History of Cardwell

Some interesting facts about Cardwell

Hubinger MuseumThe settlement at Cardwell was the first settlement North of Bowen in 1864 and was originally named “Port Hinchinbrook” but was renamed after Rt. Hon. Edward Cardwell, MP (later Viscount Cardwell) by Governor Bowen. Viscount Cardwell never visited the town named after him and is buried in Highgate Cemetry, London.

In August 1884 there were some 25 houses and 50 people at Cardwell but the entrepeneur Dalrymple wrote that Cardwell should soon be converted from “a wild desolate and remote spot, into a flourishing seaport, within easy communication of the marts of the world” …. “filled with churches, public buildings and the warehouses of commerce, the black hulls of a merchant fleet in the harbour …”Australia will hold nothing more beautiful than the city of Cardwell and its port.” ….

Post OfficeThe Kirrama Track was one of the early stock routes linking Cardwell to the Tablelands beyond the Kirrama Range. The Kirrama – Upper Murray route was in use from the early 1870’s and was generally considered to be the track which Geordie Clarke blazed through to the Hodgkinson. The Kirrama Track was cleared for cattle in 1889 by William Dallachy from Stamp’s selection, Blechynden, to Kirrama Station.

Cardwell was a frontier outpost, with all commercial activity relying on the sea lanes. The shipping activities are central to Cardwell’s early history. Cardwell’s first jetty was commenced in 1872, and was built over the water in front of the Post and Telegraph Office at the southern end of town. Within 2 – 3 years it was used to transport the first shipment of gold by sea from the newly opened northern goldfields (Palmer River and Atherton region).

Girringun Aboriginal Cultural CentreThe offshore shallows and mud prevented larger ships from unloading easily. This jetty suffered cyclone damage and the planks were removed in 1889. Three piles can still be seen on the shore.