Meet the real track builders

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

CAPE Tribu­la­tion was linked to Bloom­field in 1968 with a track blazed and built by the Bai­leys Creek Cape Tribu­la­tion De­vel­op­ment League.

And 45 years later the last re­main­ing orig­i­nal league mem­bers came to­gether to cel­e­brate the mile­stone with a plaque erected to com­mem­o­rate the pioneers and their en­deav­ours.

Orig­i­nal Road Builder John Nor­ris and two orig­i­nal pioneers Pat and brother Colin Ma­son, Wayne Ma­son, Greg Ni­cholas (son of pi­o­neer John Ni­cholas) joined with orig­i­nal mem­bers and fam­i­lies at Cape Tribu­la­tion.

Out of 25 orig­i­nal League mem­bers, Pat Ma­son said the last four still re­mem­ber what life was like be­fore they had the road ac­cess and why they per­sisted in changes.

‘‘The main driver of us putting the road there to Bloom­field was to con­nect with Cooktown and I’m very proud of what has hap­pened since 1968 un­til now, that’s one of the rea­sons why we cel­e­brated on the weekend,’’ he said.

‘‘The way it was no one could drive it. I held the record for the long­est trip - it took me 26 hours to my prop­erty at Cape Tribu­la­tion be­cause I got out of one bog and into another, that was in the days where we had to put up with and mainly used the weekly ser­vice boat from Cairns to Cooktown.

‘‘When I first went in there in the early 60s, I went in one Septem­ber and the road was com­pletely cut-off in Oc­to­ber be­cause of land­slides on the range and it never opened again un­til the fol­low­ing Au­gust - that was quite nor­mal to be com­pletely iso­lated ex­cept for the boats.’’

Mr Ma­son said the League had to con­stantly fight coun­cil and gov­ern­ments to do any­thing about the road to and from Cape Tribu­la­tion, for the res­i­dents north of the Daintree River.

‘‘ When we pushed the road through in 1968 be­tween Bloom­field and Cowie Point we went through what was a dairy farm; this road the coun­cil has since al­tered and it doesn’t go through that area now,’’ he said.

‘‘We put the road through from Bloom­field to Cape Tribu­la­tion in 16 weeks and the coun­cil then took over and fin­ished it 16 years later in 1984. The Daintree Block­ade was in 1983 and I’ve never been able to work out what they were protest­ing against con­sid­er­ing the road had been there since 1968.

‘‘We had a get to­gether on Satur­day night and Mr John Nor­ris, the orig­i­nal driver of the bull­dozer that pushed the track through, told us of his ex­pe­ri­ences and on Sun­day we un­veiled the plaque and con­tin­ued on to Bloom­field, where we vis­ited the old saw mill site and the jetty that was there, the su­gar wharf, it was a trip back through his­tory.’’

The group drove along the cur­rent Track to the Bloom­field River, look­ing at old graz­ing land, an early 1900 dairy farm at the top of Cowie Range, and the old sawmill and Su­gar Wharf on the Bloom­field River.

The orig­i­nal Bloom­field Track started on the Cape Tribu­la­tion Beach, climbed up a steep stretch to the ex­ist­ing Road, then took a dif­fer­ent path over Cowie Range, avoid­ing the dan­ger­ous Woobadda Creek by go­ing down a northerly ridge­line to Thomp­sons Creek.

TRACK RECORD:

Greg Ni­cholas, Colin, Pat and Wayne Ma­son, with John Nor­ris on the Bloom­field Track

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