Maytown - QLD

  Tourist Attraction


DEG: -16.051163 144.289513
DMS: 16º 03' 4.19" S 144º 17' 22.27" E
UTM: 55 K 8223507mN 209982mE
Altitude: 244.36m


Place Type

Recreation - Tourist Attraction


112.69kms West of Daintree

Address & Contact

Palmer QLD 4871
Phone: N/A
Email: N/A
Web: N/A


Maytown was the admin of the Palmer River Gold Rush which started in 1873. Originally discovered by William Hann but he dismissed it as too small. Then James Venture Mulligan found very payable gold ( 103 oz in a week) then the rush was on.

After James Venture Mulligan's discovery of gold on the Palmer River in August 1873, a rush followed and was sustained for several years by further alluvial finds. An estimated twenty to thirty thousand people made their way to the field or Cooktown in the early years. It was regarded as an ideal "small man's field" for diggers without capital and experience had the opportunity to get rich quickly.

The alluvial mining communities tended to concentrate in ephemeral canvas camps. The most substantial were Palmerville, Maytown and Byerstown, whose establishment reflected an eastward movement of the mining population along the river. In May 1875 Maytown became the administrative and business centre of the field.

Originally called Edwardstown after the local butcher, John (Jack) Edwards, the town was surveyed in 1875 by Archibald Campbell MacMillan. It has been claimed that MacMillan named it Maytown after his daughter; however, his only daughter Mary Eleanor (but known as May) was not born until 3 July 1880 and the name Maytown had been in use since at least 1874.

In 1876 there were 12 hotels, 6 stores, 3 bakers, 3 tobacconists and stationers, Edwards the butcher, lemonade factory and a surgeon. The sheer size of the population, estimated in May 1877 at 19,500 for the field, kept money circulating among commercial houses for essentials and luxury goods, but at the same time, there was little financial investment in the permanent manifestations of settlement.

By 1882 the number of hotels had declined to six, and there were two European Stores, 10 Chinese stores, two banks, two butchers, baker, blacksmith, saddler, chemist, lemonade factory and printer. A post office existed from 1876 to 1945. By 1877, the Golden Age newspaper was printed followed by the Palmer Chronicle in 1883.

Mining Warden Phillip Sellheim, an educated family man residing at Maytown, bemoaned the lack of social institutions and initiated the establishment of a hospital, school and Miners' Institute Library, although these did not eventuate until the 1880s when most of Maytown's population had departed. In 1886 the population was 154 Europeans and 450 Chinese. There was no Christian church, but there was a Chinese temple.

By the turn of the century the town had a branch of the Queensland Government Savings Bank, a state school, courthouse, school of arts, hospital, police barracks, one hotel, eight stores - four of which were Chinese, a baker, saddler and Miners Institute. In 1900, the town had a population of 674 (252 Europeans and 422 Chinese).

By 1924 only Wah Chong and Company's store remained operating. Buildings like the school, which closed in 1925, remained abandoned until World War II in the hope of a mining revival. The town was largely abandoned by 1945.

Today there are only the remains of the baker's oven, stone kerb and channelling along the former Leslie Street, telegraph poles, floor paving, a cemetery with 16 headstones from 1875 to 1986 remaining and in Duff Street a replica hut built by the Palmer River Historical Preservation Society.
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Closest Weather Station

Palmerville at 26/01:30am EST
Distance from Maytown 23.5km W
TemperatureFeels LikeRel. HumidityDew PointPressureRainfallWind DirectionWind SpeedGusts

Closest Climatic Station

Distance from Maytown 23.5km W
Mean Max. °C33.332.632.332.231.229.929.931.233.635.536.135.3
Mean Min. °C22.922.821.819.717.315.014.014.516.519.021.322.6
Mean Rain mm268.1263.8181.550.616.

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