI in the Cooktown region drew men from the tin mining industries around Rossville and Shiptons Flat to the south.

After the war, the population of the town was small and early ANZAC commemorations were low key. In 1934 the citizens of Cooktown revived ANZAC Day marking the 16th anniversary of the stand at Villiers Brettoneux. A temporary cenotaph was established at the Cook Memorial. This became the location for future Anzac ceremonies for many years.

The Cook Memorial, a tall sandstone column, is located to the north of ANZAC Park, was unveiled in 1888 when Australia was celebrating its centenary.

The Cooktown RSL later built a memorial to both WWI and WWII soldiers in a park in the main street, renamed ANZAC Memorial Park. The memorials comprise two granite boulders with metal plaques, the largest of which commemorates all who served in WWI. The smaller listing for WWII service reflects the dwindling of the town in the mid-twentieth century. The second boulder is a general war memorial.

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Mount Cook National Park

Cooktown, Cook Area
Free Entry
This park features the rugged Mount Cook, which provides a scenic backdrop to the town of Cooktown. Rainforest and tropical woodlands with a heath understorey cover the upper slopes and sheltered gullies. Mount Cook was named after Lieutenant James Cook, navigator and explorer, who had repaired the Endeavour in 1770 where Cooktown now stands, after damaging it on the reefs off Cape Tribulation. Take the steep two kilometre walk to the lookout for scenic views over the Great Barrier Reef and coastline. Climb one kilometre further to Mount Cook's summit. See large granite boulders covered with ferns. Look for tree snakes and lace monitors. Take binoculars for birdwatching.
Free Entry
In this park, an imposing mountain range of massive granite boulders is home to unique wildlife and rich in Aboriginal culture. Located near Cooktown at the northern end of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Black Mountain is imposing mountain range of black granite boulders, some the size of houses, stacked seemingly precariously on one another. The wet tropics and drier savanna woodland regions meet in this park, and an unusual range of wildlife finds refuge here, including species that are found nowhere else. Known as Kalkajaka (meaning 'place of spear'), Black Mountain is an important meeting place for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people and is the source of many Dreaming stories. Stop at the Black Mountain lookout on the Mulligan Highway on the eastern side of the crest of the Black Mountain boulder field. Signs at the lookout tell of the geology, natural environment, culture and history of the area. There is no other access to the park. Do not risk injury by venturing onto the boulder field. People have been injured and have died trying to climb Black Mountain.

Lizard Island Group National Park

Lizard Island, Cook Area
Free Entry
Set in a turquoise sea, the six high islands and islets of this park are surrounded by coral reefs, fringed by mangroves and sandy beaches, and cloaked in grasslands, woodlands and wind-sheared heaths. The island group lies midway between the coast and the outer barrier reef, within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Lizard, the main island, has several idyllic, sheltered, sandy beaches with easy access to picturesque coral and clam gardens. Snorkel in the sheltered, shallow waters of Watsons Bay and discover the famed Clam Gardens. Following in the footsteps of the famous explorer, climb the steep track to Cook's Look for breath-taking views over the islands and reefs. Walk to Blue Lagoon on the other side of the island for secluded swimming and snorkelling. Bush camp near the beach at peaceful Watsons Bay. Learn about a tragic episode in the island's history at Mary Watson's cottage ruin. Look for the yellow-spotted monitor, for which Lizard Island is named, and birdwatch around the island's beaches and walking tracks. Visit the Lizard Island Research Station during their tour times and relax at the resort's Marlin Bar (not open every day).

Cobia Hole Dive Site

Cairns, Cairns Area
Free Entry
Located off Lizard Island, on the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns, Cobia Hole is a pinnacle of rocks covered with marine organism including sponges, soft coral, coralliamorpharians, feather stars, sea stars, sea squirts, shrimps, crabs and gobies. Look for sea whips, gorgonian fans and stinging hydroids. Hovering bream can often be seen, as well as circling pelagic barracuda or trevally. Large turtles, toadfish and estuary cod. Explore the sea grasses and algae on the nearby sand.
Free Entry
Nature's Powerhouse Visitor Information Centre at the Cooktown Botanic Gardens provides all the information you need to explore this site. Established in 1878 as the Gallop Botanic Reserve, it comprises a formal botanic garden, and a substantial natural forest and ocean frontage. It commemorates the work of naturalists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on HMS Endeavour who collected and documented botanical specimens from the district in 1770. A century later Cooktown was the main port for the Palmer River gold fields. Thousands of Chinese landed here, later settling in Cooktown. The Chinese had market gardens here and produced charcoal from timber felled on site. After the declaration of a botanical reserve, a road was built, a nursery established and trees and shrubs ordered from the Acclimatisation Society in Brisbane. During the 1890s, stone lined paths, stone pitched pools and stone-work bridges were built and the nursery supplied ornamental trees for Cooktown. The gardens suffered in the 1907 cyclone, were closed after World War One and were not rebuilt until 1979. The gardens now boast an exotic plant section, a palm garden, a native plants section and 'Solander's Garden' which is used by tourists and locals for recreational and educational purposes.

Cobia Hole Dive Site

Lizard Island, Cook Area
Free Entry
Located just off the shore of Lizard Island north of Cairns, Cobia Hole features a jumble of rocks, no bigger than a tennis court, decorated with marine life. With a maximum depth of 18 metres, this rocky outcrop is home to hovering sweetlips, emperors, cobia, estuary cod and more. The rock is covered in sponges, soft coral, feather stars, sea stars, sea squirts, shrimps, crabs and gobies. Also look out for impressive sea whips, gorgonian fans and stinging hydroids. Large turtles, circling pelagic barracuda and trevally are all common visitors, and will often follow you down to explore the sea grasses and algae on the nearby sand.

Hope Vale

Hope Vale, Hope Vale Area
Hope Vale Aboriginal community lies 40 kilometres north of Cooktown. Originally established as a Moravian Lutheran Mission on the east coast near Cape Bedford, the community was later moved to its present location. Go on a tour with a highly-acclaimed Aboriginal guide who can show you rock art sites and other locations on the Deed of Grant in Trust land. What's to see - the arts and craft centre is worth a visit and a private beach house accesses a coloured sands beach. You'll need a Council permit to camp and make arrangements in advance with the beach house. Useful stores include a couple of general outlets, hardware, a butcher and petrol station - but you will need to pay cash here. Hope Vale is easily accessed from Cooktown on a good dirt road off the Battle Camp Road between Cooktown and Laura. Hope Vale has an Alcohol Management Plan (AMP). AMPs aim to reduce alcohol-related violence. AMPs vary from community to community. They include alcohol restrictions, home brew bans and dry place declarations which operate within a defined boundary, known as a 'restricted area'. These strategies set the quantity and type of alcohol you may possess in the restricted area. Penalties apply for possessing or attempting to bring illegal alcohol into a restricted area. To find out more about AMPs for each community, visit the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs web site.

Lizard Island

Lizard Island, Cook Area
Lizard Island is truly secluded from the rest of the world. With 24 powdery-white beaches and 40 luxurious suites, it is the most northern resort in tropical Queensland and is located directly on the Great Barrier Reef. A National Park covering 1013 hectares with 24 sandy beaches and a lagoon, Lizard Island is accessible only by private charter from Cairns Airport in northern Queensland, Australia. Cairns Airport is accessible from all major Australian airports and directly from some cities in Asia. Lizard Island is renowned for its scuba diving and snorkelling and is surrounded by coral reefs, ribbon and lagoon reefs. But its Lizard Island's close proximity to one of the best known diving sites in the Great Barrier Reef, Cod Hole, that distinguishes it from many other reef islands. Lizard Island Resort is reserved for the fortunate few who will experience an unforgettable holiday like no other. Enjoy secluded picnics and sunset beach degustation on private beaches, five star cuisine in the beautiful Salt Water restaurant and indulgent spa treatments in the Essentia Day Spa. Relax in style in premium accommodation and take in the wonders of Australia's Great Barrier Reef - right on your doorstep. There is also a campground at the national park at the northern end of Watson Bay. And when you have the chance, make sure to take one of the many magnificent walks on the island. On at least one you can expect to glimpse a Monitor, the lizard after which Lizard Island was originally named.

Cooktown

Cooktown, Cook Area
With bitumen all the way along the 330 kilometre inland Mulligan Highway from Cairns, Cooktown is easy to get to. If you want a more adventurous route, go four wheel-driving along the coastal Bloomfield Track crossing rivers and creeks through World Heritage-listed rainforest and join the highway at the mysterious pile of rocks known as Black Mountain. Historic Cooktown became a thriving port during the gold rush era after it was discovered by Captain James Cook when the HMS Endeavour hit a reef in 1770. Stroll through the town and you will get a sense of its prosperous past from the handmade stone guttering lining the wide streets and the graceful, well-preserved architecture. Each June, the landing of Captain Cook and his interaction with the Indigenous Guugu Yimithirr people is re-enacted as part of the three-day Cooktown Discovery Festival. Discover Cooktown's multicultural history at the museum and walk through the cemetery to learn about the hardships endured there more than a century ago. The fishing in Cooktown is world-renowned with the Cooktown River and offshore reefs yielding tasty species like barramundi and coral trout. Vessels from around the globe arrive each year to chase the legendary black marlin. Cooktown has a regional airport with regular flights and a range of accommodation from camping to four-star hotels.

Cooktown Scenic Rim Trail

Cooktown, Cook Area
Free Entry
Cooktown’s Scenic Rim Trail displays all aspects of the town’s historical and cultural delights. Experience a range of diverse natural habitats, each with their own special features and species. Walk through mangrove lined banks of the Endeavour River, an estuarine environment which forms a complex breeding ground for various wildlife. Pass through open forest on the lower reaches of Mount Cook, until the trail reaches the rainforest. Up through the dim rainforest light, weave past vine thicket and around walls of buttress roots. The trail crosses Alligator Creek, (only cross at low tide) and continues along the beach towards the northern end of Finch Bay. On the decent to the small secluded beach at Cherry Tree Bay enjoy magnificent coastal views. Sometimes fish, turtles and even dugongs can be seen in the bay. The Scenic Rim Trail is broken into nine different sections, catering for a range of fitness levels.
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