Friday 31 October 2014

Kirrama Timbermen Book

'Timber and Timbermen' is the title of the recently published book from Mr Ed Healy of Wondecla.  The book tells the story of the timber industry and timbermen of Cardwell and the Kirrama Range from the first days of settlement in 1864 up to the introduction of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Listing in 1988.  After a long career in Education, Ed had enrolled in a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Studies in Australian History and the core of his book began with the research and writing of the 'Track to Road' study which dealt with the building of the Kirrama Range Road by the PEI scheme during the 1930's.  Ed had spent much of his childhood on the Kirrama Range and amongst the timbermen of that district and this interest led, later in life, to the realisation that those involved in that industry was 'dying-off' and he set out to do oral interviews with those still living.  It took some twenty years of working off and on to complete this new volume on North Queensland history which was launched at the recent Annual General Meeting of the Cardwell & District Historical Society at the JC Hubinger Museum in Cardwell.  This new book has sufficient detail and statistics to interest the more serious history buff along with plenty of stories and photos from the social history of the people involved to keep those with a more general interest in the local timber industry happy.  Mr Healy has produced a fine study of this subject which is also needed for other areas of the North.  It is a little difficult to obtain a copy of this work as it is only been printed in limited numbers and only when needed which also make it rather expensive but it is a must for anyone interested in our northern history and particularly in the timber industry.  

Thursday 30 October 2014

Cardwell and District Historical Society

The Cardwell historians recently gathered at the JC Hubinger museum for their Annual General Meeting.  I had travelled to Cardwell to attend the book launch which was to be held there and discovered the group were also having their annual meeting, so I decided to sit in and learn how this group were progressing.  Society President, Anne Mealing gave the meeting an excellent run down on the groups' activities over the previous year before going on to a detailed report on the many projects the Society have been involved with over this busy anniversary year.  The 150th anniversary of the founding of the town of Cardwell brought on many commemorative projects, both within the Society and along with many in partnership with other community groups making this one of the most hectic years in their history.  This program began in January with the Landing Day function at which the Society held a Billy Tea & Damper morning tea in the Museum Precinct.  At another function, Premier Campbell Newman presented the 'Lady Bowen' porthole back to Cardwell and the Commemorative Quilt was hung in the Museum after its presentation to the community.  Another project the group has been involved with is the rebuilding of the local landmark, 'Sunbeam House' which was damaged by cyclone Ita.  In May, Colonel John Simeoni official launched their Viscount Edward Cardwell exhibition and at the same event, the Society was pleased to have been able to support Helen Pedley in the launch her book 'Streets by the Sea'.  A successful event was also held for the Wedding Dress Soiree and Exhibition which also entailed a number of Costume workshops for the members.  The Anzac Centenary Commemorative project that the group is now working on is the biggest yet in terms of funding and will result in a new facility for local residents as well as tourists, revealing the detailed histories of each of the numerous people from the district who served in World War One.  This project also has some immediate goals with a special display being mounted around the marble Honour Board for Remembrance Day in November.  After the annual meeting, the launch of Ed Healy's long-awaited book about the huge timber industry conducted in the Kirrama Range area was enjoyed by those in attendance along with a fine afternoon tea.  Unfortunately, the long-awited reopening of the Kirrama Range Road, which the Society has been pushing for, has been delayed yet again but hopefully an December opening can be achieved.  The meeting closed with the president calling for a focus next year on building the Society's membership and volunteer base as age is catching up to the hard workers of the group.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Cape York Goldfields

Local historian John Hay, best known for his many years of work and research on the history of the Palmer River Goldfield, has just released his seventh book.  Entitled 'Cape York Gold; The New Chum', this new publication concerns the gold fields of the Cape York Peninsula and is based on the life story of the later-day miner, David Cragg who arrived on the Cape in 1938 to manage the mines of his father's company.  The Nesbit River gold reefs were situated in rough and isolated rainforest covered hills where nothing resembling a road existed.  It took great courage for this middle-aged man from Sydney to come in and replace his older brother who had been beaten by the hardships.  It is almost heart-breaking to read this story of commitment and exhausting hard work which put David into an early grave some three thousand kilometres from his home.  The book also tells the story of the author's interest in these brave gold miners and the rediscovery of the area's heritage.  John has also interwoven into the story the details of the Cape York's history from the early explorers to the original prospectors and miners.  This book is a grand addition to the poorly recorded history of these small goldfields.