6 June 2023

Holistic history on display at festival drawcard reenactment

| Sarah Martin
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Frederick Deeral and Andrew Mirtschin at reenactment rehearsals.

Frederick Deeral and Andrew Mirtschin at reenactment rehearsals.

COOKTOWN’S Reenactment Association is inviting locals and visitors alike to share a slice of history as the group tells the story of Captain Cook’s 1770 interaction with local Indigenous people at this month’s Discovery Festival, the biggest drawcard at the annual event.

Association vice-president and Dandi Warra woman Alberta Hornsby said the little-known story of the Indigenous Elder who brokered peace with Cook following a hunting dispute should be more widely told.

“We all know the history of Cook, that he came here and met with the Guugu Yimithirr people,” Ms Hornsby said.

“But we try to tell a holistic story in the reenactment so that we can better understand our history.”

Now in its 62nd year, the reenactment has been a major drawcard at the annual Discovery Festival since the 1950s.

“We try very hard, we’ve got a fantastic team and crew,” Ms Hornsby said.

“When they first started the reenactment in 1959 it was to bring people back to Cooktown and boost the economy, it’s still the biggest drawcard of the festival and we all benefit.

“What better way to do that than bringing people here to share our holistic history.”

Drummer Holly Clarke leads the marines in a reenactment rehearsal ahead of the Discovery Festival.

Drummer Holly Clarke leads the marines in a reenactment rehearsal ahead of the Discovery Festival.

Thousands of people flock to Cooktown for the festival, which runs from June 16 to 18, and includes a myriad of events to cater for all ages and interests, including a street parade, live entertainment, competitions, tours and more.

Now is the time to plan your festival weekend, with the full program available on the festival website, and bookings open for free events which require pre-registration and the handful of events that require paid tickets.

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

The popular Chinese lion dancers are sure to be a hit as they return to town after a long hiatus, bringing noise, colour and a splash of Eastern culture to the festival, and for those after a novel way to get around town, for the first time this year pedicabs will be available to hire.

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