Located in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia, Cooktown is located about 2000kms (1200 mi) north of Brisbane, sitting at the mouth of the Endeavour River on the Cape York Peninsula where James Cook beached his ship the Endeavour for repairs in 1770.

A century later, Cook’s Town was built on the banks of the river where that historic meeting took place. A bustling new port and community grew from a ramshackle tent city to service the mining camps of Queensland’s largest gold rush on the Palmer River. The gold soon disappeared, but Cooktown hung on, surviving economic decline and two devastating cyclones, to emerge as one of Tropical North Queensland’s best kept secrets.

Today Cooktown has a population of 2,300, and the town is growing again as word spreads of its beautiful location and the friendliness of its people. With the completion of the Mulligan Highway in 2006, the town is now easily accessible by a fully sealed road and air, yet its remote location, stunning landscapes and laid-back lifestyle give it a distinctly frontier feel – the very essence of Australia.

Cook Shire

Cook Shire is the largest land area shire in Queensland. From the Bloomfield River in the south to just north of the Jardine River, it covers more than 100,000 km2 and occupies 80 percent of the Cape York Peninsula.

Cook Shire is a vibrant area, from the main township of Cooktown to smaller outlying communities rich in indigenous history, agriculture, tourism and arts. About half of the Shire’s 5000-strong population live in Cooktown, on the banks of the Endeavour River, with the remainder spread between the smaller population centres of Marton, Laura, Lakeland, Coen, Ayton, Rossville, Portland Roads and offshore islands including Lizard Island.

Cook Shire is enriched by the unique contributions of its smaller communities, with Lakeland a national leader in agriculture and Laura world famous for its rock art.


Cook Shire enjoys a mild tropical climate with the Wet Season running from January to March being the hottest time of the year.  April to December brings a drier period with cooler weather and temperatures averaging around 27 degrees Celsius.  In summer Cooktown is usually 5 degrees cooler than Cairns.

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