Cooktown to Cape Tribulation – Daintree National Park

Bloomfield Track, CooktownBloomfield Track Cooktown to Daintree National Park

Taking the coastal road to Cooktown is something that I have wanted to do for a long time and the opportunity presented itself in hitching a ride with two equally eager travellers.

First however we travelled the inland route to Cooktown and decided to take the coastal route back to Port Douglas and then on to Cairns.

This is the account of that journey.

I had some preconceived ideas…

The Bloomfield Track

After reading a number of accounts about this stretch of coastal road between Cooktown and Cape Tribulation known as the Bloomfield Track it’s not surprising I had some preconceived ideas of the journey. 

These descriptions had conjured up the following images;

  • 4 Wheel drive only
  • Comments like – the road is off the planet
  • Narrow dirt track barely wide enough for one vehicle
  • Flooded creeks and causeways
  • Steep hill sides
  • Dense rainforest
  • Spectacular vistas of sweeping coastline
  • Crocodile infested rivers
  • Mangroves lining wide rivers systems

These comments clouded my perception of the journey between Cooktown and Cape Tribulation and fabricated romantic images from many movies I had seen about adventures along treacherous coastlines.

Included in this imagery was meandering red dirt tracks hugging hillsides and exposing secluded bays and sweeping coasts, this didn’t exist along this part of the journey.Coastal Road to Cooktown

Should I clarify it by saying the rainforest was so dense you could barely see any water.

In addition there probably are tracks to remote bays and beaches, but we didn’t investigate them we stayed on the Bloomfield Track.

Sweeping Coastline Cape Tribulation

These sweeping coastline views were to be revealed later between Cape Tribulation and the Daintree River.

A section of the road I had travelled on a number of occasions.

In reality the approximate 80km dirt track from the Wujal Wujal turn off on Developmental Road to Cape Tribulation was all the above and more, we travelled in the dry season so the creeks and water causes were not a problem.

However the dips they produced in the roads would be another matter during the wet season when raging torrents of water were rushing across them.

Before you plan on North Queensland travel   Checking the road condition is a must before travelling on this coastal route.

This is wild country and you don’t want to put yourself in physical danger…

Crocodiles basking on the foreshore

We had the privilege of seeing large crocodiles in the wild, basking on the foreshore of mangrove lined estuary a timely warning of the dangers of wandering off the beaten track and taking note of all the warning signs about not getting close to the water’s edge and that included the beach.

Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they are not there!

Condition of the Road during the dry season

The dirt track was in pretty good condition it was wider than we had thought, a couple of section were narrow but most of the track was ample enough for two vehicles and well graded. However in a couple of sectors exposed rocks were visible which added to a bumpy ride.

There were a number of creek crossings but fortunate for us this was the dry season so there was little water except for the crossing just before Cape Tribulation which came up to the wheel axial.

In addition the dirt track had a couple of very steep ascents that kept us on our toes, we could only imagine how slippery it would be if the weather was wet.

Cape Tribulation Beach

Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park

Secluded bays and deserted beaches, along with sweeping coastline best describes this section of the coastal road from Cooktown to the Cape, not quite in civilisation so to speak but yet luxury rainforest accommodation along with backpacker style lodgings are hidden behind the rainforest canopy lining the road, giving the location a feeling of mystery and isolation.

By this stage we were ready to take a break have a spot of lunch but not before we checked out the beach but again be careful… warning signs of crocs are ever present in the area so please heed them.

The last leg of this coastal route is at the Daintree River Crossing, here is where you pay your fee and travel on the ferry for a couple of minutes till you reach the other side and back on the road to Port Douglas and Cairns.

Before you plan on North Queensland travel – ‘the coastal Road’ check the conditions with the authorities and take note of the advice given.Signage on the road to Cooktown

Grassy Hill – Cooktown Far North Queensland

 The Grassy Hill Cooktown

Cooktown- Grassy Hill

Only having a couple of days holiday in Cooktown limited us to what we could do, however the Grassy Hill over looking Cooktown in far north Queensland was our first port of call.

While researching Google maps online before arriving I had it in mind that you could see it from the town, like a Grassy Hill…all I could see were hills with dense vegetation on them.

None the less it was there and after speaking to a local about its location it was pointed out that it was behind the densely covered hill.

 Magnificent view from the Famous Grassy Hill

View from GrassyHill CooktownSmall

Just a couple minutes drive up Green Street behind the Sovereign Resort Hotel were the magnificent views of Cooktown and home to famous Grassy Hill. Unfortunately the photos and video doesn’t do it justice, it didn’t look real. The soft colours of the Endeavour River and the Coral Sea were quite remarkable. From this vantage point you can see

  • The Endeavour River
  • Cherry Tree Bay
  • Finch Bay
  • Mount Cook
  • Cooktown below

The white and red Lighthouse was apparently built in England and transported to Cooktown and erected in 1885, it was manned many years ago but now it is automated.

While gazing upon this stunning view we saw what we thought was a crocodile in the sea, after seeing crocs basking on muddy riverbanks on the way up from Cairns we seemed to be fixated on them, however after straining our eyes and using the video camera like a pair of binoculars, we came to the conclusion it was a log.

The soft colours of the Endeavour River and the Coral Sea were quite remarkable

The best times to soak up the view on Cooktown’s famous Grassy Hill is sunrise and sunset, where beautiful far north Queensland puts on a wonderful show for all those ready to observe. Unfortunately time didn’t permit us to enjoy this opportunity, which was a little disappointing however it just means another trip to beautiful far north Queensland to see this spectacular view at sunset, perhaps with a picnic.

Walking to the Grassy Hill and LighthouseLight House - Cooktown

You can walk up this stretch of road to the Grassy Hill, however it is tarred road and steep, I wouldn’t be attempting it on a sizzling summer day.

However during the cooler months it would be a great hike for those who enjoy exploring, but if it’s summer I suggest you drive up to the car park.

Hiking to Cherry Tree Bay and Finch Bay were next on our agenda…