Palmer River Gold


Palmer River GoldPalmer River Gold

The Palmer River Gold fields are a major component of the history on Cooktown. It all began way back in 1872 when Billy Hann set out on his overland journey of exploration and announced that he had found traces of gold in a sandy bed of a river he named after Arthur Hunter Palmer (the then Premier of Queensland). This inspired the explorer/prospector Venture Mulligan to investigate further and in 1873 he confirmed the discovery that sparked a huge gold rush, drawing prospectors not only from Australia, but also from around the world, mostly China. The Chinese miners would re-work the diggings of Europeans as they moved on to find richer diggings. As gold reserves were extracted, anti-Chinese sentiment grew. There were several confrontations between the settlers and the Aborigines from the area. The conflict became known as the Tong Wars.


The main settlement on the gold field was Maytown which began as a camp in 1873, and then grew into a town that served as the administration center for the area. The gold find on the Palmer River was felt to be so significant that the Queensland Government forwent the usual protocol and began preparing the mouth of the Endeavour River to service the gold field giving rise to Cooktown. By the late 1880’s many of the established gold claims began to fail, which resulted in the return of many Chinese to their beloved homeland.

Palmer River Gold

I always see the directional sign to Maytown on my way to Mt Carbine after visiting Cooktown  and the more I research the history of the area, the more I am drawn to see the remains. I am led to believe that although most of the surface gold has long since been prospected, there remain a handful of deeper mine projects in the area.


Cairns Day Tours by Perentie Tours


About Gary Bondeson

Gary has been directly involved in tourism in Far North Queensland since the 1990’s. His passion for the area was inspired by the rich history and many points of interest concentrated in the region and felt a strong desire to share this with others. Gary is heavily involved with tourism development and even co-hosted an episode of the popular travel show 'The Great Outdoors’ with Tom Williams showing the limestone caves of Chillagoe located 200kms west of Cairns. After being away for 5 years, Gary has now returned to the area that he holds so dear to his heart to share his knowledge and experience with those who wish to have a Fair Dinkum Ozzy experience.

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