Magical history tours on the coast

Historical Society members on an excursion to Mt Chalmers learning the history of the Railway Station house from Mt Chalmers historian Sue Hutchinson.

By Tania Phillips

Capricorn Coast Historical Society has opened up both the past and present to long-time member Peter Cook.

The group not only investigates the past through documents and the internet but also goes on tours around the region as they look back at what has happened in the area in past while making friends in the now.

For Peter Cook is has opened up the area to him, giving him a chance to write booklets and discover just what was in Yeppoon and surrounds before he arrived in the area. It’s been a labor of love for Peter – one that stretches back well-over a decade now.

“At this stage I’ve been involved in this historical society for about 14 years I think,” he explained.

“I got involved through one of the trips they had organized.”

Peter said he still enjoys the trips which allow the club members to travel around the region and learn about local regions and landmarks.

“At the moment we are planning one to Mt Morgan,” he said of the popular part of CCHS.

“The trips are one way to indicate to people the importance of the history of each of the little local areas around the place. Another trip we did about 10 years back now was over to Curtis Island – there is a lot of history associated with the Island going back to 1883 when the Countess Russell was in quarantine there for two weeks. We think about quarantine these days with all the covid stuff and these people had come out from England and the first port of call is Curtis Island – the ship was quarantined for two wees and had plague onboard. They had lost a lot of people and they lost more people when they were in quarantine there for two weeks with no facilities what so ever there. That is sort of history you can pic up on these local areas as you go around.”

Peter said he wasn’t really local to the area.

“Like most people in the region, he had come to the area, liked it and stayed,” he laughed.

“We moved into the Yeppoon area in 1973 – close to 50 years now. We moved out of the area to Rockhampton but we still maintain the links to Yeppoon – we have family down there.”

He said he had become more interested in history as he’d got older.

“It is one of those things you get a general interest in later in life – its usually two or three years too late,” Peter said.

“You lose all the older generation that you should have been talking to a few years earlier while they were still with us. Oral history is so important – the people who were there, the people who saw these things. I was a little bit post war but you still talk to people who remember war time activities in the area and what the place was like when the Americans were buzzing around here. There was a very large American encampment here during the World War II. They were everywhere.”

History is worth preserving which is the main aim of the group.

“We try to collect as much information as we can from people who have photographs or records or things like that – very often its when they are moving house or when they have to clean up a house and they always find these old treasures,” Peter said.

“We say look send them our way we can make use of them or we will find a good home for them at the relevant place. We collect photographs and documents -we’re not a museum so we try not to collect artefacts. We don’t had space for things like that and these days we say if you can digitize – if we can get it on to a computer that’s what we are after.”

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