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15 May, 2022

An idyllic "verdant" resort

Enticing tourists to stay in Cairns was a challenge for the Cairns-Tableland Publicity Association in the 1930s.

By Maria Larkins

The new jetty to Green Island.

TOO many visitors were embarking on their journey to the Tablelands directly from the wharf and bypassing the city altogether. 

A meeting of the CTPA on November 1, 1930, determined that an island resort was needed to lure more visitors to Cairns and encourage them to stay in the city. 

Secretary, Mr. T. R. Hall, nominated the undeveloped Green Island as the best candidate for the role of seaside tourist resort. 

However, the popular camping spot for locals, lacked the necessary amenities for tourists. There needed to be better facilities and a jetty. 

A kiosk to serve refreshments.

Cairns City Council sent a delegation to Green Island in 1931 to inspect existing conditions. They reported the island was in a “filthy state” with “tins and bottles strewn about”.

The Mayor, Alderman W. A. Collins, said the time had come to do something about the potential tourist attraction. 

He said council should consider the provision of a water supply so the island could be transformed into a garden paradise. Also, that visitors would be better accommodated with facilities such restaurant buildings and toilets. 

The council engineer was instructed to prepare an estimate for the provision of a pumping plant and for the erection of other facilities including a caretaker’s cottage. 

In January 1932, Cairns City Council appointed J. K. Petrie as caretaker of Green Island. The position was a popular one attracting 54 applicants. 

An “island paradise” for visitors to Cairns.

By June 1932 local tour operators were promoting trips to the island with its new kiosk from which tourists could buy lunch and soft drinks. 

The Hayles’ fast motor vessel the Merinda left for Green Island at 9.15am every Sunday and returned to Cairns at 5.30pm. Tourist tickets were accepted and music was provided on board for the listening pleasure of passengers. 

Advertisements by the steamship companies described Far North Queensland as “Australia’s Riviera” where “under azure skies” the air is as “exhilarating as champagne”. 

Sources: TROVE Newspapers, State Library of Queensland. Photographs by L. Plass visitor from the U.S. to Green Island 1934, courtesy State Library of Queensland.

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