When this year’s Discovery Festival at Cooktown kicked off last week, even the wildlife put on a stunning show to welcome the deluge of visitors.
Spotted on a bank of the Annan River just south of the town in Far North Queensland was Blackie, the five-metre male croc that rules the area.
Last time I visited Cooktown, locals said I’d catch of glimpse of Blackie but he was nowhere to be seen. He didn’t even offer a few bubbles of water to suggest his snout was just below the surface.
This week, however, he was there in full view where I could see him from the safety of a high bank on the opposite side of the river.
Organisers of this year’s Discovery Festival also went above the average water mark with a full weekend of festivities in celebration of James Cook’s landing in 1770.
Located at the mouth of the Endeavour River on Cape York Peninsula, Cooktown is where James Cook beached his ship for repairs after sustaining serious damage on a nearby coral reef.
In 1873, the town was settled as a supply port for the goldfields along the Palmer River. It was known as Cook’s Town until 1874.
Located about 330 kilometres north of Cairns, Cooktown today has a population of about 2500. Numbers swell radically every June for the annual Discovery Festival.
This year’s jam-packed program included activities and events for all ages starting with a Mayor’s Maroon Community Ball on Friday night. The 1RAR Army Band provided the music and again entertained crowds in Anzac Park on Saturday.
Fire dancers, fireworks, buskers, paintball, markets, street parade, helicopter flights, harbour cruises, dancing, workshops, competitions, tours and a wet t-shirt competition were just some of the other highlights.
The festival culminated on Sunday with a costumed re-enactment of James Cook’s historic landing in Bicentennial Park where still in place is the rock to which His Majesty’s Bark Endeavour was tied in 1770.
A huge crowd gathered to watch the impressive show that preceded a ceremonial firing of a full-size cannon by a lucky spectator who won the opportunity in a ticket draw.
Below is a glimpse of festival fun at Cooktown.