Friday 17th - Mt. Cook walk

Wild Carol does Australia
John and Fiona Fraser
Fri 17 Aug 2018 11:00
Our intended early start wasn’t so early. It was 10 o’clock by the time we reached the car park at the start of the Mt. Cook path.

It started off easy enough, a well defined path leading, after a few hundred metres to a viewpoint looking out over the town. We carried on and the path became steeper and narrower but easy enough to follow the yellow arrows on the trees. We came across a feral piglet, obviously in distress, probably abandoned by its mother. It stumbled into the bushes and disappeared.

Eventually we came to the main lookout on the east side, a steel platform up two stairs, looking out to the Great Barrier Reef into the full force of the SE wind. We could see the reefs and cays dotted all over. A lone yacht was flying downwind towards Cooktown under headsail only. 

A narrow path continued towards the summit. A couple coming off the platform warned us that it wasn’t worth going as you could only get to the helipad and there was no view through the bushes. But we knew different, as we had local knowledge, so we carried on.

Now the path became really hard going, very narrow and steep with hardly any way markers which John couldn’t see anyway as they’d turned from yellow to red and they just blended in with the trees.  At times it felt like there was no path at all.  Eventually, we could see much more sunlight and we arrived, sweating profusely, at the control house for the comms tower. Just beyond was the aforementioned helipad. You could actually just about see the view over the trees if you stood on the helipad.

Now for the local knowledge, told to us by the girl at campsite reception. We crossed to the other side of the helipad and found a path heading down the other side. This wasn’t a proper path at all but it was quite obvious. We carried on down steeply about 100m and then we could see light coming from the left. We squeezed through the branches on to a massive slab of granite with fantastic views over the reef and to the south towards the Annan River and Cape Tribulation way in the distance. 

The wind wasn’t quite as strong here as it had been at the first viewpoint and we sat there for quite a while, just taking in the view and eating the meagre picnic we had brought. The Cooktown Golf and Country club was just below, which seemed a bit incongruous, as the rest of the view seemed as wild as it must have done when Captain Cook was here. 

Eventually we decided to head back. A steep climb back up to the helipad then down through the jungle. A small green snake slithered off the path as we approached and lay still in the bushes to let us pass. The return journey took us longer than we’d expected and by the time we got back to the car we’d been away a full three hours, exactly as advertised.

Follow the yellow arrow!

View from 1st lookout to GBR, Quarantine Bay below

Cape Tribulation in far distance

A lone yacht flies downwind.

Follow tat path!

Made it!

Summit lookout