Laura and Quinkan Country

Perhaps I was a little misleading (or hasty), or confused when I said I’d put The Greenbus on hold.
What I should have said is, “There will be no more sad here. Only the fun stuff the ‘we’ would have been still exploring and posting about together.” It will be a nice place 🙂
Brad’s Blog will take the weight off this place.

And so…

Tina had a deep love and respect for, and a keen interest in Aboriginal culture and history. Her art was influenced by the mysteries of The Dreaming. One of her favourite non-fiction references was ‘The Archeology of The Dreamtime which compares Dreamtime stories of different country with the archeological evidence of the past. This review give a good overview of the theories put forward.
One of the many areas on our ‘To Do’ list, was to spend some time in Quinkan country.

Laura, the commercial hub of the Quinkan country is only 140km (87m) from Cooktown. For a village with a population of roughly 120 people, Laura contains, and as a community, protects over 30 thousand years of Traditional history, and some 140 years of European settlement.
Laura township was an important link in the Gold trail back in the 1800’s, but more importantly, the country has been a part of the Ang-Gnarra peoples’ culture for thousands of years, and is one of the top ten most culturally significant rock art sites in the world.
Laura also plays host to one of the longest running indigenous festivals in Australia. The Laura Dance Festival is held at the Ang-Gnarra festival grounds, about 15 kilometres from Laura. Every two years, community members and dance troupes from as far away as Woorabinda gather in a celebration and education of dance, culture & history. The festival is also world famous, and attracts tourists from all over the planet.
I’ll give you a list of easy links to more information about Quinkan Country at the end of this post.
Last week, I had the chance to absorb just a miniscule sample of this history. As the year progresses, I will spend more time up in Ang-Gnarra country. For now, here is a small sample of this areas history and beauty.
*Note:* In respect of Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation, no images of rock art galleries were taken. In future visits, I will ask if I can capture some images for you. In the meantime, the links below have many authorised images of the galleries.

Images around Laura:

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If you head to Laura anytime after this years dry season, you’ll be crossing this bridge on the Peninsula Development Road over the Laura River. This bridge, and a couple of kilometres of dirt are all that is left of the road works between Lakeland and Laura. The original wooden crossing of which I promise a photo of soon,
*EDIT*: Borrowed from an ABC journo’s blog. A future edit will provide links.
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is very, very old & is impassable for most of the wet season. It regularly has metres of water over it.

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The T-junction at Laura. Turn left for Cooktown & South. Turn right to head ‘Up The Cape’.

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All that remains of the old Laura railway station. If you’re into railway history, the Cooktown to Laura line is worth researching.

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Once located at a Police outstation some 24km from Laura, this tiny ‘lock-up’ is now on display at the Laura memorial park. Part of the display reads, ‘…18 natives were once locked in here together…’

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This steam tractor was transported by rail to Laura, intended for use on the goldfields. Upon unloading, it was found to have a broken front axle and was left in town to decay.

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The heath country near the ‘Split Rock’ art site. At this time of year, many native shrubs are flowering.

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An assortment of colour on a rainy afternoon.

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Some of the wild features of this Quinkan Country.

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A Short Tour of Charlotte Street Cooktown

Please forgive us for not placing photos in with the text of this post. If you know how hard it is to construct a blog post on a mobile phone, you’ll understand why we don’t. 🙂

Today we bring you a short, incomplete photo tour of Cooktown. We’ll start at the park full of tourist oriented stuff. It’s pretty interesting down that way. 40 000 years of history in a relatively small space. Next, we’ll take a stroll along part of Charlotte Street, now considered the main street of Cooktown. Finally we will have a photo of our mighty metropolis’ main supermarket.

The first photo is the Musical Ship with Captain Cooks monument in the background. The ship was constructed in 2007 by The Queensland Music Festival http://qmf.org.au/content/about-us/ and contains a multitude of percussive instruments for all to play and enjoy.

The next pic is the Cooktown slipway. It has been there forever and is used by locals and others to do hull maintenance on their boats. It’s old, but it works well.

Across the road is the local Cop Shop. Next to that (hidden by the trees) is the Courthouse. The building in the distance is the Seaview motel. The Seaview street side rooms have some of the best sunset views across the Endeavour River.

Next up is the statue of Captain James Cook. This statue was sculpted by Stanley Hammond and donated to the Cooktown community by BP Australia in 1988. The next photo is one of the many cairns around Cooktown. This one marks the spot where Capt. Cook beached the ‘Endeavour’ after holing it on the reef South of here. He spent about two months hanging around while his crew repaired the ship. They were the first British tourists to land here.

The next four photos are of Captain Cooks monument. This edifice was constructed in 1887 by a Brisbane company whose name I can’t recall. It’s on the monument base but I didn’t take a pic. On each of the four sides are drinking fountains shaped in the form of kangaroo and koala heads. I like the dog drinking bowls at the base of the fountains.

The next photo is of the milbi (story) wall. This was designed and constructed by local Bama people as a reconciliation project and was sponsored by the Cook Shire Council. This is a must see when you come to Cooktown. The stories on the wall tell of the history and tribulations of the Traditional Owners of this land. Check this site for more info: http://www.jeffress.net/jamworks/celebration/milbi.html

Next up is a tile from the River Of Life walk. A winding path through the park tells the story of the Endeavour River from many perspectives. This tile tells us of the foods available during the year around this area.

The cannon. Back in 1885 there was some paranoia about a Russian invasion. The Council sent a wire to Brisbane requesting armaments to defend town and country against said invasion. The Government sent them this cannon (made in 1803 in Scotland), 3 cannon balls, 2 rifles and 1 soldier!

The next pic is of the plaque marking the start of the National Horse Trail. The trail starts in Cooktown and continues down the coast, ending at Healesville in Victoria, 70 odd kilometres North of Melbourne. The trail is 5330 kilometres long and is the longest of its type in the world http://www.nationaltrail.com.au/ The trail is only for non motorised transport.

The next pic shows the National Trail cairn with the horse hitching post, plus the cairn in the background commemorating Edmund Kennedy’s exploration. I told you Cooktown has lots of cairns!

Now we’ll stroll further up Charlotte Street.

The first is a view South along the street. Today was a busy day as you can see by the traffic. For tbe curious, the first shop on tbe left is The Lure Shop. On the right is the bowls club.
Next is looking back to the Lure Shop and the RSL museum.
Then we have a water fountain. You’ll find these Furphy made drinking fountains all over town. In keeping with tradition, dogs are also catered for with the bowl at the base.

Next is a shot of the ‘new’ Post Office. I think it was built in 1888 to replace the  ‘old’ one that still stands next door and is the oldest European type building in Cooktown.

Then we have a view North along Charlotte Street. The monument on the left was built around 1886 in rememberance of Mrs Watson, whose husband ignorantly built his house on sacred Aboriginal land on Lizard Island. The Owners of the land attacked her and her Chinese servants. She, her baby and an injured servant escaped the island in a beche de mer boiling vat but sadly died of thirst on another island. Search her name for the full story.

Next up is a view of the Sovereign Resort Hotel and one of the old bank buildings. Most of these buildings were constructed in the early 1880’s when Cooktown was thriving on the back of the Palmer River Gold rush.

Next is Seagrens, then the National Bank building.
Now we get modern for a bit. If you need tyres or some mechanical work, this is the place to look for.
Following that we have The West Coast, or Commercial Hotel. The oldest standing pub in Cooktown.
Then we have The Top Pub. It has had number of names including The Cooktown.

Last but not least is our Supermarket. Yes. We have one. It’s a Cornett’s IGA. Not the biggest one around mind you, but big enough for us.
Cornetts started on Bribie Island years ago. I used to shop at their first Bribie store in the mid eighties. Just thought you’d like to know 🙂 .

Now, I have to tell you about the three pubs in a local sense. Over the years they’ve kind of changed personas. All three have variously been the locals, the fisherman/miners or the ‘tourists’ pubs. Right now the West Coast and the Top Pub are in a state of flux. Both are kind of local and kind of fisho pubs. The Sovereign is a tourist pub but sells good beers on tap. Not just the usual XXXX and Carlton. A lot of locals drink there too. I love all three. They all have their own character and all hold good memories for me from 30 odd years ago. Just thought you’d like to know that too 🙂

Anyway, I hopeyou enjoyed this short tour. I’ll take you around the back streets soon.
P.S. Please forgive any typos. It takes long enough to do this on a small screen keyboard, let alone spell-checking!

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