Those wanting to learn the legacy of Cooktown’s namesake will find everything they need and more at the James Cook Museum, devoted to preserving the town’s rich history and heritage. Housed in the painstakingly restored 19th-century Sisters of Mercy convent building, the museum tells the story of how Cook and his 86-strong crew spent 48 days marooned on the Northern Queensland shore in 1770, as they repaired their ship, the HMS Endeavour.
Exhibitions detail the fateful events of Cook’s stay, including the repairing of the Endeavour, the early encounters between the British explorers and Australian Aboriginals, and the first sightings of native Australian animals like kangaroos and dingos. Additional galleries cover Cooktown’s history, from the heritage of the indigenous Guugu Yimithiir people to the 19th century Palmer River gold rush, and the role of Chinese immigrants. Highlights include the Endeavour’s original anchor and cannon, and a series of personal stories and artifacts from local families, as well as a terrace café and gift shop.