Cooktown - Fishing, Camping and 4WDing

Planning a trip to Cooktown? Check out the rest of this page to find out about the best fishing, camping and 4x4 spots, local waterfalls, tourist attractions, businesses around town and to see some great photos of the area. Heading south from this area you can visit the Daintree or Cairns. If you are taking a tour or your own 4x4 north you can visit Lakefield National Park, Eastern Cape York, the Old Coach Road, Cape Melville and Bathurst Bay, the Weipa Area, the Old Telegraph Track or the Northern Peninsula Area. Travelling west you can pick up the Savannah Way and make your way into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

View of the Endeavour River from the Cooktown Jetty.

Photo: The town wharf is a great land based fishing spot.

Cooktown is a beautiful little town with a gorgeous coastline, friendly locals, plenty of history and heaps to see and do. This prosperous little town has a swimming pool (on Charles Street), golf course (Quarantine Bay Rd, 5km south of town), lawn bowls club (on the Esplanade), post office, hospital (Hope St) 07 4069 5433, police station (Charlotte St) 4069 5688, the Cooktown Holiday Park, the Sovereign Resort Hotel, Cooktown Cruises and most of your shopping requirements. Local markets are held every Saturday morning at the Bicentennial Waterfront Park.

Cooktown Wharf is a great land based fishing spot.

Photo: View over the Endeavour River from the town wharf.

Some of the local attractions include:

Grassy Hill Lookout and Lighthouse - 15’27’647 S, 145’15’312 E. Walk or drive to the lookout and lighthouse via Green Street for spectacular views over the Endeavour River and Coral Sea. Plan to head up to the lookout at low tide on a clear day and you will be able to see exposed sections of the Great Barrier Reef (take your binoculars or sight glass for the best view). This is how Lt James Cook is believed to have planned and mapped his way through the reef when leaving the area. On your way up to the lookout, about halfway up the hill you will see a walking track off to the RHS. This enjoyable track leads to Cherry Tree Bay, Finch Bay and through to the Botanic Gardens.

Looking over the Endeavour River from Grassy Hill Lookout

Photo: View over town and the Endeavour River from Grassy Hill Lookout

Cooktown Botanic Gardens - Dating back to the 1880’s the Botanic Gardens (15’28’317 S, 145’15’477 E) has a variety of plants and gardens, rock pools, picnic tables, toilets and the Information Centre. The gardens are on the eastern side of town and can be accessed via Walker Street.

Finch Bay - Located at the end of Walker Street 1km past the Botanic Gardens is this pretty little bay (15’28’359 S, 145’15’775 E). Parking area just back from the beach, toilets and walking tracks.

Quarantine Bay - To get to this picturesque bay (15’29’518 S, 145’16’485 E) turn east off the Mulligan Highway 5km south of Cooktown onto Quarantine Bay Road and follow for 4km to the parking area that has toilets, bins and a beach launch. Enjoy the view over the coastline as you drop down off the hill while driving into the bay.

Bicentennial Waterfront Park - Between the Esplanade and the bank of the Endeavour River in the centre of town this lovely park has well maintained lawns, BBQ’s, picnic tables, toilets, tap water and a kids playground. You will find an oil dump facility, toilets and cold showers on the service road between the boat ramp and Wharf.

Keetings Lagoon Conservation Park - The parking area for the 1.5km walking track and bird hide is 300m off the Mulligan Highway 4km south of Cooktown (15’30’453 S, 145’13’710 E)

Photo: Archer Point Conservation Park

Archer Point CP - Archer Point Conservation Park is a very scenic and easily accessible coastal spot. You will find numerous tracks around the headland (some require a 4x4 or high clearance vehicle), one of which leads to the Lighthouse on Archer Hill 15’35’619 S, 145’19’712 E. At only 70m above sea level you will be amazed by the spectacular view from the lighthouse.

To get to the conservation park turn east off the Mulligan Highway 15’35’504 S, 145’14’262 E (15km S of Cooktown, 63km NE of Lakeland) and follow the sign posted road for 11km to Archer Point 15’36’208 S, 145’19’581 E.

Black Mountain - Standing proudly to the east of the Mulligan Highway about 25km south of town this interesting rock formation can be viewed from the lookout on the eastern side of the highway (15’39’005 S, 145’13’273 E). While you are pulled up take the time to read the information boards that describe how the mountain formed, the dangers the rocks pose and what this formation means to the local aboriginals.

Photo: View of Black Mountain from Mount Amos Road

Trevethan Falls - This spectacular waterfall is an ideal spot for a half day trip from town or Archer Point Conservation Park. Take a refreshing swim in the hole below the falls or enjoy a bite to eat under the shade of the large gum trees on the bank of Trevethan Creek.

To get to the falls turn east off the Mulligan Highway 15’36’842 S, 145’13’260 E (3.2km south of the Archer Point turnoff) onto Mt Amos Road and follow for 9.7km then take the track to the right 15’39’368 S, 145’17’514 E. 4x4 Recommended for the 3.7km off Mt Amos Road or enjoy the walk in. After leaving Mt Amos Road take track to the right after 500m and track to the left after 2.9km. It is 3.7km from Mt Amos Road to the parking area and short track to the falls 15’40’900 S, 145’16’714 E At the time of writing falls were signposted from Mt Amos Rd.

Photo: The gorgeous creek below Trevathan Falls

Fishing Tips and Spots

Annan River - This is a great river for small boat owners to target mud crabs, mangrove jacks, bream, grunter, fingermark, trevally and queenfish. Heading upstream from the ramp you will find a rock bar on the first corner that holds fish or work the deep bends, snags and sandbars. Heading downstream you won’t find a lot of fishing opportunities until you get close to the mouth of the river where you will find Saltwater Creek on the northern side and the Esk River on the southern side. These two smaller estuaries are easier to fish and they provide protection from the wind. It is not uncommon to see fish feeding on the shallow sand flats around the mouth of the river around the bottom half of the tide. If the winds are down Dawson and Cowlishaw Reefs are an option and they are both less than 5nm from the mouth of the Annan. The old bridge is easy to access and a good land based fishing spot. Walk along the bridge flicking lures towards the pylons of the new bridge or drift a live or fresh bait under the new bridge on the incoming tide.

Cooktown - This picturesque little town at the mouth of the Endeavour River has something to offer most anglers. The Great Barrier Reef starts around 10nm from the mouth of the Endeavour so this is an option for medium and large boat owners when the sea is calm enough to get out (the wet season/summer months usually provide better conditions than winter, when the trade south-easterly winds rarely let up). The Endeavour River is a good system for mangrove jacks, grunter, barra, trevally, bream and mud crabs. Working the smaller creeks that run into the main system is a good option. Look for snags, deep bends and signs of bait fish.

Land based fishing can be first class around town. The jetty and the banks from here around the southern edge of the river mouth produce catches of queenfish, trevally, mackerel, barramundi, mangrove jacks and various other species. The school mackerel come in chasing sardines/herring that congregate around the wharf during the winter months. Use a bait jig to catch the herring from the wharf and use them fresh as they are a great bait. Barramundi, spanish mackerel and large trevally are more likely to be caught from the wharf and rocky headlands during the build up to the wet season (October - January).

Annan River Bridge is a great land based fishing spot.

Photo: The Annan River Bridge is a top land based fishing spot.

Boat Ramps

Annan River - North side of the Annan River Bridge 6km south of Cooktown. 15’31’261 S, 145’13’395 E

Endeavour River - On the Esplanade. Two separate single lane concrete ramps. 15’27’651 E, 145’14’978 E

Marton Boat Ramp - 9.5km north of Cooktown at the southern side of Marton. East off Starke Street onto Slaughteryard Road. Ramp on RHS. 15’27’522 S, 145’11’607 E

Local Businesses & Magazine Stockists

Sovereign Resort Hotel - Corner Charlotte & Green Streets, P: 07 4043 0500 F: 07 4069 5582

The Lure Shop Cooktown - 142 Charlotte Street, 07 4069 5396

Cooktown Holiday Park - 31-41 Charlotte Street, 07 4069 5417

Cape York Tyres & Mechanical - Charlotte Street, Cooktown, 07 4069 5233

Cooktown Adventure Camping & Scenic Tours - 0488 986 394 or 07 4069 5889

Cooktown Newsagency - 98 Charlotte Street, 07 4069 5197


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Sovereign Resort Hotel - Cnr Charlotte & Green Streets, Cooktown. 07 4043 0500 .

The Lure Shop - 142 Charlotte St. 07 4069 5396

Cooktown Holiday Park - 31-41 Charlotte Street, Cooktown. 07 4069 5417 .

Cape York Tyres & Mechanical - Charlotte Street, Cooktown, 07 4069 5233

Cooktown Adventure Camping & Scenic Tours - 0488 986 394 or 07 4069 5889

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