Festival celebrates Cooktown's past and future

Indigenous culture, music and annual Discovery Festival among highlights on 10-day program.

Cooktown and Cape York’s past, present and future will be celebrated during 10 days of entertainment, business showcases and cultural events in June.

Highlights of the Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 – The Rising Tide will be a free music festival, displays of local Indigenous culture and historical re-enactments.

The expo starts with the free Reconciliation Rocks Music Festival on 11-13 June, headlined by Busby Marou and Troy Cassar-Daley, followed by the Cape York Business Showcase on 14-16 June and finishing with the  Cooktown Discovery Festival weekend on 18-20 June. 

Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott said a tent city and RV ground would be available to cater for the influx of visitors wanting to experience the rich culture of historical Cooktown.

“Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 will be a celebration of reconciliation with the Rising Tide tagline paying homage to local Indigenous culture as the rising tide brings new life and offers the best time to hunt and gather,” Cr Scott said.

“The rising tide also helped Cook float the HMS Endeavour off the reef and into Waalumbaal Birri (the Endeavour River) 251 years ago.

“Both James Cook and Joseph Banks recorded the first act of reconciliation between Europeans and Australia’s First Nations people in their journals after interacting with the Guugu Yimithirr people during their seven weeks in Waymburr, now known as Cooktown.”  
Cooktown & Cape York Expo highlights include: Ngutha Ngutha, a showcase of the local Indigenous communities; Warrma, the Endeavour River creation story told with traditional dance and modern visual effects; the Sails of Light Lantern Parade; a children’s fun fair; and the annual re-enactment of Cook’s landing.

Event highlights

11-20 June: Fun Fair and Village Markets – art and craft stalls, workshops, entertainment and rides; Open Garden Tours – Join Professor Darren Crayn for a guided walk through the Heritage-listed Botanic Gardens featuring the Banks and Solander plant collection.

11-12 June: The official opening of Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 and Reconciliation Rocks. Highlights include a Welcome to Country, re-enactment of the first recorded act of reconciliation and the start of Ngutha Ngutha, a showcase of Indigenous culture from communities across Cape York. Busby Marou, Troy Cassar-Daley and Mau Power headline a free live music concert on 12 June.

12-18 June: Ngutha Ngutha showcase of Indigenous culture from communities across Cape York.

13 June: Warrma – Children from across Cape York Peninsula will bring to life the traditional Endeavour River creation story in a multi-media production by Tamara Pearson.

14-17 June: Cape York Business Showcase – Businesses and groups from across far north Queensland and Cape York Peninsula will be showcasing their products and services in the free Business Showcase marquee at the wharf. Visitors will be able to divide their time between talking with exhibitors and learning from a variety of speakers who will be scheduled on stage throughout the week. 

15-16 June: Tall ship and pearl lugger tours of the Endeavour River

17 June: Commemorative re-enactment of Cook’s landing and interaction with the Guugu Yimithirr people.

17-19 June: Cooktown Cantata – A specially commissioned musical poem about Guugu Yimithirr stories and botanical illustrator Vera Scarth-Johnson at the Botanic Gardens.

18 June: Cooktown Seafood Extravaganza on the waterfront (ticketed)

18-20 June: Cooktown Discovery Festival ¬– This festival’s centrepiece is the annual re-enactment of James Cook’s landing on the banks of the Endeavour River and his interaction with the Guugu Yimithirr people during their seven weeks in Waymburr, now known as Cooktown. The Sails of Light Lantern Parade, a demonstration of gold panning and gold delivery, and Chinese Lion Dancers are among the free events.

19 June: Endeavour Ball featuring period costumes (ticketed).

20 June: Warrma – Second performance.

Click here for more information.

Visit RACQ Travel or call 1300 888 449 to plan your north Queensland holiday