Cooktown - the gateway to the wilderness - was founded in 1873 as the port for the Palmer River Gold fields. This was more than a century after Captain James Cook spent 48 days in 1770 on the banks of the Endeavor River repairing his ship. Every June the town celebrates Cooktown's status as Australia's first, if brief, European settlement at a Discovery Festival which includes a colourful re-enactment of Cook's landing.
The town itself was later carved out of the Cape York wilderness during the gold rush. Today Cooktown is a living museum of pioneer Australia, A highlight of a visit to Cooktown is an extended tour of the James Cook Museum - built in 1888 as a convent school run by Irish nuns. The Museum documents Cook's voyages, Aboriginal and natural history, the gold rush days and their Chinese legacy. Walking tracks in the area allow for visitors to explore areas of beach, bush and mountains. Closer to town is Grassy Hill where one can share the same view as Captain Cook.