Palmer River

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StateLibQld 1 70879 Gold mining dredge on the Palmer River in Queensland.jpg
A gold mining dredge on the Palmer River.
Name origin: In honour of Sir Arthur Hunter Palmer[1]
Country Australia
State Queensland
Region Far North Queensland
Part of Mitchell River catchment
 - left South Palmer River
 - right Little Palmer River, North Palmer River
Source Sussex Range, Great Dividing Range
Source confluence Prospect Creek and Campbell Creek
 - location near Palmer River Roadhouse
 - elevation 429 m (1,407 ft)
 - coordinates 16°06′18″S 144°46′52″E / 16.10500°S 144.78111°E / -16.10500; 144.78111
Mouth confluence with the Mitchell River
 - location northeast of Staaten River National Park
 - elevation 64 m (210 ft)
 - coordinates 16°04′52″S 142°42′49″E / 16.08111°S 142.71361°E / -16.08111; 142.71361Coordinates: 16°04′52″S 142°42′49″E / 16.08111°S 142.71361°E / -16.08111; 142.71361
Length 327 km (203 mi)
Basin 8,335 km2 (3,218 sq mi)
Location of Palmer River mouth in Queensland

The Palmer River is a river located in Far North Queensland, Australia. The area surrounding the river was the site of a gold rush in the late 19th century which started in 1873.

Course and features[edit]

The headwaters of the Palmer River rise in the Sussex Range, part of the Great Dividing Range southwest of Cooktown. The river is formed by the confluence of the Prospect Creek and Campbell Creek, near Palmer River Roadhouse, south of Lakeland. The Palmer River flows west across the Cape York Peninsula towards the Gulf of Carpentaria joined by 29 tributaries including the South Palmer River, Little Palmer River and North Palmer River, before reaching its confluence with the Mitchell River northeast of Staaten River National Park. The river descends 365 metres (1,198 ft) over its 327-kilometre (203 mi) course[2] and has a catchment area of 8,335 square kilometres (3,218 sq mi).[3]

Palmer goldfields[edit]

The earliest known letter from the goldfield

Palmer River was one of Australia's major gold rush locations. William Hann and geologist Norman Taylor found gold in a sandy bed of the river in 1872.[4] Hann named the river after Arthur Hunter Palmer the Premier of Queensland at that time.[1]

The main settlement of the gold field was Maytown replacing Palmerville after some months. The settlement began as a camp in 1873, then grew into a town which served as the administration centre for the former Hann Local Government Area. The settlements of Byerstown and Idatown were also established along the river.[1]

Palmerville Post Office opened on 11 May 1874 (closed 1965); Maytown Post Office opened on 7 June 1874 (closed 1945); Byerstown Post Office opened on 1 April 1876 (closed around 1884).[5]

There were several confrontations between the settlers and the Aborigines from the area, including one at Battle Camp.[citation needed]

The miners in the Palmer River included Chinese, mostly from the Guangdong Province in southern China.[6] The Chinese miners would re-work the diggings of Europeans as they moved on to find richer diggings.[7] In 1876, with the rush to the Hodgkinson River,[8] Chinese miners occupied most of the Palmer Gold Field. As gold reserves were extracted, anti-Chinese sentiment grew.

Although most of the surface gold has long since been prospected, there remain a handful of deeper mine projects in the area.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Palmer River". Queensland Places. entre for the Government of Queensland. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Map of Palmer River, QLD". Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia. Retrieved 2 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Palmer River drainage sub-basin". WetlandInfo. Queensland Government. 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  4. ^ "Gold!". Cairns Museum. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  6. ^ Kirkman, Noreen (1993). From minority to majority: Chinese on the Palmer River Gold-field, 1873-1876, in Race Relations in North Queensland, edited by Henry Reynolds. Townsville: James Cook University. pp. 243–257. ISBN 978-0-86443-484-5. 
  7. ^ "Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve: Nature, culture and history". Department of Environment and Resource Management. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  8. ^ Kirkman, Noreen (1982). Mining on the Hodgkinson." In Readings in North Queensland Mining History, edited by K.H. Kennedy. Townsville: James Cook University. pp. 171–194. ISBN 0864430612.