Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape | Environment, land and water | Queensland Government

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Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape

  • 600427
  • Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve, Palmer


Also known as
Laura to Maytown Coach Road
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Transport—road: Road
5.2 Moving goods, people and information: Using draught animals
Construction period
1877–1895, Laura to Maytown Coach Road (1877c - 1895c)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century


Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve, Palmer
Cook Shire Council
-15.91518151, 144.26632325


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

The Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape is important in demonstrating the 19th century gold rushes which exploited the mineral wealth of Queensland, contributing greatly to its economy. The Palmer Goldfield (discovered in 1872) was the largest alluvial mining field of its time, Queensland’s fourth largest producing goldfield of the 19th and 20th centuries, and influenced the pattern of settlement in north Queensland.

The mining landscape, including the Laura to Maytown Coach Road and the ruins of eight alluvial and reef mining settlements (the Butcher’s Creek complex, Gregory Gully, German Bar complex, Ida complex, Louisa Mines and Enterprise Battery complex, Mount Atlas and Echotown complex, Pioneer Mill complex and the Revolver Point Township), is a physical legacy of the challenges of mining in a remote 19th century goldfield. Modifications to the landscape, including stone pitching, sluice gullies, dams, water races and diversions, demonstrate the mining operations to exploit the Palmer’s extensive, rich and highly pure alluvial gold deposits, and provide important evidence of Chinese mining methods. The reef mining batteries, mine shafts and associated equipment also provide important surviving evidence of the attempts at reef mining on the goldfield, when it was predicted to hold significant gold deposits in underground quartz veins.

The Coach Road largely hand-cut with retaining walls, cuttings, drains, checkouts, steep pinches and associated works; and hotel and staging post sites, and mine workings, is significant as the major arterial route to the Palmer Goldfield. It allowed large reef mining equipment to be brought to the goldfield, and provided a path for wheeled traffic, including Cobb and Co coach services from the 1880s.

As the site of the largest Chinese settlement in Australia from 1873-1877, the Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape is also important in demonstrating Chinese involvement in the exploitation of natural resources and the evolution of mining settlements in Queensland, and provides important surviving evidence of the domestic and social conditions of 19th century Chinese goldminers.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

The Laura to Maytown Coach Road, as one of the few remaining historic access routes on the Palmer which has not been subject to extensive upgrading, is a rare surviving example of a substantial 19th century road system providing access to a remote goldfield. It also provides rare surviving evidence of 19th century road construction techniques and materials employed in Queensland. 

Criterion CThe place has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Queensland’s history.

The Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape has the potential to reveal important information about 19th century mining operations and transport infrastructure, and the people who lived and worked on this early and important goldfield, through historical and archaeological investigations.

The extensive mining landscape – its remnant alluvial and reef mine workings, infrastructure and equipment, and associated artefact scatters – has the potential to yield information about 19th century mining technology and practices.

The former townships, camps and other domestic and commercial occupation sites – evidenced by surface ruins, building footings and platforms, cemeteries and isolated burials, and associated artefact scatters – have the potential to contribute to our understanding of domestic and social conditions on a remote 19th century goldfield. As the former largest settlement of Chinese people in Australia, it has the particular potential to yield knowledge about 19th century diasporic Chinese customs and living and working conditions.

Given the high degree of intactness of certain sections of the Laura to Maytown Coach Road, investigation of its construction and design would be likely to produce valuable information on the technological and physical challenges that had to be faced and overcome to provide a reliable transportation route to the Palmer Goldfield.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

Characterised by areas of modified ground and a collection of ruins and other features from alluvial and reef mining practices, and from domestic, commercial, social and industrial occupation, the Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a historic goldfield. It retains the ruins of eight alluvial and reef mining complexes and transport infrastructure that are collectively important in illustrating the principal characteristics of goldmining operations on a remote goldfield in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The reef mining and battery sites retain evidence of caved shafts and adits, open cuts and stopes, mullock heaps, winding plant and engine mounts, steam engines and boilers, tanks, mortar boxes and stamps, forges, and associated equipment and other artefacts - key features that demonstrate the ore extraction and crushing process.

The alluvial mining sites retain evidence of stone pitching, mullock heaps, water diversions, races and dams, sluice gullies, shallow sinkings, and associated artefacts - complex assemblages that demonstrate the infrastructure and processes required to extract the alluvial deposits for which the Palmer goldfield was renowned.

Distributed across the rugged mining landscape, and ranging from townships and camps concentrated around mining operations and transport infrastructure to more isolated sites, evidence of domestic and commercial occupation includes hotels, yards, house and building sites; cemeteries and graves; forges, ovens and market gardens; infrastructure including footbridge remains and wells; and artefact scatters and deposits, including  rubbish dumps – physical evidence in spatial arrangements that demonstrate the proximity of industrial and domestic life on the goldfield.

The Laura to Maytown Coach Road, featuring hand-cut surfaces, retaining walls, cuttings, draining works, checkouts, steep pinches and associated works, is a rare surviving example of a substantial 19th century road system providing access to a remote goldfield.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

As a remote, isolated and largely deserted 19th and 20th century goldfield, the Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape is important for its evocative qualities, particularly the contrast of remnant mining machinery and settlements against the rugged natural environment. The mining complexes, dispersed across the goldfield, are an evocative reminder of the precarious and short-lived nature of Queensland’s mining booms. The coach road, which continues to provide access to the goldfield, is recognised as a landmark feature by local residents and visitors.

Criterion FThe place is important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period.

The Laura to Maytown Coach Road features large stretches of intact road surfaces, retaining walls, hand cuttings and associated features, and in areas traverses steep and rocky terrain in an isolated part of north Queensland. The place is important as a demonstration of the high degree of technical achievement required to employ 19th century road making techniques to provide reliable access to remote parts of north Queensland.


The Laura to Maytown Coach Road was surveyed in 1876 to provide an access route to the isolated Palmer Goldfield, proclaimed in 1873. The Revolver Point Township, Mount Atlas and Echotown Complex, German Bar Complex, Louisa Mines and Enterprise Battery Complex, Butcher’s Creek Complex, Ida Complex, Pioneer Mill Complex and Gregory Gully were established in the 1870s and 1880s during the height of the Palmer gold rush. These self-sufficient settlements sprang up on the isolated goldfield to serve alluvial and reef miners, and contain remnants of their mining activities. Most were abandoned by 1900, though sporadic mining activity continued on the Palmer until World War II.

Gold mining played a major role in Queensland’s economic and geographic development in the late 19th century. Between 1873 and 1906, Queensland's gold and other metal exports regularly exceeded that of wool. Before 1865, little thought was given to the prospect of gold in North Queensland, but as settlement spread north to Townsville, alluvial gold was discovered on Star River Station (1865), in the Cape River area (1867), on the Gilbert River (1869) and at Etheridge (1870). The country north of these finds was explored for pastoral potential and mineral deposits from the early 1870s. In 1872, William Hann led a Queensland Government-sponsored expedition into Cape York, the territory of the Western Yalanji people.[1] Expedition surveyor Frederick Warner located gold on a tributary of the Mitchell River, about 450km from Townsville, in August 1872. The tributary was named the Palmer River after the then Premier of Queensland, Arthur Hunter Palmer.[2]

Encouraged by the report of gold, James Venture Mulligan led a prospecting party to investigate the Palmer River in June 1873. Mulligan’s party located some of the richest alluvial deposits in North Queensland, triggering a rush to the area. The 2,000 square mile (5,180km2) goldfield was proclaimed in December 1873.[3] Initially, miners and carriers approached the goldfield from Georgetown, a 380km walk north via Mount Surprise Station, with a major river crossing at the Mitchell River.[4] Unprepared miners died en route from lack of supplies, drowning, or confrontation with the Kuku-Yalanji and Kuku-Mini people.[5] In 1874 a coastal port for the goldfield was established at Endeavour Inlet, later renamed Cooktown.[6]

Despite warnings about the difficult conditions, an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people proceeded to the goldfield, establishing camps on or near their claims. Over a million ounces of highly pure gold were exported from the goldfield between 1873 and 1879, with returns over the first decade valued at nearly £5,000,000.[7] Most of the Palmer’s gold came from alluvial deposits, and it became Queensland’s premier alluvial goldfield in the 1870s. An administrative centre, including the mining warden’s camp, was established at Palmerville, near the centre of the goldfield, but in 1875 shifted east to Maytown (QHR 602255), where mining activity was concentrated.[8]

Unusually, the majority of the Palmer goldfield’s population in the 1870s consisted of Chinese miners. Arriving overland from goldfields in the southern colonies, they totalled around 40% of the Palmer’s population at the end of 1874. From 1875 a steamship service ran between Hong Kong and Cooktown, bringing around 1,000 Chinese miners per month directly to the goldfield. By 1877, an estimated 18,000 Chinese miners comprised 90% of the Palmer population, the largest Chinese community in Australia.[9] The miners were mostly young single men who intended to return to China once their goldmining activities yielded profit. They engaged almost exclusively in alluvial mining, replacing European miners who found the Palmer less profitable than expected and moved to other goldfields. Living and working cooperatively, the Chinese were better provisioned and obtained more consistent gold returns than Europeans.[10] Over 500,000 ounces of gold valued at £200,000 were officially exported to China in both 1876 and 1877.[11]

New settlements developed around the goldfield as discoveries were made some distance from Maytown. The demographics of the settlements were determined by the gold mining activity taking place nearby: reef mining settlements were dominated by Europeans; alluvial settlements, mostly along the Left Hand Bank (North Palmer River), were inhabited by Chinese miners.[12] The speed of the gold rush and high cost of importing building materials discouraged permanent buildings, so the settlements comprised small canvas townships with dwellings, cemeteries, businesses including butchers’ shops and general stores, Chinese ovens for cooking meat and bread, and market gardens. Cattle were driven overland to the goldfield to supply the settlements’ butchers’ stores, while Chinese merchants arranged to import goods. The remoteness of the Palmer and challenges of transporting goods there pushed the price of goods so high that the rich gold returns were neutralised by the cost of living.[13]

The death rate on the Palmer, particularly in the early years of the rush, was high. Europeans were buried in cemeteries on the goldfield or in unmarked graves where they died.[14] Chinese miners who died on the goldfield were buried in makeshift graves or cemeteries with little ceremony by kin, neighbours, friends or European authorities. 148 Chinese burials were recorded between 1873 and 1883, observing feng shui traditions where possible. The Palmer graves were viewed as temporary resting places, while families or local associations raised money to return bodies home for burial. Some were exhumed and returned to China in the late 19th and early 20th century.[15]

Despite relatively peaceful interactions between Chinese and European miners,[16] the large influx of single Chinese men onto the goldfield caused concern in other parts of the colony. In 1877 the Goldfields Act Amendment Act and Chinese Immigrants Regulation Act were passed, restricting immigrant numbers and activities, and imposing high tariffs and mining licence fees.[17] Diminishing alluvial returns, the high cost and poor standard of living, and the discovery of new alluvial goldfields exacerbated the impact of the legislation. Chinese miners departed the Palmer, with the total population plummeting from 18,000 in 1877 to just 2,000 in 1882.[18] Most returned to China; some sought other goldfields; and some settled in Cooktown. Alluvial mining ceased on the Palmer almost entirely, and in 1883 the mining warden reported that the alluvial material had been exhausted. The population of Chinese miners dropped to 450 in 1886, and 282 in 1897.[19]

Given the high quantity and quality alluvial returns, a fortune was anticipated to be waiting in the Palmer’s underground quartz reefs. European miners began small-scale reef mining in 1874. Three principal reefs were located, with reef mining concentrated on five districts: Butcher’s Creek, Gregory Gully, German Bar, Revolver Point, and Cradle Creek.[20] Expensive sinking equipment was required to dig shafts and dewater flood-prone mines in the wet season, but high carriage costs limited what could be brought in. The first ore processing battery, the Pioneer, was installed on the goldfield in 1876, and was joined by another four machines in 1877.[21] New settlements developed near major reef mines, including Ida, Gregory and Echotown, while small camps grew around the Pioneer and Louisa machines. Permanent building materials were introduced to the reef mining settlements, which were less ephemeral than alluvial ones, allowing miners’ families to settle on the goldfield. 100-200 women and children reported living on the Palmer in the late 19th century.[22]

By the 1880s, reef mining activity had surpassed alluvial works on the goldfield, though this was due more to the falling off of alluvial activity than the proliferation of reef works. Most mines were operated by companies, which could raise capital to fund operations. Boilers, pumps, winding machines and batteries were installed at the company mines in the 1880s as the reefs continued to produce sparse but tantalisingly rewarding returns. However, companies underinvested on equipment or installed machines which were inappropriate for the local conditions. To make matters worse, most of the 145 auriferous reefs found on the Palmer were small and of average value. In 1884, the limited profitability of the Palmer’s reef mines became public, and investment wound down, ceasing almost entirely when a financial depression struck in the early 1890s. The reef mines were amongst the most expensive to run in Australia, and the Palmer’s reef mining legacy was as ‘a model of the ways in which a goldfield could be plundered and mismanaged into virtual extinction.’[23] Despite this, the Palmer remained the fourth highest producing Queensland goldfield of the 19th and 20th centuries.[24]

In 1893 the Palmer’s total population was 386.[25] The mining warden was withdrawn in 1893, though intermittent reef mining activity continued. In 1897, Government Geologist Robert Logan Jack reported that the Palmer reefs had ‘never had a fair trial, although many of them more than deserve it’,[26] sparking reef mining revivals over the first half of the 20th century. Government funding was provided to aid revivals in the 1920s and 1930s, though like their predecessors, few reported profit.[27] The material of permanent buildings was too valuable to waste in the remote area, and much was removed and repurposed in the 1940s. The goldfield was gazetted as the Palmer Goldfields Resources Reserve in 1986.

Coach Road

The Palmer’s remoteness and the absence of pre-existing European settlement created particular problems for transport. New roads were established to replace the route via Georgetown, including Macmillan’s, which ran along the Conglomerate Range to Palmerville (1874); the ‘Douglas Track or ‘Hell’s Gate’ track through the ranges to Maytown (1875); and ‘Coward’s Track’ or ‘Byerstown Road’ to Byerstown (1875).[28] The roads travelled significant distances from the goldfield, crossing difficult terrain, were inaccessible to wheeled traffic, and obtained carriage costs of up to £120 per ton, hampering the goldfield’s development.[29]

Reef mining activity, requiring heavy mining machinery, stimulated the search for a trafficable route to the goldfield. In August 1876 ‘Robinson’s Track’ was established to Maytown. The 54 mile (87km) track ran south from Macmillan’s track at Laura, along the Little Laura River, crossed the Conglomerate Range and into Maytown via Cradle Creek, Jessop’s Hill, Jessop’s Gully, German Bar and Thompson’s Gully.[30] It shortened the distance from Maytown to Cooktown to 160km, and allowed heavy machinery to be carried to the goldfield for the first time.[31]

Funds were raised locally and £1,500 was diverted from the Byerstown Road project to develop the track.[32] Road parties were sent from Maytown in September 1876 to clear trees and blast sections of rock. The track was in use by October,[33] but had a number of drawbacks, including several hazardous sections ‘in places like a series of ladders at an angle as nearly to the perpendicular as is possible’.[34] Creek and river crossings were difficult or impassable during the wet season, and the Conglomerate Range crossing ran along a ridge ‘on the brink of a gorge’.[35] Heavy wheeled traffic cut through the soft sandstone descent of the range, eroding the road and making it particularly dangerous after rain. Local European and Chinese labourers were engaged to improve the road, blasting or excavating cuttings by hand, constructing retaining walls and strengthening the sections near the range. Cuttings were made in the rock for squared timbers, possibly for a corduroy road[36] to help coaches and drays over the hill.[37] With improvements made, a regular Cobb and Company coach service to the goldfield was introduced in 1880, and Robinson’s Track became known as the Laura to Maytown Coach Track or Road.[38] A railway line to Maytown was surveyed in the late 1880s but did not eventuate, leaving the coach road and auxiliary tracks as the only transport routes to the goldfield.[39]

The coach journey from Cooktown to Maytown took about 30 hours in good weather conditions; in the wet season, the trip could take up to three months. Rest stops, hotels and guest houses were established along the track to accommodate delayed passengers.[40] Conditions were basic and prices high.[41] Folder’s Hotel was established at the base of the Conglomerate Range, on the banks of a tributary of Catalpa Creek. The hotel, run by Alfred Folder, was operational by 1887 and included a handful of structures, yards, sawpit, and gardens.[42] Chinese campsites were also dotted along the Laura to Maytown road, as prospectors slowly progressed towards the field or sought gold along the track.[43] Some Chinese graves are still visible, including at Folder’s Hotel and Jessop’s Hill crossings.

Coaching services dwindled with the Palmer goldfield’s decline in the 1890s, though the track remained in use when new gold discoveries were made south of Maytown at Groganville (QHR 600982).[44] Deviations were made across difficult or flooded sections of the coach road, including sections in the north east of the original coach road.[45]

In 1910 the Public Estate Improvements branch improved the Laura-Maytown road for a brief mining revival. ‘Checkouts’, visible along part of this track after the Conglomerate Ranges, may have been added at this time. Two deviations were made near the steepest parts of the road at Folder’s Hill (1910) and Jessop’s Hill (1912).[46] The track served as the main access route into the goldfields into the 20th century. A mail route operated along the road until the 1930s, and prospectors used the road during later mining revivals. A portion of the Laura-Maytown Coach Road was included in the Palmer Goldfields Resources Reserve gazettal in 1986.[47] The unmaintained road continues to provide access to the goldfield from Laura and is a popular recreational vehicle track.

German Bar

Located on the North Palmer River and Thompson’s Gully about 4km north-northeast of Maytown, German Bar was one of the earliest towns on the goldfield. It originated from a claim made in 1873 by three German miners, who reportedly extracted 125oz (3.54kg) of gold from a bar within the river.[48] European miners hastily staked claims in the area, establishing a settlement of canvas tents, which journalist Spencer Brown used as the setting for his tale of ‘How the Hatter Died’.[49] German Bar’s easiest finds were exhausted by mid-1874, and European miners departed.[50] Chinese miners took up the deserted claims, and by late 1874 German Bar was the goldfield’s main Chinese camp. ‘The German Bar is alive with Chinamen’, wrote one correspondent in December 1874, with ‘butcher’s stalls with quarters of good beef hanging on to the hooks, restaurants, and doctors.’[51]

The town was ‘a small village on the river’, encircled by a series of ridgelines. A number of small camps dotted the ridgelines, where alluvial deposits were rich.[52] Chinese New Year festivities were held on the town’s sportsground, celebrated by approximately 5,000 Chinese miners from the surrounding districts.[53] Three hotels – the Shanghai, Sin King Nury and the Canton – were operating by 1876.[54] Food for the settlement was provided by Chinese settlers: the local butcher slaughtered cattle in the town’s stockyard weekly;[55] and Ah Gun (or Gum)’s market garden provided fresh produce, including mangoes.[56] Stone and earthen ovens were built in the town and at surrounding camps, likely for cooking meat. Near the edge of the town was German Bar’s cemetery, one of the largest on the goldfield.[57]

In 1876 Robinson’s Track was laid directly past German Bar, bringing foot traffic, dray traffic and coaches into the town. European prospectors returned, discovering reefs nearby and commencing mining operations.[58] In 1880 Scottish engineer Andrew Binnie installed the ‘Gang Forward’ machine in the district, southwest of the town, and took up residence nearby.[59] German Bar briefly became a social and supply centre for nearby reef mines,[60] but by 1883, Europeans had largely abandoned the district.[61] A lack of capital was blamed for the decline of reef mining.[62] The local authority cut a new path to the Gang Forward battery to improve access from other mining districts, but the battery sat idle and ‘rusting for want of stone to operate upon’.[63] The battery site was destroyed during the construction of a haul road in the 1980s.

Most of German Bar’s Chinese residents had left after the Chinese Immigrants Regulation Act 1877. A small number stayed, operating a store, hotel and butchering business for the remaining miners.[64] Alluvial mining activity continued in the southwestern section of the district at Thompson’s Loop, where substantial gold discoveries were made in the early 1890s.[65] References to German Bar ceased in 1893.

Revolver Point

Revolver Point, about 7km northeast of Maytown and 4km upstream of German Bar, grew out of a European prospector’s claim laid out in 1873.[66] As at other alluvial settlements, European miners panned for gold at the ‘Point’, but soon declared it a ‘duffer’ and were replaced by Chinese miners. A small settlement of about 20ha developed on the riverbank near the claims, containing dwellings, butchers’ stalls and restaurants. Visitors crossing the river were afforded a view ‘through the timber of the white tents at Revolver Point’.[67]

By December 1874 Revolver Point, like German Bar, was renowned as a Chinese settlement. Its reported population in 1876 was 500 Chinese and 40 European miners, with estimates of up to 2,000 additional unreported occupants. Five public houses, including the Hongkong and the Lenn Tenn, provided alcohol and accommodation. The handful of Europeans settlers in Revolver Point operated three stores, a butcher’s shop, and one of the public houses. Three cemeteries were located in the town and surrounds.[68]

Revolver Point, which was difficult to reach, developed a reputation as a ‘frontier’ town. Away from the police presence in Maytown, miners turned to crime when their provisions were in short supply. The European-owned butchery was robbed five times in 1875, losing £20 of silver and gold specimens, nuggets, chains, and papers valued at £100.[69] The settlement also experienced deviations from accepted social norms, including a reported family group of a European woman, Kate Knowles Ennis, Chinese storekeeper Ah Bin, and their three children.[70]

A new wave of European miners arrived after Revolver Point’s deep lead was discovered in November 1875, and an ore-processing battery was installed about two miles away. In December 1878 returns from the Revolver Point district’s Independent, Walhalla, Home Rule and Lord Nelson reef mines reached 1,131 tons of ore, yielding 1,204 ounces (34kg) of gold.[71] The reefs quickly proved unprofitable, however, and disappointed miners moved on, returning Revolver Point to the Chinese alluvial miners.[72]

Despite the passage of the Chinese Immigrants Regulation Act 1877, Revolver Point was still a ‘thriving (Chinese) mining centre’ in 1879. Further alluvial discoveries were reported at Revolver Point in the late 1880s and early 1890s, and stores, a blacksmith, garden and piggery operated from the town through the 1880s. Apart from rumours of fossicking activity in 1904, references to Revolver Point stopped after 1900.[73] It appears to have been abandoned with the decline of the field in the early 20th century.

Mount Atlas and Echotown

The Mount Atlas and Echotown Complex was occupied by Chinese and European mining communities after a prospecting claim was made in mid-1876. The town was laid out and named by Gold Warden Sellheim later that year. It sat at the base of Mount Atlas, 11km northeast of Maytown, and formed part of the Revolver Point mining district. The town was connected via pack tracks to Maytown and Revolver Point, 3km west. By 1877 buildings were ‘going up on every available spot’, though carters to carry essential supplies were scarce. Market gardens and businesses in the town were run by Chinese settlers, providing essential supplies for the miners. The deceased were buried in the town or at the nearby reef workings.[74]

Chinese alluvial miners created extensive stone pitching in the Mount Atlas gullies, while sluicing the gullies of their gold-bearing gravels. The neat formations were part of a mining technique not practised by Europeans, which ensured that all material was checked and maximum profits extracted from the alluvial deposits. The Mount Atlas stone pitching, 200m long and several metres high, may have been partially restored by a local historical society in the 1980s.[75]

The heyday of the complex was brief. A battery was opened in 1876, crushing stone from surrounding mines, but was idle within a year, as new gold discoveries drew miners away from Echotown. A second battery (the ‘Gang Forward’), was installed in 1877 next to a water source known as ‘Binnie’s Pool’ after the battery’s proprietor. Binnie had anticipated further reef mining, but within a year the battery was proposed for removal to German Bar.[76] It was dismantled and taken there in 1880, reportedly rafted down the North Palmer River. By 1882 Echotown, ‘at one time the centre of quartz mining’ was ‘quite deserted’.[77] Mount Atlas was targeted in the revivals of the 1920s and 1930s,[78] but with no reported success.

Louisa Mines and Enterprise Battery

The Louisa Complex, north of Maytown, includes two mines (the Louisa and Louisa No 1 West, laid off in 1874 and 1875), the Enterprise Battery (installed in 1937), and the site of the Louisa Mine Manager’s House (likely built in the 1910s). A house site, the residence of a Comet miner, also sits within the complex.

The gold-bearing Louisa reef system, striking west-northwest crossing Thompson’s Gully and Thompson’s Creek, was discovered during the early stages of the rush. The reef’s most prominent mines, the Louisa and Louisa No.1 West, were laid off in 1874 and 1875. Prospectors sunk 15 shafts onto the reef, but the mines were overwhelmed by flooding, despite the installation of a horse whim. In 1878, the manager of the Louisa No 1 West added a steam action pump, one of the first steam-powered machines on the goldfield, and purchased the Pioneer battery, which he reconstructed and renamed the ‘Duo Juncta’. In January 1879 a ‘perfect jeweller’s shop’ of gold was found on the reef at 82 foot (25m), with crushings at the Duo Juncta in March 1879.[79]

After further flooding, the No 1 West was closed and sold to a syndicate (the Louisa Company) in 1881.[80] The company installed an English-made Tangye pump in January 1882, and the Louisa Company reported payable stone in March 1882. As the reef was ‘known to be a rich one’, the company ordered new machinery, including two seven-ton 25hp Cornish tubular boilers, both on specially cast iron beds; a winding engine; an air compressor made by Brisbane company Smith, Forrester and Co; and two more Tangye pumps. The air compressor was the ‘first of the kind manufactured in Brisbane’,  and the first installed on the Palmer.[81] A poppet head was also erected. The new machinery was installed in April 1883 and pumped the mine almost dry in September.

Thanks to an unusually dry summer, the crushing machine remained in constant employment for several months, and 52.3kg of gold was raised from the Louisa mines. In May 1884, however, costs overwhelmed profit. The company was unable to pay the 35 men employed at the Louisa, who were discharged. The mine was declared unviable and the Queensland National Bank foreclosed. A number of revivals were attempted in the 1890s but only one further crushing was reported before most of the machinery was removed to the Ida Mine in 1894.[82]

In 1897 Robert Logan Jack reported that the Louisa’s reputation for ‘heavy water’ had been overstated,[83] sparking renewed interest in the reef. Multiple enterprises were subsequently launched to restart mining operations, though few proceeded beyond initial investigations. In 1915 a Cooktown company installed electrical machinery powered by a diesel engine, the first on the goldfield. A mining manager was appointed, and was likely provided with an on-site residence. The diesel engine struggled and was replaced by a 96hp oil engine and centrifugal pump in 1917. After further technical, financial and staffing problems, the undertaking was abandoned.[84]

In 1920, under an attempt to revive the mining industry, the Queensland Government reopened the Louisa, pumping it dry with new machinery. Government Geologist EC Saint-Smith inspected the mine, finding water pouring out of the walls, a patchy reef averaging only half an ounce per ton, and machinery requiring three tons of fuel per week from Laura. This was considered unpayable, and the mine closed. A group of Cairns businessmen reopened the Louisa, powering it with machinery from the Ida Mine, but abandoned the attempt in 1924. The same group attempted another unsuccessful revival in 1930. The mine was pumped dry over the course of the 1930s by a succession of syndicates, but no ore was mined.[85]

The Louisa was revived again in 1939 by Charles E Barnes, horse breeder of Canning Downs Homestead (QHR 600525) and later a Commonwealth Government minister. After extensive earthworks and the installation of new machinery, Barnes mined 23 tons of ore and processed it at Cyril Denman’s ‘Perseverance’ battery. Encouraged by the Louisa’s potential, Denman leased a one acre machinery area adjoining the mine and erected a steam-powered ten-head battery called the Enterprise. The Enterprise, composed of machinery parts already on the goldfield, undertook crushings across the field for the next three years. With wartime shortages and a low gold yield, the Louisa closed in May 1941, followed by the Enterprise in 1942.[86] In 1947 the Louisa’s diesel engine, generator, pump and steel-head frame were purchased and removed to Totley. Winding gear was left on the coach road near Maytown.[87] The Louisa site has been abandoned and unused since.

Not far from the Louisa mine, a house was built in the early 1880s for William Parsons, a former carrier who had invested in the nearby Comet mine. Parsons resided in the house until his death in 1895. His son Percy and Percy’s family were among the last permanent residents of Maytown.[88]

Butcher’s Creek Complex

The Butcher’s Creek Complex, approximately 2.5km northeast of Maytown, comprises remnant alluvial and reef mining sites, including two prominent reef mines, the King of the Ranges and the Comet.

Gold mining commenced in Butcher’s Creek in 1874, with both alluvial mining activity, and reef mining at the King of the Ranges. Unlike most of the Palmer’s reef mines, King of the Ranges was a non-company mine; its individual claimants worked it intermittently for small but steady returns from 1874 until 1903, and again briefly between 1939 and 1942. Two shafts and a large tunnel were dug on the reef between 1874 and 1881, the latter considered ‘one of the greatest mining undertakings ever attempted on the Palmer’.[89] Initial returns of over 3oz of gold per ton were promising, and the mine made moderate returns to the end of the 1870s. The lack of company capital limited the equipment used at the mine to a single pump, installed in 1882 to dewater the flood-prone shaft. Work fell away in the 1890s, but recommenced in 1901 after a new discovery was made. With the main shaft under ‘heavy water’ in 1902, miners installed a 6inch draw lift pump and 16hp winding engine.[90] By December 1902 the King of the Ranges was the focus of a Palmer revival, and a company was floated in Brisbane to fund mining efforts, but unfavourable reports on the mine shut down work by 1904.[91]

The dewatering of the Louisa mine in 1939 lowered the water level in surrounding mines, including the long abandoned King of the Ranges mine. Herbert Silk took out a lease over the King of the Ranges, reopened old shafts and established new workings, but the small scale operation was abandoned in 1942 when Silk departed for war service.[92]

The Comet mine was taken up in 1880 and became one of the largest and most prolific of the Palmer reef mines, despite being regularly affected by water problems. It was discovered by Chinese alluvial miners working on Butcher’s Creek, and initially named the ‘Canton’. Prospecting claims were laid off for European miners DM Jones (the ‘Canton’ prospecting claim), Howell (No 1 north-west Canton) and Thompson (No 2 north-west Canton) in 1880.[93] Over 400 tons of ore was sent for crushing from the mines in 1880.[94] In July 1881, the No 1 Canton and neighbouring Canton leases were amalgamated, becoming the six acre ‘Comet’ lease.[95] By the end of 1882 the Comet had yielded 64.72kg of gold.[96]

The Comet reef ran through Butcher’s Creek, making the shafts prone to annual flooding. Despite pumping equipment installed to control the inflow, the mine was overwhelmed by water in mid-1883 and the managers closed the debt-riddled mine. Tributors were engaged in June 1884, sinking the mine a further 15m and making a 12m cross-cutting, before the Comet was transferred to a company. A battery, engine and Cornish boiler were installed in 1886. The 9 ton boiler was 27ft 6in (8.4m) long and 6ft 6in (2m) high, requiring a custom-made carriage to bring it over the difficult terrain, and a team of 68 bullocks to carry it. Its arrival caused great excitement on the field.[97]

A company office was on the mine site by 1888.[98]

The Comet experienced its best returns in 1887 and 1888, yielding 55.28kg of gold. Berdan pans were added for fine grinding, improving returns; reef shafts were sunk to 257ft (78m), 380ft (116m); and crosscuts were driven at two levels. In 1889, however, the mine flooded in a heavy wet season and was abandoned.[99] The mine was leased to syndicates, and figured in several schemes to revive the Maytown mines, but apart from a state drilling test in 1922, was not reopened.[100]

The Comet battery continued to crush stone for nearby mines between 1892 and 1915. In 1937 some of the milling machinery was removed to the Independent mine, in the north of the goldfield. The boiler and engine installed in 1886 appear to be extant.[101]

Alluvial deposits at Bucher’s Creek were ‘exceptionally good’,[102] with significant alluvial finds reported in 1878 and 1880, the former during an unusually dry season which uncovered new ground[103]. The work was mostly undertaken by Chinese miners, leaving physical evidence including two dam walls, a water race and sluice gully, and a forge, likely used by miners to maintain their tools. Stone pitching was likely created from alluvial sluicing activities in 1893.[104]

Ida Complex

The Ida Complex, comprising remnants of a settlement (Ida Town), reef mines and machinery, is located approximately 2km north of Maytown. Primarily a reefing area, its mining activity centred on two mines, the Ida Prospecting Claim (PC) and Ida No 1 west.

The Ida PC was registered in June 1874, striking west-northwest along a ridge between Caledonian and Ida Creeks, both tributaries of Butcher’s Creek.[105] Multiple shafts were sunk onto the reef and provided good returns. In 1877 a private company installed the fifteen-head Mabel Louise Battery 500m northwest of the mine. As the largest and most centrally located battery on the goldfield, it was in great demand from surrounding reef mines.[106] A hotel was built to accommodate the Mabel Louise battery workers, which quickly developed into the community of ‘Ida Town’.[107] Ida Town’s population was predominantly European, but a Chinese butcher and market gardener supplied fresh produce for the town. Six of the market garden’s mango trees survive on the banks of Butcher’s Creek.

The low-lying Ida PC Mine claim was flood-prone and had to be dewatered after significant rainfall. Steam pumps and winding gear were installed to sink the shaft 100 feet (30.5m) deeper. With improvements made, the Ida PC Mine became the best performing reef claim on the Palmer, playing a major role in convincing the mining community of the goldfield’s reefing prospects. The mine employed 21 men on three shifts who lived on the claim, with structures including a forge, two huts, a kitchen, fowl house, pig sty and public house in place by 1878.[108] In 1880, £3,900 worth of machinery was installed at the mine to improve its returns, including two horizontal engines, three boilers, and pumping, winding and crushing gear.[109]

Ida Town, the principal centre for five large reefs and three crushing machines,[110] grew with mining success. In 1882, Ida Town residents raised £100 toward establishing a Mechanics’ Institute, which was doubled by visiting Premier Thomas McIlwraith.[111] The ‘extremely picturesque’ town was predicted to be ‘a place of great importance ere long.’[112] There were 26 rateable properties in the town by 1883, including miners’ cottages, market garden, two butchers (Alfred Dimes and Ah Ping), a brickmaker, store, and three hotels.

The Ida PC Mine’s good returns continued until 1883, when an intrusion of barren stone was struck at 250 feet (76.2m). The suspension of work at the Ida ‘had the effect of almost stopping business at the township.’[113] The mine was taken over by the Queensland National Bank, which owned several reef mines on the Palmer. Unbeknownst to the public, the Ida was also part-owned by the Premier, Thomas McIlwraith, who accumulated debts of over £32,500 investing in the Ida PC Mine and the Palmer River Gold Mining Company.[114] In 1883, as Acting Mines Minister, McIlwraith asked the Palmer’s mining warden WO Hodgkinson to prepare a report on the Palmer Goldfield. Hodgkinson reported favourably on the Ida Mine, encouraging investment. He was accused of attempting to defraud the public, and ‘the Ida Affair’ became the subject of a Parliamentary inquiry. The inquiry exonerated Hodgkinson but gave a less positive assessment of the mine, which promptly closed.[115]

Ida Town declined with the fall in fortunes from the reef mines. The Mechanics’ Institute was built by 1886, but by February 1887 the town’s batteries were out of operation. In 1890 Ida Town’s population dropped to 150, including the president of the Mechanics’ Institute, a mining agent, builder, butcher, postmaster and storekeeper, and two hoteliers. The town was removed from Pugh’s Almanac in 1895.[116]

Revivals of the Ida mines were attempted in the 1890s, and were promoted in Sydney and London, but ceased after unfavourable financial reports. The Mabel Louise battery was sold in the 1890s[117] and last referenced in 1900.[118] Machinery from nearby abandoned mines was shifted to the Ida in 1894, and the battery at the Ida undertook custom crushes until early 1896. The Ida was held under lease well into the 20th century, but not mined.[119]

In 1938 Cyril Denman constructed a small battery from the field’s abandoned machinery, including material from the Mabel Louise Battery, and named it ‘Perseverance’. In the early 1940s the nearby Louisa Mine was reopened on a large scale, and a trial of ore was crushed at the Perseverance, but both were abandoned by the mid-1940s. The Perseverance’s portable engine, drive and camshaft were removed. Ida Town’s last recorded resident left in 1966.[120]

Pioneer Mill

The Pioneer Mill complex, situated approximately 1km southeast of Maytown, is the site of the Palmer’s first crushing battery, brought to the field in 1875. The Pioneer was vital in establishing the viability of the reef mines. When reef mining began in 1874, ore could only be processed by hand or transported off the field at high cost, both of which drastically reduced profits. In July 1875, a syndicate of Palmer businessmen purchased a 10-stamp battery with blanket tables and engine for £5,000, and shipped it from Sydney to Maytown. It was installed on a site near the Warden’s camp on the north bank of the Palmer River. Construction took nearly six months due to the lack of available timber and grass for workhorses.[121] The first crushing in January 1876 was attended by over 200 miners. The battery was christened the ‘Pioneer’ mill by Maytown’s first female resident, and toasted by the miners at day-long celebrations.

Though relatively simple in design, the Pioneer Mill was capable of processing an average 90 tons of ore per week, yielding 4,401oz (124.77kg) of gold in three months.[122] A settlement sprang up near the Pioneer machine, likely containing the residences of the engineer and seven machine operators. A hotel or boarding house may also have been built.[123]

By the end of 1876, the Pioneer had processed 4,500 tons of ore, but was facing unsurmountable problems. The machine was too simple to process fine gold and yielded low returns. As reefing activity shifted north, cartage costs to the Pioneer increased, and reef miners elected to await the arrival of new batteries. Seasonal unavailability of water near the Pioneer also caused problems for the horse teams carrying ore to the mill. Improvements were made and the crushing fee halved, but the Pioneer was unable to compete against the six other mills operating on the field by 1878. The Pioneer’s machinery was sold and re-erected at the Louisa mine in 1878.[124]

The Pioneer settlement buildings were likely removed with the mill. An extant stone structure may have been an explosives store; the deserted area was ideal for this purpose, and a Powder Magazine Keeper, Jacob Smith, was appointed to the Palmer in 1878.[125] The settlement was deserted by 1885.[126] A campsite and small cemetery were reportedly occupied during the mining revivals of the 1920s and 1930s.[127]

Gregory Gully

Alluvial and reef mining began at Gregory Gully, in the goldfield’s southeast, in 1874.[128] The gully was declared a ‘place of importance’ in April 1874 when about 150 men were reported working there, but within a few months, ‘there [was] nothing being got to warrant any one rushing’.[129] European miners turned to reefing after a promising specimen was found at the gully’s Queen of the North reef in March 1874,[130] while Chinese miners took up alluvial activities at Gregory Beach, stacking unwanted stone and other materials to form stone pitching, a water race and a dam. These structures were highly useful in alluvial mining, impounding and redirecting water to break up the wash-dirt and reveal any gold.[131]

By mid-1874, 12 prospecting claims along the reef were ‘in full work and raising rich stone, with very good prospects of making a fortune’.[132] The reef was so rich that even by hand crushing the Queen of the North yielded 50oz (1.4kg) of gold, enough to cover expenses.[133] Multiple shafts were dug along the reef, and tents, huts, forges, blacksmith, butcher’s shop, boarding house and public house were dotted around the claims by 1880.[134]

A smattering of camps, concentrated around the alluvial deposits and quartz reef, coalesced into a township known as Gregory (sometimes Queen). Unlike many other towns on the Palmer, Gregory’s population was largely European reef miners. In the late 1870s the town threatened to overtake Maytown as the premier settlement on the goldfield. By 1885 it featured 26 rateable properties, including a Miners’ Institute and a significant library; ‘Cosmopolitan’ boarding house; Miners Arms Hotel; stores; rifle range and Chinese market garden. Most were constructed of permanent materials like wood and iron, with some wood and bark miners’ cottages.[135]

Gregory Gully’s extensive reef mining activity encouraged a private company to import a five-head public battery (the ‘Live and Let Live’) for the district. After ‘numerous and most unaccountable delays’ the machine was erected in April 1877, increasing production at the Queen of the North mine. [136] In 1878 it was sunk to 270 feet (90m), and 100oz (2.83kg) of gold was produced in 1879.[137] However, operational costs were high and the mine was overcapitalised. The mine’s creditor, the Queensland National Bank, foreclosed in 1879 and leased the mine on tribute. It produced only ‘desultory’ returns in the 1880s, and was flooded by 1887.[138] Gregory township was heavily influenced by the fluctuations in reef mining, and businesses merged or closed as the Queen of the North declined. The number of rateable properties in town halved by 1891.[139] The boarding house closed in 1890; the post office followed in 1894. In 1900, Gregory’s reported population was 34.[140]

In 1897, Robert Logan Jack calculated that the Queen of the North had produced 7,916 tons of ore for 16,516oz (468.22kg) of gold, the best returns of the Maytown reefs.[141] The report solidified Gregory’s reputation as the Palmer’s chief reefing district[142] and encouraged syndicates, who dewatered and inspected the shafts in the early 1900s, but found them unviable.[143] Proposed investment in the 1910s did not eventuate.[144]

The Queen of the North’s crushing mill was removed for use at Cooktown in 1939, and Gregory town was deserted by the 1940s.[145]


The Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape comprises a 13km stretch of road and the ruins of eight isolated mining settlements, dispersed across a 16,200ha resources reserve. The reserve is located approximately 120km southwest of Cooktown, in a rugged, isolated area of innumerable ridges and incised, seasonal creeks; it extends from the Conglomerate Range[1] (north) to the Palmer River (south), and is dissected from northeast to southwest by the winding North Palmer River.

From north to south the Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape comprises the ruins of the:

  • Laura to Maytown Coach Road (map 2)
  • German Bar to Thompson’s Loop (map 3)
  • Revolver Point Township (map 4)
  • Mt Atlas and Echotown Complex (map 5)
  • Louisa Mine and Enterprise Battery (map 6)
  • Butcher’s Creek Complex (map 7)
  • Ida Complex (map 8)
  • Pioneer Complex (map 9)
  • Gregory Gully (map 10)

The historic goldfield retains important physical evidence of late-19th and early-20th century mining and associated domestic and commercial activities in the area including: transport infrastructure; remnant reef mining works, batteries and equipment; alluvial mining works including sluice gullies, stone pitched water races and dams; remnant forges and ovens; former townships, hotels, camps and other occupation sites; cemeteries and isolated graves; and various other associated features and artefacts. 

Laura to Maytown Coach Road

The place includes an approximately 13km long portion of the former Laura to Maytown Coach Road, from the northwest corner of the Reserve to where the road reaches the northern extremities of former town camp at German Bar (south). This portion of the route represents much of the last leg of the journey from Laura.

Separate alignments for the western route (1876) and eastern route (deviations) descending the Conglomerate Range commence at the northern boundary of the Reserve and intersect approximately 3.5km to the south, from where the formation resumes the 1876 route south via Cradle Creek, Jessop’s Creek and Jessop’s Hill.

Associated occupation sites include (from north to south): Folders Hotel and yards, and a Chinese camp and grave sites, along the western route; house sites, near the intersection of the western and eastern routes; a forge, near the Cradle Creek crossing; and campsites, graves, workings and dams, near the Jessop’s Creek crossing.   

Winding through the rugged terrain, the original road formation is characterised by hand-cut road surfaces and drains, cuttings, retaining walls of varying sizes and quality, and quarrying undertaken to clear the road and reduce the slope. The route has been partly re-formed as a graded road but retains sections of original construction and early modifications.

Eastern route formation

Commencing approximately 1.5km east of the western route, on the northern boundary, the eastern route descends east then south around the eastern side of the range, before aligning southwest towards the intersection with the western road.

A retaining wall of unsorted and uncut stone with clay mortar is found either side of a ramp that commences approximately 600m from the start of the descent. On the western side of the road at this point are two side drains that have been hand chiselled and cut through bedrock. The retaining wall extends southwest along the ramp for 100m and has an uneven batter of approximately 45-55 degrees. The stone used has been quarried from a cutting located to the north. The retaining wall reaches a maximum height of 10m in one section.

The section south of the intersection with the track to Cradle Creek is particularly well represented by elements of original construction including steep pinches, cuttings and stone drains. At the junction with Cradle Creek, the western side of the road features a stone retaining wall of medium sized unsorted stone with a smaller coping course. The wall is 35m in length and up to 1m high.

Continuing south, the winding route crosses Jessop’s Creek, where numerous occupation sites are located near the road, before reaching the northern extents of the former German Bar town camp.

Western route formation

From the northern boundary the western route continues in a southerly direction through the Reserve and takes a detour (c1895) to Ripple Creek via a track to the west of the original road alignment. The track then heads to the memorial to Robert Logan Jack and his trigonometric station (memorial not of State-level heritage significance). 

Situated about 200m east of the memorial is the beginning of the ‘Western’ route down the escarpment of the Conglomerate Range. This descent is characterised by an extensive cutting into the native sandstone to produce a smooth road surface, the western side of which has been cut out a further 200m for the entire length of the road at this point. The western side also contains additional check-outs for squared timbers (0.25x0.25m) that may have been used to hold a corduroy road to assist coaches and drays to climb to the top of the conglomerates. These check-outs are between 4m and 5.5m apart down this western side of the road at this point.

The route continues in a general southeast direction for a further 1km until it reaches the remains of Folder’s Hotel and yards. From Folder’s Hotel, the road heads south. Approximately 300m along the road and to the west are the remains of a Chinese camp and graves. The road then continues towards the intersection with the original 1876 alignment.

Occupation sites

Folders Hotel and yards (western route)

The remains of former Folders Hotel are located east of the western road and comprise:

  • Former main hotel building – 16x9m flagstone floor, with associated metal artefacts.
  • Former hotel kitchen – 7x6m uneven floor of two levels with 3x2m collapsed stone fireplace in the northeast corner. Located 2m east of the main hotel floor.
  • Stone alignments – two 5m long lines of stones set at right angles (possible edging for a garden, path or building). Located approximately 10m south of the possible kitchen.
  • Former ‘colonial’ oven – with associated glass, ceramic and metal artefacts, including an oval-shaped wash tub and wagon parts. Located approximately 5m south of the stone alignments.

Horse yard posts associated with former Folder’s Hotel are located approximately 70m southeast of the hotel remains. They include:

  • Timber posts – two free-standing round timber posts approximately 1.8m high, 5.3m apart with slots checked out on two sides of each post for 4 yard rails that would have run at right angles from each post. The slots are 70-90mm deep.
  • Modified tree – with slots cut into its trunk to take yard rails. Located approximately 25m northeast of the posts.

Chinese camp and graves (western route)

A Chinese camp, located west of the western road, is situated on a flat on a bend in a creek and may have had as many as 20 huts. Occupation evidence includes:

  • House sites – characterised by collapsed stone fireplaces that are constructed of large, non-local stones.
  • Artefact scatters – including metal, glass and ceramic sherds.
  • Modified trees – cut tree stumps as well as coppice regrowth.
  • Grave sites – one exhumed and one intact grave, located close to the camp. The intact grave is situated on a low ridge above the campsite and is identifiable by a pile of stones, with the foot stone mound closer to the creek below.

House sites (eastern and western route intersection)

At least two house sites are located adjacent to the intersection of the eastern and western route alignments. They include:

  • Former house site – 6x3m rectangular surface with two sides defined by lines of stones.
  • Artefact scatter – metal tools and other objects, glass bottle and ceramic bowl fragments (some of Chinese origin). Located southwest of the house site.
  • Possible grave site – located to the south. 

Forge (Cradle Creek crossing, eastern route)

The remains of a square stone structure, probably a forge, measuring 1.4x1.1x0.7m high, is located adjacent to the road, immediately north of the Cradle Creek crossing.

Campsites, graves, workings and dams (Jessop’s Creek crossing)

Numerous Chinese and European campsites, graves, alluvial workings and small dams are located immediately adjacent to the road at the Jessop’s Creek crossing. The campsites are located east and west of the road and include:

  • Campsite – 50x50m area containing building foundations, flagstones, a fireplace, broken bottles and celadon sherds, metal pieces, a cradle sieve plate and a brown stoneware lid.
  • Large Chinese campsite – extending around the side of a hill and containing a series of stone foundations, flagstones, and benched house sites. Artefacts present include glass bottle and ceramic sherds, celadon ware, and metal tools and other objects.
  • Two round stone ovens – both constructed of stone, clay and ant bed mortar. Located close to the large campsite, on the side of the hill.

Two Chinese burial grounds are located approximately 400m north of the Jessop’s Creek campsite. They comprise:

  • Burial ground – four graves (three of which are likely to be the graves of Chinese miners and one of which is mounded suggesting European origins) and a nearby Chinese urn located under an overhanging boulder.
  • Larger burial ground – four exhumed graves and six intact graves (with cairn stones marking their location), all orientated north-south.

German Bar to Thompson’s Loop

The German Bar Complex is a large area (approximately 142.8ha) that comprises the remains of the former German Bar Township, a Chinese cemetery, numerous isolated graves, Binnie’s Gang Forward Battery, and a collection of Chinese alluvial mining remnants, graves and an occupation site. The complex is spread out along a section of the North Palmer River approximately 4km north of Maytown. 

The northern section of the complex includes the German Bar Township area, with evidence of occupation along both banks of the river and a small section of the Laura to Maytown Coach Road (north to south). The wide variety of archaeological evidence in this section primarily relates to domestic and commercial practices on the Palmer Goldfield, rather than mining activities, and is predominantly located on high river terraces situated immediately above the river. 

The southern section of the complex is limited to the southern bank of the river at a bend known locally as Thompson’s Loop and is close to a major junction of roads/tracks and includes a popular contemporary camp site. It includes archaeological evidence of domestic occupation as well as alluvial workings.

Northern Section

German Bar Township

A large occupation site is located on the northern bank of the North Palmer River. It includes an earthen oven, dug into the top of a sloping bank near the junction of two drainage creeks, and low density camp sites, the heaviest concentration of which are located along a ridge immediately to the northwest of and parallel to the North Palmer River. Along the top of this ridge runs the Laura to Maytown Coach Road.

  • Earthen oven – semi-circular in shape, with the above ground section constructed of stone and ant-bed. The outer diameter of the oven is 1.8m and the inner diameter is 1.1m. The external height of the oven’s extant stone wall is 0.5m while the internal height is double that. The open side of the structure (possible original firebox) has deteriorated over time.  
  • Campsites – numerous small discrete camps comprising areas of levelled area of ground and possible small hearths. Many of these sites contain artefact scatters that include concentrations of burnt and/or fragmentary bone that could represent evidence of the domestic consumption of meat and the use of the oven for cooking; other artefacts largely consist of glass and ceramic fragments. 

The ruins of a comparatively large structure (possible store or hotel) are located immediately west of the coach road, just as it enters the German Bar Township. It comprises:

  • Former building footprint – 7.2x12m stone floor, surrounded by a 10.1x13.5m clearing, with a possible entrance comprising two parallel lines of stones (on their edges and fixed into the soil) extending toward the road.
  • Cutting or retaining wall – dug into the slope to create a level building pad, located at the northeast end of the structure.
  • Artefact scatters – numerous pieces of a large stoneware vessel and glass bottle fragments (dark green or black in colour, some with evidence of ‘three piece mould’ manufacture - a method often associated with black glass beer or ale bottles).

An exhumed Chinese grave is located near the northwest edge of the township. Largely overgrown with grass, the grave is marked by a linear hole orientated northeast-southwest, with the lowest section down slope towards a drainage creek.

The German Bar Township also extends over the southern bank of the North Palmer River. Camp sites and isolated graves are scattered over the southern bank and extend down to the first river terrace, and a large terraced structure overlooks the river.

  • Campsites – accompanied by low level artefact scatters of fragmentary glass, ceramic and metal; some concentrations of artefacts are higher immediately around campsites. 
  • Terraced structure – orientated slightly off north-south and comprising: three rectangular-shaped stone arrangements of approximately the same size, along the western edge; three different-sized pads terraced into the upper slope, to the east of the stone arrangements; a small separate fourth pad, located to the south; and a medium density artefact scatter consisting of glass and metal fragments. 

Chinese Cemetery

A concentrated area of graves that has become known as ‘the cemetery’, is located on the southern bank of the river near the top of a large ridge. A modern three-string barbed wire fence surrounds the cemetery, with a gate in the northeast corner; however, graves are not confined to the fenced area.

  • Cemetery – 23 graves with stone cairns are readily identifiable, four of which have been exhumed. Most of the graves are aligned north-south with a stone cairn at the foot, which is located on a down slope. Each grave is identifiable by a distinctive stone cairn; some graves also have clear mounds or depressions associated with them. The cairns vary in size and design but maintain the same general form. The exhumed graves are marked by a deep depression with an adjacent mound of soil.
  • Numerous isolated and small groupings of graves – including one exhumed grave located between the river and the cemetery.
  • Artefact scatters – intact and fragmented ceramics, including green celadon ware and brown ware, metal clothing accessories and handmade nails, fully or partially exposed in the immediate surrounding area. 

Site of Binnie’s Gang Forward Battery

The site of Binnie’s Gang Forward Battery is located southwest of the German Bar Township, on the first river terrace on the northern bank of the North Palmer River. The battery platform and rear retaining wall have been destroyed; however, it retains: an artefact scatter on the steep slope immediately behind the former battery location; a large occupation site (the Binnies’ house), situated up the slope to the north; and nearby stock yard remnants, located immediately adjacent to the Laura to Maytown Coach Road.

  • Artefact scatter – light artefact scatter of glass and ceramics that continues north towards Binnies’ house.
  • Binnies’ house – a large flattened pad with a stone fireplace at the eastern end and a low stone capped retaining wall cut into the northern bank. Within the fireplace are two unidentified large metal artefacts.
  • Former stock yards – a series of eleven relatively intact posts (three severely burnt) plus two others that have deteriorated and fallen. An ironwood tree also appears to have been part of the network. Some of the posts exhibit four linear notches for wooden rails, although none of the timber rails survive; four posts retain fence wire.

Southern Section (Thompson’s Loop Area)

Chinese Graves

Although Chinese graves are spread throughout the Palmer, two sets of graves located near Thompson’s Loop are unique and potentially very significant. The first set comprises two interments located beside an active road and marked by modern wooden posts with faded white paint. A historical pack track running east-west is located 10m to the south of the two graves. A further set of three graves is located nearby to the southwest. 

  • Two-grave site – parallel low mounds, orientated north-south and positioned approximately 5m apart, with a stone cairn located down-slope at the foot of each grave. The designs of each cairn are slightly different but both include thin pieces of shale laid vertically to form a small box that possibly held a painted vertical marker. The grave markers also incorporate a small stone platform at the front of the ‘box’ that local oral tradition suggests were for funerary offerings. A small amount of damage has occurred from trees falling across the graves and one has also had an ants nest near the cairn.
  • Three-grave site – a line of low linear mounds, orientated approximately southeast-northwest, positioned approximately 1m apart and framed by modern wooden posts that have been painted white. Each grave has a small stone ‘foot marker’ or cairn (not as ornate as the aforementioned pair) and slope down towards a nearby water source, in this instance a small creek bed that is lined with stone pitching from historical alluvial mining. One grave appears to have been damaged by pigs.

Additional isolated graves are located nearby and further to the southwest, although they do not exhibit the ornate cairns.

Occupation Sites

A former occupation site that includes remnants of a former Chinese market garden and an intact in-ground oven, is located on a ridge immediately above a small drainage creek that sweeps around the southwest toward Thompson’s Gully, which contains considerable evidence of historical alluvial workings. The site has been substantially affected by environmental and human impacts and a current road bisects the high river terrace/ridge.

  • Market garden remnants – indicated by a dead mango tree and a very light scatter of small fragmentary pieces of glass and ceramic on the top ridge. Local tradition states that the garden was operated by Ah Gun or Ah or Gum, who had a house nearby and was buried beneath the tree after his death. Little additional physical evidence remains in the vicinity, apart from the artefact scatter; none of the pieces are diagnostic and their relationship with the historical site cannot be established. 
  • In-ground oven – constructed of stone with an ant-bed mortar, and built into the slope of the bank. 0.9m diameter at the top and 1.3m deep; it is partially filled with soil and its original depth is unknown. Physical and oral evidence suggests the oven originally had a more circular level top, but that part of the wall has deteriorated, resulting in an elliptical pattern that follows the ground surface.

The slopes above the alluvial works are littered with remnants of camps and occupation sites.

  • Campsites – consist of levelled platforms with a hearth and artefacts scatter, some exhibit evidence of more substantial occupation such as stone floors and defined fireplaces.
  • Artefact scatters – varying density scatters, some concentrations are quite high and contain a variety of glass, ceramic and metal artefacts.

Alluvial Workings

The former alluvial workings follow the creek line toward the southwest and include a wide variety of features, such as stone pitching within the creek bed, mullock heaps and water diversions.

  • Stone pitching – relatively coarse pitching using small stones, with formations regularly extending above the creek bed.
  • Mullock heaps – scattered along the banks and throughout the floor of the gully.
  • Water diversions – water races, with evidence of ground sluicing and cradlings in some locations.  Modern operations have substantially destroyed the southern section of the works.

Revolver Point Township

The Revolver Point Township site is located 7km northeast of Maytown, on a promontory of land formed by one of the many sweeping bends in the North Palmer River. The 20ha township area is vegetated with native woodland and grassy understorey, and includes:

  • House sites – flagstone foundations and collapsed stone fireplaces.
  • Artefact scatters – ceramic, glass and metal fragments. Predominately of Chinese origin, including celadon pottery sherds.
  • Chinese oven – round stone oven in a collapsing state.

On the western side of the area and close to the river, rocks have been stacked into lines to create terracing either for house sites or to define streets. There are drains associated with the terracing and several collapsed stone fireplaces on levelled terraced sites overlooking the river.

Three cemeteries and several isolated graves are sited overlooking the river.

  • Northern cemetery – 32 recorded graves, most of which are of Chinese origins. Most graves are relatively indistinct, with identifiable graves orientated down the slope with the foot stones closest to the river. Twelve graves have been exhumed and are distinguishable as approximately 0.3m deep depressions with earth mounded up on one side of the depression. The ends of the cemetery are marked with ironwood posts painted with white bands. Scatters of Chinese ceramic sherds are evident throughout the area.
  • Western cemetery – six recorded Chinese graves, with two exhumed.
  • Southern cemetery – 17 recorded Chinese graves, five of which have been exhumed.
  • Isolated graves – located further south on the western side of the area, including the most distinct grave at Revolver Point. This grave is marked with its own ironwood marker post painted with white bands and with an aluminium tag fixed to the post.

Mt Atlas and Echotown Complex

Mt Atlas dominates and sits at the north end of the west side of the roughly triangular shaped Echotown Complex, which is bounded on the east, south and west by the North Palmer River. Pack tracks from Revolver Point to the west and from the Emily Battery and Wild Irish Girl Mine (QHR 600428) to the north skirt around the northeast side of Mt Atlas.

The area is predominantly native woodland with grassy understorey. It slopes east and south down from Mt Atlas to the North Palmer River. In several places the river is contained within near vertical cliffs over 10m high. The river contains one 50m by up to 15m wide semi-permanent water hole at the southeast corner of the area, known as Binnie’s Pool.

The area contains undisturbed examples of stone pitched alluvial gullies and minor quartz reef workings, as well as the site of the Gang Forward or Binnie's Battery and Echotown.

Gang Forward or Binnie's Battery

The Gang Forward or Binnie's Battery Site is on the east bank of the North Palmer River adjoining Binnie's Pool. The western bank of the river at this point is a near vertical cliff, which forms a natural boundary of the area being recommended for protection. The battery site consists of levelled benches cut into the natural land surface, some collapsed stone work, the remains of a boiler setting and a section of flagstone wall. There is no sign of any machinery present and it is not readily apparent how the battery operated.


Echotown is located a short distance northeast of the battery site. From the battery site, the land rises gently from the river with levelled sites where buildings once stood within an area up to 100m from the river. Most of the township area is covered with grass. The township contains three substantial levelled building sites and two graves are located east of and overlooking Echotown.

  • Building site – 10x8m site, includes a collapsed stone fireplace at one end.
  • Split-level building site – two building footprints: one 5x5m levelled area adjoining a demolished stone fireplace; and an 8x10m levelled area stepped up from the smaller building site.
  • Building site (east) – levelled 20x15m building site with a collapsed stone fireplace. Located east of second building site.
  • Grave sites – both are bordered with small stones. One grave is adult-sized and the other child-sized, potentially those of Albertina Frederika Steinheuer and her infant daughter, who died at Echotown in May 1877.

Quartz reef workings

There are two sets of small scale quartz reef workings located 700m northeast of Binnie’s Battery site.

  • Reef mining complex – 50x20m area, containing a 50m line of open stopes with mullock cascading east down the slope toward the North Palmer River. A stone blacksmith's forge, located above and west of the line of stopes, has adjacent metal artefacts, including a stamper die.
  • Larger reef mining complex – extends approximately 60m along a ridge and contains a substantial collapsed stone fireplace and three associated arrangements of stones, which may be graves. A line of collapsed and filled stope workings, and an associated line of mullock, are located 20m southwest of the ridge. A stone blacksmith's forge is located close to the northern end of the workings, with adjacent metal artefacts that include a section of axle and a stamper die that has been used as an anvil. Other associated features include collapsed stone fireplaces or forges and some stone arrangements, which may be garden beds. Most artefacts are metal; however, at least one ceramic sherd of Chinese earthenware was found.

Minor, or eastern gully, stone pitching

A gully, 20m southwest of the quartz reefing workings and running roughly north to south, has been mined for alluvial gold. It has coarse stone pitching up to 2m high for a distance of 50m along the gully.

Mt Atlas stone pitching

The Mt Atlas stone pitching commences approximately 350m north of Binnie’s Pool, in a gully that heads east from the North Palmer River before turning north and heading upstream toward Mt Atlas.

  • Stone pitching – extends 200m from the point where the gully bends and heads north. Constructed of tightly-stacked large rocks from the gully, often in steps along both sides of the gully to a height of over 2m, to allow washing of alluvial gravels through the gully down to the river.
  • Sluiced gully – cleaned of alluvial gravels along the floor and for several metres above the floor of the gully.
  • Associated artefacts – including parts of metal tools.

Louisa Mines and Enterprise Battery Complex

Located approximately 2km northeast of Maytown, there are three key components to this complex: the remains of the Louisa No.1 West and Louisa PC Mine, situated in Thompson’s Gully; the Enterprise Battery, located 150m south of the main mine shaft; and the Louisa Mine manager’s house, located 120m northeast of the Enterprise Battery and 100m southeast of the remains of the Louisa Mines.

Louisa No.1 West and Louisa PC Mine

Extant mine remains comprise two collapsed mine shafts, and associated concrete foundations and metal machinery from varying phases of mining operations.  

  • Collapsed main shaft – evidenced by a 5m deep fenced depression, surrounded by a large amount of machinery and other metal objects.
  • Mullock heap – extends 45m north of the shaft.
  • Concrete foundations – includes footings for the poppet head; and foundations of the diesel engine, generator and winding gear (installed in 1915), located 15m south of, and in line with, the main shaft.
  • 1880s operations – a Tangye Colonial fire-tube boiler with sections of its chimney stack and two Tangye pumps, located south and northwest of the main shaft.
  • 1920s operations – a centrifugal pump and impellers, and several 44 gallon corrugated galvanised iron oil drums, located southeast of the main shaft.
  • 1940s operations – a set of wheels from a mobile steam engine and ore buckets manufactured from the 44 gallon, corrugated galvanised iron oil drums, located 25m east of the main shaft.
  • Second shaft – fenced and collapsed shaft, located approximately 30m east of the main shaft.
  • Diversion tunnel – runs under the road and diverts water away from the mine, located south of the main shaft.
  • Other metal artefacts – including flywheels, ring gear wheels, belt wheels, a length of wire rope, a tuyere from a blacksmith’s bellows, pipes for pumping, and a 2m long cylindrical self-acting riveted bailing bucket, in the vicinity of the main shaft; a pile of rusting iron sheeting, located 50m southeast of the main shaft; and several 44 gallon oil drums and a corrugated galvanised water tank, located a further 20m south.

Enterprise Battery

The Enterprise Battery is an almost complete battery, with most of its machinery still in-situ. It includes:

  • Battery – iron-framed ten-head battery, set on concrete foundations, with two mortar boxes each containing five head of stamps.
  • Steam engine – single-cylinder portable steam engine marked ‘R. Hornsby & Sons Limited Grantham England’, located next to, and on the same level as, the battery. The wheels from the water-tube end of the engine have been removed so that the boiler sits level on the sloping ground. The rear wheels are located approximately 5m northeast of the engine. A piece of steel plate, possibly used to feed ore to the battery, runs up the slope at the rear of the battery. Near the top, and on the east side, of this steel plate is a drive shaft with three belt wheels attached.
  • Tanks – galvanised corrugated iron water tank and a ship’s tank that has been filled with earth and rock to create a blacksmith’s forge, both located west of the battery.
  • Associated artefacts – numerous metal objects are scattered about the slope below the battery.
  • Building remains – a collapsed corrugated galvanised iron building, located 20m north of the battery.

Louisa Mine manager’s house site

The site of the former mine manager’s residence is located on a small rise adjacent to the road. It comprises:

  • Building remnants – a collapsed fireplace, sheets of corrugated iron, some concrete foundations blocks (one etched with the year ‘1916’) and a low stone retaining wall facing the road.
  • Artefact scatters – predominantly domestic in nature and mostly made of iron, including a colonial oven and kerosene tins, and some industrial metal artefacts including a flange and fire bars. A collection of 44 gallon corrugated galvanised iron oil drums are located to the north and there is an extensive scatter of artefacts down into the gully south and west.
  • Additional building site – located southwest of the manager’s house site.

Parson’s house site

Also within the boundary are the stone foundations of former Parson’s house site, associated with mining operations at the nearby Comet mine in the 1890s. The site contains remains of corrugated iron sheeting, glass shards, pieces of iron and metal, brick fragments, bottles, and a stamp shoe with the shank broken off. The area outside the house is littered with glass fragments.

Butcher’s Creek Complex

Located approximately 2.3km northeast of Maytown, the Butcher’s Creek Complex comprises: the Comet Mine and Mill, situated beside the road from Laura to Maytown, on a sloping site west of and above Butcher’s Creek; the King of the Ranges Mine, situated on the eastern bank of Butcher’s Creek and 150m northeast of the Comet mine; and various alluvial workings immediately adjacent to or within Butcher’s Creek.

Comet Mine and Mill

The Comet mine site consists of a collapsing shaft and associated partially removed mullock heap between the shaft and Butcher’s Creek. Pieces of mining plant scattered around the shaft include a sheave wheel and several lengths of pipe from a pumping column.

The Comet mill or battery site is 30m west of the shaft. While the battery has been removed, the Cornish boiler, steam engine and Berdan pans remain.

  • Cornish boiler – 8m long, it is the largest boiler on the Palmer Goldfield. ‘Langlands Foundry Co Limited Engineers Melbourne 1882’ is cast into the boiler above the fire doors. The boiler is still in its stone setting.
  • Steam engine – single cylinder 25hp horizontal rocking shaft steam engine (a very early type of reversing engine), which together with its flywheel and connecting ring gear has been propped up on logs cut from the area. ‘J Cochrane Engineer Barrhead’ is cast into a cover plate on the engine.
  • Shed – corrugated iron and round bush pole shed, built over the engine and boiler.
  • Associated artefacts – scattered around outside the shed is a riveted metal chimney for the boiler, as well as various components of the mill including several Berdan pans, a Langlands mortar box, a ring gear and shaft, piping, the outer rim of a winch drum and other smaller metal objects.

King of the Ranges Mine

The King of the Ranges is a small quartz reef mine with surface features covering a 20x30m area between the creek and a ridge. It comprises:

  • Collapsed shaft – contains a collapsed timber head frame and a ship’s tank. A sheave wheel is lying next to the shaft.
  • Mullock heap – extends 15m from the shaft to the west and southwest.
  • Open cut – extends up to the ridge from the shaft. Three levelled areas step down south from the shaft and are formed using stone walls.
  • Winding equipment – a winding drum, attached ring gear and pump crank, under a small modern shelter, located south of the shaft on the middle level of the site.
  • Forge – constructed of stone and located 3m west of the open shed and winding drum.
  • Associated artefacts – various metal objects including a second sheave wheel, with the name Smellie & Coy of Brisbane cast into it, a ring gear wheel and other smaller metal objects.

Recent reconstructions include shelters, an ore truck and tramlines that extend west from the shaft along the top of the mullock heap.

Other elements along Butcher’s Creek

Butcher’s Creek No 1 Dam and associated alluvial workings are located 120m northwest of the King of the Ranges mine along the eastern side of the creek.

  • Dam – two rubble stone walls, set approximately 1m apart and filled with earth, constructed across a gully which runs southwest into Butcher’s Creek.
  • Water race – runs northwest from the dam along the gully above and adjacent to the alluvial workings.
  • Alluvial workings – located 20m northwest of the dam and contains two stone walls and a flattened area below the race where gold may have been recovered. The race at this point exhibits evidence that water had been run into the area containing the stone walls. The alluvial workings, which continue northwest along Butcher’s Creek for 150m, are located between the race and the creek and consist of a collection of shallow sinkings and an eroding sluiced gully. There is also a stone wall within a sluiced gully which would have been used to divert water when mining in the gully. Further along the gully there is a water race and an earth and timber dam.

A second stone dam, Butcher’s Creek No. 2 Dam, is 280m southeast of the King of the Ranges Mine, and has an associated area of alluvial workings located east of the Comet Mine on the north side of Butcher’s Creek. The dam collects water from a gully running into the creek from the north side and diverts it into a race taking water to the alluvial workings northwest of the dam.

Other artefact scatters are found on the west side of the Laura to Maytown Road. One site contains a safe; another a collapsed stone fireplace; another four galvanised iron wash basins, parts of a stove, battery screens segments and a scatter of small artefacts. At another site, sheets of corrugated iron, segments of cast iron plus other artefacts are found. There is a water race located west of the road. A house site, vacated in the 1920s, is situated near the water race.

Ida Complex

The Ida Complex is located approximately 1.5km northeast of Maytown. Within the 35ha area adjacent to the Butcher’s, Caledonian and Ida Creeks are the remnants of (from northwest to southeast): a Chinese market garden; the Perseverance and Mabel Louise battery sites; houses and other buildings from Ida Township; and the Ida PC Mine. The former Laura to Maytown Road alignment passes through the town site and the area is traversed by modern tracks.

Butcher’s Creek market garden

The main feature of the Chinese garden site is a grove of six mature mango trees in two rows. The trees are growing on a flat area surrounded on three sides by Butcher’s Creek. There are two stone fireplaces on the northern side of the trees and an open drain west of the trees and what may have been a well.

Perseverance Battery

The Perseverance Battery is located approximately 100m south of the garden site. It consists of a cast iron battery frame set on a concrete foundation, a single battery box and five stamp rods within the box, a scatter of metal artefacts and a sand dump which extends 40m west of the battery. A brick and stone fireplace or possible furnace is located on the west side of the sand dump.

Mabel Louise Battery

The Mabel Louise Battery is located 20m east of the Perseverance Battery frame, and although quite disturbed still contains several of the original 1877 components of the battery. Features at the site include a ship’s water tank, sections of the pump arm and piping, an incomplete Robey twin cylinder portable engine, two battery cam shafts marked ‘Langlands FC’ one with ring gear attached, one mortar box lying on the ground with stamp rods inside, plus a scatter of stamp rods and numerous other metal artefacts. The battery was prefabricated with some care; individually hand-forged bolts and bolt-holes on the stamp guides have been marked with Roman numerals for accurate reassembly, and the tappets are also numbered.

Ida Town

The remains of Ida Town are mostly located midway between the Mabel Louise Battery and the Ida Mine. Visible remains include the site of the former Mechanics’ Institute building, multiple house and dump sites, the remnants of two footbridges, a well, collapsed stone chimneys and associated artefacts.

The remains of the former Mechanics’ Institute building are located in the centre of the town and include:

  • Building footings – ironwood stumps covering an area 12x6.5m, with an ironwood post rain water tank stand at the southwest corner of the house.
  • Associated artefacts – a ship’s water tank, located next to the water tank stand, and a scatter of mostly bully beef tins with some bottle fragments, deposited about 20m southwest from the building foundations.

One well-defined house site comprises:

  • Building footings – a levelled floor 10x6.5m with a partial low corrugated metal sheet wall, a 2x5m stone verandah floor on the east side, entrance steps and an adjoining 3x5m kitchen area containing domestic artefacts.
  • Forge – constructed of brick.
  • Ore pile – 3m diameter.
  • Garden – 4x4m area, defined by a galvanised corrugated metal sheeting perimeter fence.
  • Tank – a riveted iron ship's tank, located near the house site.
  • Additional house site – indicated by two nearby scatters of metal artefacts.

The remains of two former footbridges that crossed Caledonian Creek are located approximately 50m southeast of the town site.

  • Footbridge (east) – two timber posts on the southeast side; and four posts on the northwest side, two with metal bolts, approximately 2m above the creek bank.
  • Footbridge (west) – two timber posts are located on the south side of the creek, 1m above the creek bank. Located approximately 100m west of the first bridge.

The main well which serviced Ida Town is located 50m northeast of the township in Caledonia Creek. The well is filled in with sand and is now also covered with sand and gravel. The location of the well is marked by a pole with a painted white tip situated on the creek bank immediately above the site. The well has a rusting metal hinged and rotting wooden door measuring 0.57m across.

A large rubbish dump containing bottles, pottery and ceramic sherds, glass stoppers and bone, is located south of Caledonian Creek and close to the main track through the township site. It extends over 20m down a slope toward the track and has evidence of disturbance from bottle-collecting activities. Above the dump is the site of a building which comprises a flagstone floor, a scatter of broken bricks, and a camp oven.

Ida PC Mine

Located southeast of the township, the former Ida Mine site is dissected by a modern vehicle track; it includes both the mine site and a well-defined house site, located 50m to the north.

The former mine comprises:

  • Shaft - situated on the southern side of a modern vehicle track that dissects the site; an open stope 15m to the north of the shaft; and a 30x35m mullock dump, located 10m south of the shaft and extending down the slope to Ida Creek.
  • Mine equipment – mostly dismantled and nothing remains in situ around the shaft; including the winder and boiler setting foundations, sections of a 10hp engine and a Galloway boiler, two fire tube boilers, dismantled 30hp engine with a flywheel 5.5m in diameter and a frame marked 'Pollack & McNam, Manchester', stockpiles of piping and numerous other items of machinery. On the northern side of the track are gear wheels possible for a winch, sections of a winch drum, pulley wheels, sections of sheave wheel, fire bars of varying lengths, braking mechanism for use on cages in shafts, a pump foot valve, and metal safety guards for a winch.

The house site comprises:

  • Building footings – 7x7m levelled area defined by lines of rocks and bricks, forming a raised floor.
  • Fireplace – constructed of brick and located on the northern end of the west side of the house. A pile of rock behind may be from an earlier fireplace.
  • Associated artefacts – two corrugated galvanised iron tanks, located northwest of the building, a door, which has been made by riveting hinges to a flattened sheet of corrugated metal sheeting, and numerous sheets of corrugated metal are scattered about the site.

Pioneer Complex

Located approximately 1.5km southeast of Maytown, the Pioneer Complex is a large sprawling site that incorporates a wide variety of site types, including stone ruins, a large open camp, a cemetery and the foundations of the Pioneer Mill.

Pioneer Mill (Battery Site)

The site of the Pioneer Mill is located on the north bank of the Palmer River. No machinery remains but the footprint of the battery, engine and boiler area is clearly visible and readable as a large recess cut into the bank of the river terrace – likely to be site of the mortar box. The remains of a possible forge are also located at this site. Immediately to the east are two uneven platforms that include stone retaining walls and drainage channels which were probably the foundations for the boiler and engine. Immediately below the foundations is a flattened terrace formed from tailings which has been partly eroded by seasonal flooding.

Pioneer Settlement

To the north of the Pioneer Mill foundations are ruins of the Pioneer Settlement, which consists of a number of small camp sites, terraced platforms, and a square stone structure of unknown purpose.

  • Camp sites – small levelled areas or platforms, with simple stone hearths and low density artefact scatters of glass and metal fragments.
  • Building platform – 25x10m platform, associated with a large artefact scatter consisting mostly of glass and ceramic fragments. Possible public or commercial premises, such as a hotel, given scale of platform and artefact concentration.
  • Stone structure – 2x2m square base, with extant walls to 0.45m high. The top courses of stone have collapsed and the exact form and function cannot therefore be determined. Possible forge or bread oven.
  • Open camp sites – cleared platforms with rudimentary stone fireplaces. Associated artefact scatters largely consists of bottles, including aerated water bottles. Camp sites to the north form the outer edge of a large complex of camps.

Slightly to the south of the camps is a steep gully that contains a small square shaped stone ruin. The isolation of this structure away from campsites, its design and size suggest that it may have been a former explosives store or safe.

  • Stone structure – 1x1m (internal) stone structure with antbed mortar, built into the bank of the creek. The three extant walls that vary in thickness from 0.45-0.7m, and up to 0.9m high. The western and eastern walls are noticeably thicker and slightly rounded, possibly to facilitate water run-off. The south-western corner is more open and may have originally been the location of an opening. The southwest corner of the structure has clear evidence of a protruding section of wall.


To the southeast of the stone ruin is a large campsite comprising a dense scatter of building materials and associated domestic artefacts.

  • Building materials – corrugated metal sheets.
  • Associated artefacts – bottles, ceramics and metal cooking utensils, are concentrated on the eastern end of the site. Identifiable bottles are consistent with those used in the early to mid-20th century. Small concentrations of fragmented Chinese brown and celadon wares are also located along the margins of the campsite. Other unusual items include a stamp shoe and screen, writing slates and frames from pack saddles.


To the northwest of the campsite is a small cemetery. Located on a small spur immediately above the Palmer River, it contains at least five identifiable graves, three orientated perpendicular to the river and have a clear mound; one is also marked with small stone cairns similar to Chinese graves found elsewhere on the Palmer. Two others are orientated parallel to the river, one with a corrugated iron cover. A small upright stone marker is also visible which may indicate the location of another grave, although there is no visible associated mound.

Gregory Gully

Located approximately 3km southeast of Maytown, Gregory Gully comprises an approximately 420.3ha area containing: a series of gullies with alluvial workings and associated occupation sites to the north; a concentration of campsites in the central area; the remains of the Gregory Township and the former Queen of the North PC Mine, to the west; and a complex of alluvial workings, and associated domestic occupation sites and graves, to the southeast.      

Gregory Gully – Northern Area

The northern section of Gregory Gully is an open forest environment with grassy understorey, dissected by three gullies roughly running from northwest to southeast. The 420.3ha area contains a large number of largely undisturbed alluvial workings. At the head of the two main gullies on the west of the area are the quartz reefs – probably the original source of the gold that was mined from alluvial gravels in the gullies below. Domestic artefacts are found scattered throughout the area, with concentrations at small domestic and industrial occupation sites.

The northern gully is the widest and most open gully of the three and contains less dramatic evidence of the alluvial mining activity. Archaeological features include:

  • Stone pitching – low, stacked stone walls.
  • Levelled house sites.
  • Water diversions – a narrow point in the gully that may have been the site of a dam, traces of a water race along the lower sections of the gully, and areas in the gully that have been stripped of alluvial material to bed rock.

The central gully is 470m long, narrow and steep-sided and comprises stone pitching and terracing for much of its length, a horizontal shaft (adit), pack track and dray road to the east (adit and tracks post-date the alluvial workings), and associated occupation and quartz reef mining sites.

  • Stone pitching – a combination of stacked stone, terracing on the side of and above the floor of the gully and stone pitching up to 1.5m high; in places stone from the floor of the gully has been forked out during sluicing operations and thrown behind the stone pitched walls
  • Stone ‘island’ – material stacked 1.5m high, bounded by the floor of the gully and a channel 4m east of the gully floor.
  • Adit – about midway along the eastern side of the gully. Driven (to intersect a quartz reef) on a bearing of 60 degrees for about 30m from which point a level drive heads off on a bearing of 320 degrees.
  • Tracks and roads – a pack track leads southeast away from the adit along the east side of the floor of the gully for approximately 50m before ending at an earthen bench.  A narrow dray road continues southeast from the earthen bench between stacked stone and/or stone pitching for approximately 140m until it reaches the junction with the northern gully. From the junction the dray road heads west toward the Queen of the North PC battery site.
  • Occupation site – a level area 100x50m on west side of the gully below the junction of the northern and central gullies. There are low mounds, fireplace remains and scatters of artefacts across this flat area, suggesting the site was once a large occupation site or possibly a processing area. The area to the east of this levelled area has been mined in the recent past.
  • Quartz reef mines – at the head of the gully, consist of a series of small shafts along a line of reef which is 0.3m wide where it outcrops on the surface. Some of the mine shafts are surrounded by small mullock heaps and have associated small metal objects. The bearing of the line of shafts is approximately 300 degrees. A dray road cuts across the slope and through this area of quartz reef workings on a bearing of approximately 40 degrees. 

The southern gully is a mostly broad gully that winds in a roughly east-west direction. It contains extensive low stone pitching and some associated domestic and/or industrial occupation sites.

  • Stone pitching – a short narrow section of gully with stone pitching 2m high, and the longest and straightest section of stone pitching noted lines a channel 0.75m deep and 2m wide.
  • Processing site – at the lower end of the channel is an undisturbed area measuring 10x5m with mounds of varying sized gravels and an associated depression where it appears that alluvial material may have been processed.
  • Quartz reef mines – an extensive area of small scale quartz reef workings located at the head of the gully. The workings consist of a line of small shafts and open stope (deep narrow trench) with associated mullock running in a line bearing 280 degrees on the ridge above the gully. Some shafts and a section of open stoping have timbers remaining in them.  A stone forge and associated metal objects is located close to the open stopes.
  • Occupation site – a 50x50m area, just south of the line of quartz reef workings, containing stone fireplaces and artefacts including bottle and ceramic sherds, as well as pieces of metal tools, wagon parts and other objects.

Gregory Gully – Central Area

An extensive campsite is situated approximately 800m east-north-east of the Queen of the North PC ruins and adjacent the eastern boundary of the Gregory Gully area. The campsite extends approximately 100m north-south and 300m east-west and includes:

  • House sites – indicated by stone foundations and flagstones, remnant fireplaces, the remains of corrugated iron buildings and artefact scatters of varying densities.
  • Artefact scatter – ceramics including cable pattern wares, celadon sherds, and fragments of heavy stoneware vessels. Glass artefacts noted include broken ginger beer and gin bottles. Other artefacts include kerosene tins, suggesting later usage of the camp.
  • Graves – a number of graves have been identified adjacent this campsite, including probable Chinese grave sites.
  • Forge – constructed of stone and antbed mortar, measures 0.95x1.3x0.7m in height, and is located south of the campsite.

The remains of a domestic site and the Live and Let Live Battery are located approximately 300m south of the extensive campsite.

  • Former building site – evidenced by a benched slope, stone foundations, a drystone wall or fireplace remnants, and steps from a large building, possibly a communal house or kitchen for Chinese miners.
  • Former battery site – limited to a low recess 3.2x1.6x0.5m deep cut into the slope, and possible boiler ash in the floor and to the side of the recess.

Additional campsites and Chinese graves are located north of the extensive campsite. Two cairns, one intact the other highly disturbed, mark the site of severely eroded grave mounds approximately 200m north-east of the large campsite. Modern mining activity has occurred immediately to the north of these graves.

A second large campsite, located immediately east of these graves, is evidenced by numerous occupation sites and associated artefact scatters including:

  • Stone fireplaces.
  • Artefact scatters – include intact and fragments of objects associated with opium use, applied lip bottle fragments, celadon and brown ware ceramics, and remnants of alluvial mining tools including gold pans.

Modern mining has impacted on the areas immediately east and north of the second large campsite.

Gregory Township

The remains of the Gregory Township follow the road behind and west of the remains of the Queen of the North PC, commencing about 100m west and continuing for approximately 1km. The main features in this former township include numerous benched hut and house sites, building foundations, flagstones, fireplaces, and scatters of artefacts including corrugated iron, ore buckets, tin and other metal artefacts and glass sherds. Notable features include:

  • Bottle dumps – two large, though disturbed, bottle dumps likely to be the sites of public houses/hotels.
  • Former building site – 15x10m levelled stone-retained building site with associated bottle dump; either a public house and store or boarding house site.
  • Former building site – 8x8m and adjoining 6x6m levelled building site, which may be a store and public house.
  • Former building site – a collapsed iron chimney and a levelled 5x5m building site where there are artefacts from a wagon and sulky, possibly the site of the former mechanics or miner’s institute.
  • Dray road – running south east of the mine close to Gregory Gully.

Queen of the North PC Mine

The remains of the Queen of the North PC are on the brow of a ridge overlooking Gregory Gully and the clearing which was the township of Gregory, located approximately 100m west of the mine. The focal point is the relatively intact set of Cornish boilers and horizontal steam engine sitting in situ next to the collapsed main shaft. The plant and equipment are located east of the shaft and a large mullock heap extends south and west from the shaft toward Gregory Gully.

  • Former mine shaft – collapsed.
  • Mullock heap – 55x30m elliptically shaped mullock heap.
  • Cornish boilers – three in situ Cornish boilers are set in line 10m east of the main shaft. The two western boilers (likely installed 1878, along with the battery) are in stone and earth settings and connected to the engine via valves and steam pipes, one of these two has the manufacturer’s name ‘John Walker & Co., Maryborough’, cast into the door surround. The third or eastern boiler is not connected to the engine and appears to be the oldest of the three. The 1m diameter flue for the John Walker boilers and the 0.5m diameter flue for the oldest boiler are lying on the mullock heap.
  • Plant and equipment – 25hp single cylinder ‘John Moore & Co, Manchester’ steam engine is located immediately east of the boilers. Drive mechanisms for pumping, winding and powering a battery are still in place. East of the engine is a depression where the battery was located. Immediately south of the engine and lined up with the shaft are the double winding winch drum and the rocking arm of the lift pump. A sheave wheel is lying near the end of the mullock heap close to Gregory Gully, and winding drum and a ring gear wheel are lying near the mullock northwest of the main Queen of the North shaft.
  • Stone forge – small stone structure with a collection of metal artefacts, located near the battery site.
  • Associated artefacts – metal artefacts scattered at the site include a piece of slotted screen and square die, a rusting ship’s tank (likely used for water storage) and a length of pumping column is lying on the mullock heap.

Other shafts and mullock heaps are located both southeast and northwest of the main shaft.

Gregory Gully – Southern Area

These Chinese alluvial workings consist of a large complex including stone pitched gullies and small dams, alluvial mining workings, and small campsites and settlements, all located in the southeast corner of the Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve. Most of the physical evidence is concentrated along three roughly parallel gullies that contain creek beds that have been extensively pitched with stone. The stone pitching varies in quality, size and extent; in some areas it is restricted to one side, while in others it is on both sides of the gully.

In numerous locations along the creeks are the remnants of other mining processes such as dams, diversions, water races and ‘cradle sumps’. Dispersed along the banks above the creeks are numerous discrete campsites, consisting mainly of small hearths and low density and fragmentary artefact scatters.

A long gully runs in a northwest to southeast direction through the centre of the site. This gully has been extensively worked for alluvial gold, is extensively pitched with stone, and features a number of small dams along its length.

  • Stone pitched gully – the northern section of the gully the stone pitching is quite low in height, but gradually increases in height to over 2m towards the southern end of the gully where it meets the Palmer River at Gregory Beach Dam.
  • Gregory Beach Dam – situated at the junction of the main central stone pitched gully and the north bank of the Palmer River. The dam wall is made from sorted rubble and has a 40 degree batter with an overflow channel to the south which is now a small gully. The area behind the dam wall is heavily silted to a depth of 4m. Part of the overflow channel has been cut out of bedrock. Some small stone pitching extends 11m away from the dam wall to meet the Palmer River.
  • Campsite – located upslope from this dam is a stone platform and artefact scatter of metal and glass bottle fragments.

A second stone pitched gully is located in the northeast portion of this site and contains intermittent stone pitching up to 1.5m in height extending 200-300m in length. A number of small dams are also located along its length (one to three stone courses in height).

The Palmer River Chinese Campsite is located along the terraced slopes of the Palmer River, approximately 300m east of the Gregory Beach Dam. The site includes the remains of a settlement extending approximately 50x50m above the Palmer River. Numerous house sites are identifiable and located close together along the terraces, including flagstones and stone building foundations.

  • Former building site – one stone hut has substantial remnant walls made from dry walled rubble. Remnant walls measure 3.8m long (east), 2.3m long (north) and 2.5m long (south). The walls are approximately 0.5m thick. The full house pad measures 6x4m.
  • Artefact scatter – distributed across the settlement area; includes celadon ware and other ceramic sherds, glass shards, and metal artefacts including small objects, gold pans, cradle plates and machinery pieces.

A group of six graves, all orientated east-west are located approximately 200m west of Gregory Beach Dam and north of the Palmer River.  Three of the graves are complete with cairns and mounds while the other graves have been exhumed. Remnants of a campsite are located along the ridge adjacent the graves. Artefacts include tin debris, square bottle bases and other glass fragments, iron pipe fragments, stone building foundations and a raised square stone structure, probably a fireplace. A nearby gully immediately to the west of the graves contains stone pitching, which is in poor condition.

Features not of State-level heritage significance

Modern mining features, concrete slabs, fencing, interpretation signage and reconstructed elements are not of State-level cultural heritage significance.


[1] Also referenced as the Kokominni, Kuku-Yalanji or Kuku-Mini people. Brady on Behalf of the Western Yalanji People #4 v State of Queensland [2013] FCA 958; Christopher Anderson and Norman Mitchell, ‘Kubara: A Kuku-Yalanji view of the Chinese in North Queensland’, Aboriginal History, Vol 5 Nos 1-2, 1981, pp20-37.
[2] GC Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away: a history of North Queensland to 1920, 1972, p51; Colin Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton: stories of North Queensland’s deserted towns, Brisbane: AEBIS Publishing, 1993, p95; Brady on Behalf of the Western Yalanji People #4 v State of Queensland [2013] FCA 958; Department of National Parks, Sports and Racing, Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve Management Statement 2016; Queensland Places: Palmer River, 2015 (
[3] Queensland Government Gazette, Vol 14 No 114, 6 December 1873, p2046.
[4] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, Vol 1, 1991, pp87-8.
[5] SE Stephens, ‘The Endeavour River and Cooktown’, Queensland Heritage Vol 2 No 2, 1970, p25; Thorvald Weitemeyer, Missing Friends, Being the Adventures of a Danish Emigrant in Queensland (1871-1880), 1908, pp211-227. The Kuku-Yalanji and Kuku-Mini reacted to the influx of Europeans and Chinese with 'fierce resistance and virtual guerilla warfare', and this was widely reported in contemporary newspapers, spreading fear of attack on the long journey to the Palmer. Conflicts were reported between Chinese and Aboriginal people – for example, an 1879 report of Aboriginal people holding Chinese miners under siege in Revolver Point – as well as between European and Aboriginal people. However, the reports of the violence of Aboriginal aggression were often exaggerated, death at the hands of Aboriginal people being statistically less likely for miners than death by drowning, snakebite, or falling from a horse. Christopher Anderson and Norman Mitchell, ‘Kubara: A Kuku-Yalanji view of the Chinese in North Queensland’, Aboriginal History, Vol 5 Nos 1-2, 1981, pp20-37; Wagga Wagga Express, 5 April 1879 p3; Australian Heritage Commission, Tracking the Dragon, 2002, A9; Noreen Kirkman, ‘From Minority to Majority: Chinese in the Palmer River Gold-field 1873-1876’, in Henry Reynolds (ed) Race Relations in North Queensland, 1993, pp246-251.
[6] Queensland Places: Cooktown; Pugh’s Queensland Almanac, 1875, pp148-9.
[7] Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, p58; PE Burrows, Mine Production Data, Palmer Goldfield, 1991;
[8] Pugh’s Almanac 1874, pp97-8; Empire 11 December 1874 p3; Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, p53; Report of the Department of Mines, Queensland, for the year 1877, pp9-10; Brisbane Courier 13 July 1875 p3; Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p95.
[9] Report of the Department of Mines, Queensland, for the year 1877, pp9-10; Australian Heritage Commission, Tracking the Dragon: A guide for finding and assessing Chinese Australian heritage places, 2002, A8-9; Noreen Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, BA (hons) thesis, Townsville: James Cook University History Department, 1984, p170; Peter Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam: The Industrial Archaeology of the Palmer Goldfield, Townsville: James Cook University, 1987, p6.
[10] Queenslander 27 April 1889 p795
[11] More was likely exported unofficially; the Palmer Goldfield Warden estimated that 20,000 ounces of gold were unofficially removed from the field in 1877 alone. Report of the Department of Mines, Queensland, for the year 1877, pp9-10; Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, p58.
[12] Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p95; Dalby Herald and Western Queensland Advertiser, 10 October 1874 p2; Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette, 17 October 1874 p3.
[13] Leader Supplement (Melbourne) 28 September 1878 p2; Warden Francis Gill, Annual Report, 1880, p19; Ian Jack, Kate Holmes & Ruth Kerr, ‘Ah Toy’s garden: A Chinese Market-Garden on the Palmer River Goldfield, North Queensland’, Australian Journal of Historical Archaeology, Vol 2 (October 1984), p51; RI Jack, The Palmer River Goldfield Queensland, 1984, pp115-6; Telegraph (Brisbane), 23 November 1875 p3. Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, Vol 1, p23; Grimwade, ‘Crispy Roast Pork: Using Chinese Australian pig ovens’, 2008, pp21-4; Dawn May, ‘The North Queensland Beef Cattle Industry: An Historical Overview’ in BJ Dalton (ed) Lectures on North Queensland History No 4, Townsville: James Cook University, 1984, p126; Bell, Timber and Iron: houses in North Queensland mining settlements, 1861-1920, St Lucia: University of Queensland, 1984, pp33-4, 101.
[14] Queenslander 1 August 1874 p6 and 4 May 1878 p150; Empire 11 December 1874 p3; Report of the Department of Mines for the year 1877, Palmer Gold Field, p11 (which noted that in 1877 the death rate had fallen so that it ‘compares favourably with most other portions of the colony’).
[15] The difficult conditions meant that feng shui traditions were generally restricted to burials oriented towards water. Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, pp197 & 204; Brisbane Courier, 2 October 1875 p6; Terry Abraham and Priscilla Wegars, ‘Urns, bones and burners: overseas Chinese cemeteries’, Australasian Historical Archaeology Vol 21 (2003), pp59-61.
[16] Despite occasional threats of violence by Europeans, they were outnumbered by Chinese miners 9 to 1, and were reluctant to risk assault. Australian Heritage Commission and Pearson, Tracking the Dragon, 2002, A9; Kirkman, ‘From Minority to Majority’, 1993, pp246-251.
[17] In debate on the Chinese Immigrants Regulation Bill, the Postmaster-General noted that there was ‘an almost unanimous expression of opinion by honourable gentlemen who spoke on the question, whether for or against the measure, that it was necessary for the welfare, if not for the preservation of this community, that the vast influx of Chinese which has been going on, and is still taking place, to this territory should be stopped… I shall take it for granted that we are all united in believing that it is absolutely necessary to put a stop to the immigration as soon as possible… [its provisions] are necessary, as we conceive, to protect the colony against the admitted and undeniable moral and social evils which accompany the exceptional nature of the immigration against which they are aimed.’ Anti-Chinese meetings were held in Cooktown and Brisbane in 1875, and in Charters Towers and Gympie in 1877. Hansard, 11 July 1877, pp105-6; Brisbane Courier 6 April 1875 p3, Northern Miner 6 June 1877 p2, 20 June 1877 p4.
[18] Australian Heritage Commission, Tracking the Dragon, 2002, A9; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p55.
[19] Telegraph 24 February 1887 p3 (total goldfield population estimated at 957); North Queensland Register 1 September 1897 p14.
[20] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, Vol 1, p74; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p97.
[21] Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, p58; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p38; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p5; deKeyser and Lucas (1968) cited in Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p40.
[22] Bell, Timber and iron, 1984, pp24, 26-7, 31-3, 101.
[23] Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, p115.
[24] Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, pp52-3; Peter Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p5; Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p95; deKeyser and Lucas (1968) cited in Noreen Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p40; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p38.
[25] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p9.
[26] Cited in the Brisbane Courier 26 January 1897 p3.
[27] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, pp2, 6-7; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, pp96 & 101.
[28] John Hay, The History of the Laura to Maytown Coach Road, nd, p1; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, pp75-6.
[29] Sydney Morning Herald 10 October 1874 p6; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 10 February 1874 p2; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, pp76-9; Brisbane Courier 27 March 1875 p5. The tracks were named for their founders, Sub-inspector Douglas of the Native Police Force and Gold Mining Warden and Sub-inspector Coward.
[30] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p83.
[31] Queenslander, 19 August 1876 p 27; Comber, Palmer Goldfield Heritage Sites Study, 1991, pp87-8.
[32] Queenslander 19 August 1876 p27.
[33] Hay, The History of the Laura to Maytown Coach Road, nd, p1; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p83.
[34] Cooktown Courier 17 April 1878, cited in Kirkman, 'The Palmer River Goldfield’, 1987, p133.
[35] Northern Mining Register 4 March 1891 p17.
[36] A corduroy road was formed by laying logs laid side by side across the roadway, to stabilise boggy sections and cross roads. This was cheaper and required less expertise than building a bridge or culvert. Nissan, Contextual History of Roads and Bridges in Queensland, 2008, p109.
[37] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p83; Hay, The History of the Laura to Maytown Coach Road, nd, p1.
[38] The first coach arrived in Maytown in May 1880 under a triumphal arch built in the main street, and a silver whip was presented to the coach driver. Hay, The History of the Laura to Maytown Coach Road, nd, p2; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p84; Capricornian 22 May 1880 p15.
[39] Peter Ryle, Decline and recovery of a rural coastal town: Cooktown 1873-1999, PhD thesis, James Cook University, 2000, pp287-312.
[40] Including Chalmers Hotel (13km west of Laura), Patrick’s Hotel (35km), Ned’s Public House (close to Patrick’s Hotel and the junction of Sheppard’s Creek), Ripple Creek Staging Post (45km), Folder’s Hotel (47km), and German Bar (70.5km).
[41] Queenslander 27 May 1882 p653.
[42] Annual Report of the Department of Mines for the year 1887, p88. Hay, The History of the Laura to Maytown Coach Road, nd, p3; Queenslander 27 April 1889 p795; Survey of part Palmer Goldfield, MPH25815, February 1893.
[43] Queenslander, 27 April 1889 p795.
[44] Queenslander 12 May 1894 p870.
[45] Queenslander 28 January 1893 p150; 6 May 1893 p822; Department of Resource Industries and Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service. Gold'n Palmer Heritage Map [Brisbane]: Queensland Government, 1990; Jack, Map of the Palmer district, Sheet No 1, 1896; Jack, Sketch Map of the Desert Sandstone Table Land between the Palmer and Laura Waters from traverses made, July-Aug 1895, Map No C153448. Jack also marked sections of the railway survey and bridle tracks to the east of the coach road, which may have formed the basis for the eastern deviations.
[46] Northern Miner 24 November 1910 p2; Brisbane Courier 29 April 1911 p5; Cairns Post 3 November 1911 p3; Queenslander 10 February 1912 p23.
[47] Queensland Department of Minerals and Energy and Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service, Management Guidelines for the Palmer Goldfields Reserve, 1993, p26.
[48] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, Vol 1, p74, citing Gold Commissioner Howard St George’s 1873 letter to The Hon the Sec for Works and Mines.
[49] The Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts, 3 October 1893 p3.
[50] Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 1874 p3.
[51] Empire 11 December 1874 p3.
[52] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p74; Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, p58; Binnie, My Life on a Tropic Goldfield, 1944, pp28.
[53] Binnie, My Life on a Tropic Goldfield, 1944, pp28 and 37; Robert Whitworth (comp), Bailliere’s Queensland Gazetteer and Road Guide, containing the most recent and accurate information as to every place in the colony, 1876, p117.
[54] Whitworth, Bailliere’s Queensland Gazetteer, 1876, p117.
[55] Warden Francis Gill, Report of the Department of Mines, Queensland, for the year 1880, p19.
[56] The site of the garden is marked by a dead mango tree. Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p74.
[57] Daily Northern Argus 18 June 1875 p2; Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser 23 September 1876 p396; Australian Heritage Commission, Tracking the Dragon: A guide for finding and assessing Chinese Australian heritage places, 2002, A9; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p172; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p6.
[58] Nearby reefs included the Star of the South, St Patrick, Chance, and Sunburst. Queenslander 7 October 1876 p31 and 30 October 1880 p563; Brisbane Courier 6 February 1882 p5.
[59] Binnie had brought the battery to Echotown in 1877; see below.
[60] Queenslander 21 October 1876 p27, 30 October 1880 p563; John Hay, ‘Remnants of a Golden Era – Palmer River Goldfield 1986’, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland Vol 13 Issue 2, 1987, pp71-2; Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p74
[61] Gold warden WO Hodgkinson wrote that ‘the causes of such abandonment are simply the reckless improvidence of the miners, promoted largely by their having at command so many easy opportunities of gaining a livelihood. The rich surface stone having been exhausted, and the proceeds dissipated without a care for the future, claimholders find themselves face to face with heavy water and no funds to procure machinery.’ Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p317.
[62] Australian Town and Country Journal 26 March 1881 p23, Queenslander 30 April 1881 p562, Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser, 22 September 1883 p549
[63] Queenslander 15 September 1883 p25, 3 May 1884 p706.
[64] National Advocate (Bathurst), 12 July 1893 p2; Queenslander, 24 May 1884 p815; Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) 24 March 1882 p2; Telegraph 16 October 1882 p2.
[65] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p108; Capricornian 27 February 1886 p24; Queenslander 14 February 1891 p294; National Advocate (Bathurst), 12 July 1893 p2
[66] The prospector allegedly drew a gun on a rival claimant and named the area ‘Revolver Point’ in recognition of the event. James Dick, The mineral resources of the Cook district: a retrospect or a view of things past in the mining industry in the north, 1910, pp6-7; Queenslander 15 June 1895 p1142.
[67] Australian Town and Country Journal, 11 July 1874 p31; Supplement to the Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser 5 June 1875 p3; Telegraph 6 August 1875 p3; Whitworth, Bailliere’s Queensland Gazetteer 1876, p116-7.
[68] Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p107; Queenslander 20 May 1876 p7; Whitworth, Bailliere’s Queensland Gazetteer, 1876, pp116-7.
[69] Queenslander 9 October 1875 p24.
[70] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984.
[71] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p11; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p97; Brisbane Courier 28 December 1878 p6.
[72] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p101; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, pp6-7.
[73] Queenslander 2 August 1879 p146; Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p179; Hann Divisional Board Valuation Registers 1882-7; North Queensland Register 5 September 1904 p9.
[74] Sydney Morning Herald 30 November 1876 p7; Dalby Herald and Western Queensland Advertiser 17 February 1877, p4; The Australasian 16 March 1878 p7; Binnie, My Life on a Tropic Goldfield, 1944.
[75] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, pp20, 177.
[76] The Week, 13 April 1878 p26.
[77] Binnie, My Life on a Tropic Goldfield, 1944, p29; The Age 12 December 1882 p3.
[78] Annual Mining Report for the year 1925, p49; Northern Herald 31 January 1931 p10.
[79] Northern Miner 20 October 1875 p3; The Week 13 April 1878 p26; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p32; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p122; Australian Town and Country Journal, 25 January 1879 p22; Brisbane Courier 24 March 1879 p2.
[80] Brisbane Courier 22 September 1879 p3, Queenslander 7 June 1879 p722, Darling Downs Gazette, 12 October 1881 p3. In May 1879 eight shares in the Louisa claim were sold to JH Duff for £1700, a sum considered to be ‘half their value’. In 1881 the Louisa Co purchased the entire claim for £220.
[81] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, pp106&124; Queenslander 6 August 1881 p178 and 15 October 1881 p494; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p32; Brisbane Courier 20 August 1881 p6, 3 December 1881 p6, 24 December 1881 p6, 24 October 1882 pp4-5, 6 February 1882 p5, 23 January 1883 p4 and 16 April 1883 p3; Queensland Figaro 28 April 1883 p7.
[82] Queenslander 24 May 1884 p815; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, pp104&109; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p32; Brisbane Courier 8 September 1883 p7, 19 May 1884 p6, 5 July 1884 p5, and 27 June 1894 p2.
[83] Cited in the Brisbane Courier 26 January 1897 p3.
[84] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, pp33-4.
[85] Brisbane Courier 27 October 1921 p6; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p34.
[86] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, pp34-5 & 75.
[87] RI Jack, ‘The Palmer River, Queensland’ in Jeans, DN (ed), Australian Historic Landscapes, 1984, p125; Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p35; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p35.
[88] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, Vol 1, p145; Queenslander 27 June 1885 p1015; Survey Plan MP17632 (1882); Brisbane Courier 1 January 1896 p3; Townsville Daily Bulletin 25 October 1948 p5
[89] Queenslander 31 December 1881 p850.
[90] From the North Cross Co mine at Limestone. Northern Miner 12 March 1902 p3.
[91] Truth 9 October 1904 p8; Annual Mining Report, 1904.
[92] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p100; Annual Mining Reports of the Under Secretary for Mines, 1939, p63; 1940, p30; 1941, p34, 1942-5 pp69-70, 72-73.
[93] Likely so named because it was discovered and worked by Chinese miners. See Warden Gill’s report in The Week, 11 September 1880 p19.
[94] Returned 1,175oz of gold. Capricornian 3 April 1880 p7; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p55; Brisbane Courier 7 September 1880 p3; Annual Report 1880.
[95] Lease application number 55. Queenslander 9 July 1881 p40; Brisbane Courier 20 August 1881 p6; 6 December 1884 p922.
[96] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p55.
[97] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p55; Queensland Figaro and Punch, 29 May 1886 p31.
[98] Survey Plan MP17661 (1888)
[99] Brisbane Courier, 11 July 1888 p3; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p56.
[100] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p56.
[101] ibid.
[102] Northern Herald 7 July 1934 p6
[103] Brisbane Courier 30 January 1878 p5; Capricornian 13 March 1880 p15; Telegraph 23 April 1880 p2; Queenslander 24 April 1880 p531
[104] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, Vol 1, 1991, p293.
[105] A second claim, the Ida No 1 West, reported small returns between 1876 and 1878, and one in 1882. It was sold to the QN Bank in 1884, but appears to have been abandoned without leaving physical traces. Jack, Report on a visit to the Palmer Goldfield, 1899, p21; Survey of Lease No 22, MP17698 (1878) and Survey of Lease 48, MP17628 (1880); Queenslander 28 February 1885 p327.
[106] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p63.
[107] Ibid.
[108] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873-1883, 1984, p109; Brisbane Courier 23 March 1878 p6 and 3 May 1879 p4; Under Secretary for Mines, Report of the Department of Mines, Queensland, for the year 1880; Survey of Lease No 14, MP17691 (1878).
[109] Brisbane Courier 28 December 1878 p6; Annual Report 1883 p24; Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser 7 April 1883 p645; Brisbane Courier 23 July 1881 p6; 24 September 1881 p6; Queenslander 4 June 1881 p723; 9 July 1881 p40; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p21.
[110] The reefs were the Ida, Comet, Just in Time, Louisa and Heart’s Content. The machines were the Ida, Mabel Louise and Louisa.
[111] Queenslander 6 January 1883 p25.
[112] Cited in Queenslander 2 December 1882 p793.
[113] Brisbane Courier 8 September 1883 p7.
[114] Queenslander 20 November 1897, pp973-5.
[115] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p22. McIlwraith’s ownership of the Ida was not revealed until an 1897 inquiry in to the Queensland National Bank, which also found that McIlwraith had accumulated £267,000 in unsecured debts over 20 years of land and mining speculation. Queenslander 20 November 1897, pp973-5.
[116] Pugh’s Almanac, 1883, 1886-1895; Brisbane Courier 28 February 1887 p3.
[117] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p29; Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, p187; Brisbane Courier 28 December 1878 p6 and 3 March 1883 p3; Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette 30 April 1879 p3; Queenslander 26 March 1881 p403.
[118]Queenslander 1 December 1883 p890; Brisbane Courier 24 January 1893 p2; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p64.
[119] Sydney Morning Herald 8 September 1896 p7; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p23; William H Rands, Queensland mining industry: important meeting at the Cannon Street Hotel, July 16th, 1897, p7; Evening News (Sydney) 17 November 1897 p3. There are conflicting reports as to whether the machinery was removed from the Louisa or Just-in-Time mine.
[120] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, Vol 2, p209; Hooper, From Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p103; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p66; Pugh’s Almanac, 1886, 1890, 1894, 1895; Annual Mining Reports, 1937, p68; and 1938, p63.
[121] Queenslander 6 November 1875 p24.
[122] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p15; Daily Northern Argus 12 July 1875 p2; Queenslander 12 February 1876 p24, from a report dated 19 January; Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser 1 June 1876 p3.
[123] Daily Northern Argus 27 December 1875 p2
[124] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, pp15-16; Queenslander 17 February 1877 p12; Daily Northern Argus 31 March 1877 p2; Rockhampton Bulletin 23 March 1877 p2; Brisbane Courier 30 April 1877 p3; Queenslander 24 August 1878 p658.
[125] Dalby Herald and Western Queensland Advertiser 11 December 1875 p2; Queensland Government Gazette, Vol 22 No 76, 15 June 1878, p1396.
[126] WT White, Map, ‘Palmer Gold field: Maytown and environs’, 1885.
[127] Australian Heritage Commission, Tracking the Dragon: A guide for finding and assessing Chinese Australian heritage places, 2002, A8-9; Department of Environment and Heritage Protection site visit, 2009; Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, Vol 1, p274.
[128] Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser 1 April 1874 p3; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p15.
[129] Australian Town and Country Journal 6 June 1874 p21.
[130] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p43.
[131] Jack, ‘The Palmer River Goldfield Queensland’, 1984, p115; Ritchie and Hooker, ‘An Archaeologist’s Guide to Mining Terminology’, 1997; Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p20; Queenslander 25 November 1876 p14.
[132] Brisbane Courier 31 March 1874 p3; 28 July 1874 p4.
[133] Mount Alexander Mail (Vic) 22 April 1875 p2.
[134] Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Survey Plans MP17683 (1877); 17716 (1880); 17717 (1880).
[135] Capricornian 15 November 1879 p15; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p43; Townsville Daily Bulletin 21 June 1945 p6; Hann Divisional Board Valuation Records 1883; Pugh’s Almanac, 1883.
[136] Australian Town and Country Journal 14 October 1876 p19; Evening News (Sydney) 2 January 1877 p3; Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser 4 March 1876 p299; Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, p43; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p123.
[137] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, pp43-4.
[138] Jack, Notes on the Palmer as a Reefing District, 1897, p6.
[139] Pugh’s Almanac, 1891.
[140]Queenslander 26 January 1895 p150; Agent-General for Queensland, Information Relating to Queensland and its resources, 1899, p49.
[141] Bell, Gold, Iron and Steam, 1987, pp44-5.
[142] Queenslander 26 January 1895 p150; Agent-General for Queensland, Information Relating to Queensland and its resources, 1899, p49.
[143] Annual Mining Report for the year 1900, p104; Annual Mining Report for the year 1901, p94; Annual Mining Report for the year 1903, p43.
[144] Annual Mining Report for the year 1914, p62.
[145] Townsville Daily Bulletin 21 June 1945 p6.

[146] The sandstone plateau known as “The Conglomerate Range” is capped by Dalrymple Sandstone and forms part of the Great Dividing Range; see Comber 1991, pp3-4.

Image gallery


Location of Palmer Goldfield Mining Landscape within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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