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Role of the road network in the development of Far North Queensland: 1860s to 1960s

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posted on 2022-10-28, 05:54 authored by Lyall R Ford

Far North Queensland covers an area in the tropics that extends roughly from Cardwell on Australia's east coast to the tip of Cape York Peninsula. The city of Cairns is its administrative centre. Europeans first began moving into the inland parts of this reeion in the 1860s but the mountains and tablelands along the eastern hinterland were clothed in thick, tropical rainforest that defied efforts to develop transport routes between inland settlements and potential ports along the east coast. Colonisation could not have occurred without the provision of roads, and colonial and state governments played a leading role in this, driven by the demands of settlers who were both road builders and users.

This thesis demonstrates the significance of roads in the development of Far North Queensland from the 1860s to the 1960s. Within the context of the overall pioneer project of which road construction was a key part, it examines the leading role played by government, the technological advances that influenced the development of a road network, the contribution of people who worked on road construction, and the demands of road users that influenced their location and the rate of construction. It posits that the process of developing a road network contributed to the formation of a 'pioneer legend' in Far North Queensland, which had its origins in geographical remoteness and a challenging physical environment.


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Central Queensland University

Place of Publication

Rockhampton, Queensland

Open Access

  • Yes

Cultural Warning

This research output may contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. We apologize for any distress that may occur.

Era Eligible

  • No


Associate Professor Steve Mullins ; Dr Barbara Webster

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format

  • By publication