A WOODEN slice of history will greet travellers at a spruced up green rest stop near Port Douglas.
Douglas Shire Council has completed a $250,000 upgrade to Teamsters Park, located on the Captain Cook Highway past the Mowbray River Bridge.
As part of the project, an old timber bridge pile from the original Anzac Bridge, which was built by returning World War One soldiers in 1919, has been preserved.
The Douglas Shire Historical Society worked with Council to preserve the original timber after it was recovered during construction works in the Mowbray Valley last year.
Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said the upgrades would be a welcome sight for self-drive visitors.
“It is fantastic to see the new car park, picnic tables, footpaths and plants give the area a much-needed lift,” he said.
“The old timber bridge pile is the cherry on top, adding another point of interest to the popular rest stop and showcasing Douglas Shire’s rich history.
“With the pandemic restricting our tourism market, it is important we continue to freshen up our public spaces to entice people to drive up the Great Barrier Reef Drive and improve their experience while they are here.”
Douglas Shire Historical Society President Freda Wilson praised the research completed by Noel Weare who worked with Council staff to preserve the pile.
“Our Society aims to share our history with the community and this is a great opportunity,” she said
The upgrades follow the addition on a new toilet block, which was funded under the Queensland Government’s Works for Queensland program.
What’s the story?
MOWBRAY BRIDGE – Original Anzac Bridge Pile
As Christie Palmerston’s track to the Hodgkinson Goldfield began from this area. Known first as the Four Mile settlement and then Craiglie, it was used for marshalling and loading of bullocks, horses and pack animals. It had been reported to sometimes have as many as 1000 animals simultaneously here.
Before arduously climbing the Great Dividing Range over the Bump Track, teamsters and packers had to cross the Mowbray River at a place known as Seven Mile when there was a holding area on the far side. The river had to be negotiated over a rocky bar, causing severe difficulties with each salt water coastal tide.
Needing to be taken into account were wet season floods and presence of saltwater crocodiles. Douglas Shire Council voted for a bridge in 1919 after the deaths of several residents crossing through flood waters. A Commonwealth Grant of 374 pounds was given to construct a bridge using labour by returned WW1 soldiers – hence it became known as Anzac Bridge.
In 1940, a new bridge was built, and finally retired in 2017, by a group of concrete culvert cells. The former 1940 bridge is now a pedestrian walkway.