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5 August, 2021

Wayne’s World: Our pioneers did it tough

G’DAY Tropicairnsians,

By Wayne Marshall

Driving and walking around this beautiful city enjoying the fantastic modern buildings, well maintained footpaths, roads, and manicured gardens it is hard to believe that Cairns was established in 1876 (only 145 years ago) to serve Hodgkinson Goldfields to the west.

And after a shaky start, in 1886 the region was confirmed as the starting point for the railway line to Herberton tin fields. Wil all the mining opportunities and settlements, fourteen nationalities quickly brought themselves to our shores, with over 10 percent being Chinese settlers.

The Bama rainforest people, being the traditional owners, suffered terribly with a high death toll due to disease brought in by all the settlers.

McLeod Street Pioneer Cemetery was established also in 1886 and served as a burial site for 2500 people in Cairns, but due to wet season inundation and bad drainage, the last burial was in 1949 and the cemetery site was never truly accepted by the local media because of always being in a bad waterlogged state damaging the head stones and grave sites. One journalist even wrote “We do not know who is responsible for the choice of site but whoever fixed upon the present locality must have been an imbecile to a degree, or else utterly without regard for the health or finer of posterity”. It seems to me that Cairns City Councils love to make stupid and costly mistakes.

While walking around this cemetery I met Dan and his daughter Talisha who also seemed fascinated at the ages of those interned and what saddened us the most was the fact that one quarter of burials were children under the age of ten with far too many not even making it to one year old. What I really noticed was that there was a lot of still births or premature births leading to fatality. When it came to adults the average life span age would be 40 with many deaths avoidable if they had the advantage of modern medicines and vaccinations that today’s society take for granted.

With these thoughts bouncing around inside this noggin, I created some discussions with some locals that stopped for a chat and make comment about the problems that many millions of Aussies down south are going thru regarding lockdowns and vaccinations. Many were unaware of our city’s history of poor life span age and that how we the modern society have been given absolute privilege of the best chance of survival from any forms of life-threatening viruses.

So, in future when I hear or read about some drongo carrying on about conspiracy theories and 5G coronavirus spreader stupidity, I am going to ask them to try their best to cut down, or stop altogether taking so many bloody pills that kill any form of brain cells that may try to grow in their fat feeble heads.

Is it really that hard to do the right thing by our fellow humans and behave like the smart vertical walking creatures that we have evolved into.


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