12 June 2023

Discovery Festival to provide much-needed economic boost

| Sarah Martin
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Cooktown comes to life every June for the annual Discovery Festival, providing a major cash injection for the region.

Cooktown comes to life every June for the annual Discovery Festival, providing a major cash injection for the region.

COOKTOWN is gearing up for a much-needed economic boost with tourists and locals to fill the town for this week’s Discovery Festival.

The three-day event is a huge boost to the regional economy, with many visitors adding a few days to their festival plans to explore more of the area.

Milkwood Lodge owner Sharyn Spicer said she loved the Discovery Festival, with the lodge booked out for months in advance.

“We have a lot of regulars who love the festival and pre-book and we’re fielding multiple enquiries trying to book in,” she said.

“It’s a great weekend, we love the activities and supporting locals, so we get out to see as much as we can during the festival.

“It’s great to see Cooktown filling up with all these wonderful people.”

Organised by Cook Shire, the festival has been a drawcard since the 1950s, bringing a flood of visitors that often swells Cooktown’s population by several thousand.

“The Cooktown Discovery Festival is a fantastic three-day event that boosts the local economy including accommodation, restaurants, tour operators and service providers all benefiting from the event,” the council’s tourism, arts and events manager Sally Eales said.

“The festival brings visitors from all around Australia who come to experience the history, adventure and culture of Cooktown and Cape York, with many people planning their holidays to coincide with the festival.”

Activities will be centred around Cooktown’s main street, with the festival village, info tent and live entertainment in Endeavour Park near the historical fountain and village markets.

The action kicks off from Friday morning, with cultural tours, a mural workshop, historical presentations, river cruises, comedy shows and live music throughout the day.

Not to be missed are Ella Hartwig and Mitch King performing live at the festival village from 4.15pm, the reconciliation re-enactment at 5.30pm at Reconciliation Rocks, official opening and musket firing at the festival village at 6.20pm followed by a family movie at 7pm, and the bush dance in the Shire Hall at 7pm.

Saturday is the biggest day of the event, kicking off with markets and a fun run, fashion parade, giant street games, Polynesian dancers, Chinese lion dancers and much more.

Mark your diary to cheer on the colourful entrants in the street parade at noon, which will be followed by the Cape York Automotive Muster at 1pm, tug of war at 1.30pm and Unfenced Asylum challenge at 3pm.

The fun continues that night with the free Sunset Soiree in the festival village from 5pm and finishes with fireworks over the Endeavour River at 8pm.

Sunday features one of the weekend’s drawcard events, the re-enactment of Captain Cook’s landing at the Endeavour River and the interactions between the Europeans and local Indigenous people, kicking off at 10am.

To wind down your festival weekend, get ready to get colourful with the Cooktown Swim Club’s fundraiser colour run in William Daku Park and an afternoon Sunday session at the Top Pub from midday.

The markets, CWA teahouse, face painting, fun fair including the dodgem cars and more are on over the weekend.

Free events which require registration are the street parade and Cape York Automotive Muster, while paid events that need a ticket are the paranormal investigations and history tours at the Cooktown Museum, river cruises, cultural tours, the Friday night bush dance, Banks and Solander guided walk, fun run, colour run, tug of war and unfenced asylum challenge.

Visit www.cooktowndiscovery.com.au to view or download the full program and book for paid or ticketed free events.

Printed programs will be available at businesses around Cooktown this week.

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