FNQ Safari Day 7 – Cooktown and Lizard Island

Day 7 of the trip was our first full day in Cooktown and we were amazed at what we found. We woke soon after first light and jumped out of bed, heading up Grassy Hill, the scenic lookout behind our B&B, to see the sunrise, making it just in time as the sun broke out of the Pacific Ocean.

There was a wonderful view over the Endeavour River as the sun rose.

Walking back down for breakfast Sigi suggested, given the fact the wind had died down, we go for a flight out to Lizard Island. I agreed we shouldn’t let a chance go by, and after checking the weather forecast on NAIPS, prepared to head back to the airport. Katrina, the owner of the B&B kindly offered to drive us out to the airport (her father and brother are private pilots so she is interested in aviation) after she’d run a few errands. First though we need a good coffee and she recommended the Driftwood Cafe in the main street. We cycled down the hill and had a chance meeting with Shelley Ross (from the day before) and her husband Peter at the cafe. We had a quick discussion about safaris and interesting places we’d been including Johnny’s camp.

Home (cooktowndriftwood.com.au)

Riding back up the hill to the B&B we found Katrina and she drove us out to the airport. The local RPT plane arrived as we untied the plane so I had a chat to the pilots who confirmed to me there was no turbulence and clear skies up north. It was a perfect morning. We took off to the east and did an orbit over the town before heading up the coast to Cape Flattery.

It was smooth flying as we climbed to 7500 feet and crossed over to Lizard Island. We flew over a few coral cays on the way.

Lizard was closed to tourists at the time due to Covid19 but it was great to fly over and around it and see the reef further out.

The airstrip on Lizard seemed in good condition. It has to be I suppose to bring in all the well heeled tourists in normal times.

The reef really is massive. Stretching as far as the eye could see north south with the channel between the coast and the reef that James Cook must have sailed up to escape the Great Southern Land in 1770.

Returning down the coast we passed over the Cape Flattery sand mine and port.

It was an amazing flight and we had a great view of Cooktown and the river mouth with the Daintree mountains beyond. On short final on RWY11 we had about 10 knots headwind. It really was a perfect day.

We tied down MSF, phoned Katrina and waited in terminal building.

She arrived 10 minutes later and drove us back into town (that’s what I call service) and soon after we headed off for a walk to the botanic gardens cafe for lunch, then on to Finch Bay at the foot of Mt Cook.

Avoiding the crocs, we followed a track along the coast to Cherry Tree Bay then back over Grassy Hill to town, just in time for a swim in the B&B’s pool to cool off. And how should we finish off such a perfect day? Some Coral Trout for dinner of course, straight off the boat.

We followed Captain Nick’ advice and sauntered up to the River of Gold Motel, only to be told that the restaurant was booked out that evening and the next. Luckily, as we pondered what to do, the phone rang and someone cancelled. We were in! I had the locally caught coral trout and it really was the best fish I’ve ever had.

Restaurant – River of Gold Motel Cooktown

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