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Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former)

  • 601535
  • 121 Charlotte Street, Cooktown


Also known as
Cook Shire Council Chambers
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
8 April 1997
Communications: Post and telegraph office
Government administration: Council chambers/offices (town / city / shire / divisional board)
5.8 Moving goods, people and information: Postal services
Stanley, Francis Drummond Greville
Construction period
1877, Cook Shire Council Chambers (1876 - 1877)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century


121 Charlotte Street, Cooktown
Cook Shire Council
-15.46593921, 145.24938128


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

Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former), constructed in 1877 as Cooktown's first purpose-built post and telegraph office, is a result of the establishment of Cooktown as the port for the Palmer River goldfields. It is important in demonstrating the provision of post and telegraph facilities in new settlements by the Queensland Government, and the development of Cooktown as a regional centre in the 1870s.

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

Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former) is significant for its rarity value as one of only five known 1870s government buildings to survive in Far North Queensland.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former) is important for its aesthetic contribution to the Charlotte Street streetscape, which is characterised by prominent and attractive 19th and early 20th century buildings and civic works in the centre of Cooktown. With views from Charlotte Street to its front elevation, open verandah, and the building’s large ventilated roof, the place makes a notable contribution through its form, scale, materials, and siting.


The Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former) was constructed in 1877, on the west side of Charlotte Street, Cooktown, by the Queensland Government. It is a rare surviving example of a large timber Combined Post Office, Telegraph Office & Quarters building, which was designed with separate offices for a post office and a telegraph office at the front, and separate symmetrical quarters for the Post Master and Telegraph Manager to the rear. It is also a rare and early surviving government building from the first decade of Cooktown’s existence. It was converted to residential use only in 1888, after a new post and telegraph office (extant) was built to its immediate north the previous year, and it was later used as the offices of the Cooktown Municipal Council (later Cook Shire Council) from late 1892 until 2007.

Built on part of the traditional land of the Guugu Yimithirr people, the Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former) is one of the earliest surviving in Cooktown. In 1770, HM Bark Endeavour, captained by Lieutenant James Cook, struck a coral reef before being beached for repairs for seven weeks on the south bank of the mouth of what Cook named the Endeavour River. Although relations between the visitors and the Guugu Yimithirr people were initially cordial, a cultural misunderstanding led to a confrontation, which was soon followed an act of reconciliation.[1] The Endeavour River was not visited by Europeans again until 1819, by Lieutenant Phillip King in HM Cutter Mermaid, while the next recorded visit was made by John Jardine in 1865.[2]

Gold was discovered on the Palmer River, over 100km southwest of Cooktown, by surveyor Frederick Warner in August 1872, although explorer William Hann’s report to this effect was not tabled in Parliament until May 1873. Between June and September 1873, James Venture Mulligan led a prospecting party from the Etheridge River to the Palmer River, and a rush to the Palmer from the Etheridge ensued after his return. Cooktown (initially called Cook’s Town) was established when a party of police, government officials and miners landed on the south bank of the Endeavour River on 25 October 1873, with the aim of establishing a port and supply line for miners already on the Palmer. A party of miners soon left the Endeavour River for the Palmer.[3] The Palmer goldfield was declared on 27 November 1873.[4]

Cooktown developed almost overnight as a port and supply and administrative centre, initially as a disorganised tent city, until the Government surveyor James Read arrived in February 1874. The first land sale occurred in May 1874, and a government reserve was located east of Charlotte Street, to the north of Hill Street.[5] Within six months of its establishment, the town had 20 restaurants, 12 large and 20 smaller stores, 6 butchers, 5 bakers, 3 tinsmiths, and chemists, fancygoods shops, watchmakers, bootmakers and saddlers; 65 publican's licenses had been issued for the Cooktown-Palmer River district, with 30 more applied for by April 1874. There was an estimated floating population of 3,000 in the town itself, and thousands of men en route to the goldfields. Large numbers of Chinese miners made their way to the Palmer goldfield via Cooktown, and Chinese storekeepers were amongst the earliest to establish businesses in Cooktown. Two Cooktown newspapers were established in 1874, a state school, customs house, courthouse, and several churches were erected by 1875, and the town was declared a municipality on 5 April 1876. The 1876 census revealed a population of over 9,200 persons on the Palmer goldfield, and Cooktown had a population of just under 2,200.[6]

Rudimentary government buildings were soon erected. By February 1874 they consisted of two small timber and iron buildings for the police, and one small hut for the acting sub-collector of customs. In April, a prefabricated customs house and a bonded store arrived. These were located in the government reserve north of Hill Street, although the western side of Charlotte Street was also reserved for government purposes.[7]

An unofficial post office was established in Cooktown from 1 January 1874, and became official later in the year. It was originally based in one of two timber and iron huts erected for the police, on the government reserve, but in July 1874 it relocated into its own building on this reserve, north of the police. In 1875 this was described as a two-room building, with an office and a bedroom for one of its two staff. A line for the telegraph from Cooktown to Maytown, on the Palmer goldfield, was opened on 25 April 1876.[8]

Tenders for a new purpose-built post and telegraph office were called in 1875, and again in 1876. The contract was let in July 1876 to Cooktown contractor HJ Meldrum, with a price of £1,940. Meldrum disappeared later in the year, believed drowned, and the work was completed by Cooktown builder John Sullivan by February 1877. At this time it was reported ‘the erection of the Post and Telegraph offices at Cooktown has been completed. They are in one building, the walls of which are of timber, and roof covered with galvanised iron. It provides large offices for each department, also quarters for officers…’[9]

The new post and telegraph office was located on the west side of Charlotte Street, north of Adelaide Street, on a post office reserve of 1 rood 16p (1,416m2) gazetted by 1879. A town hall was later erected c1880 between the post office reserve and Adelaide Street, on a small town hall reserve gazetted in 1879, and extended to the west in 1887.[10]

Post and telegraph offices were designed in the office of the Colonial Architect. In the late 1870s the Colonial Architect was Francis Drummond Greville Stanley, who also designed the Cooktown Powder Magazine (1875-6) [QHR 600425], and the first wing of the Cooktown Hospital (1879) [QHR 600424]. Later, in private practice, he prepared plans for St Mary's Convent at Cooktown (1888-89) [QHR 600423], and the former Cooktown Queensland National Bank (1890-92) [QHR 600419].

The provision of post and telegraph services was an important responsibility of the Queensland (then colonial) Government, as communication was vital in such a large colony, with a dispersed regional population. Before post and telegraph services were taken over by the Commonwealth Government in 1901, the Queensland Government constructed 200 post offices, with the most active decades being the 1870s-80s. Telegraph offices had their own buildings until the early 1870s, when dual-use buildings, with both post and telegraph offices, were designed. When plans were prepared for the Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office, Queensland post and telegraph services were still operating independently, and the two departments did not amalgamate until 1879. Post and telegraph offices were often grouped near other government buildings, were usually timber, and often resembled houses in scale and form, although they were generally built closer to the street. Compared with earlier designs, which were little more than cottages with one room or an enclosed verandah serving as a post or telegraph office, mid-1870s designs provided more generous space for post and telegraph functions. [11] 

There was little standardisation in design, but the post and telegraph office at Cooktown has been classified as a ‘Combined Post Office, Telegraph Office & Quarters’– a large, single-storey timber design with a symmetrical layout of separate offices and quarters, and a centrally placed pediment marking the entrance. Only three of this type were built, in the 1870s, at Roma, Cooktown and Gladstone, and in 2020 only Cooktown’s remains.[12]

The Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office was constructed with two offices at the front (east end): one for the post office (south), and one for the telegraph office (north). The southern end of the telegraph office also contained two smaller rooms; a lobby on the east side, and a battery room on the west side. Each office had symmetrical quarters to the rear (west), for the Post Master and the Telegraph Manager, separated from each other by a party wall down the centre of the building. Each quarters consisted of a sitting room west of their respective office, then three bedrooms in a row, off a central hall. Verandahs were included along the east, north and south sides of the building. At the rear, both quarters were joined to a semi-detached kitchen wing; which had two mirrored halves, each including a kitchen and a servant’s room, with a washing shed on the west side.[13] In December 1876 The Cooktown Courier described the building as ‘nice looking and commodious… with both the public offices and private apartments being spacious and lofty [while] the roof is admirably arranged to allow the free circulation of air’.[14]

When the new Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office opened in 1877, the Palmer goldfield was at its peak of production. Customs duties collected at Cooktown were second only to Brisbane, during 1875-1877; and in 1877 the Palmer goldfield produced 45% of the Queensland’s gold. However, as alluvial yields dropped, the flow of Chinese miners bound for the Palmer through Cooktown decreased, and reef mining proved uneconomical, the town’s fortunes began to decline, and Cooktown’s gold boom was over by 1885.[15]

Despite the decline of the Palmer goldfield’s yields, Cooktown’s economy was kept afloat by the discovery of tin along the Annan River in 1887, the pearling, bêche-de-mer, and pastoral industries, and the use of Cooktown as the main port for Queensland’s trade with New Guinea from 1885. Public improvements continued in Cooktown during the 1880s, including granite kerbing and channelling from 1884 [QHR 601731], and the building of a monument to Mary Watson, a victim of frontier conflict, [QHR 600421] in 1886, and a monument to Captain Cook [QHR 601044] in 1887. A boarding school and convent was also built at Cooktown for the Sisters of Mercy [QHR 600423] in 1888-9.[16] Another source of economic stimulus during the 1880s was the construction, from 1884, of a railway. This officially opened to Laura in October 1888, but the line never paid and was never extended to Maytown (established 1874) on the Palmer River.[17]

The Post and Telegraph Office proved inadequate for the volume of mail and telegraph services being demanded. In 1887, a new post and telegraph office (without quarters) was constructed adjacent to the north, by CFA Sparkes for £975, and was ready for occupation by October 1887. A new post and telegraph reserve, incorporating the 1877 post and telegraph office, and a closed section of Green Street to its north, had been gazetted in 1886.[18]

The offices of the old post and telegraph office were modified during 1888, as additions to the existing quarters. At this time some of the windows in the front rooms of the building were replaced with French doors, and a lattice screen was erected along the front verandah. However, the building remained in residential use for only four years. Constructed on a former mangrove swamp at the base of the ridge running south from Grassy Hill, the site was inundated with water during the wet season and lacked proper drainage. The place was considered unhealthy, and was vacated in 1892.[19]

After a fire destroyed the adjacent town hall on 13 December 1892, the former post and telegraph building was occupied as the temporary Chambers of the Cooktown Municipal Council. It was permanently taken over by the Municipal Council in March 1893.[20]

As a result of the change in the building’s use, there were also changes made to the relevant government reserves. In 1900, the southern part of the 1886 post and telegraph reserve, containing the 1877 building, was added to the existing, vacant, town hall reserve to the south, creating a Reserve for Municipal Purposes of 2 roods and 29 perches (2,757m2).[21] In 1903 the Cooktown Municipal Council became Cooktown Town Council, and remained so until 1932, when it became part of the Cook Shire (established 1919).

By 1900 the Cook and Palmer census districts still had a population of just under 6,000, despite less than 1,300 persons on the Palmer, Coen and Hamilton goldfields, and the municipality of Cooktown retained a population of nearly 2,000. However, a cyclone in 1907 destroyed or unroofed many buildings, including the Masonic Temple, the Presbyterian and Catholic churches and ten hotels. Many commercial buildings were rebuilt, but houses were abandoned as the population drifted to Cairns.[22] The population of Cooktown dropped as low as 429 in 1961, but had recovered to 2339 by 2011.[23]

Some changes have been made to the 1877 post and telegraph building over the years. The building was truncated when the kitchen wing and two rearmost bedrooms on each side were removed by 1957. The former site of the town hall, to the south, was still vacant at this time, and remained so until a modular building was moved onto the site between 1987 and 1989.[24] Alterations were also undertaken in the 1970s, when a number of internal partitions were removed and the north and south verandahs enclosed; and a masonry strong room/vault was added to the north side of the north verandah in 1982.

The building functioned as the administrative offices of Cook Shire Council until c2007, after which it became a history centre, operated by the Cooktown Historical Society, with a small museum, as well as providing storage for historic Shire Council documents. In 2020, the Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former) survives, next to its 1887 replacement, on Charlotte Street.[25] The only other known surviving government buildings of Cooktown's establishment phase are the Cooktown Powder Magazine (1875-6) and the former Cooktown Hospital (1879-81, QHR 600424).


Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former) (1877) is located in the centre of Cooktown’s central business district. The building stands at the front of the site, facing east to Charlotte Street, the town’s principal street. The open rear yard slopes down to the west to the Endeavour River, which runs along the rear boundary.

Through its form, materials and siting, the place contributes to an attractive streetscape of nearby, related 19th and early 20th century buildings and civic infrastructure, including: Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (1887); Mary Watson's Monument (1886) [QHR600421]; former Seagren's Building (1880s) [QHR600420]; former Bank of North Queensland (1892) [QHR600422]; former Queensland National Bank (1892) [QHR600419] and Early Granite Kerbing and Channelling (1880s) [QHR601731].

It is a timber-framed, low-set, single-storey building clad with chamferboards and with a hipped roof clad with corrugated metal clad sheets. The long narrow building stretches along Charlotte Street. A wide rear block projects from the rear to form a T-shape in plan. This projection is the truncated remnant of a longer residential wing with semi-detached kitchen wing that has been demolished/removed off site. A verandah wraps the building on all sides except the rear side of the rear block; its roof is continuous with the main roof. Topping the centre of the main roof is a broad, hipped lantern roof, ventilated by fixed louvres on all sides.

The subfloor stumps have been replaced with short steel posts and a small, semi-detached masonry extension has been made to the north side toward the rear.

The front verandah remains open and has stop-chamfered timber posts and features a central gable roof over the main entrance to the building. The gable is infilled with v-jointed timber boards and features a non-original stop-chamfered finial. The verandah balustrade of battens is a later replacement not to the original cross-braced design. All other verandahs, which were originally open, have been enclosed.

The windows and doors of the building provide evidence of the building’s original public post and telegraph office and residential use and its 1888 conversion for residential use only. The two central double doors (originally the main entrance doors into the two separate offices) are timber-framed, glazed double doors with moulded panels and fanlights. One of them (the telegraph office’s double doors) has been converted to be outward opening c1888 for the residence conversion. Either side of the main entrance doors are double-hung windows with fine, moulded glazing bars. The windows also retain their sash flaps – hinged timber pieces on the window jamb supporting or releasing the upper sash. The building has other windows which have been converted to French doors in c1888.

The interior layout, originally divided in half into the two separate offices by a party wall, has been adapted for use as council offices with open plan areas and individual offices and rooms. The party wall has had some openings made in it to connect the two sides of the building and some partitions have been removed and new ones added in new locations. The original ceilings and walls are lined with timber boards. Some original partitions have been lined over with flat sheet material.

Features of Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former) of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

  • location and visual relationship to adjacent 19th and early 20th century civic buildings and infrastructure
  • broad views to the building from Charlotte Street of its front elevation, open front verandah, and large ventilated roof form
  • lowset, single-storey form freestanding in an open vegetated yard
  • symmetrical building composition, T-shaped in plan
  • timber-framed structure and weatherboard cladding (excluding cladding over west face of rear projection where remainder of wing has been demolished)
  • surrounding timber-framed verandah (originally all open), its timber floor boards and unlined ceiling
  • projecting gabled verandah entrance with gable (gable infill is not original)
  • hipped roof continuous over the verandah and topped by ventilated lantern roof with fixed louvres
  • corrugated metal sheet roof cladding
  • original timber-framed double doors (inward opening) with moulded panels and glazing and timber-framed fanlights, and one set of double doors (from front verandah into former Telegraph office) converted to French doors (c1888)
  • original timber-framed multi-paned double-hung windows with sash flaps
  • French doors added into original window openings (c1888) as part of residence conversion
  • original layout of building divided in half with party wall
  • tongue and groove timber floor boards
  • original timber-framed and beaded board-lined partitions
  • beaded board-lined ceilings (coved in main office rooms) and their ceiling vents (vent locations illustrate the original room layout)
  • original timber-framed internal doors with moulded panels (some have been reused in non-original partitions)
  • original and early door, window, sash flap, and fanlight hardware (primarily brass)

Features of Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former) not of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

  • subfloor stumps
  • stairs
  • verandah enclosures (original cross-braced verandah balustrade may survive within enclosures)
  • verandah gable infill and finial
  • non-original verandah balustrades (timber battens)
  • non-original masonry extension and rear lean-to
  • non-original weatherboard cladding to west face of rear projection
  • non-original openings made to original partitions
  • non-original partitions, non-original infill of original openings, and non-original linings over original partitions
  • non-original windows and doors (except c1888 French doors mentioned previously)
  • non-original floor coverings (carpets, vinyl tiles)
  • kitchenette fitout
  • electrical services, fixtures, and fittings
  • any other structures or landscape features


[1] ‘Australia’s first reconciliation’, (accessed 6 August 2020); P Turnbull, ‘James Cook’s hundred days in Queensland’, (accessed 6 August 2020).
[2] R Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town: Cooktown 1873-85’, Phd thesis, Brisbane, Department of History, University of Queensland, 1996, pp.7, 58. The Endeavour River was also visited by bêche-de-mer (sea cucumber) fishermen in the 1850s-60s, and probably also by timber getters in the late 1860s.
[3] Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town’, pp.44, 64-9, 77-79.
[4] Queensland Government Gazette, Vol 14 No 114, 6 December 1873, p.2046.
[5] Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town’, pp.87, 140-8.
[6] ‘Cooktown Cemetery’ QHR 601147; ‘Grassy Hill Lighthouse’ QHR 601241. Another source puts the population of Cooktown in 1876 as 2400, rising to 3000 in 1878, and reducing to around 1500 by 1881; although these figures have to be estimated, given the transient nature of part of the population of Cooktown (Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town’, pp.151, 210). ‘North Queensland Notes’, Queenslander, 29 April 1882, p.525 (claimed the population of the municipality in 1881 was 1593; two thirds of what it was in 1879).
[7] Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town’, pp.145, 148, 187.
[8] National Trust of Queensland file and citation ‘Cook Shire Chambers’, Cook 2/013; Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town’, pp.188-90; DNRME Survey Plan C1791, 1874 (‘Reserve for post and telegraph offices’ annotated north of police reserve); ‘Cooktown’, Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 20 March 1875, p.359 (two roomed building).
[9]  ‘Public Works in the North’, Queenslander, 3 February 1877, p.19 (completion); National Trust of Queensland file and citation ‘Cook Shire Chambers’, Cook 2/013. The public works estimates for 1876-7 allocated £2495 for the post and telegraph office; while expenditure on public works in Cooktown for 1876-7, for postal services, was listed as £2675 (Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town’, pp.190, 306). In March 1876, it was assumed that the new post and telegraph building would be constructed next to the police barracks, but this did not occur (‘Public buildings in the north’, Week, 18 March 1876, p.21).
[10] DNRME Survey Plan C1791, 1874 (shows small town hall reserve. It also shows a triangular post office reserve, located north of Furneaux Street between Charlotte Street and Adelaide Street – south of where the 1877 post and telegraph office was actually built); Queensland Government Gazette, 1879 (Vol XXV, July-December), p.286 (‘Reserve for a Town Hall site at Cooktown’, 17.5 perches (442.6m2), south of the post office reserve); DNRME Survey Plan C17928, 1879 (shows post office reserve of 1 rood 16 perches); ‘Cooktown’, Queenslander, 17 July 1880, p.70 (‘The town hall is progressing rapidly, and will be an ornament to Charlotte Street’); Queensland Government Gazette, 1887 (Vol XLI, May-August), p.161 (‘Reserve for Town Hall’ (amending 14 August 1879), of 1 rood 14.3p (1,373m2)). The town hall included offices and a large public hall, 35ft by 65ft (10.7m by 19.8m), to accommodate 600-700 persons, along with a stage and piano (‘North Queensland Notes’, Queenslander, 29 April 1882, p.525).
[11] ‘Historic Post Offices in Queensland, a National Estate Study’, Brisbane, University of Queensland, Department of Architecture, 1983, pp.18, 21-22, 40, 44, 51, 57, 69, 177. This study also included the later 1887 post and telegraph office at Cooktown in their list of ‘Combined Post Office, Telegraph Office & Quarters’ (pp. 78, 88), but this building did not incorporate quarters.
[12] ‘Historic Post Offices in Queensland, a National Estate Study’, pp.40, 76-7, 88
[13] From plan in Queensland State Archives Item 108138 (formerly WOR/425, top number 3142) Department of Works ‘General Correspondence Records’.
[14] The Cooktown Courier, 20 December 1876, p.2, cited in Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town’, p.190. However, the rooms were closely ceiled, with no gratings to allow hot air to escape.
[15] Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town’, pp.2, 4, 273, 350, 367. During the 1870s, 1876-7 was the year of greatest government expenditure on public works in Cooktown (£10,708); while in the early 1880s, the greatest expenditure was on the Cooktown railway (Ormston, p.306). ‘Cooktown, Queensland’, Australian Town and Country Journal, 28 June 1884, p.28 (‘Cooktown… is quiet from a business point of view’).
[16] ‘Cooktown’, (accessed 3 August 2020); ‘Mary Watson's Monument’, QHR 600421; ‘James Cook Historical Museum’, QHR 600423; ‘Cooks Monument and Reserve’, QHR 601044; ‘Grassy Hill Lighthouse’, QHR 601241; ‘Early Granite Kerbing and Channelling, Cooktown’ QHR 601731. Mary Watson died in 1881, along with her infant son Ferrier, and her Chinese employee Ah Sam, after their bêche-de-mer station on Lizard Island was attacked by Aboriginal people. The trio left Lizard Island in a floating iron ship’s tank, and later died of thirst and exposure on another island.
[17] Ormston, ‘The rise and fall of a frontier mining town’, p.346. The Palmer goldfield’s alluvial production peaked in 1876-7; and although reef mining increased during the 1880s, gold production decreased during that decade. Maytown’s population, which had peaked at 1500 in 1876, had fallen to 604 by 1886 (‘Maytown’ QHR 602255).
[18] DNRME Survey Plan C17928, 1879 (annotated with various reserve gazettal dates, for both the town hall and post and telegraph reserves); Queensland Government Gazette, 1886 (July-December), p.1642 (1886 post and telegraph reserve, 2 roods, 25.6p (2,671m2)); ‘Railways and Public Works’, The Queenslander, 1 January 1887, p. 19 (tenders invited for Cooktown, new Post and Telegraph Office); ‘Official notifications’, The Queenslander, 26 March 1887, p.509 (tender accepted); ‘Queensland News’, The Queenslander, 11 June 1887, p.921 (protests about closure of Green Street); Queensland State Archives, Item 108053, (formerly WOR/A340, Top number 3516) Works Department ‘General Correspondence Records’ (ready for occupation October 1887).
[19] Queensland State Archives, Item 108053, (formerly WOR/A340, Top number 3516) Works Department ‘General Correspondence Records’. Correspondence indicates that similar changes (French doors at the front, verandah lattice, repainting) were made to both the Post Master’s quarters, and the Telegraph Manager’s quarters during 1888. One (c1888?) plan of the 1877 building shows the two front offices each converted into a sitting and bedroom, divided by a hall, with the front verandah divided in two, and the former sitting rooms becoming dining rooms, but it is unknown if this occurred (‘Cook Shire Council: former Council Chambers, report for building conservation and management’, 2007, p.50). The practice of building a new post and telegraph office, and converting the previous one to quarters, was also followed at Ravenswood and Mount Perry (‘Historic Post Offices in Queensland, a National Estate Study’, pp.22, 24).
[20] National Trust of Queensland file and citation ‘Cook Shire Chambers’, Cook 2/013; ‘Fire at Cooktown, town hall destroyed’, Week, 16 December 1892, p.7. A lamp at the back of stage burst, during a marionette performance, and the audience rapidly evacuated. All the rate collectors’ books and papers were destroyed. The crew of the Paluma, a gunboat in the Queensland Marine Defence Force assigned to the British Admiralty for survey work, assisted the fire brigade, which saved the post and telegraph office, despite ‘the whole of the side being in flames several times’. In the hall, the grand piano, worth 150 Guineas, was saved. ‘Queensland’, Brisbane Courier, 17 December 1892, p.5 (Municipal Council repairing old post office prior to occupying it as municipal offices).
[21] Queensland Government Gazette, 1900 (January-June), p.1263; DNRME Survey Plan C17973, 1900. The expanded town hall reserve became Lot 5, Section 79 in 1987 (DNRME Survey Plan IS76003, 1987).
[22] ‘Cooktown Cemetery’ QHR 601147; ‘Cooktown’, (accessed 3 August 2020)
[23] ‘Cooktown’, (accessed 3 August 2020).
[24] DNRME aerial photograph, QAP0730071, 12 October 1957; DNRME aerial photograph, QAP4677173, 21 July 1987; and DNRME aerial photograph, QAP4800063, 16 September 1989.
[25] ‘Cook Shire Council: former Council Chambers, report for building conservation and management’, 2007, pp.3-4; Pers. Comm. Allison Dakin, Cook Shire Council, 22 July 2020.

Image gallery


Location of Cooktown Post and Telegraph Office (former) within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
20 February 2022