Palmer River

The Palmer Goldfields came about in 1872, when the pastoralist-explorers William and Frank Hann were commissioned by the Queensland Government to explore Cape York. They reported finding traces of gold on the Palmer River and the following year James Mulligan, an experienced prospector, confirmed plentiful alluvial gold. This then became what we now know as the Palmer River Gold rush. The rush attracted prospectors from all over Queensland and also from overseas such as China and Europe.

There were many settlements established along the Palmer River, but the main settlement was Maytown.

Time capsule in Maytown

History of Maytown

Originally named Edwardstown, by 1875 the name was officially changed to Maytown. In 1873, Maytown began as a camp for the miners who worked upstream. It then became the administrative centre for the local Hann government in 1879, with banks, chemists, numerous stores, hotels and a school.

At its peak in 1878, there was a population of approximately 20,000. The now ghost town, set in the harsh, dry and rugged terrain, is ideal for those interested in the rich history of the area. There are still old remains of buildings, mine sites and shafts, machinery and landmarks such as the Old German Bar, the Chinese Cemetery and the Ida Mine.

Some mines have an earth ‘skin’ covering a deep shaft below and all mine shafts in the area are dangerous.

Visiting Maytown and camping

Maytown is only accessible by 4-wheel-drive vehicles via Whites Creek Road, 17kms south of the Palmer River Roadhouse or Old Coach Road from Laura. Please see check road conditions prior to visiting the area: There are no supplies available on the Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve.

The North Palmer River camping ground has no facilities and bookings must be made prior to arrival through Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). The campgrounds are closed from December 1st through to Good Friday.

QPWS:  / 13 74 68


Palmer River Roadhouse

The Palmer River Roadhouse is located 80km north of Mount Carbine along the Mulligan Highway. It is located on the banks of the historic Palmer River and offers fuel, meals, amenities, BBQ facilities, 22 powered caravan sites and four permanent tent sites.

There is also a display of artefacts from the Palmer River Gold Rush including firearms and Chinese relics, and information on the Palmer River gold rush, the establishment and founders of the roadhouse and the evolution of the area. / 07 4060 2020