A 138-YEAR-OLD story will enter a new chapter when Port Douglas’s historic flagstaff is officially handed back to the Douglas Shire community tomorrow.
Douglas Shire Council and Douglas Shire Historical Society are hosting a historic handover near Flagstaff Hill Lookout on Wednesday morning to celebrate the reinstatement of the pole in its original location.
The ceremony will mark a huge moment for the resort town almost six years after Cairns Regional Council removed the flagstaff due to concerns about poor condition and potential risks to public safety.
Mayor Julia Leu said the new Council restored the flagstaff due to its cultural significance in showcasing Douglas Shire’s decorated history and shaping its identity.
“It hasn’t been smooth sailing for this flagstaff, which has has been ripped from the ground, splintered and ravaged by termites,’ she said,
“But in true Douglas Shire-style, it continued to bounce back to remain an important part of Port Douglas and its character.
“This successful project is another example of DSHS’s unwavering dedication to preserving the region’s rich history and telling the stories of yesteryear.”
The flagstaff has been reinstated in its original location near the lookout.
A structural engineer was contracted to upgrade the footings to achieve a higher wind rating for increased longevity and public safety.
Council also revamped the site, which included installing a retaining wall, chained barrier and an interpretative sign.
The project is a joint effort by the Douglas Shire Historical Society and the Douglas Shire Council.
DSHS president Freda Wilson said the flagstaff had been stored under the Court House Museum.
“The flagstaff was first erected on the highest part of the hill in March 1880 and flags were raised to inform the town of shipping arrivals and later of cyclones,” she said.
“It was a busy port with supplies arriving frequently for inland mining fields.
“In those days, the hill, locally known as Billy Goat Hill, was bare of vegetation because of the large population of wild goats, so the signal flags were easily visible from Macrossan Street.”
The flagstaff flew its first flag in about 70 years for Anzac Day this year.
WHAT: A ceremony officially handing over the restored heritage Flagstaff Mast to
the Community and unveiling of an interpretive sign
WHEN: 9.30am on Wednesday, May 23 2018
WHERE: Flagstaff Hill, Port Douglas
KEY FACTS (Statement of Heritage Significance):
– Local cultural heritage significance that demonstrates the evolution and pattern of the region’s history.
– The flagstaff site was an important in demonstrating the use of flags as communication tools for early European settlements.
– The site has been used since early settlement to signal the arrival of ships and later on the impact of cyclones.
– Originally erected by the Port Douglas Harbour Master.
– Erected in March 1880, the flagstaff was one component of the Port Douglas Signal Station.
– Radio communication would soon make the flagstaff redundant.
– Cyclones damaged signal station and flagstaff in 1911 and 1920 – reinstalled on both occasions.
– Main mast still standing in 1955.
– Top mast was either reinstalled or replaced after 1955.
– Removed in September 2012 due to concerns about poor condition and potential risk