Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 7th.. DAY 21

Todays plans changed due to roads and circumstances. We drove about 8 km over a very rough and rocky track out to Maytown the centre of the Historic Palmer River Goldfields. They were discovered in the early 1870s by James Mulligan. It has been recorded that between 1873 and 1890 more than 15,500 kg or over half a million ounces of gold was found in the area. It was a wild and difficult place with many lives lost. 'When it was announced that gold had been found in the area it brought thirty-five thousand men pushing through tangled jungle, across treacherous rivers, over parched mountains and through rocky defiles that swarmed with the country's most implacable cannibals, to reach the stream which was to become the River of Gold.' This quote was taken from the book 'River of Gold' by Hector Holthouse.
It is easy to relive this description because of the appearance of the country as it is now.

We had planned to stay a night at Maytown but there was no real reason as it was rough, bare and dry. As well ,as this we had spoken to two fellows who told us today's story of the area.
The well graded road which we came in on has only been built and opened this century. There was great difficulty in opening this road to the public. The property through which the road went had been sold and the new owner disliked people travelling through and actually locked gates, put dead end roads/tracks in to confuse people and caused confusion, as well as burying nail spikes and fence posts in the road. The Cook Shire Council fought for 10 years to have the road opened for safe travel. Eventually the Shire personel had to rely on 'compulsory acquisition' and went out with police to cut nuts and bolts and open the road for travel. This property owner is the 'guy on the bike' whom we encountered yesterday.

The story has another facet..evidently fossikers and detectors went into the property and some were caught by the 'guy on the motor cycle'. One chap has never been seen again and it is believed that he was shot. This is a story told to us by several people. The 'guy on the motor bike' is soon to appear in court on a murder charge.

I think fossikers do trespass from time to time and we are told they fire the grass to make it easier to use their metal detector. We noticed several large smokes in the distance and came across one fire very close to the road.

It is easy to compare today's unwelcoming situation with stories from the 1800s!

Tonight we are camped on a side road off the Developmental Road to Laura. There are a few bars of internet connection at last.

Crossing the Palmer River

Bush fire close to the road

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