Our family visit to Cooktown

Our family visit to Cooktown, based in the Cape York Peninsular was a lovely experience. The town is historic for Captain James Cook beaching his ship in Cooktown in 1770. Then staying for repairs, which is where the town gets its name. Cooktown is a small, regional town with a population less than 3,000!

Our family visit to Cooktown was more than we expected it to be. On the face of it, it doesn’t look like there is really much to do. However, we spent 5 nights there and we had more than enough to fill the days.

Awesome Splash zone for our family trip to Cooktown

On the day we arrived in Cooktown, we pulled up (towing the caravan) at the waterfront. We had initially planned to spend a bit of time in Cooktown that day and head to Archer Point. But we had a last-minute change of plan and decided to stay local and spend more time in Cooktown.

Our family trip to Cooktown began at 9.15am at the Splash Zone. This was perfect during that hot morning for Ava. We had got up early and buckled Ava straight into the car to leave Isabella Falls before people started to arrive. So, for her to run around for an hour or so was perfect.


We read online that the water is turned on at 10am. We had already warned Ava of this and that we may have to have a mooch about for an hour until it opens. However, when we arrived at 9.15 it was all operating perfectly! Just make sure you press the button on the small podium and the water should come on. So, if you’re there too early, just head down and check it out first!


One thing to bear in mind is there is no shade at all. So, midday is probably not the best time to visit and make sure you wear sunscreen! The splash zone is small but perfect for a few kids. With buckets of water filling up and turning over, a couple animals spraying water. Ava particularly liked the Frog! It also had 2 fixed water pistols that turned so you could spray others in the splash zone too. Richard and Ava played with those together.


The Splash zone is right on the waterfront, so it is a lovely place to spend some time watching the children. There are both toilets and changing rooms there which is very convenient for sorting the kids out etc!

Highly recommend the splash zone in Cooktown, Ava had a blast!

Google Maps Link to Cooktown Splash Zone 

Grassy hill lookout

Grassy Hill lookout is the perfect place to view Cooktown. The views are stunning. You can clearly see the mouth of the Endeavour River, where the river meets the Coral Sea. The day we went the wind was particularly bad, so we all had to keep hold of our hats! One lady told us to hold Ava’s hand so she wouldn’t ‘blow away!’


Ava loved looking at the lighthouse at the top. It’s only small but she was keen for a photo! There are some picnic tables at the top and the views are stunning. At the top there is just 1 disabled space, a lot of people were still driving up and getting out and having a look for a few minutes before driving back down to the parking spots. However, we just parked in the allocated spaces and walked up. The hill is steep but short so wasn’t too bad at all.


The views from the parking area were our favourite. It just looked so calm and picturesque!


Whilst driving back down we did see a handful of people who had parked right at the bottom and walked up! I would imagine that being a tough walk and wouldn’t recommend it with small children. There also isn’t really a walking path so you’d be walking up the windy, steep road.


Google Maps Link to Grassy Hill Lookout

Mount Cook lookout and walking track

Ava loves going on bush walks. She really enjoys finding leaves and sticks and pretending they’re wings and ‘flying’ everywhere. A bush walk is right up her street. We are slowly trying to increase the length of our bush walks to help build up her walking stamina. Hopefully we’ll be able to do some much longer hikes in future.


The Mount Cook walking track (up to the first lookout) is just 1.8km return. Being a bush walk it is not accessible to pushchairs or wheelchairs. You can park right at the start of the walk. There is space for 2 to 3 cars. We were the only ones there at the time so I’m not sure how busy it can get.


The bush walk consists of lots of stairs and hilly parts. It’s mostly muddy so it wouldn’t be great if there had been a lot of rain. Being a bush walk, it was mostly shaded. We made sure we were all ready with our sun cream on as we went up in the middle of the day. However, it was probably not needed!


The Mount Cook Lookout was fantastic. It was certainly worth the walk. As you arrive at the lookout there is a picnic table which had a metal fence around it. Ava decided making ‘music’ was a good idea by running around it with a stick. We can honestly say, it wasn’t music!

The lookout has a viewing platform for you to lookout from. The views looked over Cooktown and the surrounding areas. It’s such a beautiful, green part of Australia.

When you reach the lookout, you’ll see you can carry on and head further up Mount Cook. However, we stopped at the first one. There was a sign showing the length of walk to the next one which was too far for us with Ava. But also, it explained the risks of the next part of the walk and for us, the cliff edges made us question whether it was a good idea with a 3 year old. So, we didn’t risk it.

This is a walk worth doing. Not too far, beautiful views and such fun for little ones!

Black Mountains

After leaving Cooktown, we decided to stop at the Black Mountains lookout point. We had out 19.6ft caravan in tow. The layby was large enough to pull in and stop for a few minutes and then it was easy enough to pull back onto the road via the exit further up.

The lookout was lovely. The Black Mountains are made up of lots of black rock which you don’t see everyday so they were a little more unusual. This is definitely worth a stop on your way past.

Google Maps Link to Black Mountains Lookout

Botanic Gardens and Finch bay

We spent a good part of our day in the Cooktown Botanic Gardens and Finch Bay. I have written a separate blog on this experience. Just click the link below to check it out.

Cooktown Botanic Gardens and Finch Bay

Overall, our family visit to Cooktown was fantastic. We spent the best part of a week there and had the weather held out we would have spent another couple of nights there. Having large rig spaces to park right by the water was a plus point and everything was just so family friendly. From the local park, splash zone to climbing Mount Cook. We all had a really lovely time and would recommend Cooktown to anyone who gets the chance to visit. Thank you for reading our blog on ‘Our family trip to Cooktown’.


’til next time…


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Here are a couple of other blogs you may be interested in:

Crystal Cascades 

Isabella Falls and Free camping area

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