The tiny town of Einasleigh has a bloody and murderous past, particularly at Carpentaria Downs Station, 16km south east. In 1908 the town of Einasleigh was in it's infancy when Fanny Wilson, the manager's wife at Carpentaria Downs Station, was charged with the murder of Nellie Duffy - the station governess. Nellie Duffy's throat had been cut. Billy Wilson (no relation of the accused) was an aboriginal stockman who was later charged as an accomplice to the murder, having held Nellie Duffy's hands while Fanny Wilson drew the knife across the neck. Newspapers of the time seemed shocked that aboriginal witnesses were called and headlines read 'Blacks to Testify'. In a twist, witness William Power was later found dead "with a bullet in his heart".
In 1930 two Chinese men, both market gardeners, were again found with "bullets in their hearts", two miles from Einasleigh townsite. Two sets of horse tracks were discovered at their humpy and a large some of money was missing. The men were known to have been saving their money. Charles Hambrook and Jack Davis were charged with the murders but released due to lack of evidence.
The newspapers of the day tell numerous tales of shootings, woundings and incidents in the Einasleigh district. It seems the place had a 'wild west' attitude.
Discovered in 1866 by Richard Daintree, Einasleigh was originally called Copperfield. Naturally the area was rich in copper but extracting and transporting it from this isolated part of North Queensland proved too difficult. In 1900 with the smelters at Chillagoe in full swing further exploration of the area led to a rekindled interest and the town of Einasleigh was layed out.
Development was swift with hotels, stores, a public hall and hospital all being erected in short time. The railway arrived from Chillagoe in 1908 ending the logistal problems associated with transporting the copper ore.
Fluctuating copper and beef prices have always retarded Einasleigh's growth with the highest recorded population being 546 in 1911. The copper mine and smelter and the station master's residence are listed on the Queensland Heritage register as is the historic Einsleigh hotel - a classic, two storey outback hotel.
The Savannahlander Train services Einsleigh twice a week. Beginning in Cairns it's a great way to view the changing scenery from the tropical coast to the grassed savannah and rugged outback hills of the historic mining precincts.
Nearby Copperfield gorge provides a unique swimming hole carved between sheer walls that drop to a surprisingly sandy floor. It's only minutes walk from the Einsleigh Hotel.
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