Sunday, July 10, 2011

Old Smithfield


Tragedies Which Occurred There.

The Shooting of Craig, "Coyyan" contributes the following article on Smithfield:-

Smithfield was situated on the north side of the Barron River, and was opened previous to Cairns as the port for the Hodgkinson goldfield. It is named after Bill Smith, who also opened the track to the Cairns inlet and Smith's CreeK landing, where the first goods and passengers were landed. Smithfield township only lasted eight months, but during that time it left some history to record. Smith fatally shot Craig, the merchant, who at the third shot fell in the doorway of his store. Smith committed suicide with the same revolver, but lived for about two hours. Craig died instantly.

A young man named Cunningham shot Frank, the packer, and also robbed him. He was caught at Bowen, on his way south, and was at the time wearing Frank's ring. He suffered the supreme penalty in the old Petrie Terrace Gaol.   

A policeman was seriously injured when using an adze, erecting the police camp in Smithfield. A young policeman on escort duty and Inspector Joley were shot at Stratford, and were carried to the camp by a packer named Guilfoyle. The policemen were buried on the river bank at Stratford. Guilfoyle met a tragic end at Black Gully, on the  Herberton road, and a man named Rody Hogan received a life sentence for the deed. It was the result of a drunken brawl.

The first cattle brought to Smithfield and Cairns were taken there by a Mr. Bird, father of the present  Baird Bros., of Merriwinni. Magnus Peterson was the first purchaser, and paid £10 per had for eight cows.

Smithfield Range Track

The Government expended £12,000 on the Smithfield range track. All work at that time was done by Government parties, and wages were 7/6 per day, and rations. Chas. McDonald, afterwards owner of Warthedge Station, was works inspector for the North. Carriers (bullock teams) who used this road were George the Greek, Reynolds, Cuddily, Mahony, Mullavey, and others. About 100 pack teams were also operating to the various fields at that time.

During the 1881 flood the waters reached the foot of the range, all Smithfield being submerged, and the few residents had a very anxious time. Mrs. Kopp was three nights and four days in a flattie, and subsisted on a  young pig that she caught when  swimming past the boat. Smithfield at one time was practically deserted, only two families remaining there. Double Island was selected by a Mr. Jamieson, and was known as the Buchan Estate. Yorkie's Knob is named after a beche-de-mur fisherman who died on Green Island, of which he was caretaker. 

Article appeared in the Cairns Post on the 1st of November, 1926

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