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James Cook Museum

50 Helen St, Cooktown QLD 4895
Postal address
50 Helen St, Cooktown QLD 4895
Opening hours
Apr-Oct Mon-Sun 9am-4pm; Nov-Mar Mon-Fri 9.30am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-3pm; Feb closed

Housed in a stunning 19th Century convent building, the James Cook Museum in Cooktown showcases the fascinating history of this remarkable town. The museum follows the story of Captain James Cook’s enforced seven week stay at the Endeavour River, during which the first meaningful contact between Europeans and Indigenous Australians took place, to the days of the Palmer River gold rush, as well as personal stories from Cooktown’s early residents.

The museum’s exhibits are rich and varied. The Endeavour Gallery gives a fascinating insight into the time Cook and his crew spent at the site of modern Cooktown repairing their ship after their catastrophic grounding on nearby Endeavour Reef. The highlight of the gallery is the original anchor and cannon from the Endeavour, jettisoned from the ship in 1770 and only retrieved from the reef in the early 1970s. The Endeavour Gallery not only explores the fight for survival Cook and his men faced on the reef, but also documents the many discoveries made by the scientific team during their stay at the Endeavour River. Integral to Australian history and identity is the interaction between Cook and the

local Guugu Yimithiir people – the most extensive he experienced in Australia – and this story is told from both perspectives.

Other galleries explore the changing face of Cooktown. The galleries on the first floor – former classrooms and the school hall – house objects from pupils and sisters who called the convent home, tales from the Palmer gold rush and a display dedicated to the rich Chinese heritage of the region. The Nun’s cells and student’s dormitories on the upper floor are home to exhibits detailing the strong maritime history of Cooktown and the personal stories and objects from local families who endured hardship, loneliness and isolation but who nevertheless carved out a life in this remote location. The Indigenous Gallery gives a unique insight into the culture and history of the Guugu Yimithiir people.

The museum is surrounded by the Sir Joseph Banks Garden, in which can be found some of the 170 species Banks identified and named in the region in 1770.


Museums & Galleries Queensland
122 Gerler Road
Hendra QLD 4011

t: (07) 3059 9740 / Freecall within QLD: 1800 866 101

ABN: 32 109 874 811
ACN: 109 874 811

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