What's special?Reminders of Queensland’s rich gold mining history and biggest gold rush are protected in Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve. Old mines, rusting machinery, Chinese alluvial workings and traces of the Maytown township remain from the once thriving settlements which sprang up around the Palmer goldfield in far north Queensland in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
The surrounding harsh, rugged countryside of many ridges dissected by creeks was formed over millions of years through deposition and subsequent uplifting, faulting and erosion. Ironbark woodland with paperbarks fringe the creeks.
William Hann named the Palmer River after the Colonial Secretary of Queensland during a government-sponsored mineral exploration expedition in 1872. James Mulligan made the first major gold discovery in June 1873, starting the gold rush. The old Maytown to Laura Coach Road was blazed in 1873 to carry supplies to the Palmerville diggings.
Exploring Palmer GoldfieldSpend a few days exploring the reserve and imagining what this place was like in its heyday when 9000 people flocked to this harsh landscape. Most were Chinese labourers. Be careful exploring. Watch for collapsed mine shafts and supervise children.
Bush camp beside a seasonal waterhole. Take water and a fuel stove. Remove your rubbish from the reserve. Prospecting, panning and the use of metal detectors are not allowed in the reserve.
Visitors must be totally self-sufficient. Take extra fuel, drinking water, food and spare parts for your vehicle. The closest supplies are at Mount Carbine, the Palmer River Roadhouse on the Cooktown Road, Laura or Chillagoe.
Visit in winter when days are more pleasant and nights are cool. Summer days can be very hot and humid.
Getting therePalmer Goldfield is 280km north-west of Cairns but the journey takes many hours. The best route is along the Peninsula Developmental Road, Whites Creek turnoff to Granite and Cannibal Creeks, then north to cross the Palmer River at Dog Leg Creek Junction above Maytown. You can also travel along the very rough old coach road from Laura. Allow six hours for this route. The reserve is about three hours’ drive west of the Palmer River Roadhouse.
This is a remote reserve. Tracks are rough and suitable for four-wheel-drive vehicles only. Travel is slow. Roads become impassable in the wet season when flash flooding can occur.