Long before cars came to Ingham, an avenue of enormous Leichhardt Trees provided shade and shelter for Ingham’s townsfolk while a little tramline, which ran underneath the canopy and over a little bridge at Palm Creek, connected the sugar community of Stone River with the rest of the valley.

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!

In April 1890, the Divisional Board set aside £80 (approx. $12,500) to plant two rows of a lowland rainforest trees, the ‘Leichhardt Tree’ (Nauclea orientalis) along the middle verge of Lannercost Street, as well two Rain trees (Albizia saman) and Poinciana (Delonix regia). The trees were fast growing and before long a cool arbour had been created under which pedestrians and livestock could shelter from the heat and rain.

In 1895, a draft agreement between the Hinchinbrook Divisional Board and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (C.S.R), extended the existing C.S.R tramway line to connect their East Ingham terminus through the town of Halifax to the wharves and jetty at Lucinda. Little locomotives hauling produce, goods and passengers ran along the line at least three days per week, with cane haulage taking priority when the season commenced.

By 1900, the Hinchinbrook Shire Council had constructed their own tramway to the community at Stone River. The C.S.R leased the line from the council on the provision that C.S.R operate a passenger service for a small fee of ten shillings (approx. $1.00). Passengers arriving in town, alighted from the small carriages at the little passenger station located near Kenion and Co.

The little steam engine chuffed along the avenue for approximately 25 years. However, increasing loads and frequency of sugar cane combined with mineral ores from the Kangaroo Hills Mineral Field, made it hazardous for pedestrians.

In 1926, an unusually large haul of sugar cane of 120 fully loaded trucks, each averaging 2 ½ tons and equating roughly to the size of a small car passed through the town.  With safety in mind, the Hinchinbrook Shire Council made a decision to reroute the tramline around the town.

By 1931, transportation had moved away from horses and trams to cars and busses.  Additional seats were installed along the avenue for waiting passengers and electric lights installed at the Shire Hall. The mature trees were adorned with large staghorns and ferns while white concrete and stone rockeries encircled their trunks. The avenue was extended and young shade trees planted along the centre of Herbert Street.

The Leichhardt trees weathered the next couple of decades, through the 1940 cyclone and a decade of seasonal floods. In 1952, however, their popularity was waning and they were replaced by Golden Rain Trees (Koelreuteria paniculate) which had been personally grown by Frank Fraser himself: struck from seeds he had acquired from a trip he had made one time to Florida.

The last of the large shady avenue trees were removed in 1958. In their place, a new avenue emerged: a golden one which was trimmed to an inch of its life in flat topped circular topiary. This was the landscape of modern Ingham. 

Images provided by the Ingham Family History Association and HSC Local History Photographic Collection.