The morning we left Cape Tribulation to drive our Apollo Motorhome to Cooktown the weather was perfect. We were up early just as the sun was rising and went to have a last look at the beach before we left, the turquoise sea was perfectly flat, not a cloud in the sky or a puff of wind, it couldn’t have looked more beautiful. We left the Daintree National Park and took the Mossman – Mt Molloy road stopping at the lookout for a final view towards Cape Tribulation, breathtaking!
The Mulligan Highway from Mt Molloy to Cooktown, which passes through stunning scenery and the view from ‘Bob’s Lookout’ at the top of the Desailly Range seems to go on forever! The road continues through the Black Mountain National Park, where massive black granite boulders form mountains on either side of the road and with very few trees or vegetation growing on them they are a stark contrast to the surrounding plains.
We reached Cooktown and were welcomed by Wendy and Ken at the BIG4 Cooktown Holiday Park, our final destination on the Queensland Road Trip and a wonderful place to finish. The park was very busy with lots of tourists, some who were on their way either to or from Cape York Peninsular, a trip we decided we must come back and do on another visit, but others like ourselves who wanted to spend a few days in Cooktown to see where Captain Cook came ashore in 1770 and soak up the history of the town.
We were there of course to await the arrival of Ben and the crew of The Best Expedition in the World, who were finishing their journey which started out from the Town of 1770 back in May.
We had a couple of days before Ben was due to arrive and on our first morning we joined Willie Gordon of Guurrbi Tours on his Rainbow Serpent Tour. Willie is an elder of the Nugal-warra clan and the tour took us to the ancestral birthplace of his predecessors, where he showed us beautiful rock art and gave us an insight into Aboriginal society and spirituality. Willie also told us about the survival techniques of his people, what they ate, how and where they lived and showed us plants and leaves used in everyday life. It was a fascinating morning and we felt deeply honoured to be shown such private places and to be able to learn about the history of the aboriginal people in the Cooktown area.
As well as the history of Captain Cook and his ship ‘The Endeavour’, Cooktown was involved with the Gold Rush, and in 1873 the town was founded as a supply port for the goldfields based around the Palmer River, and by 1880 there were around 30000 people living in the area. Many of these were Chinese, some who came as prospectors, but many set up market gardens supplying fruit, vegetables and rice to the prospectors and townspeople.
The James Cook Museum has an amazing display of articles relating to the history of Cooktown and is housed in the beautifully restored Sisters of Mercy Convent. It includes the original anchor and a cannon from ‘The Endeavour’ which Cook had thrown overboard to reduce weight on the ship to stop her sinking after she came to grief on Endeavour Reef. We spent a fascinating morning here learning about Cooktown and it’s inhabitants from the time of Captain Cook to the present day.
Ben arrived at Cooktown on the morning of September 13th pedalling his Hobie kayak at the end of the successful Best Expedition in the World. We were there waiting to greet him and were very proud of what he and his team have achieved. There was a great reception committee with us, the start of a super day, with a delicious celebratory lunch at the Cooktown Botanical Gardens, a reception hosted by Cooktown Tourism and ending with a party at Pams Place Cooktown YHA.
This was also the end of our expedition, The Queensland Road Trip, we have driven 12500 km in our Apollo Motorhome since we left Brisbane in May and stayed at 41 super destinations, the majority at BIG4 Holiday Parks. We have had a wonderful time, visiting beautiful National Parks, wonderful seaside and inland towns and meeting numerous lovely friendly people who have made us so welcome.
We want to say a big THANK YOU to Ben for coming up with original idea of the expedition, Tourism Queensland for arranging everything on our behalf, BIG4 for their warm hospitality, Apollo Motorhomes for our lovely vehicle for the last 5 months, and everybody else who was involved in our amazing road trip. There is still a huge amount of Queensland we haven’t seen, so we will have to return some time for another visit.
In a few days time we will be catching our Air Asia flight home to the UK and seeing our family and 3 grandchildren again, with lots of stories to tell them about our visit and what a wonderful time we have spent in Queensland.
Margaret & Duncan, the ‘grey nomads’ signing off!