A photo of the jetty when it was operational.
A photo of the jetty when it was operational. Contributed

LOOKING BACK: The history of McKenzie's Jetty

LAST month whilst staying on Fraser Island (K'gari) Prince Harry visited the remnants of a century old jetty on a stretch of beach known as North White Cliffs.

The historic McKenzie's Jetty, is just a short walk to the south of Kingfisher Bay Resort, and was was once connected by tramway to the island's only sawmill.

Whilst very peaceful now, this area was once a hive of activity.

Just behind the jetty, within the forest, a community of loggers and their families lived here between 1919 and 1925.

REMINDERS OF THE PAST: A withered and submerged tractor near MzKenzie's jetty on Fraser Island.
REMINDERS OF THE PAST: A withered and submerged tractor near MzKenzie's jetty on Fraser Island. Contributed

The famous explorer Andrew Petrie identified the island's plentiful timber resources in 1842, but it wasn't until 1863 that the first logs were being cut and delivered by raft to Maryborough.

Logging was a major industry here when a century ago, in 1918, Hepburn McKenzie purchased the timber rights to 4,000 acres of land at North White Cliffs.

His company then immediately set about building a sawmill, this deep water jetty, timber tramways and a village.

Some of the first trees to be felled as part of the operation were satinay, Syncarpia hillii, to provide the piles for the jetty.

The jetty was connected to the mill by tramline which also extended eastward into the heart of the island to take in the highly productive timber country and a camp.

A rusting boiler is one of the few remains of the settlement.
A rusting boiler is one of the few remains of the settlement. Contributed

North White Cliff then became a busy timber community, with around 30 cottages, a school and a village store.

To the careful observer, evidence of the community remains in the landscape.

The home sites were cut into the hill and the simple two-roomed timber dwellings were built in rows, all on stumps with corrugated iron roofs.

The houses have been dismantled but the stumps and bench cuts can still be found.

McKenzie's mill was closed in 1925, but the Queensland Forest Service purchased the tramway and jetty, which continued to be used until the mid-1930s.

The markings on the jetty remain.
The markings on the jetty remain. Contributed

Walking amongst the piles on the beach, you can see roman numerals neatly carved into the timber, indicating the jetty's length in feet.

Nearby a very large rusting boiler and a tractor substantially submerged into the sand give further insight into the industry that once made its presence so firmly felt here.

When Prince Harry was here he learned of the timber industry as part of the history of this amazing island because it has for several decades now been just that.

During the 1980s there was significant debate right across Queensland in relation to logging on the island.

In 1990 a Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Tony Fitzgerald, was established to provide recommendations on the future use, conservation and management of Fraser Island (K'Gari).

As a result of the recommendations, logging ceased in 1991.



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