20th - 21st July
In 1770, Captain James Cook and his ship the Endeavor ran afoul of the great Barrier Reef and seriously damaged the hull. To avoid sinking they off loaded 50 tonnes of stores. Captain Cook sailed his damaged ship into the closest river. Cook's 48 day stay in the harbour was his longest onshore stay for his entire voyage. He later named the river "Endeavor" This is the only river he named in Australia.
The lookouts of Grassy Hill and the lighthouse provide breath taking views of Cooktown, the Endeavor River and Coral Sea. James Cook climbed the hill on several occasions to view the surrounding reefs enabling him to navigate a safe passage out after repairing his ship. The lighthouse was built in England and shipped to Cooktown in 1885 and automated in 1927.
The Cook Monument dates from 1887 commemorates Cooks landing in 1770. The cannon was brought to Cooktown at the request of the town council. On April 10th 1885 a wire was sent to Brisbane requesting a supply of arms and a competent officer to take charge against a threat of Russian invasion.
The discovery of gold on the Palmer River by William Hann in August 1872 and a report by miner explorer James Mulligan 1873 of the discovery of 102 ounce payable gold led to the start of the Palmer River Gold Rush. During the Palmer River Gold Rush in just one day, 3,000 Chinese Miners disembarked off 3 Chinese steamers at the Cooktown Wharf.
In 1875 Cooktown had 63 licensed hotels,40 brothels and 2 churches. Leading to a very colourful early life as shipping was the only transport out.
Market day on Saturday strolling around I came across a hairdresser who was charging $15, the locals assured me it was worth the wait. Greg walked around while I sat in line and chatted with the locals. Very interesting and they were right about the haircut.