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Hydrographic Survey Bench Mark, 1878, Bessie Point

Bessie Point, off Pine Creek-Yarrabah Road, East Trinity

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Rock from NW (2013); Heritage Branch

Rock from NW (2013)

Rock in context, from WNW (2013); Heritage Branch

Rock in context, from WNW (2013)

Rock in context from SW (2013); Heritage Branch

Rock in context from SW (2013)

A broad arrow bench mark, or datum mark, is chiselled into a large granite boulder on the Rolling Bay side of Bessie Point. Located on the east side of Trinity Bay, it was integral to developing safe shipping navigation in and out of Cairns. The arrow was cut in February 1878 during a hydrographic survey of Cairns Harbour by Navigating Lieutenant Edward Richard Connor, Royal Navy. The bench mark used to indicate the datum (low water ordinary spring tides) from which the depth of water in the harbour was calculated. Coastal shipping was of vital importance to Queensland's economy in the early 20th century, given the size of the state, the lack of all-weather roads, and delays in completing the coastal rail link from Brisbane to Cairns. Once the railway was complete, there was a decline in passenger ships. However, the port continued to export the produce of Far North Queensland, and was used as a naval base by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and US Navy during World War II. Today, the port of Cairns handles bulk and general cargo, cruise shipping, fishing fleet and reef passenger ferries, and continues to be used by the RAN.

Coordinates: -16.90341386, 145.81192521

Full details of this heritage-registered place are in the Heritage register.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
28 February 2023