what's the best way to take from Cairns to Cooktown?
There are two roads - the coastal, and the inland road.
The coastal road
is green and
tropical, goes through some touristy and quite busy places like
Daintree and Cape Tribulation, and is all fine until there.
After Cape Tribulation it is only partly sealed, steep in places, and you need high clearance
to drive through Bloomfield River in case the waters are high.
If it wasn't for that, the coastal road would be better, it is less
remote and even about 50km shorter than the inland way.
But as it is, the inland
although longer, and with longer distances between the few roadhouses
and small outback towns, is after all sealed all the way, and the road
is good for any two wheel drive.
So in that sense the
inland road really is better. It goes inland from Cairns
over Kuranda range and continues north after Mareeba.
is a lovely city, and if you are not coming back to this part of
Australia, I really recommend to spend a few days in Cairns.
tropical, colourful and relaxed, and at the very least you should use
it as a base for a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, and try some local
The Inland Cairns Cooktown Road
To get inland from Cairns, you cross the Great Dividing Range on a road
that winds up to the mountains and then back
down in the other end.
Up in the middle of it is the Rainforestation
Wildlife Park, and the lovely small rainforest village Kuranda,
worth a stop.
Not long after Kuranda the mountain range and the rainforest end, and
you drive past the small township of Speewah
centre of the surrounding mango, coffee and dairy farms - all open for
The free and excellent Mareeba museum is also worth a stop.
After that you are off
the Kennedy Highway and driving the Mulligan
The Coastal Cairns Cooktown
First you pass by the Cairns northern beaches and then the beautiful
coastal road between Wangetti and Craiglie, southern Port Douglas.
you have some sugar cane fields around Mossman, and later a few
beaches. And then you enter the Daintree rainforests, Daintree Village
and Cape Tribulation.
Tribulation to Bloomfield
From Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield is the so-called 'hardest' bit,
as hard as it's been made to sound. There
are steep bits, there are creek crossings, and yes it's the first bit
you have unsealed. But it's still a road, not a four wheel
track like the neighbouring CREB
Track that starts in Daintree Village.
After Wujal Wujal and Bloomfield, the road gets better and is now
(2014) almost completely sealed. You first drive through the small
community Ayton with some
beaches, bays and the mouth of Bloomfield
River. Then you drive through Cedar Bay National Park, and later the
small communities Rossville and Helenvale.
Helenvale has the famous pub Lions Den Hotel, and also the Mungumby
After that you come out to Mulligan Highway south
and drive past the Black Mountain National Park, then the turnoffs to
Archer Point and Trevethan Falls, and then Annan River and
national park before you come to Cooktown.
north of Bloomfield is the small town of Ayton - named after
the town in England where Captain James Cook grew up.
Today there is not a lot, except a few historical markers
and signs, but once upon a time there was more.
It was all Kuku Yalanji
country, more exactly the Yalanji, the Jalunji and the
Kuku Nyungkul subgroups.
In 1819, the river was named after a British Lieutenant, Bloomfield. Then
there was some history of trepangers and blackbirding..
1882, a south Queensland sugar cane farmer Fredrich George Bauer bought
some land in the area of Weary Bay, and started a large sugar cane farm
hundreds of workres building a mill, a railway and all the rest needed
for the Bloomfield Sugar
Co to operate, Ayton became and lasted as a
thriving town for 15 years before it was understood that the sugar was
not bringing in enough for its operation.
the late 1890s, the sugar mill was sold, and moved to Bundaberg, and
was practiced, including tobacco, coffee, tea and
was also a lot of red
cedar growing in the area, so during the days of
the red gold rush
lots of timber was moved down to Townsville to build
the sons of Fredrich George Bauer established the Bloomfield Mission,
which since 1964 is the Wujal
Wujal Aboriginal community.
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