Kuranda District Photographs

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, one of the most popular tourism images in Queensland was that of the Barron River cascading over the edge of the gorge at Barron Falls.  The opening of the Kuranda Railway in 1891, complete with a convenient lookout stop overlooking the falls, meant that such images of Barron Gorge occupied a place in many early scenic souvenirs of Queensland.  Views of the falls, along with dramatic depictions of steam trains winding their way up the gorge and picturesque scenes of Stoney Creek Falls, have become iconic images of early Queensland tourism.

Stoney Creek Falls and the Kuranda Scenic Railway, Queensland, ca. 1892. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30050-0001-0002

Stoney Creek Falls and the Kuranda Scenic Railway, Queensland, ca. 1892. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30050-0001-0002

Such photographs continue to come to light.  A small collection, recently digitised at State Library of Queensland, holds some fine examples of early Barron Gorge photographs.  These pictures, taken in the 1890s by an unidentified photographer, include a couple of spectacular images of the train line passing Stoney Creek Falls as well as a view from one of the numerous tunnels along the climb.

View of the Kuranda Scenic Railway from railway tunnel entrance Queensland ca. 1892. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30050-0001-0003

View of the Kuranda Scenic Railway from railway tunnel entrance Queensland ca. 1892. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30050-0001-0003

The collection also includes a powerful depiction of an Aboriginal group standing in front of their dome shaped shelters, taken in the region around the gorge.  The group is likely to be from the Djabugay language group which lived in the area of the Kuranda Range. Due to access restrictions this specific image is only available to view on site at State Library of Queensland.

You can view the Kuranda District photographs via our One Search Catalogue.

R. Hillier – Original Materials Librarian, State Library of Queensland

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I believe that amongst the belongings of my deceased friend, I also have the photo of the Aboriginal group around their dome hut. There are four pictures in total - good quality. A group walking on the rail bridge next to the falls, possibly Cooktown and possibly Kempsey.Today I forwarded scans of all 4 to Kempsey Museum as it is where my friend came from, but having been to Cooktown and Kuranda, I think the photos may be of more interest to you.Please reply as soon as possible, so that I can scan them and you can ascertain their value to your collection. No notes on back of photos.Thank youHeather, Cleveland

Hi HeatherThanks for your offer. I've passed your question on to our Original Content team. They will get back to you soon. Myles Sinnamon - blog editor