top of page
Kirrama Range Road

Constructing the Kirrama Range Road

Kirrama range road.jpg

George Tucker Memorial Cairn, Kirrama Range Road.

Built as part of Queensland’s Public Estates Improvement Scheme between 1935 and 1941, Kirrama Range Road was the first road constructed over the Cardwell Range that linked Cardwell to the Atherton Tablelands. At approximately 18km in length, its purpose was to provide access to Cardwell State Forests’ rich timber resources.

Between 1935 and 1936 PEI staff surveyors GW Tucker and T Hein led survey parties locating the road route. The steep and mountainous terrain presented major engineering obstacles. High rainfall, steep terrain and an abundance of streams and waterways meant that special attention had to be paid to drainage and bridges.

The workforce

Approximately 200 men worked on the construction of the Kirrama Road and lived in a series of four camps along the road as it was built: 

  • Base camp at Kennedy

  • Lookout camp at four mile point

  • The Gap camp 

  • The camp at Windy Point. 

Some of the workers were Maltese migrants with specific roadwork skills. This is evident in the supporting stonework of the 11 bridges, and in the dry stone pitching used to stabilise slopes.

kirrama range road 1.png

The wreck

kirrama range road 2.png

These images of the road being constructed are from Public Estate Improvement Reports 1937-1941.

A remarkable feat

The construction was remarkable because it predated the existence of heavy road making plant and earth-moving equipment. It was also constructed using the Macadam road technique, a method developed in the nineteenth century by Scottish road designer, John Louden McAdam. This technique consisted of using well compacted stones (250mm thick) that were broken into relatively small angular pieces and then laid over a well-drained and shaped natural base.  The development of the Kirrama Range Road significantly expanded the existing timber industry. 

bottom of page