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  • 602255
  • Maytown Town Reserve and Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve, Palmer


Also known as
Maytown Township
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
1 June 2004
Mining and mineral processing: Mining camp/settlement
2.2 Exploiting, utilising and transforming the land: Exploiting natural resources
6.1 Building settlements, towns, cities and dwellings: Establishing settlements and towns
Construction period
1874–1920, Maytown Township (1874c - 1920s)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century


Maytown Town Reserve and Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve, Palmer
Cook Shire Council
-16.05066251, 144.29139185


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

Maytown (established 1874 as Edwardstown, now an abandoned settlement) is important in demonstrating the evolution and pattern of Queensland’s history, particularly the development of north Queensland. Maytown was founded beyond the pastoral frontier and became the principal settlement on the Palmer Goldfield, and was critical in supporting mining activity and other settlements in the region. The Palmer goldfield was Queensland’s premier alluvial goldfield in the late 19th century and Queensland’s fourth highest producing goldfield in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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

The extensive and largely intact stone kerbing and channelling within Maytown is rare on north Queensland goldfields. The stone kerbing and channelling survives as testimony to the desire for a permanent settlement in the region.

The ruins of the Maytown Boatshed is significant as rare and early surviving evidence of the transportation network that was developed to service the Palmer goldfield. The isolation and harsh seasonal conditions of the field necessitated the quick development of an all-weather transport and communication network. The archaeological remains of this ferry service are the only known surviving example of a ferry service dating from the earliest period of colonial occupation of north Queensland.

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

Maytown has potential to contribute new knowledge that may lead to a greater understanding of important aspects of Queensland’s history through historical and archaeological investigations. Archaeological investigations of surviving features may increase our understandings of industrial, commercial, administrative and domestic conditions on an extensive, early, remote and important goldfield. Such investigations may also reveal important information on European and Chinese activities on the Palmer Goldfield and assist in comparative analysis with other settlements (permanent and ephemeral) which survive on other early goldfields found across Queensland.

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

Maytown demonstrates the principal characteristics of an abandoned settlement established on an extensive 19th century goldfield. As the commercial centre for the Palmer Goldfield, Maytown still contains extensive ruins of commercial, residential, industrial and administrative infrastructure, including the police station and school, European and Chinese cemeteries, telegraph poles and extensive flagstone flooring that illustrate the associated planning and layout of the town. Other characteristic features include fringing campsites, Chinese graves, remnant ovens and kilns.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Maytown demonstrates the principal characteristics of an abandoned settlement established on an extensive 19th century goldfield. As the commercial centre for the Palmer Goldfield, Maytown still contains extensive ruins of commercial, residential, industrial and administrative infrastructure, including the police station and school, European and Chinese cemeteries, telegraph poles and extensive flagstone flooring that illustrate the associated planning and layout of the town. Other characteristic features include fringing campsites, Chinese graves, remnant ovens and kilns.


Maytown, approximately 120 kilometres southwest of Cooktown, was established on the banks of the Palmer River, north Queensland, in 1874. Known as Edwardstown until 1878, the township became the dominant settlement on the Palmer Goldfield, Queensland’s premier 19th century alluvial goldfield. Maytown’s population peaked at over 1,500 residents in 1876, and the township featured most of the goldfield’s facilities and administrative services. The population declined significantly in the 1880s and into the 1890s due to the end of alluvial mining and the unprofitability of reef mining ventures on the Palmer Goldfield. By the mid-1920s few people remained, and most of the buildings were removed by the 1940s. Maytown’s last resident departed in the 1950s.

Gold mining played a major role in the economic and geographic development of Queensland in the late 19th century. Between 1873 and 1906, Queensland's gold and metal exports regularly exceeded that of wool. Prior to 1865, little thought had been 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 to the north of these finds was systematically 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 then Premier of Queensland, Arthur Hunter Palmer.[2]

Encouraged by the report of gold, James Venture Mulligan led a prospecting party in June 1873 to investigate the Palmer River deposits. Mulligan’s party located some of the richest alluvial deposits in North Queensland, returning to Georgetown with 102oz (2.89kg) of gold. News of the find quickly spread and triggered a rush to the area, and a 2,000 square mile (5,180km2) was proclaimed in 1873. Travelling conditions were difficult, and unprepared miners died en route from lack of supplies, drowning, or confrontation with the Kuku-Yalanji and Kuku-Mini people.[3]

Unlike other goldfields in Australia, the rush to the Palmer predated pastoral settlement of the region. The nearest major centre was Townsville, over 450km to the southeast. Cooktown, established as the goldfield’s port, was 200km east over difficult terrain. To accommodate and provision the influx of miners, small canvas towns sprang up across the goldfield. Most of the diggings were concentrated around Upper Camp, a settlement near the junction of the Palmer River and Butcher’s Creek. The well-grassed site which was selected by John Edwards in September 1873 to open a butcher’s business, supplying miners with meat. Promising alluvial deposits and quartz reefs were found nearby, turning Upper Camp into a large settlement, known as ‘Edwards Camp’ or ‘Edwards Gully’. A gold commissioner was stationed there in 1874. The Palmer’s Gold Commissioner Howard St George roughly surveyed the town in the same year, and renamed it ‘Edwardstown’.[4]

The name ‘Maytown’ emerged in late 1874, after a post office and police barracks on the outskirts of the township were granted the name. The name was gradually adopted for Edwardstown, to the chagrin of the miners.[5]

Unprecedented alluvial gold returns were reported from the Palmer; between March and September 1874, 78,429oz (2,223kg) of high quality gold passed through Cooktown customs. Sensational reports of the goldfield’s wealth spread, encouraging a population increase from around 800 in February 1874 to an estimated 6,000 in December. 118 miners’ rights were issued on the Palmer in 1873, leaping to 2,643 in 1874. With the majority of this mining activity centred on Maytown, Gold Warden Phillip Sellheim moved his camp there in July 1875. Sellheim’s residence, a small weatherboard structure housing himself and his family, stood east of the township near the site of the goldfield’s first ore processing battery, the Pioneer. [6]

As the new administrative centre of the Palmer, Maytown grew rapidly: its building works and population doubled within a month, and by October, Maytown was ‘assuming the proportions of a populous and prosperous township’.[7] As the mining population continued to increase, surveyor James Reid was despatched to Maytown in December 1875 to survey allotments around the Edwardstown machine site, ‘or rather to lay out in symmetrical order the straggling and irregular collection of hotels, stores, &c., that are already on the ground,’ as the Daily Northern Argus noted.[8] Reid’s survey altered the original proposed township layout marked by St George, to the outrage of business owners whose buildings stood within the old alignment. [9]

The Palmer’s gold returns peaked in 1876 and 1877, and it became the highest producing alluvial goldfield in Queensland.[10] Its population climbed above 20,000, and Maytown grew correspondingly. Sellheim encouraged the establishment of a school and social institutions including a Miners' Institute Library and School of Arts.[11] An assay office and three banks were opened, cementing Maytown’s position as the Palmer’s financial centre.[12] Twelve hotels, 17 stores, three bakeries, three tobacconists and stationers, a butchery, blacksmiths, chemists, doctors, jewellers, billiard-rooms and a lemonade factory lined both sides of the ‘tolerably straight and wide’ main street, Leslie Street, for a distance of about 500m.[13] A £600 courthouse and a ten-patient hospital were opened, and a telegraph extension line began.[14] A new police barracks and lock-up were also built within the township in 1876.[15]

The township’s water supply came from two wells in the Palmer River.[16] Cattle, driven to the goldfield from neighbouring pastoral stations, were held in yards on the edge of Maytown to supply the butcher.[17] Sly-grog establishments were also scattered throughout the township.[18] An 1876 census recorded the township’s population at 1,500 people, swelling on Sundays when goldfield miners visited the township for provisions and entertainment.[19]

A number of the stores and businesses in Maytown were operated by Chinese merchants and professionals, and vegetables were grown in a Chinese market garden planted on the edge of Butcher’s Creek.[20] Favourable returns and a direct steamer service between Cooktown and Hong Kong (inaugurated in 1875) encouraged regular immigration from China to the Palmer. By 1877 an estimated 18,000 people formed the largest Chinese community in Australia, and comprised nearly 90% of the Palmer’s population.[21] Maytown was the only township on the Palmer with a predominantly European population (approximately 900 Europeans and 300 Chinese); by 1883, this had changed to a reported 300 Europeans and 4,000 Chinese.[22] A ‘joss house’ temple was built circa 1878,[23] and remnants of Chinese settlement, including graves, cooking ovens and kilns, are evident in and around the township. [24]

The cost of transporting building material to the Palmer was prohibitive, and the trouble and expense was rarely considered necessary by transitory alluvial miners. Despite ‘several good substantial buildings’, most of Maytown’s pre-1880 structures were canvas, bark or rough-cut local timber, giving the township an appearance ‘more like a great fair than anything else’.[25] The main bakery, on an allotment partway up Leslie Street, featured one of the township’s only brick structures, a baking oven.[26] The most imposing building in the township was the Queensland National Bank’s galvanised iron structure.[27]

The expansion of reef mining activities in the early 1880s encouraged the construction of permanent structures in Maytown.[28] The company-operated reef mines which dominated the Palmer offered reef miners relatively stable employment, allowing them to settle for longer periods than the alluvial miners. Though a much smaller population than the alluvial miners, their stability encouraged the development of a permanent town with a greater range of educational and entertainment facilities and services. Timber was imported for new building work, and tenders called for public buildings.[29] Town lots were offered for sale from 1883, and Leslie Street was kerbed and channelled.[30] The warden’s quarters were improved for a new warden, who arrived in 1880. Substantial timber and iron stores were built for Chinese storekeepers in 1880, and new iron fronts installed on other stores.[31] A local divisional board hall was built, hosting a school of arts library, balls and social events.[32] A three acre hospital reserve and a seven acre cemetery, both southeast of the township on the bank of the Palmer River, were gazetted in February 1883, although both were already in use.[33] A school, which had operated briefly in 1878, reopened in 1882 and a reserve for it was gazetted in April 1883.[34] A new police station was also completed in 1883. Reserves for a new School of Arts and post and telegraph office were proclaimed in 1885; the new post office was built four years later, and the School of Arts moved into the old post office.[35] East of the township, a rifle range was opened for Maytown’s Excelsior rifle club (1886-1901).[36] The 640 acre town reserve was officially proclaimed in 1890.[37]

Maytown’s growth came at the end of the Palmer’s boom. Gold warden WO Hodgkinson proclaimed the field’s alluvial deposits ‘exhausted’ in 1883.[38] The collapse of alluvial mining operations, as well as restrictive legislation and tariffs introduced to Queensland in 1877,[39] reduced the Chinese population precipitously. The Palmer’s reef mines proved far less profitable than anticipated. After an unfavourable report in the Palmer’s reef mines in 1884, much of the mining activity and external investment ceased. Maytown’s Bank of New South Wales branch closed in 1884.[40] The total mining population on the goldfield dropped from 3,303 in 1881 to 946 in 1883, and to 542 in 1885.[41] By 1886 Maytown’s population was 154 Europeans and 450 Chinese. Reef mining revived briefly in the early 1890s, but its returns were limited, and as a proposed railway failed to eventuate, the goldfield’s population continued to fall.[42] Only 11 business licences were issued for the goldfield in 1891, from a high of 477 issued in 1876.[43] The mining warden’s office closed in 1893, as did the Queensland National Bank branch. The warden’s quarters were sold and removed in 1899.[44] By the end of the 19th century, the Palmer’s importance as a gold-producing field had been severely diminished, though it remained the fourth-highest producer in Queensland.[45]

A small population remained in Maytown, which in 1900 featured a branch of the Government Savings Bank, a state school, courthouse, hospital, police barracks, one hotel, eight stores (four Chinese, four European), a baker, saddler and the School of Arts (renamed the Miners’ Institute).[46] Reef mining activity continued intermittently through the first half of the 20th century, but by 1920, Wah Chong and Company's was the only store still open in Maytown. The school and police station closed in the 1920s.[47] The post office and mail routes operated until 1945. In 1948 residents of nearby towns, affected by postwar material shortages, successfully applied to remove Maytown’s abandoned buildings for reuse.[48] The last Maytown resident left in the 1950s.[49]

In the 1980s and early 1990s, reconstruction and interpretation work was undertaken on some parts of Maytown. Signage identifying the location of former structures and other features was erected by members of the Palmer River Historic Preservation Society (PRHPS). The PRHPS also erected a commemorative cairn, a replica of a miner’s house in the centre of township in Duff Street, undertook reconstruction works on two kilns and erected protective shelters.[50]


A ferry service across the North Palmer River at Edwardstown was commissioned at after the wet season of 1873-74. The first road to Edwardstown approached the township from the south, necessitating a river crossing to reach the mining camps on the left-hand branch. While the river often stopped flowing in the dry season, during the wet season the track became difficult to traverse or impassable without a vessel. In October 1874, the Engineer of Roads AC Macmillan recommended that ferries should be established over the four major rivers that affected access to the field: the Laura, Normanby, Kennedy and Palmer Rivers. The 18ftx15ft (5.5x4.4m) vessels were to have a capacity for 18 people. The Commissioner of Work approved the construction in October 1874 and the vessels arrived in mid-December, in time for the next wet season. Privately operated punts for bulk carriage of supplies were considered too slow and costly.[51]

The Laura to Maytown coach road, which opened in 1876, provided a route from Cooktown to Maytown from the north, but a boat remained vital for Maytown’s access to the southern parts of the field and new gold discoveries on the Hodgkinson field and Limestone (Groganville). The Hann Divisional Board, created in 1879, assumed responsibility for the river crossings.[52] The board commissioned its own boat for the crossing in 1884.[53] By 1890 the boat was stored ‘about one mile from town’, conveying mail and passengers across the river during the wet season.[54] The ferry service was operated by lessees, often Chinese men.[55] The boat was lost in floods on multiple occasions, but was generally recovered. In 1894, the ferry was washed away, and the board commissioned two iron boats to be made in Brisbane at a cost of £39 each. One boat was sent to the Coen goldfield (which was also under their jurisdiction); the other, to Maytown.[56]

Local sources indicate that the ferry service continued to operate into the 1930s, although by that time there was no ferry master and passengers rowed themselves. The last ferry, the May-Belle, was recovered in 1973 and donated to the James Cook Museum. It is listed on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels.[57]



Maytown is located on the north bank of the Palmer River south of its junction with Butcher's Creek. It is located approximately 55km southwest of Laura. The town reserve contains a high concentration of building platforms and remnant footings, and various archaeological features and artefact scatters. Some street alignments are easily discernible with Leslie Street, the main street through the centre of the town, featuring carefully laid stone kerbing and channelling. Structural remains within the township itself include:

  • Telegraph poles;
  • Flagstone flooring;
  • A baker's oven – constructed of coursed brick and stone, with a metal door;
  • Former School of Arts site – evidenced by timber stumps;
  • A Chinese temple site; and
  • Former police station site – evidenced by burnt timber stumps and corrugated iron sheets.

A stone commemorative cairn and a replica of a miner's hut have also been constructed by the PRHPS in the centre of the town in Duff Street. Southeast of the town is the site of the Warden’s residence.

Town Wells

Within the Palmer River itself are two town wells:

  • North well – located on the northern bank of the river approximately 150 north-northwest of the road crossing into Maytown close to the old telegraph line. The well is now completely covered by sand and is no longer visible.
  • South well – located on the southern bank of the river about 35m northeast of the road crossing but is also no longer visible.


The main Maytown Cemetery is located southeast of the town, with a Chinese cemetery immediately adjacent to the European section.

  • Main cemetery – contains about 40 identifiable graves including 16 with headstones. The earliest headstone is dated 1875 and the latest headstone is dated 1986 marking the grave of Sam Elliott, the last hard rock miner operating on the Palmer Goldfield at the Wild Irish Girl Mine and Emily Battery (QHR 600428).
  • Chinese cemetery – covering an area of approximately 100x100m and containing both exhumed and intact graves, some with cairns/marker stones.

Slaughter Yards

Approximately 500m north east of the township is One Mile Creek. Situated close to the creek are the remains of the Maytown Slaughter Yards. The yards consist of a double row of thirteen timber posts (with five rail holes) erected in an east-west alignment. The posts are 4m apart. All but two posts are upright. Some posts still have nails, bolts and wire with ‘Cobb & Co.’ hitches still attached. There are remnants of flagstone flooring at each end of the yards and many spent cartridge shells at the western end.

Chinese Occupation

Several Chinese occupation sites are located at the top of a very steep gully into One Mile Creek:

  • Chinese round oven – constructed from stone with ant bed mortar with an opening at the base facing the gully. The oven stands 0.8m high on the gully side and has a diameter of 1.2m.
  • Stone wall – drystone wall of 3-4 small courses and approximately 3.4m long, orientated east-west, located seven metres south of the oven.
  • House remnants – flagstones and a scatter of glass and ceramic artefacts and bone fragments, located 20m south of the stone wall.

Near the junction of One Mile Creek and the Palmer River, two Chinese graves are situated on the eastern side of the creek. One grave has been exhumed. Next to this grave is an upright marker stone indicating another possible grave, though no mound is evident.

Immediately north of Maytown, Butcher’s Creek runs in a general northeast to southwest direction before it meets with the Palmer River. A number of archaeological sites are located along this creek and within the broader township area including:

  • Graves – five intact and three exhumed Chinese graves are located close to Butcher’s Creek about 100m north of Maytown. Seven of the graves are orientated east-west and one grave northwest-southeast, with one possible grave marker.
  • Chinese round oven – situated on the southern bank of Butcher’s Creek on the edge of the township. Only half of the oven remains. The oven features 8-9 courses stone with compacted clay and ant bed mortar.
  • Camp site – evidenced by glass and ceramic scatters, located on the slope above the Chinese round oven.

South of the Palmer River, notable archaeological sites include several intact and exhumed Chinese graves.


Further inland along Butcher’s Creek are three structures, possibly charcoal kilns all of similar design, though their exact purpose remains unknown.

  • Kiln 1 – dome-shaped and made of clay and ant bed mixed with gravel. It measures 4x2.8m and has a 0.74x0.56m opening on its eastern end. Reconstruction work has occurred on this oven by the PRHPS, including the use of new clay mixture and formwork for the opening. A modern shed with corrugated iron roof and sapling posts, has been erected over the kiln.
  • Kiln 2 – measures 3.8x2.5m with a 0.83x0.45m opening on the southern end. This structure has also been modified by the PRHPS with modern clay used to fill a hole in the structure on the northern end and internal supports (posts and boards). On the eastern side of the kiln stones have been placed to fill a hole in the side of the structure. A modern corrugated iron roof, sapling posts, barbed wire and warning signs have been constructed around the kiln.
  • Kiln 3 – overlooks a small gully near Butcher’s Creek. It is orientated north-south and measures 5.2x3m. There is a large opening on the northern side and two small holes on the southern end. There is a large hole in the roof of the structure, where some of the kiln has collapsed due to a tree growing within the structure.

Another stone structure of unknown function is located on the edge of a small gully, close to the second charcoal kiln on Butcher’s Creek. Three walls remain with the open side facing the gully. Internal measurements are 1.6x1.6m. The structure may have been a cooking oven.

Rifle Range

Approximately 1km southeast of the town are the remains of the Maytown Rifle Range. Remains include the rifle range butt and firing mounds spaced at 200, 300, 400 and 500 yard intervals.

  • Range butt – 1.6m high and 4.6m long and constructed of uneven stone coursing and clay/ant bed mortar. It contains a stone wall measuring 0.7m wide. Behind the wall is a semi-circular pit and to the south are the remains of another butt.
  • Firing mounds and distance markers – small amounts of stone coursing form the range distance markers. At the 200m marker are the remnants of two firing mounds 10m apart on a north to south alignment. The 500 yard mound is located approximately 6m east of the cemetery road.

Boatshed Complex

The Maytown Boatshed complex consists of three key elements - the remnants of the shed, a ‘corduroy’[1] ramp and a mooring in the river.

  • Shed remnants – 5.5x2.65m footprint comprising five upright timber posts arranged in parallel rows perpendicular to the river on a roughly north/south alignment. Surface evidence (additional posts and some horizontal rails) indicates that the original configuration was at least six posts (probably more). The shed was built on the sloping bank of the river, and the upright posts are progressively staged in height to maintain a regular roofline; the western post nearest the river is approximately 1.7m high while the rear western post (upslope) is approximately 0.75m. The row of posts on the eastern side of the structure appears to be slightly lower than those on the west, probably to create a slight skillion roofline. Some posts have wire rings through drilled holes and remnant nails that are consistent with those used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Corduroy ramp – 15m long, extending from the southern end of the ruins of the shed down the bank and into the bed of the Palmer River. A slight groove has been cut into the bank to roughly conform to the shape of a vessel’s curved hull, in which has been fixed nine round wooden sleepers or runners. The sleepers are regularly spaced approximately 1.7m apart and held in place with iron spikes. The natural ground surface is very rocky and the ramp would have provided protection for the hull of the boat as it was moved into the water.
  • Mooring – located within the bed of the Palmer River directly out from the end of the corduroy ramp. It consists of a simple iron shackle and pin that has been driven into the crack within a river boulder. It is probable that it operated by passing a rope line from the boat through the loop in the shackle.

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, 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 (
[3] 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; 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.
[4] Mackay Mercury and South Kennedy Advertiser, 31 January 1874 p2; Australian Town and Country Journal 13 April 1878 p25; Noreen Kirkman The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, unpublished honours thesis, James Cook University, 1984, pp133&139; Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p105. Duff Street, and the town’s main street, Leslie Street, commemorated Edwards’ business partners. Queenslander 15 January 1876 p24, Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 13 April 1878 p25.
[5] Frew, Queensland post offices 1842-1980 and receiving offices 1869-1927, 1981, p342; Telegraph 11 August 1874 p2; Rockhampton Bulletin 3 June 1875 p2; Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser, 15 September 1874 p4.
[6] The warden’s camp had formerly been at Palmerville, about 34 miles downstream of Maytown, near the centre of the goldfield. Queenslander 21 March 1874 p8 and 28 November 1874 p6; Brisbane Courier 12 November 1874 p5; Pugh’s Almanac 1875 p158 and 1876 p148; Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, pp9-10 & 254; Peter Bell, Gold, iron and steam: The Industrial Archaeology of the Palmer Goldfield, James Cook University, North Queensland, 1987, p5; Peter Bell, Timber and Iron: houses in North Queensland mining settlements, 1861-1920, 1984, p101; Brisbane Courier 13 July 1875 p3; Daily Northern Argus, 18 June 1875 p2.
[7] Brisbane Courier 30 October 1875 p5.
[8] Daily Northern Argus 27 December 1875 p2.
[9] Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser 8 September 1875 p2; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p134; Brisbane Courier 29 April 1876 p7.
[10] In 1877 alone it produced 179,571 ounces of alluvial gold, more than the total of all the other Queensland goldfields combined. Report of the Department of Mines Queensland for the year 1877, pp2-4.
[11] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p120; Brisbane Courier 13 July 1875 p3.
[12] Branches of the Queensland National Bank, Australian Joint Stock Bank, and Bank of New South Wales. Rockhampton Bulletin 21 March 1876 p2; Brisbane Courier 23 May 1876 p3 and 25 May 1876 p1.
[13] Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser 1 April 1876 p442; Brisbane Courier 15 January 1876 p6; Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p105.
[14] Department of Public Works, Statement of Expenditure for the year ended 30th June 1876, p43; Queensland Government Gazette Vol 18 No 66, 17 June 1876, p1246; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p155.
[15] Telegraph 6 August 1875 p3
[16] One was dug in 1884, after drought, and the river was gazetted as reserves for water in 1896. Queenslander 27 December 1884 p1023; Queensland Government Gazette, No 145 Vol 66, 12 December 1896, p1285.
[17] Brisbane Courier 18 June 1874 p3; North Queensland Register 13 October 1902 p10; Dawn May, ‘The North Queensland Beef Cattle Industry: An Historical Overview’ in BJ Dalton (ed) Lectures on North Queensland History No 4, 1984, pp125-6
[18] Bowly Letters cited in Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p161.
[19] Brisbane Courier 30 October 1875 p5; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p117 and p150.
[20] Survey Plan M1953 (1879); Brisbane Courier 3 April 1884 p6.
[21] In May 1878 the Hong Kong Harbour Master reported that 20,960 Chinese had left Hong Kong for Queensland, of whom 6,193 had returned. Diary of Queensland Events, Pugh’s Almanac 1879, p70; Pearson and Australian Heritage Commission, Tracking the Dragon, 2002, A9.
[22] Telegraph 12 June 1877 p2; Pugh’s Almanac, 1883, p355.
[23] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p191; Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser 8 September 1875 p2.
[24] Pearson and Australian Heritage Commission, Tracking the Dragon, 2002, A9; Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, p56; Brisbane Courier, 28 June 1877, p2; Jane Lennon and Associates & Pearce, Mining Heritage Places Study: Northern and Western Queensland, 1996, Vol 3.2, p22; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p172; Kirkman, ‘The Palmer River Goldfield’ in Readings in North Queensland Mining History, Vol 1, 1980, p120. According to the Palmer Death Register, 73 Chinese were buried in Maytown between 1875 and 1921. Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p486.
[25] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser 6 November 1875 p3.
[26] Run by Frederick McKee until 1886, and William Elson to circa 1919. Pugh’s Almanac, 1886-1919.
[27] Bell, Timber and iron, 1984, p127; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, pp142-144; Brisbane Courier 22 April 1876 p7.
[28] Reef mining operations were restricted to European miners.
[29] Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p105; Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, pp157-8.
[30] Queenslander 10 March 1883 p367, 27 September 1884 p516, 15 August 1885 p267 and 19 March 1887 p447; Brisbane Courier 16 November 1885 p3.
[31] Bell, Timber and iron, 1984, p33.
[32] Queensland Figaro and Punch 23 October 1886 p5.
[33] Queensland Government Gazette, Vol 32 No 21, 17 February 1883, p417.
[34] Queensland Government Gazette, Vol 32 No 53, 28 April 1883, p1155.
[35] ‘Statement of the cost of public buildings, together with additions thereto, from the year 1859 to 30 June 1891’, Annual Reports of the Department of Works, 1891; Queenslander 8 November 1889 p888.
[36] Excelsior Rifle Club, Maytown Minutes, 1886-1901, State Library of Queensland, record number 21148554480002061.
[37] Queensland Government Gazette, Vol 49 No 63, 22 March 1890, p1008.
[38] Annual Report of the Department of Mines, Queensland, 1883, p20.
[39] The Goldfields Act Amendment Act 1877 (Qld) and the Chinese Immigrants Regulation Act 1877 (Qld).
[40] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p150.
[41] Annual Mining Report 1881 p4; 1883 p8; and 1885 p8.
[42] Mining population and business licences issued, Annual Mining Reports for the years 1891, pp14-15; 1893, pp21-22; 1897, p22; Peter Ryle, Decline and recovery of a rural coastal town: Cooktown 1873-1999, PhD thesis, James Cook University, 2000, pp287-312.
[43] Pugh’s Almanac 1878, pp176-7.
[44] Brisbane Courier 3 April 1899 p3.
[45] Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away, 1972, pp52-3; 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.
[46] Kirkman, The Palmer Goldfield 1873 – 1883, 1984, p150; Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p105; Agent-General for Queensland, Information relating to Queensland and its resources: also a complete list of towns in the colony, with descriptive particulars thereof, 1899, p55.
[47] Townsville Daily Bulletin 25 July 1927 p3
[48] Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p105; Cairns Post 16 December 1947 p2 and 25 October 1948 p4.
[49] Hooper, Angor to Zillmanton, 1993, p105.
[50] Palmer River Historic Preservation Society, newsletters, 1982-1990.
[51] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, 1991, p300; Mackay Mercury and South Kennedy Advertiser 3 October 1874 p2.
[52] Queensland State Archives Agency ID936, Hann Divisional Board.
[53] Brisbane Courier 17 January 1884 p5.
[54] Queenslander 1 February 1890 p198.
[55] Queenslander 6 March 1886 p393, Brisbane Courier 15 February 1892 p3, Queenslander 10 March 1894 p438.
[56] Queenslander 10 March 1894 p438, North Queensland Register 8 May 1895 p39; Australian National Maritime Museum, Australian Register of Historic Vessels: ‘May-Belle’, 2016,
[57] Comber, The Palmer Goldfield: Heritage Sites Study, Vol 1, 1991, p300; Australian National Maritime Museum, ‘May-Belle’,

[58] Stabilising boggy sections of road and crossing waterways with logs rather than bridges or culverts. Nissen, Contextual Study of Roads and Bridges in Queensland, 2008, p109.

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Location of Maytown within Queensland
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Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
14 November 2022
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