Sunday History Photo / Qld

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 25, 2015 at 06:31
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Cooktown is a small town and locality in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. Cooktown is located about 2,000 kilometres North of Brisbane and 328 kilometres North of Cairns, by road.Cooktown is at the mouth of the Endeavour River, on Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland where James Cook beached his ship, the Endeavour, for repairs in 1770. Both the town and Mount Cook which rises up behind the town were named after James Cook.
Cooktown is one of the few large towns in the Cape York Peninsula and was founded on 25 October 1873 as a supply port for the goldfields along the Palmer River. It was called 'Cook's Town' until 1 June 1874.

The port of Cooktown served the nearby goldfields and, during the goldrush of the 1870s, a Chinese community many thousands strong grew up in the goldfields and in the town itself. The Chinese played an important role in the early days of Cooktown. They came originally as prospectors, but many established market gardens, supplying the town and the goldfields with fruit, vegetables and rice, while others opened shops.
However, largely through cultural misunderstandings, conflict broke out between the Aboriginal people and the new settlers, and the diggers. The Cooktown Herald, 8th December 1875, reported: "The natives wholly ignorant of the terrible firepower of fire-arms, and confiding in their numbers, showed a ferocity and daring wholly unexpected and unsurpassed. Grasping the very muzzles of the rifles they attempted to wrest them from the hands of the whites, standing to be shot down, rather than yield an inch...." It was an unequal struggle. Whole tribes were wiped out as European settlement spread over Cape York Peninsula.

Transport was an ongoing problem for the new settlers. Getting supplies and people to the goldfields often took three weeks. After every wet season the tracks and bridges had to be remade. A railway line from Cooktown to Maytown, was planned, but it took five years to get the 67 miles (108 km) to Laura – and that is where it stopped. By that time the gold was petering out, so the Queensland Government refused further funding for the venture.
In spite of this, the train proved to be a lifeline for the Peninsula people connecting the hinterland to Cooktown, from where one could catch a boat to Cairns and other southern ports. The line was closed in 1961 after the Peninsula Development Road was built connecting Cooktown and other Peninsula communities with Cairns and the Atherton Tableland to the south.

Cooktown's magnificent Botanic Garden was established near the town in 1878. Much work was done in the early stages – with wells sunk, water reticulated, garden beds enclosed, stone-lined paths, stone-pitched pools and footbridges made, and lawns, trees and shrubs planted.
Although the gardens fell into disrepair, in recent years they have been expanded and are a popular destination for botanists and nature lovers. Most of the early stonework has been restored, and beautiful walking tracks lead the visitor through the Botanic Garden to the magnificent beaches at Finch Bay and Cherry Tree Bay.
In 1881, a bridge over the Endeavour River was completed, which opened up the richer pastoral lands of the Endeavour and McIvor River valleys. Tin was found in the Annan River area, south of Cooktown, in 1884.

By 1940, little evidence of Cooktown or Maytown's interesting past remained. During the Second World War, Cooktown became an important base for the war effort. The civilian population of Cooktown was encouraged to evacuate in face of the Japanese advances and by 1942 the vast majority had left. The Aboriginal people of the Lutheran missions at Hope Vale and Bloomfield were forcibly removed - most being taken south to Woorabinda in May, 1942, while some of the elderly people were sent to Palm Island. The senior missionary, Pastor Schwartz (known as Muni to the local people), was arrested and placed in internment as he were suspected as being an enemy sympathiser. The Aboriginal people were not allowed to return to their homelands until 1949, well after the end of the war. Many Aboriginal people died when moved from their traditional lands, and many Aboriginal and white families never returned from their exile.
Some 20,000 Australian and American troops were stationed in and around the town. The busy airfield played a key role in the crucial Battle of the Coral Sea when Japanese expansion towards the Australian mainland was finally halted. The last military unit, the 27th Operational Base Squadron of the RAAF, ceased operations in Cooktown in April 1946.
1949, another cyclone devastated the town, and Cooktown's population declined further. With the closure of the rail link to Laura in 1961 and the "Peninsula Development Road" opened up to the south, the population declined to just a few hundred people before it gradually began to climb again.
The "Milbi Wall" (or "Story Wall") marks the place of the first encounter between the British seafarers and the local Aborigines. The Milbi ('Story') Wall tells the story of Cooktown and the Endeavour River from the perspective of the Aboriginal people in tiles.

Cooktown has recently grown in importance again and become a popular tourist destination. The paving of the Mulligan Highway now provides all-weather access by road for the first time. There are two flights a day connecting Cooktown with Cairns. The town now has good communications, more services, better roads, and offers residents a relaxed and healthy lifestyle.
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Reply By: Member - Tony F8 - Sunday, Oct 25, 2015 at 07:19

Sunday, Oct 25, 2015 at 07:19
Champion effort again Doug, always look forward to the Sunday history lesson.
AnswerID: 591940

Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Oct 25, 2015 at 07:52

Sunday, Oct 25, 2015 at 07:52
Thanks Doug great effort again

AnswerID: 591941

Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Oct 25, 2015 at 12:38

Sunday, Oct 25, 2015 at 12:38
Thanks for the effort you put in every week Doug.

I, probably like many others, always look forward too and take time to read your Sunday History post, but never really take the time to comment.

Since joining the forum I can't recall too many occasions when you have missed a Sunday. Even when you were laid up in hospital, you took the time to pre-write them and have some one submit them on your behalf and when you were overseas they kept coming.

You obviously take a lot of time to research photo's and detailed information for our benefit.

A big heartfelt and sincere thankyou for the tremendous effort you put in each week.


AnswerID: 591948

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