How well the Cairns Municipal Council performed in the Wet Tropics, 1885-1903

Zalewski, Patrick (2009) How well the Cairns Municipal Council performed in the Wet Tropics, 1885-1903. Masters (Research) thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

This study looks at how the 19th century Cairns Municipal Council (CMC) helped establish a European town in the wet tropics, despite legislation and funding which did not take the tropical conditions into account. These conditions included coastal swamps, rainforest and rampant vegetation growth, heavy wet season rain which regularly washed away improvements, and tropical heat. It had to provide drainage, roads, bridges and other crossings, water supplies and sanitation. The CMC struggled to do this, partly because of the failings of the legislation governing it, which were loosely based on local government developments in Britain, but mainly taken from other colonies of New South Wales and Victoria. This was also due to the lack of financial resources which prevented the Queensland government from assisting local governments as they needed to be.

Wet tropics conditions were a constant drain on the resources of the CMC, yet it managed to accomplish the difficult task of raising a town out of a swamp, and still produce enough services for the town to function. Although the CMC accumulated a large degree of debt before it became the Cairns Town Council in 1903, due to a new local government Act, it still managed to keep functioning through the skill of its business community members combined with a high degree of practicality and pragmatism.

Conclusions were tested by comparing the CMC's performance with other local governments with similar conditions in Queensland, in the same period, such as the Cooktown Municipal Council and Hinchinbrook Shire Council. The CMC compared favourably with both, partly because of its pragmatism but also because it directed its efforts to making its area economically stronger.

Item ID: 44632
Item Type: Thesis (Masters (Research))
Keywords: 19th century history; Cairns Divisional Board (CDB); Cairns Municipal Council (CMC); Cairns; colonial Queensland; drainage; early settlement; local councils; local governments; nineteenth century history; North Queensland (NQ); Nth Qld; Port of Cairns; public works; town planning; tropical cities; tropical environments; urban planning; Wet Tropics
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2016 02:45
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) @ 33%
12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120502 History and Theory of the Built Environment (excl Architecture) @ 34%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160601 Australian Government and Politics @ 33%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology @ 50%
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