Black’s clear vision for Cleveland Bay
“THE more I see of the place the better I like it, and it is the opinion of all those who have seen it that it will be a most important place.”
This is how John Melton Black described Cleveland Bay in a letter to his employer and city founder Robert Towns in 1865.
Black, who would become Townsville’s first mayor, was charged with finding a suitable site for the establishment of a seaside port and township.
The site was found near what is now Ross Creek and Melton Hill in April 1864 with Black wasting no time in clearing the area for future development.
In a letter to Towns on November 21, 1864, Black wrote: “The mangrove belt facing the creek on the town side I have got nearly cleared, and have found, on clearing, a most suitable place for a wharf and store. I have selected suitable plots of ground for a butcher’s shop and blacksmith’s shop, and as soon as materials arrive I shall run them up; also a good place for a hotel and timber yard.”
On July 31, 1865, Cleveland Bay was ready for business with the first sales of allotments taking place in Bowen that same day.
It marked the first official recognition of foundation of the city of Townsville “the great seaport and business centre of North Queensland, the Gulf Country and the Northern Territory, with the immense pastoral areas, sugar districts, mineral fields and timber lands,” The Townsville Daily Bulletin later reported.
Sixty- nine quarter- acre allotments were offered, of which nearly half had been improved by the partnership firm of Robert Towns and Co.
The title was freehold in the case of all land sold at the auction.
Despite the fact that most of the speculators bought from the information disclosed on the map of the allotments, and had never seen the small settlement which had sprung into existence on Cleveland Bay, the bidding was spirited, and every lot found a purchaser.
The municipality of Townsville was incorporated in February 1866.
MAYOR: John Melton Black.