Cooktown Festival


Cooktown Festival is one of the best events in Cape York.

Along with Laura Dance Festival and
Torres Strait Cultural Festival it is definitely one of the three best events on the Cape York peninsula.

The three day festival is held on Queen's birthday weekend in June, and its absolute highlight is the annual re-enactment of James Cook's landing, and the events that followed during his eight week stay.


The costumes, and the actors are fantastic, and also include the local Bama Aboriginal People.


But what else is at Cooktown Festival?

   cooktown festival parade

There is the annual Grand Parade, ...

   cooktown festival parade 4wds

with four wheel drives,

   cooktown festival 2014

... kids, and Bama - the local Aboriginal people.

   cooktown festival parade 2014

There are themed breakfasts, raffles, amusement rides, market stalls, ...

   cooktown festival markets

... family movie, kids activity tents, and lots of fun in Lions Park.

   cooktown festival lions park

There is lots of fun at the pubs, ..

   cooktown festival 2013

... including crab and cane toad races,

   cooktown festival crab races

... banana, pie,

   cooktown festival pie eating competition 

... and pasta eating competitions (not allowed to use hands),

   cooktown festival pasta eating competition

... and live music.

   cooktown festival live music 

Other competitions are in the streets, in front of the pubs,

   cooktown festival tug of war

... including the annual Billy Kart Derby, Tug of War, truck pulling, Wet Tshirt and Wet Jock Competition (LOL it was late and I was already in bed but I was laughing loud just hearing the crowds :-).


   cooktown festival truck pulling competition

There are historical walks (Cemetery, Botanical Gardens) and talks (Gold rushes, Chinese), ...

   cooktown festival chinese history talk

... other speeches, ...

   cooktown festival speech

... sea plane and helicopter flights, ...

   cooktown festival helicopter flights

... gold panning, ...

   cooktown festival gold panning

.. cannon firing, ...

   cooktown festival cannon firing

... and fantastic performances by belly dancers as well as by the local Bama Aboriginal People, with some great artwork for body painting.

   cooktown festival aboriginal dancing

And of course, the
Cooktown Festival fireworks..

   cooktown festival fireworks

But one thing that you won't see anywhere else except at the Cooktown Festival, is the re-enactment.

   cooktown festival re-enactment

It starts with the re-enactment of a traditional gathering the way Aboriginal culture was around the time of James Cook's arrival.

   aboriginal history

Then, James Cook steps into the scene (the whole thing is actually more detailed but here is a short version).

   captain james cook

After a while, the traditionally clothed Aboriginals go checking the ship out..

   aboriginal clothing

... and find they have a sea turtle onboard, which is Aboriginal food.

   aboriginal food

They don't like it so there is a confrontation in which Cook's men take their spears.

   aboriginal weapons

Captain James Cook later returns the Aboriginal weapons, making peace.

   james cook

Once the ship is fixed the Cook's crew takes off ...

   joseph banks

... and stop at Possession Island to claim eastern Australia for England. (Joseph Banks is putting the flag up)

   possession island

Cooktown Festival is great, it was one of the better weekends I have lately had.






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

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

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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 ;-)



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