Cooktown Cuisine and Crocodiles – Cape York, Queensland

We were lurking in the cemetery (as one does), ducking around the headstones and under trees in a vain attempt to escape the sweeping drizzle. Another half hour and the secrets of the fascinating historical figures interred in the Cooktown cemetery – the Chinese community shrine, the strange saga of Mary Watson of Lizard Island, the identity of the ‘Normanby Woman’ – could have been ours. BUT … the mysteries of this frontier town on Cape York will have to wait for another day. Ah well, it’s not called the ‘Wet Tropics’ for nothing!

“You don’t look happy,” my mate remarked, his powers of observation clearly sharpened by our extreme tourism adventure.

Well … I thought. EXCUUUUUSE me for not beaming like a lighthouse while trudging the 2km back to the car through the blinding drizzle, trying not to look like a wet T-shirt competition contestant. But, I smiled and thought of the bakery just down the road.

The Cooktown Bakery is a microcosm of the towns multicultural heritage. As well as mighty fine baked goods (go back for the ‘Ned Kelly’ pie and Rocky Road slice), it contains a variety of other cuisines including Chinese takeaway, Golden Fried Chicken (rural version of KFC), sandwiches, pizza and sushi! There’s also a milk bar – and perhaps the only reason the Italian Pizza/Pasta/Thai restaurant isn’t housed under the same roof is that there’s no more room.

Our first attempt to patronise the Botanic Gardens cafe was foiled by the Queensland Governor General’s visit, conveniently timed for morning tea. Protocol demanded that staff were not to address her directly, which seems curious, even senseless in an area where the odds of encounters with snakes, spiders, green tree ants, leeches and cane toads are higher than average. How would one advise her of impending danger? Slip her minders a note? BUT … I guess she deserves our pity as protocol, pomp and circumstance will never allow her to sample the delights of the Cooktown Bakery…

The yellow warning signs at nearly every beach, river and creek crossing remind one of the ever present danger of crocodiles in this wilderness area. We stayed at the Endeavour Falls Tourist Park – 32 km northwest of Cooktown in a spectacular rural setting, so idyllic the grounds are thick with birds and butterflies, copulating merrily amongst the 800+ palms. But the waterfall and its pools lost their ‘croc free’ status with a recent sighting downriver – and a crocodile actually took a tourist further down the Endeavour river a couple of years ago, so no one’s taking any chances. At least the barramundi in the aquarium at the shop has no teeth!

After locating a couple of Telstra ‘NOT’ spots, my travelogue is a bit behind – but it’s good to be back on line! See you again soon!!

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