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Section One – Cooktown to Gunnawarra


Map Guidebook 1
Location Map Guidebook 1

History and tropical beauty come together in this very demanding and remote section which begins in Cooktown exactly where Captain Cook beached Endeavour in 1770. The Trail heads south from Cooktown through the tropical rainforests of Cedar Bay National Park to Daintree and Mossman before turning west into an area which, in stark contrast to the coastal areas, is harsh and dry. The dry season (April – October) is recommended for travel as many rivers and creeks are impassable during the wet. Crocodiles are a danger and water can be elusive inland.


Challenging. Parts of this section are challenging and should not be travelled alone.

Climate and Weather

Humid tropical – hot , humid summer, warm winter in coastal areas. Tropical cyclones may be expected during the wet season.

Tropical savanna – hot, dry summer, warm winter in inland areas.

Summer conditions extreme, trekking not recommended.

Break camp early and avoid travel during the heat of the early afternoon.


Ranges from quite easy to extremely difficult. Mostly not suitable for bicycles or horsedrawn vehicles.


Section One Maps. Navigational aids.


Water can be difficult in the dry season. Water must be carried in some parts. Water conservation measures necessary.

Planning Considerations

The best time for travel is as soon as possible after the wet season (April/May) to capitalise on surface water and natural feed for the first 800 km. Long-distance trekkers should plan their departures from Cooktown so that they can be south of  Townsville before September otherwise heat and lack of water make travelling too stressful on humans and animals.


Horses coming from anywhere south of Rockhampton will need time to aclimatise to the extreme conditions. Horses should be given a couple of weeks to adjust to the heat before starting out. Consideration could be given to obtaining local horses as they are accustomed to the extreme climate.


Parts of this section are remote and rugged and unsuitable for cyclists. Refer to Guidebook notes for alternative road routes to bypass these sections.

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