The History of Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation Captain Cook

Welcome to the most amazing location in Australia!

Cape Tribulation is a point located in Far North Queensland, around 110 kilometres north of Cairns, within the Daintree National Park and Wet Tropics World Heritage listed area. The original owners The Eastern KuKu Yalanji People and Cape Trib Beach House Retreat welcomes you to this pristine paradise!

Cape Tribulation was named by James Cook on the 10th of June, 1770 (log date) after his ship scraped a reef north-east of the cape, whilst passing through at 6pm. Cook steered away from the coast into deeper water but at 10.30pm the ship ran aground on, what is now named, Endeavour Reef. The ship stuck fast and was badly damaged, desperate measures being needed to prevent it foundering until it was refloated the next day. Cook recorded, “…the north point [was named] Cape Tribulation because here begun all our troubles.”

In the 1930’s, European settlers started arriving in Cape Tribulation, but they found the rainforest environment a difficult place to establish. Various ventures, such as fruit & vegetable farming, fishing, cattle, and timber cutting were started and abandoned over the years; having weekly barges as the only transport in and out was a major handicap. In the 1960’s, a rough track was bulldozed and the first vehicle access created; however, the road remained a four wheel drive track until the early 1990’s. In 2002, the road was finally sealed all the way to Cape Tribulation and in early 2011 the last bridge was built creating year round all weather access to Cape Tribulation for the first time.

Cape Tribulation has a local population of only 330 residents with diverse backgrounds and opinions. It is a cultural and ideological melting pot with families tracing their history back to the beginning of the 19th century. Home of the legendary Mason and Ryker families, the area is full of stories and episodes in history that have shaped and made this location into what it is today. Sliding door moments, such as the opening of the ferry, the blockade, and the “hippie revolution”, have brought about the character and nostalgia of Cape Tribulation.

In 1983, Cape Tribulation became widely known because of the blockade on the Bloomfield Track. Local government had decided to bulldoze a road through the rainforest north of Cape Tribulation to complete the coastal road to Cooktown. Protesters tried to stop the bulldozers and occupied trees to prevent their destruction. While wild scenes with a large police and media presence ensued at the southern end, the road was completed in three short weeks as the road builders approached from the north and flanked the protestors. The state and federal governments have since realised the value of this ancient rainforest and, despite protests from the local council, the forests surrounding Cape Tribulation were given World Heritage Listing in 1988. North of Cape Trib Beach House is a four-wheel drive track, known as The Bloomfield, that continues to Cooktown.
Most people visit the area during the dry season, between July and November. The average rainfall in Cape Tribulation is 3,900mm. During the wet season, marine stingers are prevalent causing locals and visitors to swim in the many creeks and water holes.

Where the Reef meets the Rainforest