Monday, July 11, 2016


Author, artist, publisher  Glenville Pike  at  property near Mareeba.
The  photographic  collection of  the late Glenville Pike  in  the  Cairns  Historical Society runs to  some  582  images,  covering  the early  days of North Australia.  This  blogger   recently  examined  each  and  every  one of  the  photographs.
 By Peter Simon
Subjects covered in the  valuable  collection  include early aviation, shipping , mining towns , Thursday Island , Cooktown , Palm Island , Mount Mulligan , tobacco farming , Aboriginal studies such as   the "King of Cairns" and   the "Queen   of  Port  Douglas. "
 Explorers  include   Norwegian  scientist , anthropologist , ethnographer , Carl  Lumholtz (1851-1922) who spent   four years in Queensland   from 1880  travelling and hunting  with Aborigines , collecting  mammals , some previously unknown...Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo and   the Herbert River  Ringtail Possum   ; in 1889, he wrote  Among  Cannibals An Account of Four Years' Travels in Australia and of  Camps with  the Aborigines of  Queensland.

His travels took him  to Mexico  where , sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, he led    expeditions  and wrote  Unknown Mexico , followed by  Through Central Borneo and  My  Life  Of  Exploration .The Lumholtz National Park in  the Herbert River area was named  after him in 1994 , but was  later changed to  Girringun National Park  to reflect  its  Indigenous  origins . 

Pike had long been interested in  and wrote about  the  German explorer  Ludwig Leichhardt who  disappeared   on an expedition in 1848. He rang me  when  an  item in the South  Australian Museum  was found to have possibly  come  from the  ill-fated expedition  that  backed up his  theory  about  where the explorer  was  heading  when  the   party  vanished.

 Some of  the photographs in the collection were attributed to Alfred Atkinson who, if I remember correctly, had an early   photographic business in Cairns and  Pike , with limited   funds, told me he  used  to  buy from him  old photos he had , including  glass negatives , in boxes , from  time  to time .

A surprise inclusion in the collection  is  a  shot taken at  Cooktown of the  seaplane piloted by the famous Italian  aviator  Francesco de Pinedo  which  touched down  there as  part  of  a 1925  Rome-Australia-Tokyo-Rome flight, described as the most extensive aerial tour on record, to demonstrate  the feasibility of  global air travel  and the use of seaplanes .   He  was  burnt alive  in 1933 , near New York, at the start of  an  attempt to  establish  a  nonstop  record .

One of  the early stores in Cooktown  went under the name London Emporium.

Japanese  flag  flying in Darwin procession for local men going off to fight in the first world war, a  rare Pike photograph.
 There is a shot of the  "first car " from  Sydney to  Cape York , a  Baby Austin 7, driven by two New Zealanders  , Hector  MacQuarrie and   Dick Mathews, in 1928.