The rugged pioneering spirit that gave birth to Douglas Shire was remembered when the 140th anniversary of Port Douglas was celebrated today.
Douglas Shire Historical Society and Douglas Shire Shire Council unveiled a sign detailing the “Proclamation of Port Douglas” at the iconic Teamsters Park this morning.
The memorial, located on the Captain Cook Highway at Craiglie, pays tribute to those who discovered the route from the Hann Tablelands.
Douglas Shire Council Mayor Julia Leu said the new sign would help tell the story of the region.
“Our shire has such a rich and unique history and this is a fantastic opportunity to tap into that,” she said.
“Craiglie was a centre for wagon-load transfer, where hundreds of bullocks and horses were based, and played a pivotal role in driving the Port Douglas economy in the early settlement era.”
A 2015 Council study revealed more than 8,000 vehicles pass Teamsters Park every day.
Port Douglas was proclaimed as an official port of entry for the levy of dutiable goods on December 1, 1877.
Melbourne-born explorer Christie Palmerston discovered the route from the Hodgkinson Goldfield to the coast and leading down the Mowbray Valley.
This route is notoriously known as the “Bump Track”.
Craiglie was originally known as Four Mile and served as a good base for animals, such as horses and cattle, due to the pasture available.
In its prime, the town had three hotels, a store, a bakery, a butcher, a blacksmith and a saddler.
Douglas Shire Historical Society Executive Committee Member Noel Weare said entrepreneurial merchants set up shop on what was then known as Island Point and quickly built private wharves at Dickson Inlet.
“This sparked a rush by packers and teamsters who mainly travelled from Cairns to desert the use of the packhorse track over the range from Smithfield, which was not suitable for transporting heavy mining equipment,” he said.
“A loss of trade at the Port of Cairns meant the Government experienced reduced customs duties while no duties were collected at Island Point.”
Port Douglas was named after the then Queensland Premier John Douglas.