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MEDIA RELEASE | Cooktown festivities showcase reconciliation

A free music festival, local Indigenous culture and historical re-enactments are part of 10 days and nights of entertainment, business and cultural events at Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 – The Rising Tide on 11-20 June.

Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 will kick off with the free Reconciliation Rocks music festival on 11-13 June featuring Busby Marou, Troy Cassar-Daley and Mau Power, followed by a week-long regional showcase and business expo on 14-16 June and finishing with the popular Discovery Festival weekend on 18-20 June. 

Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott said more than 10,000 people were expected to attend the 10 days of festivities with a tent city and RV ground to cater for extra visitors wanting to experience the rich culture of historical Cooktown.

“Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 will be a celebration of reconciliation and a catalyst for economic renewal, injecting $2.6 million into the region’s economy and highlighting Cape York Peninsula’s unique history, culture and business opportunities.

“The calibre of the event is reflected in the sponsors it has attracted including Westpac Indigenous Banking, NBN, Ergon Energy, PCYC, Containers for Exchange, Skytrans, Apunipima, Cornetts IGA Cooktown, Cairns Hardware Cooktown and Reef Planning.

“The global pandemic forced Cook Shire Council to defer last year’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of James Cook arriving on the banks of the Endeavour River, but we will proudly continue with its theme of reconciliation in the Year of Indigenous Tourism.

“Both Cook and Joseph Banks recorded the first act of reconciliation between Europeans and Australia’s First Nations people in their journals after interacting with the Guugu Yimithirr people during their seven weeks in Waymburr, now known as Cooktown. 

“The Expo’s Rising Tide tagline pays homage to local Indigenous culture; the rising tide bringing new life and offering the best time to hunt and gather.

The Rising Tide also reflects the need for the community to rise up and prosper in a post-pandemic world and links to Cook, as it was the tide that helped float his ship from the reef as he made his way to Waalumbaal Birri (the Endeavour River) 251 years ago.”

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui welcomed the opportunity for Queenslanders, and interstate guests, to experience First Nations arts and culture in a unique and historic setting.

“This multi-day event will not only platform local artists and amplify Guugu Yimithirr stories, it will inspire curious visitors in their thousands to make the trek up the Queensland coast,” Ms Lui said.

“As we unite and recover from COVID-19, I would like to congratulate the organisers on their commitment to delivering this important celebration of reconciliation and unity in the Year of Indigenous Tourism.

“The Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 will amplify the message of reconciliation, while being a major lure for visitors in the Year of Indigenous Tourism. I know all guests can expect an enlightened and enriching stay in the Cape this June.”

Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 is 10 days of free events including Ngutha Ngutha, a showcase of the local Indigenous communities; Warrma, the Endeavour River creation story told with traditional dance and modern visual effects; the Sails of Light Lantern Parade; a children’s fun fair; and the beloved annual re-enactment of Cook’s landing.

Ticketed events include The Endeavour Ball featuring period costumes; The Seafood Extravaganza lunch on the waterfront; and Cooktown Cantata at the Botanic Gardens, a specially commissioned musical poem about Guugu Yimithirr stories and botanical illustrator Vera Scarth-Johnson.

The COVID-safe four-day Cape York Business Expo is free to attend and will include workshops, networking and keynote speakers to highlight Cook Shire’s transition to a sustainable and resilient future through Queensland’s Clean Growth Choices program.

Four Legacy Projects will be revealed as part of the celebrations after Cook Shire Council received $5,455,000 in Commonwealth Community Development Grants. The $1.2 million Reconciliation Rocks Precinct Development, the site of Australia’s first recorded act of reconciliation will be opened on 11 June. Work has also started on a $1.98 million redevelopment of the Botanic Gardens, the $1.7 million Gamaay Dreaming Track Development and the $575,000 Waalmbal Birri Cultural Centre.

Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 is proudly supported by the Commonwealth and Queensland Government and Cook Shire Council.

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Contact: Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 Creative Director Vanessa Gillen on or (07) 4082 0500.

ABN: 45 425 085 688

10 Furneaux Street Cooktown, Qld 4895

Mail: PO Box 3 Cooktown, Qld 4895


Phone: (07) 4082 0500

Fax: (07) 4082 0588

Hours: 8.45am-4.45pm Monday to Friday