Friday, 16 September 2011

Cooktown - Captain Cook and kangaroos

 Last year I was fortunate to be part of the annual Cooktown Discovery Festival in far north Queensland. The June long-weekend festival celebrates the arrival of Captain Cook who, in 1770, limped into the quiet waters of what he later called the Endeavour River, to repair His Majesty's Barque, Endeavour
Cook's Town (renamed Cooktown in 1874) was the first white settlement in Australia
The highlight of the weekend every year is a re-enactment of Cook's landing and meeting with the local Aboriginal Guugu Yimithirr tribe   

The word Corroboree was coined by the early European settlers. It was their interpretation of the Aboriginal word Caribberie -  a dramatic representation of a ceremonial meeting in mime and song
Captain Cook travelled to Australia with pigs, poultry, two greyhounds and a milking  goat
The theme of the festivities  was Two cultures one people, marking the meeting of two very different cultures  

Today, a bronze statue of Captain Cook presides majestically over the many beautiful sunsets over the Endeavour River

Finch Bay with its deserted beach is just five minutes from town

 A few kilometeres from Cooktown lies Keating's Lagoon, an idyllic wetland and unique bird sanctuary
The Cooktown Cemetery highlights the town's unique, multicultural history. First used as a cemetery in 1874, it's a fascinating insight into the diverse groups and ethnic backgrounds of the town's ancestors  
The Grassy Hill Light (lighthouse) was constructed in 1886 in England and shipped to Cooktown to provide ships and boats a safe passage through the reef and into open waters
Sir Joseph Banks, naturalist on board the Endeavour recorded some 50 Guugu Yimithirr words, including their name for a strange-looking animal - the Gangurru - which Banks translated as Kangaru. During their seven week stay, Cook's men recorded the first sighting of a kangaroo on Grassy Hill
One of the highlights of my visit was a tour of local  sacred Aboriginal ancestral rock art sites with Nugal-warra Elder, Willie Gordon of Guurrbi Tours 
Willie is a traditional story-teller who generously shares his Aboriginal culture and spirituality
He speaks with great passion of his ancestors, bush-tucker, the local flora and fauna as well as legends of the rock art
The 35-minute plane trip north of Cairns is a spectacular way to quickly cover the 240 kilometer journey to Cooktown


  1. Thank you, Francesca - and it was lovely to meet you guys too! We love your blog with the wonderful images of Cooktown (and Guurrbi!) We'll have to send you a new pic of the Grassy Hill Lighthouse tho' ;-) The whole of Grassy Hill has been very spruced up now - they've done a fantastic job.

  2. Hi Francesca. I love your photos. You must live in a very beautiful area if your dog-walking pictures are a good indication of your surroundings.


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