Where the Bitumen Ends

One of the things that’s been on my list for some time is to ride to Cooktown which is about the furtherest you can travel on the tar heading north on the east coast of Australia. They are currently sealing more of the road north and you will potentially be able to drive on tar all the way to Cape York. I’m sure the hardend adventures won’t like that as it will make the Cape more accessible to everyone.

Cooktown is named after the location where Captain Cook stopped to repair the Endeavour in June 1770 after putting a hole in his ship after hitting the coral reef. Cook and his crew spent 48 days there repairing his ship. Essentially it was the first white settlement location.

Cook’s town as it was called was officially renamed to Cooktown on 1 June 1874.

A few weeks before we left on our trip there was a documentary on the television about Cooktown and its history from both the European and Indigenous perspectives. So I was keen to get up there.

Cooktown is about 300km north of Cairns.


On Monday Russell and I did a quick ride to Cooktown and back. Leaving Cairns before 7am it was a beautiful morning and following the Captain Cook highway along the coastline north of Cairns is always beautiful and at that time in the morning the traffic wasn’t too bad.

From there we turn inland and up the Rex range before turning right ans heading towards the top end.

Rex range lookout

Next stop was Bob’s lookout on the top of a short jump up that felt like a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Bob’s lookout had an amazing view over the plains and surrounding mountains.

Bobs lookout
Passed the Disintegrating Mountain – which looks like a mountain of boulders

And into Cooktown where we spent a couple of hours looking around before heading back to Cairns.

Overlooking Cooktown
Lots of statues and monuments to Cook around town

After a coffee we went in search of local history, but many of the places were closed except for the local museum in an old convent. This had a broad range of artefacts from local indigenous artefacts and paintings depicting when Cook, his ship and crew in 1770 and their interactions with the local indigenous owners of the land. The museum also covers the growth of Cooktown over the years.

Elder presenting Cook with broken spear to symbolise friendship

The museum is certainly worth a visit.

After a quick stop at the Lions Den on the Bloomfield road for a very late lunch we retrace this morning’s route and head back to Cairns.

An interesting pub in the middle of nowhere

Making our way back down the Rex Range I stuck my camera onto Russell’s top box for a different view of me following Russell down the range. It’s a pretty tight little mountains with a lot of 30km/h advisory corners. The big bike takes some wrangling on these types of roads … it’s certainly no sports bike.

Today’s Distance: 666km

Total Distance: 3,616km


Next – The Reef

2 thoughts on “Where the Bitumen Ends

  1. Pingback: And That’s a Wrap | Zed14

  2. Pingback: The Final Push to Cairns | Zed14

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