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Discovery and Early Settlement

In 1859, Queensland was declared a separate colony.  Up until then it had been part of New South Wales and known as the Moreton Bay District.

Captain James Cook in 1770 sailed along the coast, naming many of the islands and other landmarks before being forced to find shelter in the Endeavour River of what is now Cooktown after his boat was damaged on the Great Barrier Reef.

Matthew Flinders added more names to the coastal map, as did other sea explorers.

Land explorers like Ludwig Leichhardt and George Elphinstone Dalrymple added to the knowledge of inland Queensland.  None of them, however, laid eyes on the lush Pioneer River Valley, mainly because the mouth of the river was obscured by sandbanks and the twin islands of Flat Top and Round Top islands, and the western approach was via the high and heavily timbered Clarke Range which none of the inland explorers had chosen to cross.  John Mackay and his expedition were the first to do so .

John McCrossin the man who organised the Mackay expedition and whose contribution is almost forgotten.


Mackay with the man who arranged the expedition, John McCrossin, with five other white men and an aboriginal called 'Duke', left Armidale in New South Wales in January 1860 to find land on which to settle for grazing.  Two of the party left the expedition at Rockhampton and the remaining members of the party reached the top of the range overlooking the Pioneer Valley in May.

After descending into the valley and exploring the  river, called by them the 'Mackay' after John Mackay's father , George, almost to its mouth, the members of the party selected land and began the trip back to register their claims.

On the return journey, they all fell victim to fever (possibly Scrub Typhus) and 'Duke' died and was buried on the banks of Denison Creek.

John Mackay returned to his selection with cattle to stock it in January 1862 and named his selection 'Greenmount'.  None of the other party members took up the claims in the area.  Due to financial difficulties, Mackay had to relinquish his selection later that year.  'Greenmount' passed through a number of owners' hands before being bought by A. A. Cook in 1913.

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  Mackay Historical Society

Mackay Historical Society and Museum Incorporated 2001-2006.
created 27 July 2004.
last updated 22 January, 2009 .
Site maintained by Glen Hall