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James Cook Museum - Cooktown

Discover the rich history of Cooktown in Far North Queensland. Set in a stunning nineteenth-century convent, James Cook Museum is a must-see when visiting far North Queensland. 

The museum houses an extensive collection of local Guugu Yimithiir artefacts, along with a model of the Endeavour and an original anchor and cannon from the Endeavour that was salvaged in the 1970’s. 

Learn the fascinating story of the first recorded act of reconciliation between the local indigenous people, the Bama and Lt. James Cook. It is a largely untold story of when Captain Cooks ship ran ashore on the reef in what is now known as the Endeavour River. Cook and his men spent 48 days in Cooktown.  Told from both perspectives, this story is integral to Australian history. It tells the stories of interactions between Cook and the Bama as recorded in the diaries of Cook and Banks. 

Captain Cook ran aground at the reef and this special place is now known as Reconciliation Rocks.

Experience the history of this remarkable town in the beautifully restored Sisters of Mercy convent school building. Built-in 1888-19, this three-storey brick building ran as a school for day students and boarders. 

You can enjoy the stunning views of this beautiful town on the banks of the Endeavour River, and the gateway to Cape York while learning the fascinating history. The stories will captivate children and adults alike!

The museum also celebrated the history of the convent and the nuns and children who resided in the convent over the years. The museum also celebrates the Chinese immigrant story and the fascinating stories of the Gold Rush era in far North Queensland and also gives valuable information on the region and its natural beauty from rainforests to reefs. 

Plan Your Visit


Cnr Helen & Furneaux Street Cooktown, Queensland, 4895

Open Hours

Tuesday to Saturday, 10am - 1pm


07 4069 5386


Entry Fees

Adult - $15
Child - $5
Seniors/Concession - $10
Families - $35 (2 adults and up to 3 children under 14 yrs)
National Trust Members - Free
Kids under 4 years - Free
Groups by appointment.



With so many things to do in Cooktown we have put together some ideas so you can get the most out of your trip in far north Queensland.

Discover Now


A rare and remote nineteenth century brick convent building, James Cook Museum was constructed in 1888 as a school where the Sisters of Mercy could provide education to day students and boarders from the Cooktown region. During the Second World War, the Sisters of Mercy and their students moved inland to Herberton and did not return. Gradually the building fell into disrepair.

Following a fundraising campaign, the former convent was acquired by the National Trust and restored before its opening as the then James Cook Historical Museum by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 11 April 1969. In the fifty years since, James Cook Museum has interpreted the cultural diversity of the Cooktown region through its significant collection of historic photographs and collection items, including its extensive collection of local Guugu Yimithiir artifacts.

In 2001 the Endeavour Gallery of the Museum was created as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations, allowing for the display of one of HMB Endeavour’s jettisoned cannons and an anchor recovered from the Great Barrier Reef. Conservation work being undertaken at James Cook Museum over 2019-2020 will allow for improved access and updated interpretation of the site and its collection.