Long trip from Mount Morgan to Mackay back in the 1910s
THIS is the latest instalment in our 1918 historical feature where we look back at the stories, people and events that shaped our region from the 1918 editions of The Morning Bulletin.
A MOTOR TRIP
FROM ROCKHAMPTON TO MACKAY
From Mount Morgan to Mackay is a far call, and to travel from town to town in a day is a feat; but Messrs. Young Brothers, motor car proprietors, twice in a week, did this, establishing a record which many people believe will be hard to lower.
The Messrs. Young left Mount Morgan at 2 am on the 14th instant in the 1918 model Studebaker car, having as a passenger Mr. J. McKnight, of Messrs. Curtis and McKnight, who was making a hurried business visit to Mackay. At 3.30 am Mr. G.E. Curtis of Messrs. G.S. Curtis and Sons, was picked up at Rockhampton.
Mackay was reached at 8.20 pm the same day, the distance of 265 miles from Mount Morgan to Mackay having been covered in 18 hours 20 minutes and the 240 miles from Rockhampton to Mackay in 16 hours 55 minutes. This included stoppages for meals on the road.
Messrs Young Brothers left Mackay on the return journey, with the same passengers, at 6 am on the 17th instant. Though they left the main road and went to Homebush - a deviation that took exactly an hour - they arrived at the Rockhampton Post Office at 10 pm the same day.
The actual time taken on the run of 240 miles from Mackay to Rockhampton was thus 15 hours 10 minutes. From this about an hour should be deducted for stoppages for meals on the way.
Chatting as to the trip generally, Mr. Curtis said that it had been a most pleasant one. Incidentally he mentioned that it had also been highly profitable, some big business having been completed in conjunction with Mr. T.J. Leonard, of Mackay, while other good business people of Mackay were all doing well.
He (Mr. Curtis) was very agreeably surprised at the wonderful recovery that the town and district had made from the devastating cyclone and tidal wave in the early part of the year. The town had been thoroughly cleaned up, and the majority of the buildings had been repaired.
A new Anglican church had just been completed out of the material of the beautiful old church. A fine new convent school in concrete was being erected in place of the large wooden building that was demolished by the cyclone.
At the show grounds the main buildings were still lying in heaps where they collapsed pending a settlement of a dispute. The land was vested in the Town Council as trustee as a park, the Hospital Committee wanted the land as a site for the district hospital, and the Show Committee desired control of the land before it did anything.
There can be no doubt that bad as Rockhampton was after the flood, the position could not be compared with that of Mackay. There was still evidence of the devastation caused. The Pioneer River was worse now than before the flood and tidal wave. Port Newry, Dalrymple Bay, and other places had been suggested as deep water ports. There had been the controversy usual in such matters.
One strong contention had been that a flood would clean the sand out of the river. Unfortunately the big flood had had exactly the opposite effect, sand being brought in from the ocean.
A peculiarity of Mackay was that the sea bottom outside the bar was higher than the floor of the river and the sand therefore came in. The restoration of the Sydney Street bridge had not yet been taken in hand. The work would entail a large expenditure. The sugar mills had mostly been repaired sufficiently to enable crushing to be commenced.
Some, in fact, had already made a start, but there were others that would not begin until September. The cane had recovered to a surprising extent; but the cutting of it would not be easy as a very large percentage of the old cane was lying down. Some of the cane was two season's stand-over and would tax the skill of the cutters. The season was not likely to be a long one. The supply of labour, he understood, was in excess of the demand.
The completion of railway communication with Rockhampton and the south was being looked forward to with keen anticipation. The business people were unanimously of opinion that the connection would prove a big advantage to Rockhampton as well as to Mackay and the district.
Mackay was rather unfortunately situated as it depended - for the carriage of goods at any rate - solely on the shipping. With the reduction in the steamer service, the position, naturally, had not improved. Then the freights were high and the cost of handling goods was, as at all other places, increasing. So more than ever the people were wishing for the railway to be completed. The work of construction was being pushed on at both ends; but it was expected that it would be a year or two before it was finished.