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Chinaman Creek: A Cairns Story

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Cairns Chinaman Creek Story

Chinaman Creek is a waterway in Cairns, Far North Queensland. Indeed it runs through the suburbs of Mooroobool, Earlvlille and Portsmith before discharging into Trinity Inlet. Unsurprisingly, there are other waterways that share the same name, but our focus is the Cairns incarnation.

Chinaman Creek Cairns
Chinaman Creek Cairns

Chinese Connection to Creek

Andrew Leon

Andrew Leon (1841-1920) was a Chinese-born Cairns businessperson. He established the Hap Wah plantation that pioneered the district sugarcane industry. In addition, he was the leader of the Cairns Chinese community from the 1870s well into the 1890s. The Hap Wah plantation consisted of two parcels of land (known as Portions 52 and 75). Portion 52 was bounded to the north by what became known as Chinaman Creek.

Originally there was no Mulgrave Road, so Chinese market gardeners would transport their produce to Cairns CBD via this creek. Subsequent Chinese gardeners also settled in the area around McCoombe Street and Balaclava State School.

Having no road contact with the port of Cairns, they transported their produce by Chinese junk down the creek to Trinity Inlet then down to the wharf at Cairns

Chinaman ‘Creek’ or ‘Drain’?

The creek originates in the foothills. It makes its way into the Cairns urban area where it has been converted into a concrete drain. The creek/drain flows further south past Earlville in a straight line. It then leaves the urban area and returns to a natural state before winding its way further south and entering Trinity Inlet.

Chinaman Creek
Chinaman Creek

Chinaman Creek Crocodiles

Furthermore, as with other waterways in the area you must be careful around this creek. Indeed salt water crocodiles are known to frequent the area. So locals and visitors alike are reminded to be croc safe. Remember just because you can’t see a crocodile doesn’t mean there is not one close by.

Are there crocodiles in Chinaman Creek?

There are crocodiles in the lower portion of the creek, especially near the mouth of the creek in Trinity Inlet. Trinity Inlet crocodile

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