Mount Molloy District: A Neglected Eden
(Townsville Bulletin, 22 Nov 1913; Walsh and Tinaroo Miner.) On Saturday last, a representative of this paper, in response to an invitation from the Mount Molloy Progress Association, visited Mount Molloy.
On Saturday evening a euchre party and dance was held in the local School of Arts, and was a most enjoyable function. Mr M. J. R. Woods president of the Mount Molloy Progress Association, worked hard to make the function a success. After the card playing had finished, dinner was indulged in until mid-night and as the night was beautifully cool and dancers thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
During the supper interval, Mr. Woods, in a brief speech, thanked those present for their attendance. He explained fully the objects of the Mount Molloy Progress Association, which was formed to do the best for the district, irrespective of class or creed. It was non-political and was truly a Progress Association in its highest sense. He outlined the policy adopted by the Association and said that members intended to immediately proceed with that policy. Although the Association had only been in existence a few months, its efforts had brought forth fruit and he hoped that in the near future much better results would be attained.
On Sunday, in company with Mr and Mrs M. J. R. Woods, and Dr. and Mrs. T. E. Abbott, our representative visited several selections. Before dealing with these selections it is well to make some remarks concerning Mount Molloy's magnificent climate. There is not the slightest doubt but that Mount Molloy is one of Queensland's favored spots. On Saturday last it was unbearably hot in Mareeba, yet at Mt. Molloy a strong, cool breeze was blowing. It is so, always, being so high and so near the sea, the sun's rays are tempered by the cool sea breeze. Mt. Molloy ranks ahead of Herberton as regards climatic conditions, and if there is one place where a sanatorium should be built it is Mt. Molloy. This statement is made without prejudice and can be confirmed by anyone visiting Mt. Molloy.
The drive from the township to the scrub is a very pleasant outing. One crosses the new wooden bridge built over Rifle Creek by the Lands Department. Then a little further on the creek is again crossed, and this spot is most picturesque. A gently rippling stream of cool clear water, and the banks of the creek clothed with dense scrub, make a picture worthy of the canvas of any artist. For the next two miles the road is through forest country, good agricultural and grazing areas. This country is exceptionally well watered, being fringed by lagoons which, despite the exceedingly dry season, contained plenty of water.
The finest residence met with is that of Mr and Mrs H. Gadd, who are both old Northern pioneers. In conversation she informed us that she was the first white woman to land at Port Douglas 6 years ago. She also claimed to be the first white woman to set foot in Cooktown. Although the mother of a large family, and despite the fact that she has endured the Northern climate for so many years, she is still hale and hearty. Mr Gadd and his sons have two selections, but have not done much In the way of cultivation, as they have devoted their time to timber getting.
About a mile further on the first scrub is met with. Here on the banks of Hunter's Creek (a very pleasant scrub stream), Mr Pashen, a sturdy type of selector, is carving out a home for himself. He has erected a small house and has cleared a considerable area of land, and has one small paddock under cultivation and the felling and burning of the scrub trees were in progress. The scrub is very dense and the soil is very rich. Pine, cadaghi, hickory, beech and cedar are the principal timbers. Most of the cedar has been cut out but Mr Pashen still has a good few sticks standing on his selection.
Crossing Hunter's Creek we found Mr J. R. Williams' selection on the other bank. It is over this creek that the Lands Department intend to build a bridge. Mr Williams is quite a recent selector, having only settled on the land during the past two years. During that time he has made good progress. About 15 acres of rich scrub land has been cleared, felled, and planted. About 70 fruit trees, oranges, mandarins, apples, pears, pineapples, pawpaws, etc. showing a very good growth. Bananas are being experimented with, and results so far are most satisfactory and Mr. Williams intends to plant on a large scale. Patches of Rhodes grass are growing prolifically despite the fact that practically no rain has fallen during the past few months. An experimental plot of lucerne is also doing very well. At the present time Mr Williams has a good acreage under English potatoes, and the plants are looking very healthy. The seed potatoes were supplied by the Agricultural Department, and the results of the experiment will give the selectors some data to go on. Wheat and maize have also been successfully grown, and both products will hold their own with those of other districts.
The Mt. Molloy district has been spoken of as an exceptionally fine place for growing cabbages, and those seen at Mr Williams' selection amply bear out the above statement. Our representative brought away with him two good specimens, one weighing 21 lbs and the other 13 lbs. Mr Williams is doing very good pioneering work and in another year or two he should be getting very good returns from his farm. Adjacent there are three or four more selectors, who are In the main preparing their land. Mr McDonagh and a Russian are the nearest to Williams, and they are both doing good useful work. Fruit growing appears to be the main objective for the time being, but in time to come, this district will be a fine dairying centre.
The scrub lands extend for miles towards the Mossman watershed, and this magnificent valley could be made like a Garden of Eden. There are rich alluvial flats covered feet deep with decomposed vegetable matter. Earth worms three-quarters of an inch in diameter and twelve to eighteen inches in length are to be found in this soil and these worms do not exist in poor country. The scrub on the banks of the main Bushy Creek and right up to the Mossman water shed is the densest In Australia. At Bell's Hill, nine miles from Molloy, one can look down on to as pleasing a sight as ever gladdened the eyes of a timber-getter. Pine trees growing in thousands, and from the hill their tops look like a huge cabbage garden. Here and there can be seen a gigantic cedar tree, while the beaches, silky oaks, hickory and cadaghi compromise the other timbers. Mr Leber, who has been timber-getting for many years in at Atherton and Herberton districts, says that the patch of pine above mentioned, is the best he has ever seen.
Only pine is being cut and railed away, as the excessive freight charged over the Mt. Molloy line prevents any profit being made on the hardwoods. The hardwood known as cadaghi is eminently suitable for carriage building and is stronger than any Southern hardwood. The beeches (red and white), silky oak and other timbers, are all of superior quality. There are millions and millions of feet of timber within a few miles of Mt. Molloy awaiting a market. The Mt. Molloy Ltd. are sending away a few consignments but not a sufficient quantity to make any appreciable reduction in the timber reserves. Last Saturday over two hundred thousand super feet of pine logs, some of which were 19ft. in girth, were in the railway yards. If the Government would take over the Mt. Molloy line and reduce the freights to the same as those charged on other Government lines, then a great inducement would be offered to settlers and it is safe to say that the Mt. Molloy valley would be a busy and prosperous place. It is criminal neglect on the part of the Government to allow this wonderfully fertile district to remain unsettled. There is no healthier place in Queensland and in years to come it will be supporting a sturdy healthy race of people, living under ideal climatic conditions. The Government will, before this comes to pass, have to reduce the price of land or else remove some of the restrictions placed upon it, and to this end the efforts of the settlers and others are being directed.
The resources of the district are so real that one wonders why it has been so long neglected. One settler said that in time to come a butter factory and a sugar mill would be easily kept going in the Mt. Molloy valley. After seeing the land for ourselves we are quite satisfied that his words could easily come true. Intending settlers in North Queensland should not pass the Mt. Molloy district by, as the Government must soon do something definite regarding the railway line. Already assistance has been promised by the Lands Department to the settlers. Roads and bridges are to be constructed out of the Public Estates Improvement Fund. This is a step in the right direction, but it will be a useless waste of money unless the Government take over the Mt. Molloy line. Visitors in need of a restful week-end trip away from the heat of the coast, could not do better than visit Mt. Molloy and its wonderful scrubs. The scenery is beautiful and never tiring.
MINING AROUND MT. MOLLOY. Although it is not generally known a good deal of tin-getting is taking place in the Mt. Molloy district. Mr Maurice O'Connell is working the Standard claim, and has got good results during the past two years. The claim is situated near Station Creek and about 12 miles from Molloy, being about mid-way to Mount Carbine. A tunnel has been driven about 250 feet and is now in wash from five to seven feet in depth, which will bulk about 4ozs. tin to the dish. The land is about 300ft. In width, and so far it has only been handled in a casual and primitive way. The dirt was wheeled to the mouth of the tunnel and sluiced. An effort is now being made to form a syndicate to work the property on an extensive scale by means of a hydraulic Bluleini plant. There is plenty of water available at no distance from the mine and there is 150ft. of pressure all the year round. A race three quarters of a mile long has been cut and 160ft. of fluming erected. The race is in fair condition and needs little repairing. During the past 12 months, the owner, who has been working single-handed, has recovered a fair quantity or tin. In the hands of a syndicate this should be an excellent proposition, as the lead has been proved for a considerable distance. The syndicate will have very few difficulties to contend with as the mine lends itself eminently to hydraulic sluicing. The property is well worthy of inspection by intending investors.
Advises from Mount Lewis, near Mt. Molloy, state that Con Sullivan(?) has struck a rich patch of alluvial, and he is getting from two to five lbs of tin to the dish. The find is a small dyke of tin-bearing ground, 5ft. in width with a depth of 4ft of wash. The owner is getting over a bag (?) of tin per week, despite the fact that he has to carry the dirt down the hill to the creek and wash it by means of the dish. Given good water facilities, and such will be possible when rain falls, the owner should do very well out of this claim. Messrs Brachon and Hill (?), who are also at Mt Lewis, are getting two bags of tin per week. Larry O'Connell, Donohue, Logue and Lee, are also on good tin at Mt. Lewis. At Bell's Hill, J. Swallow is getting a little alluvial gold. He is just about making tucker and has not yet located the main run of the gold. Where he is working is not far from the short track to the Mossman. At Sandy Creek, three miles from Mount Molloy, P. MacNamara has two head of wood stampers to treat stone from the lode he is working The lode is small, but very rich. It varies in width from six inches to eighteen inches, but contains about sixty percent black tin. He has everything in readiness to start crushing this week.