A desperate bid for funding has been launched for roof repairs at the James Cook Museum in Cooktown to ensure historical artefacts are not destroyed by water leaks.

The award-winning museum operating out of the town’s former convent is run by the National Trust of Australia (Queensland).

It houses an original anchor and canon from HMB Endeavour, a model of the ship that dates to the early twentieth century and an extensive collection of local Guugu Yimithiir artefacts.

Museum pieces also celebrate the arrival of Chinese people during the gold rush era and the history of the nuns and children who lived in the building until the 1940s. 


Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said he was recently shocked to learn there has already been water damage, with some parts of the building falling into disrepair.

“Unfortunately, in recent years the original convent building that houses James Cook Museum has needed repairs to the roof and rainwater infrastructure,” Mr Entsch said.


“The history contained in the building is simply amazing - it is our shared history.

“Thankfully, the museum’s dedicated team have been working to ensure the collection items are well looked after but unfortunately the scope of repairs is now significant.”

Mr Entsch is now investigating funding avenues to ensure the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) can undertake ‘necessary’ and ‘urgent’ repairs.

“We can’t sit by and watch this magnificent and historical building fall further into disrepair,” he said.

“However, with all that has occurred over the past 18 months, it has not been possible for National Trust of Australia (Queensland) to complete these now urgent repairs.

“This is because the organisation is a not-for-profit-charity that survives based on donations, memberships and the proceeds of the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.”

It's understood about $150,000 is required to carry out the necessary repairs.

Acting CEO National Trust of Australia (Queensland), Jayme Cuttriss, told Tropic Now the work had to be put on hold due to the financial impact of COVID-19.

“James Cook Museum is important to the community, visitors to Cooktown and Australia," she said.

"It houses fascinating stories of Cooktown, including the first recorded Act of Reconciliation between Lt. Cook and the Guugu Yimithirr.

"Cooktown is an exceptional place, and National Trust has been devastated to put repair work on hold due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on our tourism business.

"We look forward to working with Warren Entsch MP on funding options, and we appeal to the public to assist with these much-needed repairs.

"This support will help us secure the convent building, prevent further deterioration, and improve the visitor experience."

Donations can be made here.


Main points

  • Urgent repairs are required for the roof and rainwater infrastructure
  • There has already been water damage in the attic due to leaks
  • $150,000 in funding is being sought
The ongoing leaks have led to some damage in the attic and the property needs significant upgrades to ensure it’s watertight
Warren Etnsch
Federal Member for Leichhardt