Birri-Gubba Bindal


The greater Townsville – coonambelah – area is a vast landscape with large areas of wilderness

Situated at the southern end of the wet tropics, it lies within the dry tropics, and contains a wide range of environments from sea and coral to mangrove and wetland, to Eucalypt forest and savannah and at altitude even rainforest

The landscape contains a great deal of history and this website is dedicated to teasing out the evidence and listening to stories from the past, particularly at the cusp of white settlement

click on the photos below to view the whole story

The Road to Hervey’s Range

Of necessity, the exploration of the inland areas of the North Kennedy district followed the rivers, which provided water for horses and livestock. Having established the pastoral properties it was essential to have roads to access the ports in order to move produce to markets. Early in the development of the new township at Cleveland Bay a road to the interior had been identified but its establishment was not without problems.

At almost the same time as news of Townsville’s impending municipality was announced in November 1865 the government took over the survey and construction of the Range Road, which was completed in September 1866.

James Morrill

In 1846 at the age of 21 James Morrill, a sailor from Essex, was shipwrecked and disappeared from the modern world into the ancient culture of the Aboriginal peoples of northeast Queensland. He emerged seventeen years later into a colonial society rapidly encroaching upon northern Australia; a society characterised by rapacious land grabbing and ruthless treatment of the Indigenous inhabitants as it attempted to tame and exploit this foreign land.

Rock Art

The rock art of our people is a constant reminder of a rich and old culture passed down through the ages. This art is part of the spiritual life that told Aborigines what to do and, like every other part of their existence, there were long traditions associated with who did the painting, when they did it and the way it was done and what it meant.

The passing of the traditional ways makes it essential that rock art be recorded and studied. It is also essential that the art be looked after so that it will still be available for future generations to see how rich our culture is.’

Edward Mitchell,

Trustee, Dreamtime Cultural Centre, Rockhampton c1988

The Naming of Mt Elliot

At 1,210 m Mt Elliot is the highest peak in the Townsville area, seen here at centre, from Cape Cleveland.  Because of its imposing presence it was frequently remarked upon by passing ships and named as early as 1816, but its spelling has always been contentious.

Charles Price

Arriving in Townsville in 1870 he set up a succession of drapery and clothing concerns but his real passion was for recording the Aboriginal language that he heard around town. A most unusual pastime for his day, he had a natural ‘ear’ and later championed the international language of ‘Esperanto’

The Peruvian

The barque ‘Peruvian’ was built in Arbroath, Scotland in 1841 for the Pitkethly family and undertook long commercial voyages in the Indian and Pacific oceans.
It foundered on Bellona Reef, 1,000 km east of what is now Mackay, Queensland in 1846. The 22 crew and passengers built a raft which, after 42 days, came ashore at Cape Cleveland. The last surviving member of the crew, James Morrill, famously lived for 17 years with the Birri-Gubba Bindal around Mt Elliot.

Ted Berry Sketchbook

In the 1930’s Ted Berry began to sketch the rock art sites he had found in the foothills of Mt Elliot. Ted was an ordinary bloke, a dockside worker, who had a great appreciation for the bush, where he spent most of his spare time. Like Charles Price he recorded what he witnessed so that we now have the benefit of this wonderful resource.

Cape Cleveland Telegraph

Cape Cleveland lighthouse was completed and opened in 1878 on the most northern point of the Cape. A telegraph line was laid across the bay by 1880 but was replaced with a landline in 1903, and converted to telephone line in 1924.

Woodstock Station

The rush to establish pastoral runs in the Kennedy District followed the rivers. Situated at the confluence of the Haughton River and Majors Creek this was the station where Andrew Ball and Mark Watt Reid began the journey which led to the settlement of Cleveland Bay.