Cooktown Charm

Ever heard of a ‘wet jocks’ competition? No? Neither had I until yesterday, but apparently they’re as much fun, only different, as a ‘wet t-shirt competition.’

When I made the long trek north to Cooktown to run a one day writing workshop for Queensland Writers Centre I was expecting to meet some interesting people and enjoy myself.

Instead? I have never laughed so much during a workshop. We had wet jock competitions, an eye-opening conversation about the very real dangers of aggressive gay camels, ghosts, murders and general mayhem. An alarming number of chainsaws kept popping up in the writing exercises and we even had a house that was really a helicopter. Added to all that was a fourteen year old young lady whose writing moved me to tears.

Thank you to everyone who attended for giving so generously of yourselves and your ideas. You made my weekend! We’ll have to do it again next year.

Even the venue was exceptional. We were in the newly completed multi-purpose Events Centre. It’s a sports hall, conference centre, gymnasium, auditorium and most importantly a Category Five Cyclone shelter that’s come together through the cooperation of not just the community but many government departments. A very big thank you to Sgt Howard Pratt for looking after us so well. As part of the PCYC he’s the perfect example of why community policing should have an even bigger role in our communities.

I can’t wait to head back north again and spend some more time in Cooktown. There’s a story waiting to be written in this frontier slice of Queensland.


11 thoughts on “Cooktown Charm

  1. Thank you Helene (and the other workshop attendee’s) What a fantastic day!
    I was telling the girls at work about how fantastic Darcy was, one replied.. “I know, she is my little sister”. Amazing. PS I learnt about lesbian camels from Richard Neville’s book “Outta my Mind” a collection of articles/essays spanning his career. He took his daughter on a camel tour for a magazine article.. Hilarious.

  2. So sorry I missed the workshop (I had to work)sounds like it was as interesting as I thought & would expect in Cooktown. And Darcy is a very talented young writer who always produces something wonderful for Poets Breakfast’s etc. Hopefully see you next year!:)

  3. Serge, that’s priceless! I’m never going to look at the APTT tourists in quite the same when they board my aircraft in Horn Island for the flight back to Cairns.

    And I won’t be sitting in any jacuzzis in Cooktown next time I visit either!!

    But I will take your advice and wear more suitable attire 🙂

    Thanks again for making my day so much fun!

  4. Lesbian camels are apparently the most dangerous, Cathy, because they get quite assertive and bossy.

    Of course, they could have been having a lend of me, but I don’t think so…

  5. Bec, it really was a lovely weekend. I’m sure Darcy will find a publisher when she’s ready. There was something in the way she put the words together and all so effortlessly!

  6. It does boggle, Barb. I always avoided Cooktown on the June long weekend because the wet t-shirt comp was apparently full on. It seems gender equality is alive and well – the boys can strut their stuff too 😉

  7. I and (we) immensely enjoyed yr wshop too Helena.
    Just one thing, you were a trifle overdressed I feel, so if you do come back, please read my response to a recent blogger who was about to visit Cooktown.

    Got this Google Alert this arvo, tourist asking for help about
    local behavior standards.
    I felt that a deadly serious reply was warranted, so answered the forum.


    Do we need evening clothes on an APT Tour to Cape York?

    We are going on a 12 day tour from Cairns to Cape York with APT and there will be a couple of evenings we will be in motels. I am wondering if we need to pack something other than casual for these nights. Maybe somebody out there has been on one of these tours with APT and can help me.
    Thank you.

    Your Answer:

    Matching thongs are essential to be accepted in Cooktown. Red wine stains on yr clothes label you as a social climber, but beer spills are ok. Formal address for locals is “Ma-a-a-t-e”. Mr Mate is not required. Having a sick attack (after a night on the turps) in the Jacuzi is accepted, as long as there is no one with you, or they’re sick at the same time as you. On no account make eye contact with Herb, the bloke with the glass eye, green stubbies, holey navie singlet who hangs out in the alley next to the middle pub. He interprets the most innocent gesture as an invitation for love. So does his cattle dog, “Blue”. For a complete guide, buy my book “Etiquette for Cape York Visitors” available at all Chemists and some Bakeries.

  8. sounds like you had a great time – if the 14 year old’s story was that good hope she gets a publisher – sounds like a good read – love a book that can move you

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