Cooktown is one of the northernmost places in Queensland Australia that you can reach by rental car. The new highway, completed in 2006 offers sealed road for the entire duration of the trip, which takes about 4 hours.
Road Trip From Cairns On The Inland Route To Cooktown
There is another option for road trippers as well – the coastal route. But beware, you will need a 4wd, and most car rental companies will not allow you to take this route.
So since most of our readers will be renting cars in Cairns (and since we ourselves only rented a 2wd) we will cover the inland route.
Rainforest to Savannah
From Cairns there are two ways to get onto the Mulligan Highway. You can either go through Mareeba, or you can detour through Port Douglas and Mossman. Port Douglas offers lots of great cafe and restaurant stops, and in Mossman you can experience the beginnings of the Daintree Rainforest in the incredible Mossman gorge.
Once you leave Mossman and join the Mulligan Highway you begin winding your way through some hills and incredible scenery. Once you pass through these ranges, the tropical rainforest is suddenly replaced by open savannah.
More And More Savannah
Driving through the savannah, you feel a million miles away from the rainforest you just left. The land is flat, dry and dusty. It’s almost like being in the outback.
the first major point of interest you will come across is Bob’s Lookout, offering a great overview of the harsh savannah.
You will pass through a few small villages, but there really isn’t much out in these parts. There is a small cafe and roadhouse in Lakeland, but your best bet would be to stock up on snacks and drinks before crossing the ranges.
The stop that I found most interesting is Black Mountain. By the time you have reached Black Mountain, you are almost at your destination.
The distinctive black boulders were formed by volcanic activities. The park is full of stories, both aboriginal and European. Some of the most interesting stories tell of people and even whole herds of cattle disappearing into the caverns in the mountain. There are even tales of sightings of a type of marsupial tiger.
Once you pass Black Mountain you are only 24 kilometres from Cooktown, and almost at your destination.