Cairns to Cooktown


So 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 road, 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.

cairns queensland australia

Cairns
Cairns 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

It's 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 seafood restaurants.

The Inland Cairns Cooktown Road

kuranda australia

Kuranda
To get inland from Cairns, you cross the Great Dividing Range on a road through rainforests 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, which is worth a stop. 

mareeba shire

Mareeba
Not long after Kuranda the mountain range and the rainforest end, and you drive past the small township of Speewah towards Mareeba - the centre of the surrounding mango, coffee and dairy farms - all open for visitors.
The free and excellent Mareeba museum is also worth a stop.

After that you are off the Kennedy Highway and driving the Mulligan Highway to Cooktown.

The Coastal Cairns Cooktown Road

cairns to cape tribulation

Cairns to Daintree
First you pass by the Cairns northern beaches and then the beautiful coastal road between Wangetti and Craiglie, southern Port Douglas.

Then 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.

bloomfield road

Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield
From Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield is the so-called 'hardest' bit, although not 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 drive track like the neighbouring CREB Track that starts in Daintree Village.
 

rossville bloomfield road

Bloomfield to Helenvale
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.



lions den

Helenvale to Cooktown
Helenvale has the famous pub Lions Den Hotel, and also the Mungumby Lodge.
After that you come out to Mulligan Highway south of Cooktown, 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
.

Ayton

Just north of Bloomfield is the small town of Ayton - named after the town in England where Captain James Cook grew up.

   ayton 

Today there is not a lot, except a few historical markers and signs, but once upon a time there was more.

   ayton australia

It was all Kuku Yalanji country, more exactly the Yalanji, the Jalunji and the Kuku Nyungkul subgroups.

   ayton beach

In 1819, the river was named after a British
Lieutenant, Bloomfield. Then there was some history of trepangers and blackbirding..

   ayton weary bay

In 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 - Vilele.

   ayton history

After 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.

   ayton historical marker

In the late 1890s, the sugar mill was sold, and moved to Bundaberg, and other agriculture was practiced, including tobacco, coffee, tea and tropical fruits.  

   ayton bloomfield hall

There 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 Charters Towers.

   ayton oval

Later, the sons of Fredrich George Bauer established the Bloomfield Mission, which since 1964 is the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal community.






Plan Your Trip... the FREE Cape York Travel Pocket Guide

cape york travel

Get this 50 pages guide totally for FREE. It contains information that helps you getting started with planning of your trip. You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you should take, how to get there and get around, where to stay (general info), what will it cost.. and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.


Bring to the Trip... the full Visit Cape York Destination Guide

visit cape york

This complete 300 pages travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks, at least 30 guaranteed FREE camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to the Cape), at least 40 best swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things - from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception, how to deal with the national parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery gear by my partner Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old Telegraph Track). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)



If you liked the books or this website, let others know about it! 

Link to it from your website, your blog, your forum post... Share it on Facebook, Tweet about it...



Every link helps other travellers!

Thank you for doing the right thing and letting others know :-)







Latest Pages

Notice Board

Ask a Question

YOUR Adventure

YOUR Cape Memories


Keep yourself updated
on the latest -
weather, roads,
free travel tips,
and get the
FREE Cape York
Pocket Guide!


Email

Name

Then


Don't worry - your email address is totally secure.
I use it only to send you the Cape York News.

western cape eco tours

cape york mechanics

cooktown river cruises and dinghy hire

west coast hotel cooktown

cape york businesses


A little off the most beaten track, but you can still get some of these into your annual leave length of a trip (you can get most if you have all the details to plan right):

You find them all in the Site Map, along with all the other pages on the site and many more great gems :-)

Old Coach Road

old coach road

Frenchmans Track

frenchmans track

CREB Track

creb track

Falls Track

falls track

Starcke Wakooka Track

starcke wakooka track

Bathurst Head

bathurst head

Running Creek Track

running creek track

Silver Plains

silver plains

Old Coen Track

old coen road

Pennefather

pennefather

Stones Crossing

stones crossing


Skardon River

skardon river

Jardine River Ford

jardine river ford

Ussher Point

ussher point

Sadd Point

sadd point

Mutee Head and Jardine Mouth


mutee head

Escape River and Newcastle Bay 

escape river

Five Beaches Track


beaches loop road

Roko Island Pearl Farm

roko island

Friday Island Pearl Farm

friday island