Wallabies, kangaroos, horses, cattle, snakes, the occasional dingo, flooded rivers and creeks. What do they have in common? The Cooktown road! It is now sealed all the way from Cairns to Cooktown travelling through Mareeba, Mt Molloy, Mt Carbine, Palmer River and Lakeland Downs. When our children were all in boarding school it could take us anything up to 14 hours or more to make the trip during the Wet Season. Now it only takes a nifty 4 to five hours. Pretty good, 'ay!
(I respectfully advise Australian Indigenous readers that the continuing article contains reference to a recently deceased Aboriginal person from Cooktown. I apologize for any distress. No offence is intended.)
Returning to Cooktown on this occasion has a 'bitter-sweet' quality. My youngest son aged 37 years is driving me. We are attending the funeral of the brother-uncle of an Aboriginal man who lived with us in Cairns for a considerable time completing his high school education. He then continued on to college, successfully completing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Course. My family and I have known many people from this family. We are sincerely sorry for their loss.
My family and I have lived and worked in Cooktown from 1976 to 1984. My husband and I returned again, living there from 2000 to 2001 when we left due to my husbands terminal illness. We returned in 2002 so my husband could spend his last days there. I left permanently for my own health needs in 2005.
Our children grew through their teenage years in Cooktown. The younger three completed primary years of education at Cooktown State School. At that time there was no high school in Cooktown. Children needed to travel to and from boarding school to complete their education. Our daughters attended St Anne's Anglican Girls School in Townsville, now known as The Cathedral School of St Anne and St James. The boys attended All Souls Anglican School at Charters Towers now known as All Souls St Gabriels School. Our daughters married young men from the Endeavour Valley farming area between Cooktown and Hopevale.
The highlighted links will lead you to some interesting and informative sites. Please do stay a while enjoying your voyage of discovery. The area is rich in Aboriginal history. Captain James Cook berthed the Endeavour on the sand beside the river for approximately two months whilst undertaking repairs to the hull of the Endeavour resulting from running onto a reef.
Clicking on the highlighted links will take you on a spectacular journey of discovery. Thank you for staying here awhile. Please return again soon. You are most welcome.
Sue Bayliss. Cairns, Australia.