Start: Cooktown Caravan Park
End: Cooktown Caravan Park
Distance: 12.75 km
Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Named after Lieutenant James Cook, who in 1770 ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef and limped into what is now Cooktown for repairs, Mount Cook is the highest peek (431m) in the region.
We took this walk to the summit starting at our accommodation in order to take in the town as well as the surrounding natural beauty.
After walking through the streets of Cooktown for around 4km we arrived at the start of the Mount Cook Trail proper. It is actually listed as walk No. 6 of the Scenic Rim Trail, a network of short and medium walks in the area.
As one would imagine, with a mountain hike, the ascent starts immediately from the car park. The trails is well graded for the first section, where at the end there is a rest area with picnic table and a lookout over the township of Cooktown, lovely views up the river and out to the river mouth. This first section is an easy 400m uphill walk for most.
From here, the walk becomes slightly more difficult. The path is ungraded but well signed with yellow/orange triangles nailed to trees at regular intervals, not quite as well known as the red and white paint marks on rocks that you see in Europe but just as effective. The path winds it’s way up to the second lookout under the shade of a wet tropical rain forest, with an abundance of vines clinging to the many varieties of gums, magnificent figs and palms. Butterflies are everywhere and keep an eye out for snakes and lizards as we encountered both in close proximity.
It is worth remembering that it was on this mountain that Cook and Banks encountered and catalogued their first sighting of a kangaroo (derived from the Aboriginal word Gangurru).
Atop one of the many large boulders, a great viewing platform has been constructed to take advantage of the magnificent views out over the reef. Hard to imagine how Cook navigated his way through. The trade winds hit us with force here, taking some of the magic out of capturing good photos, but we took our time and got the occasional lull in the wind to hold the camera steady.
The next section, about another 400m up to the summit is classified as a difficult walk, a good level of fitness is required as the path becomes very steep and on many occasions a rock scramble. At the summit the trail opens up into a clearing with a signal tower over head and just around the corner a viewing platform affording more views across the Coral Sea.
The trek back down is a much quicker affair and a time where the vines and trees became our friend, as we grabbed on tight to keep our balance on the descent.
A magnificent hike for the fit, a great walk to the second viewing platform for the those less adventurous and a good stroll for anyone to the first rest stop overlooking Cooktown.