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.