Cooktown and Cape York Expo 2021: The Rising Tide

Have you been dreaming of a tropical escape? This year's Cooktown and Cape York Expo is the perfect opportunity to experience Far North Queensland, its beautiful environments and rich culture. The 10 day festival will be taking place from the 11th - 20th of June. It is a celebration, time for reconciliation and forms an important part of economic renewal for the regional area. The expo highlights Far North Queensland and Cape York’s unique history, vibrant culture and incredible visual and performing arts. It also showcases the importance of tourism, agriculture and Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses within the region. Yarn is a proud sponsor of this incredible event and we strongly encourage anyone who has the chance to go and experience the Indigenous culture and history of this beautiful part of Australia (Cooktown & Cape York Expo, 2021).

Children from across Cape York will bring to life the traditional Waalumbaal Birri creation story. Image Courtesy of Cooktown & Cape York Expo, 2021.

The place where Cooktown now stands is traditionally called Gan-Garr and is the country of the Guugu Yimithirr nation. Cooktown has an incredibly unique history; it was the site of the first recorded act of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. In 1770 Captain Cook sailed into the Waalumbaal Birri, now known as the Endeavour River and he and his crew met some of the Guugu Yimithirr people. They were allowed to spend 48 days on the banks of the Waalmaal Birri while the HMS Endeavour was being repaired after hitting a reef. Now 250 years later the Festival celebrates this significant exchange of culture, language and science (Cooktown & Cape York Expo, 2021).

Set across a number of different locations in Cooktown, the expo has a huge variety of things to do and see. Below we’ve featured some of the key Indigenous workshops, performances and other must-sees.

Reconciliation Rocks Festival 11-13 June

Hip Hop Artist Mau Power. Image Courtesy of Cooktown & Cape York Expo, 2021.

The festival's official opening will take place at the Festival Village in the beautiful Reconciliation Rocks Precinct. The recently developed precinct includes design elements and art installations that reflect the significance of this area and the Endeavour River. The opening will include a traditional welcome to the country followed by an re-enactment of the momentous moment when Lt. James Cook first met the local Guugu Yimithirr peoples.

That night there will be a fabulous concert by the local Warrigan Band, Night Shift. Then on June 12 Busby Marou, Troy Cassar-Daley and renowned First Nations Hip Hop artist Mau Power will headline the free live music concert. There will be live arts entertainment at the Festival Village throughout the entire expo, so keep your eyes peeled for some incredible performers (Cooktown & Cape York Expo, 2021).

Cooktown Discovery Festival 17-20 June

Learn about First Nations maritime heritage of the local region on the Derwent Hunter sailing ship. Image Courtesy of Cooktown & Cape York Expo, 2021.

The Discovery Festival is all about learning. On June 17 take a workshop with David Hudson and learn how to play music, including didgeridoo and guitar. On June 18 take a tour of the heritage listed Botanic Gardens and learn about the native plants of the area. Or experience sailing on a tall ship, the Derwent Hunter about the First Nations maritime heritage of the local region. Discover and learn about the history of beautiful Cooktown through all of these unique events (Cooktown & Cape York Expo, 2021). 

Nagutha-Nagutha Cultural Precinct

Traditional bark shelters will form a part of the Nagutha-Nagutha Cultural Precinct. Image Courtesy of Cooktown & Cape York Expo, 2021.

The Ngutha-Ngutha Cultural Precinct will form an important part of the expo. Ngutha-Ngutha means ‘back in time’ in Guugu Yimithirr language and this is what the visitors will experience. There will be Indigenous workshops, food, cultural practices and storytelling. The traditional village will feature communities from all over Cape and showcase their knowledge including traditional fire making, painting, dance, bush food, medicine and hunting. Ngutha-Ngutha will take you on a journey into the traditional cultural heritage and daily life of Australia’s First People in the region (Cooktown & Cape York Expo, 2021).

The Cooktown and Cape York Expo will be 10 days of wonderful experiences, so if you're due for a holiday or live in north QLD we absolutely recommend it! You can view the Full Expo 2021 Program here.