Sunday 22 November 2009

Stratford community launches local heritage trail

"Stratford retains much of the charm of tropical far north Queensland that is rapidly disappearing from other suburbs," Paul Matthews, president of the Stratford and Freshwater Community Association said, following the launch of a community heritage trail on Saturday.
Over the last year, the community has established a walking trail to document their local history, which follows on from the neighbouring Freshwater trail.
Matthews, the well-known Balaclava veterinarian, who ran for Council in 2004 and 2008, says his community of Stratford is very proud to see the project completed.
"It is a wonderful achievement, the whole community was involved. There's over 100 years of history here. The rail line went through here, a boat building industry, a timber mill, even the Americans had a works depot in Stratford during the war. It's an amazing bit of history," Matthews says.
"We have Rankine’s mill, the heritage-listed magazine, Tully’s Hotel, Draper’s Lilybank home, railway heritage, evidence of several Barron bridges dating back to the 1920s, Constable Dwyer’s grave, WWII military heritage and many traditional wooden Queenslanders in the Stratford character precinct," Matthews says.

"It celebrates our heritage with signs, brochures and an interactive website," Paul Matthews says. "There's also a blog and people can add their own history to it. It is a brilliant thing to do and to give to the community."
The project, that had political support from all corners, was officially launched this weekend. Any wise polly that wanted a photo opp was there. Jeanette Singleton, representing the Yirrganydji people, also officiated at the opening ceremony. The trail was financially supported with a $10,000 grant from the Q150 fund, another $10,000 from Cairns Regional Council's community development fund in cash and kind, and also had support of almost every local business.
"You all can now feel very satisfied that you have completed a significant piece of work," Mayor Val Schier said at the launch. "You are the people who help to build community and social cohesion."
The community had the support from research graduate Dave Phoenix for the project. "He's been great, a huge asset," Paul Matthews says.
There are 29 sites on the trail, all accessible on foot, most by car, but not all by wheelchair (sorry Rob).
However they need to rectify one anomaly at Bar-Lun Sui-Yee Wui, Barron River memorial, where they state that in 1890, two Chinese men drowned when their boat carrying bananas capsized at the mouth of the Barron River.
'The Chinese community honoured their memory every August by sailing to the mouth of the Barron and burning candles, scattering joss paper and throwing provisions overboard in order that 'the deceased might not hunger on their journey to the celestial abode.''
In fact, there were eight Chinese killed in the accident.
Not content with the completion of this project, Paul Matthews says there's more to do.
"We can sit back now on our laurels and say, this is great, however we have a really vibrant community here. We want to do the Green Arrow walk, a trail to join the Blue Arrow along the ridge of Mt Whitfield and down to Stratford."
"It's a great community," Matthews says. "I now challenge Edgehill and Whitefield to undertake a similar project."


AA said...

Actor Leo McKern (RUMPOLE) lived in Stratford for some time and sold his house, as I understand it, to writer Desmond Zwar. Des and Delphine's son, Adam is an actor. Just around the corner from Stratford is Redlynch where writer Xavier Herbert's modest weatherboard Queenslander is now the home of one Tom Hedley.

tefisk said...

The sign stating that two chinamen drowned in the Barron River accident is correct. On page 18 of the very impressive multipage Stratford Hertiage Trail Web Site

the specific contemporary newspaper references for the information [Brisbane Courier 8.3.1898 p4 / Cairns Post 20/8/1901] p2] are given.

tefisk said...

Correction: The main references for the Barron River Memorial Festival Heritage Walk sign are the book "Top Sawyers" by Cathie May [1984] and "Cairns Chinatown Cultural Heritage Study" by Sandi Robb[2004]. Both works were produced in collaboration with the Cairns Chinese community. The extensive Cairns Municipal Library Index to the Cairns Post, The Cairns Morning Post and The Cairns Argus 1884 - 1925 has no listing of an incident where 8 Chinese men were drowned in a Barron River boating accident.