Continue your journey along the Hinchinbrook Way Historical Walk, follow the links at the bottom of the page for more nearby locations or keep an eye out for QR codes!
The Shire of Hinchinbrook was created on 11 November 1879, as one of seventy four divisions around Queensland under the Divisional Boards Act 1879. The Council operated out of a small office located at the front of a community hall which was built on the northern side of Lannercost Street, next to where the Royal Hotel stands today. Made from timber and iron, the building had a wide front veranda, cedar windows and doors, with decorative fanlights above the windows. It was a pleasing addition to the street. In 1887, the hall was extended to the rear and improved with tongue and groove pine lining while the Divisional Board Office was lined with chamfer board.
It lasted until 1916, when a fire engulfed the building and burnt it to the ground. While no charges were laid, it was found that the Shire Clerk had been smoking cigarettes in the office that morning and was in the habit of flicking his matches and cigarette butts onto the floor where he sat. The police reasoned that an ash might have dropped into the rubbish bin and, as they say…the rest was history. He departed shortly after!
In 1921 a new and commodious brick building, built under the watchful eye of Townsville architects Hunt and C.D. Lynch, was opened in a new location on the corner of Lannercost Street and Townsville Road. The building was handsome and modelled on a reflection of form which incorporated a symmetrical style flowing from its timber ground floor columns, up through the first floor pediments to the red brick pinnacle of the central parapet. It combined a fusion of styles, both old and new, including Federation and Art Deco details. Along the street it had shops which were tenanted quickly to provide immediate revenue for the council. Upstairs, a commodious new hall was leased for dances and to the Ingham Picture Co. Ltd.
The Shire Council offices, located on the upper level, provided an important administration centre for the difficult few decades which were to come with the Great Depression and World War Two. After the war, Hinchinbrook Shire Council was forced to embrace a new progressive direction with its councillors.
In 1946, Daisy Kelly - wife, mother, grazier from Mt. Fox, renowned horsewoman, and advocate for women and children, became the first woman nominated for Council since the Shire was formed sixty seven years prior and only the fourth in the State in the same period. Although she did not gain enough votes that year, she was elected three years later in 1949, and took her seat on the Council as the first female Councillor for Hinchinbrook. When speaking of her motivations behind her move into politics, Daisy was quick to recall her deceased husband’s words. She said “He told me to look after myself, train myself, and one day I would be in politics.” It took another twenty four years before the next woman was elected to Hinchinbrook Shire Council!
In the early 1960s the Shire’s Offices and Hall were substantially modernised. When opened in 1962, the community received a new commodious, air-conditioned hall with a capacity to seat 650 patrons, modern Council Offices for Councillors and Mayor and an expanded administrative centre for the community.
Images provided by the Ingham Family History Photographic Collection.