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Gold boom history revealed in Townsville city project



The history of a new inner-city development area has been revealed, with ties back to the 1800s gold mining boom being uncovered as part of a significant Townsville City Council project.

Construction on the East End Boardwalk is well underway with construction progressing along Flinders St, delivering a 5m-wide, 280m-long boardwalk along the Ross Creek from the Flinders Street East carpark to Reef HQ, however the site is also home to a long trade history.

The East End Boardwalk project is proudly funded by the Queensland Government’s Works for Queensland program in association with Townsville City Council.

Acting Mayor Mark Molachino said the site used to be home to mercantile trading business Burns, Philp and Co.

“Aerial photographs of the city show the location has been a carpark since 1985, but before that it was home to a bustling trading store called Burns, Philp and Co.,” Cr Molachino said.

“In 1872 a young Scotsman called James Burns established a general store in Townsville to supply the North Queensland gold mining boom.

“A fire destroyed these stores in 1877 and so Burns bought a new and larger store and wharves on Flinders St from the trustees of the Estate of Captain Robert Towns, the colonist founder of Townsville.

“In 1895 Burns and fellow Scot, Robert Philp – who later became Premier of Queensland - erected the Burns, Philp and Co. building on the corner of Flinders and Wickham streets and in 1913 the warehouse extension was added along Flinders Street.

“Burns, Philp and Co. had the building until 1977 with the warehouse and remaining wharf structures demolished in 1982 due to structural issues and water entering the building.

“This history is fascinating and shows how well-loved this historical Townsville area has been for well over 120 years.

“Council is committed to growing Townsville into a city that connects you with what you need, when you need it. I’m looking forward to seeing more hustle and bustle in the area with the new East End Boardwalk opening next year, helping to link key city centre locations like Flinders Street, Queensland Country Bank Stadium and Palmer Street.”

The East End Boardwalk is a key city building project as part of the Waterfront Priority Development Area with the vision to deliver a network of recreational pathways along the Ross Creek edge, creating substantial community benefit for existing and new businesses, as well as for the public as a recreational asset.

The boardwalk is expected to be completed in April 2023, weather and conditions permitting.

To find out more about the East End Boardwalk project visit Council’s website.




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