Cook – An Australian Ghost Town – Photo Essay

By | June 6, 2012 at 9:44 am | 30 comments | Australia, Great Australian Overland Adventure, Jade, Oceania, Photos | Tags: , , ,

By Jade Johnston

826 kilometers by rail to the closest town, and located on one of the longest stretches of rail in the world, Cook Australia is a ghost town. Built in 1917, the town was originally founded as a support town for the railway. When the railway was privatized, and the companies no longer required these services, Cook’s main industry was lost.

The town now supports a population of about 4 people, who comprise the one last family who has decided to stay in Cook. Even though these residents are hundreds of kilometers from any other community, they say they do not feel isolated. With television, telephone, and internet communications, the residents still manage to feel connected despite their remote location.

The only realistic way to visit Cook is via the Indian Pacific rail journey with Great Southern Rail. Cook is the main rest stop for passengers between Adelaide and Perth.

Wandering around what remains of the village of Cook is a photographers dream. Old painting peel off of buildings in the sun, relics from the past sit out in plain sight, and a clear example of how the population of Cook had to make due with their own ingenuity and creativity shines through in everything.

Rusted cars sit abandoned in Cook

The country club looks much older than it's claimed founding in 2006


Activities available at the Cook Country Club

Old jail cells at Cook

This post was made possible by Great Southern Rail. Visit their website to find out about the great Australian rail journeys that they offer.

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About the Author

Jade Johnston

Jade is a freelance travel writer from Manitoba Canada. She loves travel and meeting new people has lived in 6 countries and travelled to more than 30. She prefers to travel slowly - taking overland transit or working/ volunteering in the countries she visits. Her motto is that she might never return to this place again, so she has to try to soak up as much as possible. To learn more about the OurOyster project, Google + : Jade Johnston's Google You can also shoot her an email at


  1. Ayngelina (2 years ago)

    You are right, a total photographers dream. Great photos.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Thanks! I had an awesome time running around being snap happy!

  2. Ellie (2 years ago)

    It seems to be a very nice place. Too bad that there are not much inhabitants in the town.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I think the reason for that is because it is so isolated

  3. Christy @ Technosyncratic (2 years ago)

    I’m fascinated by the family that has chosen to live there! If they’re hundreds of kilometers away from anyone else, how do they get mail? Or groceries?

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Everything comes through on the train…. they are totally reliant on the Indian Pacific… it is unreal!

  4. Larissa (2 years ago)

    Great photos. Spookily beautiful. We never got to the Nullaboor, but it reminds us of our drive through the area around Broken Hill: Images from an Outback Roadtrip

    Thanks for the memories!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I just passed through Broken Hill recently as well…. I couldn’t get enough of Silverton

  5. Larissa and Michael (2 years ago)

    Great photos–spookily beautiful! Reminds us of our road trip through the area around Broken Hill:

    Thanks for the memories!

  6. Changes In Longitude (2 years ago)

    Love ghost towns so I love this post. We had a chance to drive someone’s car across the Nullabor last year but it fell through. Maybe another time.

    You might be interested in a story we wrote about a ghost town in Pennsylvania ,USA that had to be abandoned due to an out-of-control underground coal mine fire. I link to it below in the CommentLuv.



    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Sounds like it is right up my alley! I will have to check it out!

  7. Laura (2 years ago)

    You are a great photographer..I like the photo you share..

  8. Angela (2 years ago)

    Wow – this is so weird, 4 people?? I’m guessing it’s parents and 2 kids? Will the kids go to study or get married somewhere? I would love to know the reasons why they stayed and also the reasons why everybody else left, even though they were far from other cities they could just improve and make bigger their own..

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      The kids are now grown and they seem to spend half of their time in the cities working, and then come back to Cook for the other half of the year… I guess they just love the isolated bush lifestyle

  9. Bobbi Lee Hitchon (2 years ago)

    This place definitely looks fun to photograph, but depressing to spend more than a day in.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I think the best way to visit it is on the Indian Pacific, because they stop for just the right amount of time so that you can wander around and have a look

  10. Sandra Foyt (2 years ago)

    That is truly desolate! We’ll be passing through ghost towns as we drive around the US this summer, will be curious to compare.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      There is just something so interesting about ghost towns… places where people once lived that are now abandoned… have a great US trip!

  11. Natasha von Geldern (2 years ago)

    I love ghost towns and this one looks very interesting. Great photos Jade – especially the colours and textures of the two matching corrugated iron sheds.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Thanks! I had a great time walking around taking these photos

  12. Cook, The Town With 4 People Population | Travel Pandaz (2 years ago)

    [...] See the original article and pictures here [...]

  13. Ruth H. (2 years ago)

    I love your photos; thank you for sharing them on your blog! There’s a kind of haunted elegance in ghost towns–what once was, what never again will be. Having lived in a highly populated city for so long, it is hard for me to imagine living a town whose sole inhabitants were members of my own family. I’ve never visited a ghost town, but I’d love to give it a go–do you have any ghost towns to recommend in the United States? Thanks for your input!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I havn’t travelled very much around the USA, so I dont know any good ghost towns to recommend, but I know some other commenters have posted some links to some of their own ghost town posts that you might want to check out

  14. Daniel Meloy (2 years ago)

    Wow! Very talented shots here. Many pictures are quite emotional, you can almost see the past written right across the image. Great job!

  15. no travel required | the lazy travelers (2 years ago)

    [...] We always think of ghost towns as exclusive to the US midwest! Cook РAn Australian Ghost Town РPhoto Essay [...]

  16. Mary @ Green Global Travel (1 year ago)

    Great photos. I love the country club :)

  17. Silverton - An Australian Ghost Town - (1 year ago)

    [...] The following photo essay offers a glimpse into yet another outback ghost town. (To see my first outback ghost town post – check out this post on Cook!) [...]

  18. Australia - Indian Pacific - Overland Perth To Adelaide (1 year ago)

    [...] were all part of the presentation. I learned about the lives of the last four residents of the ghost town of Cook (a place we would be visiting on the second day), the animals that could be spotted from the train, [...]

  19. the lazy travelers | no travel required (11 months ago)

    […] We always think of ghost towns as exclusive to the US midwest!¬†Cook – An Australian Ghost Town – Photo Essay […]