Friday 25 September 2009

History Bites: Earliest Known Drawing of Djarrugan or Walsh’s Pyramid

CairnsBlog is delighted to bring you a new weekly column, we're calling History Bites, a series of historical vignettes, pertinent to our unique and special region.

Dr Timothy Bottoms is a published and widely respected historian, based in Cairns, North Queensland. He has spent ten years researching and writing City of the South Pacific, A History of Cairns.

History Bites will be a series of unique and easily readable pieces for CairnsBlog readers.

Dr Bottoms is a specialist in Aboriginal and North Queensland history and has wide experience in writing, producing and presenting radio documentaries and music biographies.

[From: The Illustrated Australian News, 29 November 1876]

This is Trinity Bay, North Queensland, depicted in 1876.

On 29 November 1876, The Illustrated Australian News reported....

  • “The view is taken from the deck of the of the A.S.N. Company’s steamer Porpoise, on the occasion of the exploring expedition to Trinity Bay, for the purpose of discovering a road to the Hodgkinson from the harbor [sic].

    The sketch represents Mount Walsh and the Bellenden Kerr [sic], as seen from the steamer’s anchorage, about ten miles [16 kms] from the entrance to the river, and tow or three miles [3-5 kms] from the head of navigation.

    The course of the river up to this point, is nearly parallel with a range of mountains dividing Trinity Inlet from the Mulgrave River on the eastern side, and a shorter and more broken range immediately on the western bank.

    The conical mountain is named after the hon. The late speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, and is almost due south from the entrance to the river, forming a striking land mark with the Bellenden-Kerr [sic] ranges, the highest mountains in northern Queensland, in the background.

    The river, completely sheltered by the eastern ranges already described, and of which Cape Grafton forms the extreme point, is for the first seven miles [11 kms] a noble sheet of water fully 600 yards [540m] in width, with an average depth of six or seven fathoms, and being almost straight in its course, the eye is delighted with the above picturesque view immediately on entering the harbor [sic] from seaward.

    The landing places are easily approachable from the uniform depth of water from bank to bank. The rise and fall of the tide is here about 12 ft [3.6m].”

This appears to be one of the earliest drawings that has survived of Djarrugan or Walsh’s Pyramid.

The artist has taken some liberties in his version of this prominent feature. He has given the impression that there is an expanse of water running to the base of the conical-shaped hill.

Similarly, the writer fails to mention that there are some 14 miles or 22.5 kms of land between Trinity Inlet and the Mulgrave River to the south, which skirts the base of Djarrugan.

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