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14 April, 2022


LARGE CROWDS visited Yorkey’s Knob during the Easter holidays of 1938.

By Maria Larkins

Pacific Resort Hotel was a popular destination. Image courtesy Cairns Historical Society.

It was promoted as “the Bondi of the North” and had become a popular weekend spot for many Cairns residents such as Lionel Draper, who had reportedly been visiting the seaside spot since 1928.

Many newcomers had also decided to make “Yorkey’s” their weekend get-away destination. They arrived by the Yorkeys Knob Highway Bus or by private motor vehicle. Some like, Draper, has their own seaside cottage, others stayed at the Pacific Resort Hotel. 

Conditions over Easter in 1938 were reportedly ideal with clear, sunny days, beautifully moonlit nights and moderately calm seas. There were crowds of young and old swimming, surfing, singing and dancing. 

The Northern Queen. Image courtesy Mulgrave Shire Historical Society.

Proprietors of the Blue Bird Café in Cairns organized a picnic party on Good Friday. There were 40 members in the group which comprised, proprietors, Mr. and Mrs. Cottrell, staff and patrons.

Numerous activities included a dance at Horace Best’s dance hall and novelty events such as a “crawling” race which secured the winner, I. Rammutt, a large box of chocolates, to assuage the pain of sore knees. 

San Remo 

There was a contender to lure visitors away from that place with the strange name to an altogether more alluring place, in name at least, San Remo (Holloways Beach). 

Pacific Resort Hotel was a popular destination. Image courtesy Cairns Historical Society.

A shark-proof swimming enclosure was planned and there had been extensive additions to the San Remo Café in preparation for an increase in customers.

Although it didn’t have a hotel or guest house there were numerous seaside cottages to let and a camping ground. 

Visitors to San Remo could get there by local bus, the Northern Queen. It left Mazlin’s corner at 9.30am and 2.15pm on Good Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Return fare was 2/-. 

Courtesy Maria Larkins and State Library of Queensland
Yorkeys Knob Beach. Image courtesy State Library of Queensland.

Sanitorium Hotel 

Double Island’s Hotel was well established by 1938. It was the “first” beach resort in the district. In 1893 it was reported that the “beauty spot of North Queensland, the Mount Buchan Estate, generally called Double Island” finally had a hotel. 

It had been constructed by R. A. Tills and had a nice elevation with frontage to the sea which could be viewed from the spacious 156 feet-long verandah. 

The Great Northern Sanitorium Hotel, as it became known, boasted that it was “the finest health and pleasure resort north of Brisbane” and offered customers a “magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean and Islands.” 

To lure customers, “special inducements” were offered to “picnic parties, sojourners by the sea, seekers after health, and those requiring a rest from the cares and worries of business.” Proprietress was R. C. Potts. 

Sources: TROVE, Cairns Historical Society, State Library of Queensland, Mulgrave Shire Historical Society.

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