Cooktown

Old May 27th, 2008, 07:39 AM
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Cooktown

I read somewhere that the road north to Cooktown from Cairns is now completely sealed. Does this mean that rental agencies will now permit passenger cars to travel to Cooktown? If so, I'd be interested in spending a day or two there this July. I assume this would be an interesting trip, though I am not familiar with what the major attractions are around or en route to Cooktown - suggestions?. Are there opportunities for snorkeling the Barrier Reef on a boat out of Cooktown?

Any help would be most appreciated.

(I've written to Budget and Thrifty, but so far only a vague "no" answer from Budget at this point.)
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Old May 27th, 2008, 11:09 AM
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There are two ways to drive to Cooktown, the inside road which is completely sealed and the coast road which isn't. Rental car companies say in their fine print if you can go on the sealed road or not. Check with locals because sometimes it may be closed because of flooding. I wanted to go to Cooktown because my dad had gone there during WWII and because of the Aboriginal tour. We were in Cooktown last October and went on a terrific tour called Guurrbi tours which takes you to some fabulous rock art. I believe they run all year. We were told that many things close down in Cooktown for "the wet" season, so you will have to check. There is an interesting museum about Capt. Cook and also local history. We stayed at the Sovereign Resort Hotel which had good food and very comfortable accommodations. They said they kept some rooms open during the wet season. I think you'd be better off getting a GBR tour out of Cairns or PD because you could get a larger boat. The winds can blow fairly hard during July and the larger boats can handle it. We went on Quicksilver in July because they went to a pontoon. If you don't get seasick, that won't be a problem. Many people love Wavelength, plus there are many other companies. Search this forum for snorkeling GBR or somesuch. BTW, it's a long drive to Cooktown (I think about 6 hours from Port Douglas) so if you go, take that into consideration.
Happy planning!
Sally in Seattle
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Old May 27th, 2008, 03:27 PM
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Ralph, the inland all weather road to Cooktown was completed a couple of years ago so there's no problem with that with a conventional car. As Sally, says the coastal road isn't entirely sealed, but more than that there is no bridge across the Bloomfield River, so a 4WD is necessary to ford that. Also some creek beds to get through, although July is dry season and shouldn't be a problem.

The coastal road (Bloomfield Track) is more scenic, it goes past the rather eerie and strange Black Mountain and everyone has to stop at the Lions Den pub, which has been there since tin mining days. Also the Bloomfield Falls and Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Community not far north of Cape Tribulation. There's often wildlife on the Bloomfield Track and last time was there saw a cassowary (sorry Sally) and a large lace monitor metres from each other.

It takes us about 4and a half hours from Cooktown to Cairns on the inland road, which crosses the Palmer River (proper bridge) and the old goldmining areas which made the port of Cooktown a boom town in the 1800's.

Like Sally, we stay at the Sovereign Hotel (has a good pool) in Cooktown but there's also couple of motels, van park and one or two B&B's.

Strangely, with Cooktown's proximity to Lizard Island, and other reefs, there seems to be a dearth of reef trips from Cooktown. Definitely check with Cooktown tourist office (it has a website).
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Old May 29th, 2008, 02:21 PM
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Thanks Pat and Sally...we're very close to booking an 8-day holiday up north around Cairns. Thrifty allows cars up to Cooktown on the inland road. We will look into the more expensive option of 4 WD so we can do the coast road, which sounds very interesting.

We may do a trip out to the reef but I'd like a different experience this time. We did Quicksilver once before. I'm not so keen to go out on a big cat like that again.

We will likely go out to Undara again...our kids did not come with us on our 1st trip there in 1994. I think they will like it.

Any other suggestions on cool places to visit? We've already seen a lot of the sights in FNQ..the Tablelands, Chillagoe, the Boulders, Dunk Isl, Paronella Park, etc.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 07:12 PM
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Hey, Ralph, Don't get your hopes up even if renting a 4WD--they still won't let you go on the Bloomfield Track )-: Of course, you could go anyway and probably not have a problem, but. . . well, we didn't want to risk it. Have you been to Chillagoe? It was very fun and the Chillagoe Cabins were great with fantastic hosts and delicious food. Gary drove us around one day and we saw so many historical and geologic sites, plus the caves are very interesting. The "golf course" is a hoot! The rock formations around there are very interesting, too. We also went to Laura and went on a fabulous Aborigine-led tour and the little museum is a gem. Basic accommodations in the pub or a campground, but the "premium" or some such title tour was really worth it (booking via the museum http://www.quinkancc.com.au/). RE snorkeling, we were going to go out on Reef Magic re Pat's recc, but the weather didn't cooperate, so we couldn't. It sounds the best to us. Next time.....
Sally in Seattle
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Old May 30th, 2008, 03:50 PM
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Sally, thanks. A little naive here, and I don't have my map in front of me, but is the Bloomfield track the road that connects Cape Trib to Cooktown? Thrifty gave me the impression that 4WD is allowed up to Cooktown along the coast. I will have to clear up that issue before booking.

Also, can you, or anyone else recommend B&B, motel accommodation in Daintree or Cape Trib. We don't want 5 star , but we don't want a rat hole either.

Thanks again!
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Old May 30th, 2008, 07:42 PM
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Yes, Ralph that's the Bloomfield Track which connects Cape Trib to Cooktown. Road is sealed as far north as Cape Trib and as you probably know there's a vehicular ferry over the Daintree River.

Don't know about Thrifty's conditions for 4WD on this road, but do know local company Billabong Car Rentals allows its 4WD's on Bloomfield Track. BUT very steep insurance conditions apply. Billabong say they rent plenty of 4WDs for this trip with very few problems in dry season.

For B&B's in and around Daintree Village, up to Cape Trib and Cooktown see www.bnbnq.com.au and look under heading "North of Cairns". This is an Association website and all operators are reputable locals, but I wouldn't leave booking too much longer as July's a busy time for this area.
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