By Dr Timothy Bottoms
The beach front at Gububarra [Fitzroy Island] was being denuded of wood by the frequent calls of the European’s vessels needing fuel for their steam-boilers. Somewhat ironically, the first environmental statement for the future Cairns area was made by G.E. Dalrymple, when in October 1873, he observed:
It is melancholy to see the ruthless manner in which people from these vessels have destroyed magnificent calophyllum and fig trees, which originally formed a picturesque background to the beach, and grateful shade to landing parties. There is abundance of excellent firewood to be obtained close by. There are many other places along the coast where these despoilers have not yet commenced their ruthless destruction, but which will not long be safe if unprotected by legislative enactment; until this is done, even the beautiful cocoanut grove of the South Frankland Island is in peril.
(“Queensland North East Coast Expedition”, QV&P, 1874.)
This was coming from the man responsible for recording information and making recommendations about the coastline to enable the government to plan for future colonial development of the whole North East Coast. It was partly in response to his report that traffic increased along the coast.
This is an extract from Timothy Bottoms' CAIRNS, City of the South Pacific, A History 1770-1995 (Bunu Bunu Press 2016). www.cairnshistory.com.au see free historical documentaries about Cairns.