I will always miss Cooktown!

I will always miss Cooktown!

by Anna Sternfeldt

When talking to backpackers in Australia about their travelling to Far North Queensland many of them visited Cairns and Cape Tribulation and then they turned back south again.

So I decided to continue.

To Cooktown.

A decision that changed my life.

I ended up staying for several years.

But let’s go back to Cape Tribulation where I decided to continue.

First, I did what everyone coming here does. I went to the astounding area where two World Heritage areas are located together.

The rainforest and the barrier reefs.

After this, the guys who I hitchhiked with drove me a bit outside the main activities at Cape Tribulation as they said it would be easier for people to know where I was heading.

When they said this is the place for me to wait for another ride I stared in surprise.

The road disappeared into a creek and coming from Sweden I had never seen anything like this before.

- But the road? I asked.

- It continues on the other side, one of the guys replied.

I looked at the other side. And sure, it was a narrow road on the other side of the creek. The other one of the guys understood my worries, which were actually not so much worries but amazement.

- Don’t worry, everyone who drives here have four wheel drive so they will easily get through the creek.

I digested what he said and took my backpack out of the car. And there I stood all alone in the rainforest, watched the back of the car disappear back south, and said out loud to myself:

- So this is the road to Cooktown.

After this event I have passed through many creeks and rivers. Several of them much deeper and wider than the small creek outside Cape Tribulation.

But still, this is such a dear memory.

Cooktown is a small and sleepy town. The main road is dead quiet at 9 pm on a Saturday evening.

You can without any stressful hustle and bustle stroll along the streets and admire a few beautiful colonial buildings that have survived time and a few cyclones.

If you like busy city life – this is a prison.

If you like astonishing nature – this is heaven.

I never got tired of going up to Grassy Hill, a landmark and lookout point, and watch the meandering mouth of Endeavour River.

There is a bench just before the top and I used to sit there just enjoying the scenery, thinking of James Cook who arrived here in 1770.

Thinking that the landscape here is so pristine, that the river has made its way inland through the mangroves since prehistoric time.

While living in Cooktown I joined a bushwalker group that introduced me to some incredible places in the surroundings.

Places that you never find on your own, because you don’t know where they are, and sometimes you don’t even know they exist.

One outstanding experience was when I got the chance to see a tree kangaroo.

One of these Sunday walks with the bushwalker group someone said as high as he could without yelling.

- There is a tree kangaroo up in that tree!
We all watched up towards the sky in curious anticipation.

Then another person tried to say something as well without yelling, this time with even more astonishment.

- And she has a joey in her pouch!

Wow! Could that really be true? Could we really be that lucky? Yes, we were. High up in the tree top we could see some body parts sticking up.

I can tell, it was a very happy bushwalker group that went back home that day.

Another jewel among the pearls was when we did a trip to some incredible sand dunes.

They were far away from the coast, just inland somewhere, surrounded by tropical forest.

It was aboriginal land so we had to apply for a permit. I think the area was called Gute.

I had earlier seen sand dunes at Elim beach outside Hopevale, a bit north of Cooktown, but this was completely different.

When we arrived, we had a big mountain of sand we have to climb up to enter the area.

The sand rose like a wall in front of us and it was really tough to climb up.

But it was more than worth it!

When we got up over the edge we had a huge area with sand dunes in front of us. It was hard to believe. All these sand in the middle of the bush. And even harder to believe was that in the middle of it all was a lake.

The man who acted like a guide for us, a very knowledgeable local man (actually white), said that there were likely crocodiles in the lake.

What?! So far away from rivers and the sea? Yes. He said that they enter the area during the wet and get caught up during the dry. And he was sure right, because during our endeavours of the area we actually saw some crocodile foot prints.

Much more to be said, but this is just a webpage so I finish by saying:

“If you ever travel north of Cairns, don’t turn back at Cape Tribulation. Continue the road to Cooktown.”

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Jan 13, 2013
Hi Anna
by: Katrin

Thank you so much for your great story!

I am so glad for your decision to brave the road to Cooktown from Cape Tribulation :-)

Not many backpackers would do that, let alone solo, female and hitchhiking. Well done!

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